So I figured I'd make this thread. If you watch the show, we can use this place for discussion - and if you don't this is a good place to get to know it!
What is Doctor Who?
With 798 episodes in the bag, Doctor Who is the longest-running and arguably the most successful science fiction show in the world. It began in 1963, and turns 50 in late November of this year. The show ran uninterrupted from 1963 through to 1989, where it then took a break. It returned to screens briefly in 1996, and then made a full return to much fanfare in 2005 - and has ran consistently every year since then. There have been no reboots - the continuity of the show from 1963 through to now is one big line.
It's essentially a family-friendly sci-fi show. Some like to say it's more science fantasy than science fiction, and I'd be inclined to agree with that definition. It's whimsical, sometimes cheesy, but it has a boundless energy that a lot of people find hard to ignore. Plus, it's British.
What's it about?
The show is about a 1000-year-old time-travelling alien who only goes by the name 'The Doctor' - nobody knows his real, original name. In the original series he was an exile from his planet, a runaway who decided to adventure time and space. He was drawn back to his planet to aid them in a war - a war that decimated them. He is now the last of his kind, and has essentially adopted Earth as his second home. He tends to pick up stray humans to take them on his adventures with him.
Does this mean if I want to get into the show I have tons of catching up to do?
No. The show is designed so people can jump on board pretty much anywhere. The recommendation is to jump on board with the modern era of the show, and even then there's several potential points where you can hop on.
There's 26 retro series and 7 modern ones, as well as two spin-off shows. There's also a TV movie, books, audio books, audio plays, board games, video games, comics and all sorts of other things. If you get into it, there's seemingly endless content to consume.
The modern series consists of 13 45-minute episodes a year, plus an hour-long Christmas special. Occasionally we get additional specials as well.
I'm new. What are the basics of the show?
The Doctor is an alien known as a Time Lord who is somewhere between 900 and 1000 years old (at the present point in the series) from the planet Gallifrey. He's interestingly different from most other TV heroes in that the Doctor doesn't carry weapons and doesn't kill; he'll always find another solution if he can.
He has two hearts, and when fatally injured he can regenerate, renewing every single cell in his body. In a sense it's a form of rebirth - he remains the same man with the same memories, values and brilliant mind, but with every cell changing so changes his appearance and elements of his brain - the Doctor finds things like his morality and taste changes subtly with each regeneration. He's regenerated ten times, thus making for Eleven incarnations of the Doctor across 50 years of the show and hundreds of years in-show.
The Doctor travels around in a stolen TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space), an incredible spaceship that can travel anywhere and anywhen in an instant. The TARDIS had a thing called a chameleon circuit that would disguise it upon landing somewhere - so if he went to ancient Greece, it'd turn into a pillar of marble - but when he landed in 1963 way back in the first episode, it turned into a British Police Box (a real thing back then, folks) and then the circuit broke. He's never fixed it. It's bigger on the inside, the ship essentially infinite in size. The ship is also vaguely sentient.
The Doctor's people, The Time Lords, were once a proud race, but are now long-dead, wiped out in the biggest and most devastating war in the history of the universe. He's the last of his kind, all alone. To offset that he tends to travel with a Companion from Earth, which he basically adopted as his second home. Sometimes it's one person, sometimes two or more. They provide a human angle to the fantastic things they see out in the universe.
The antagonists of Doctor Who range massively, though there are several major recurring enemy elements such as the iconic pepperpot-shaped Daleks, the overly-logical Cybermen (think the Borg 20 years before the Borg existed) and the war-like Sontarans. It's a very long list.
Ok. What's the recommended watching?
There are two primary jumping-on points:
- Point One: 2005 - Series One, Episode One, 'Rose'
- This episode was designed to introduce a whole new generation to Doctor Who, as it hadn't been on TV regularly for over a decade. The issue is at this point in time the series was finding its feet. Series One (and to a lesser extent Two) struggle with where to draw the line between childish cheese and proper drama, and sometimes miss the mark. The show also had a miniscule budget and it shows in poor CGI that has aged even more in the 8 years since. This features an incredible take on The Doctor, though, and will gradually introduce you to everything you need to know. Some people struggle with the cheese and early quality, though.
- Point Two: 2010 - Series Five, Episode One, 'The Eleventh Hour'
- A clean break from the previous four series', this is the first episode of a new showrunner and the first episode with the Eleventh Doctor and his new companion. By this point the show had the popularity, the budget, and a well-defined formula that works. So it's much smoother going.
- Father's Day
- The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
- Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways
- The Christmas Invasion
- Tooth & Claw
- School Reunion
- The Girl in the Fireplace
- Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel
- The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit
- Army of Ghosts/Doomsday
- The Runaway Bride
- Smith & Jones
- The Lazarus Experiment
- Human Nature/Family of Blood
- Utopia/Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords
- Voyage of the Damned
- Partners in Crime
- The Fires of Pompeii
- The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky
- Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
- Midnight, Turn Left/The Stolen Earth/Journey's End
- The Waters of Mars
- The End of Time
- The Eleventh Hour
- The Beast Below
- The Time of Angels/Flesh & Stone
- Vampires in Venice
- Amy's Choice
- Vincent & The Doctor
- The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
- A Christmas Carol
- The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
- The Doctor's Wife
- The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People
- A Good Man Goes to War/Let's Kill Hitler
- The Girl Who Waited
- The God Complex
- The Wedding of River Song
- Asylum of the Daleks
- A Town Called Mercy
- The Angels Take Manhattan
- The Snowmen
- The Bells of Saint John
- The Rings of Akhaten
- Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
- The Crimson Horror
- Name of the Doctor
You can find Doctor Who pretty much everywhere that matters. Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Video. DVDs are now easy to find, even in the US.
Special thanks to the awesome NeoGAF Doctor Who thread where I'm stupidly active. I lifted a lot of this vast OP from there.
So.. any other Whovians here?