Monday, February 6, 2012

Doctor What Now?

As I mentioned in my first post, I have never seen a single episode of Dr. Who. If you didn't read my first post and are only now feeling outraged at me about this, go ahead, let it all out. I'll wait.
I know, sir. Yes, I'm very sorry...
All right, now that we've got that out of the way, I'll continue.

I knew a little about Dr. Who. It's kind of hard to use the internet and not pick up at least some information about the show. Here is what I knew, or thought I knew, about the show:

-The Doctor is an immortal alien who is reincarnated into a new body when he dies, because the writers apparently decided that the James Bond franchise already had the market cornered on utilizing the "Meh" approach when it came to explaining a constant lead actor rotation
-He travels through time and space in the TARDIS, a ship much larger inside than out, and cleverly disguised as a police call box, which is incredibly effective camouflage
-The Doctor possesses a portable deus ex machina device known as a sonic screwdriver
-The primary antagonists on the show are an alien race known as the Daleks---sentient trashcans with guns glued to their faces
-The Doctor always travels with a companion, typically an attractive human female
Science Fiction: Legitimate genre
And that's it. I've heard nothing but good things about the show from a variety of sources, and I'd always meant to start watching. I just never got around to it. But after Scott commented on my first blog post, forbidding me from writing any more posts until I did so, I decided to give it a go. Even though most people have told me I needed to watch David Tennant's run on the show, Scott recommended I begin with Christoper Eccleston's tenure as the Doctor from 2005, when the show was relaunched. Since I am nothing if not chronological, I decided to begin there. So I pulled the first episode up on Netflix, and gave it a watch.

My initial impression:
Look out! The world is ending!
But let's not be too serious about it.
But really, though, this is bad.
And that's pretty much it. I had seen Dr. Who lampooned many times, but I wasn't prepared for those parodies to be so close to what the show was actually like. It was B-movie grade! The acting was ridiculous! It was just too silly!

And yet...

There's something kind of charming about it, isn't there? I mean, yeah, it's goofy, but there's some legitimate intrigue, some hint of greater character depth below the surface. And the clips from the next episode look a tiny bit interesting...I mean, it would be unfair of me to judge the show after only one episode. I'll just watch one more...

Ok, that was just bizarre. And the special effects are weird. And what is the tone of this show? One minute we're being all cavalier and joke-y about Earth blowing up, and the next we've got our serious face on as we watch someone slowly and gruesomely die. I mean, it was interesting, but...oh, looks like they go to 1860 in the next episode and meet a weird ghost. That actually looks kind of cool...

And that's the thing. Yes, it has all of the flaws I've just pointed out. Maybe more, since I've only seen two episodes so far. But when I let go of all of my expectations, all of my modern sensibilities and the things I demand of modern entertainment, I realized that I was having fun watching this show. A lot of fun. The kind of limitless creativity that can come from having all of time and space to explore is the same kind of freedom you had playing made-up games as a kid. Watching Dr. Who was like watching some precocious children play in the sandbox of their own imaginations. And I dug that.

So, there it is. I finally watched some Dr. Who. Did it blow me away? No. But will I continue to watch it? Probably, yes. Everyone could use 45 minutes of fun and adventure from time to time.

What do you think? Should I keep watching the show in order? Should I jump ahead to David Tennant? And what has been your experience with the show? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!


Jake Dickerman said...

Personally I think the best stuff is when Stephen Moffat is at the helm (the Matt Smith doctor). His episodes are the best of the Davies run (The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink, Shadows in the Library, etc) and I think his first season as story runner was better than all five seasons of Russel Davies. It's not that I don't think there's some David Tennent stuff that's worth watching. He's good. Ecleston was good too. But I like Matt Smith better and I HATED David Tennents companions.

Kyle Curry said...

In my opinion, with David they began experimenting with taking the show in some more interesting directions. They started looking much more at the character of the Doctor, his past, and what he thinks about humans. He is much more of a romantic hero. Additionally I just like David's Doctor better personally. He bring a lot more energy and magic into that show. You can really see how he and Russle Davies worked together much better than with Chris (Hence him leaving after one season.). I agree that many of the Moffat episodes are the best. Really in the new seasons once Moffat took over they are taking the basic idea of doctor who and really breaking out of the classic form way beyond what they did even with David. Neil Gaiman even wrote an episode! On the other had the newest seasons have gotten a bit topical at times and really tried to push a central message a bit to far down our throats, which I can't recall the Tennant seasons doing.

All that to say, I started with the Tennant episodes, got hooked, and still had an eventual desire to go back and watch the Eccleston ones, just to see what they had done, but never fell in love with them the same way.

Chris Rubin said...

I really don't like Matt Smith as the Doctor. I was hopeful and WAY open minded....but nope. He's not my Doctor. I really enjoyed David's high energy whimsey....and then the ability to be believably serious and sad. Matt is too crazy, too energetic, and just not very believable when he has to come off it all and be serious. And Amy....oy. To much ditzy not enough brains in comparison to his other companions (although I do like Rory a lot). But! Jordan you have a lot more watching to do....and I think you'll enjoy the seasons to come. There are some excellent arcs. And I agree with Jake - the Moffat episodes during the Tennent run were the best. Enjoy the British B-movie charm :) (and then we can get you into Torchwood! - chew on that anagram)

Scott Rubin said...

Every Who fan has his or her favorite Doctor and strong feelings about the others, but that's one of the fun things about the community. While I don't think the Eccleston season is the best (and it does get much better with Tennant), I do think it's important to start there as it sets up a fair amount of what comes later. This is especially true concerning Rose, the Daleks, Captain Jack, etc. Keep watching! :-)