A Beginner’s Guide to Doctor Who

You can’t be British and not love Doctor Who (seriously it’s like an ingrained part of their culture), and even if you’re not British, Doctor Who is a fantastic series that’s full of interesting themes, fun characters, crazy scenarios and endless episodes.

What makes this series so popular is likely the beautiful and thought-provoking themes that come up, as well as the interesting characters. This show will get you attached to people, even if you know they will likely die (and come back. Some people have died multiple times. It’s a thing that happens, just go with it.) This show will tear your heart out and you will enjoy it.

That being said, Doctor Who is definitely one of those shows that can be hard to explain at first. For one thing, the show has gone on for decades and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, so there’s so much history behind the show. And the very nature of the show, which includes time travel and different dimensions, means that it’s rather complicated. It’s one of those shows that tends to throw logic out the window, but still acts like everything it’s doing is completely logical.

But let’s dive into a beginner’s look at Doctor Who!

What is Doctor Who?

The basic premise behind the story is of a character called the Doctor. He’s a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, and as such he can travel through time and space with his TARDIS. He also has powers of regeneration, which essentially lets him become reborn as a different person. Much of the show involves him traveling with a companion from Earth and having all sorts of interesting adventures.

What also sets this show apart is its look at the human condition, philosophies surrounding people, and what it means to have a meaningful life. This Doctor isn’t a man out to fight, but a man who appreciates all manner of life and is willing to put his own on the line to protect it. It’s a surprisingly deep and beautiful show, all wrapped up in crazy scenarios and funny characters.

History

This show got started in the 1960s and was originally an educational show where the Doctor traveled to different time periods and taught you about them. As the show progressed, we learned more about The Doctor and got quite a few interesting stories about his past and the people he traveled with.

The concept of the Doctor being able to regenerate and be reborn essentially as a different person came out of a way to continue the show. When the original actor decided he didn’t want to do the show anymore, they had to come up with a way to continue the show, but explain why the main character now had a different face. Hence regeneration. We are now currently on the 13th Doctor, with the latest Doctor actually being a woman, which is pretty cool!

The show did go on a 15-year hiatus (well, it was kind of canceled, but then brought back). The start of the new series, also called the New Who, has a bit more of a modern take on our Doctor. It was kind of a reboot, but not really since they continued with the line of Doctors, starting with the 9th Doctor. While the “New Who” as they call it is a bit more modern, it still calls back to a lot of the classic Doctor Who, including bringing in enemies like the Daleks.

Where to Start?

So where should you start on this crazy show? This kind of depends on whether or not you want to start with the more modern Doctor Who, or go back to the classics. If you want to go back to the beginning, start with the episodes of the very first Doctor. That will take you a long time, since there are literally decades worth of episodes if you go with the Classic Who. (In fact, some of the earlier episodes have been lost, so that may be impossible.) There are DVDs of the Classic Who, so if you’re a purist and want to go to the beginning, start there.

If you’re looking for something a little more modern, start with the 9th Doctor (though be warned, the first few episodes will be rather cheesy. It does get better as you go, I promise.) Some people also recommend starting with the 11th Doctor, since his introduction is a bit less cheesy, but I think starting with 9 is better, since it does a good job of explaining who the Doctor is, and what happened to his people.

Trivia

  • Ridley Scot was originally going to design the Daleks, one of the more famous enemies of The Doctor
  • Douglas Adams wrote several episodes of Doctor Who
  • The show was originally created as a kids’ series
  • More than 100 episodes of the show have been lost due to age
  • The Long scarf Tom Baker wore as the 4th Doctor was created by accident
  • The show employed BBC’s first female-employed producer

No matter where you start with this series, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing adventure through time and space with one of the most interesting characters in Sci-Fi history. So, get your sonic screwdrivers, don’t forget a banana, and come join the Doctor for an adventure of a lifetime!

And if you want more info on the good Doctor, visit our Doctor Who episode order page.

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