When I was a wee laddie, I watched a few Doctor Who episodes on the local P.B.S. station, which I found rather disturbing. I pretty much forgot about the show until Andrew in his reignant nerdiness initiated me into the forty-five year old B.B.C. cult. I dare not claim to be a real fan, but Andrew tells me that I have seen about two thirds of the show—mostly in the middle of the night with severe sleep deprivation, but such is my poison. I cannot compare with the fellow from Doctor Who Survival, who watched the whole series in less than four months. Nonetheless, I have developed a taste for the quirky British children’s show.
I am happy that the B.B.C. has brought the series back after a hiatus, and I am not simply going to judge the classic series or the new series better or worse, as the results are quite mixed. The peculiar form of Doctor Who allows for considerable diversity in the show. The cast, writers, and production crew gradually change all the time. The basic storyline features a time traveling alien who meets folks and brings them along for a spell as companions on his adventures through time and space. Each world and time period offer a different situation, usually troublesome, where the Doctor entangles himself in the messy business of the moment. Other than that general description, the show has few other constraints. There are some arching plotlines and revisted themes, ideas, characters, and settings, but one could argue that Doctor Who is more of a B.B.C. brand than a coherent unified fictional whole. Nevertheless, it is often fun. Even with the primitive special effects during the show’s first decades, it is entertaining television.
By far, my favorite doctor is the fourth—Tom Baker. Below is a delightful example of his zaniness in the most enjoyable “City of Death.” (You may wish to fast-forward to 1:11 to bypass the “scary alien cliffhanger” replayed from the previous broadcast.)
You can watch the whole episode starting here. Indeed, Captainkey’s DailyMotion account has several classic episodes that you can watch online.
The classic series has several cleverly written serials, and in the “City of Death” we see the handiwork of Douglas Adams. He was brilliantly funny.
The new series also has some remarkable episodes such as “The Empty Child” / “The Doctor Dances,” “The Girl in the Fireplace,” and “Blink”—all by Steven Moffatt. I look forward to his taking over the show in A.D. 2010.