Finding the Doctor

In an earlier post, Tor.com’s Pablo Defendini covered a Q&A with Steven Moffat from San Diego Comic Con. [And more of that interview will be posted shortly.] Starting with series five, Moffat, who wrote several of the most memorable episodes of the BBC’s Doctor Who revival, including “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” and “The Girl in the Fireplace” (both of which won Hugo Awards) and the very scary “Blink,” will take over as showrunner. The fourth season recently ended.

When I was a little kid I’d watch Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor Who on PBS with my Dad. For decades I carried around in my head images of the Doctor’s wild curly hair and long scarf, K-9 and the TARDIS. None of the plots stuck with me although I remember being scared of Daleks and I always had a distinct memory of Sarah Jane being very put out because the Doctor returned her to earth in the wrong place.

After many years, and more Doctors that I didn’t watch, Russell T. Davies — whose name I either curse or speak with reverence — revived the franchise with Chris Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. I resisted. At that point I still referred to the TARDIS as a “phone booth” and had a lot of other stuff to watch. I resisted.

When I finally watched, it took eight minutes into the first episode and I was gone, completely hooked.

[more below the cut…]

The show took strongly enough with me that when Nine changed to Ten, it felt wrong, all wrong. What had they done with my Doctor? And if anything should happen to Ten and we get an Eleven, I’ll probably say the same thing (it may not hurt quite as much; they say you never really let go of your first Doctor). Every companion that comes along, I think is the best one, until the next one. “Who was the best companion?” is about an unanswerable as “who was the best Doctor?”

According to epguides.com, the series started November 23, 1963 and ran almost every year (skipping a few years) until 1989. New Who started up in March of 2005. That’s a lot of backlog to catch up on, even considering a number of the earliest episodes are lost. But the more deeply I get pulled in to New Who the more curious I am about the history.

For now I’m perfectly content (aside from the occasional rant) with my New School Who. Doctor Who, as a character and an idea and a franchise, is fantastic. It veers between cheesy plots and superb science fiction, mixed with convincing drama, humor and sadness (sometimes it does it all of that at the same time; did you hear that the TARDIS can do your laundry, too?) The ideas and emotions hit a universal note. I’d recommend it to people who have a heartbeat.

[Image by Andrew Wong, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5. Full image details here.]

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