Doctor Who (2005- )
The Ninth Doctor: "Do you wanna come with me? 'Cause if you do then I should warn you, you're gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past; Aliens from the future; the day the Earth died in a ball of flame; It won't be quiet, it won't be safe, and it won't be calm. But I'll tell you what it will be: the trip of a lifetime."
This review is difficult. I want to tell people about the pure awesome that is Doctor Who, but how? Obviously people love and watch the show, the original or Classic Doctor Who as it is known now started in 1963 and ended in 1989. There was a T.V. movie in 1997 (starting Eric Roberts as the Master), then finally a reboot/continuation in 2005. Despite this, I run into people all the time who have never heard or watched a show that has lasted 50 years. That's right, this show is having its 50 year Anniversary Special in November, then we have the Christmas Special a month later that introduces us to the Twelfth Doctor. So instead of doing a normal review where I try to give the good and bad, I am taking a page from the Doctor and just going ramble about the show and why I watch it.
First, a quick rundown so everyone can keep track. The show starts with the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) who runs for a season with his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). After a season we get the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) who runs for three seasons with companions Rose, then Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) and finally Donna Noble (Catherine Tate). Then we get the Eleventh (Matt Smith) who has run for three seasons with companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Clara (Jenna Coleman). Now, lets begin why I watch Doctor Who, Allons-y!
The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. Time Lords have the interesting ability of regeneration, where the time lord can choose to take on a new body when they are dying. What makes the regeneration interesting and not just a gimmicky way to change actors (like Sliders) is that the Doctors entire persona changes and a whole new person emerges. The Tenth Doctor expresses this the best with "I can still die. If I'm killed before regeneration, then I'm dead. Even then, even if I change, it feels like dying. Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away...and I'm dead." I truly felt sorry for him during this scene.
The Doctor is roughly 1,200 years old, if you can believe the Doctor. He stole his spaceship called the T.A.R.D.I.S. (which stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) from a museum or she stole him depending on who you ask. He travels around space and time stumbling into situations that usually end with him righting wrongs and saving civilizations. His back-story is delivered in bits over time, with most still being a mystery. It is not really important to the episodes, and I feel he is either running away from something he did or trying to atone for it, maybe both. He travels with a companion, usually a female, because he is lonely. Almost like a little kid, he loves gallivanting around, showing off highlights of the universe. What I love about the Doctor is his never ending belief in the good in people. He always gives his enemies the chance to walk away, even at the cost of his own life, because he believes people are good. I am not saying he won't give a bad person what is coming to them, but he will give them the option to stop first.
The companions in Doctor Who provide a nice mix-bag of fun. None of them can be classed as "worthless", except one, and he got kicked off the T.A.R.D.I.S. at the end of that episode. Annoying characters generally turn out to be pretty awesome, and even if you didn't like them at the start, you find yourself sad when they go. Rose's boyfriend Micky (Noel Clark) is a good example. At first I wanted to just reach in the T.V. and rip up his man card... even the Doctor didn't care for him, regularly making the comment he was Rose's pet. This spurns him to become somebody and to "stop being the dog". He comes back later much more manly then what he was and saves the day, and it made up for all the whining he did. Donna Noble is probably the best and saddest example of this. Donna started off in the Christmas Special "The Runaway Bride". She was a bride who just appeared on the T.A.R.D.I.S. Her character was superficial and self-serving and is what Donna at the end would call a "twit". She leaves at the end of the special, and a season later we find out that her experience caused her to realize the world is bigger then her and she starts down a journey that brings her back to the Doctor and becoming possibly one of the greatest companions ever. This makes her departure one of the saddest, Donna gets completely screwed over after saving twenty-seven planets (one being Earth).
And that is just the regulars. There is Captain Jack Harkness, who I will talk about in the Torchwood review. River Song starts in season four and continues through season seven. I am almost afraid to talk about her, mainly because her character is so complex and integral to a bunch of story-lines. Her time line is moving opposite the Doctors. No real mechanics of how they meet this way is discussed, but the way it is played out and written is amazing. The stories are peppered with characters that stand out, Rory the Roman, Winston Churchill, Wilfred Mott, Strax, Sarah Jane Smith, K-9, Madame Vastra, Jenny, the list goes on.
I have watched a lot of T.V. Shows and movies and in all the thousands of hours of film I have rarely come across anything that manages to weave plot threads and stories like Doctor Who. There are bits that pepper the background in season one that do not come full circle and complete until the season two finale. Same with season three, and in season four we get River who's story really doesn't become clear until season six. Russel T. Davies and Stephen Moffet are geniuses. They have taken a 50 year old show and made it interesting and relevant for today's world. Off the top of my head is the episode about an alien in the wireless signal (7x16), which it made me afraid of my cell phone for a minute. The Weeping Angels will creep you out, and the Vashta Nerada are just scary. Each episode is a great story that makes you think, laugh and occasionally want to cry. It is Sci-Fi at its best mainly because all the space and monsters are telling us something about people, earth and humanity as a whole while entertaining us at the same time. The Doctor has all these technological wonders at his disposal and prefers to use his brain and screwdriver instead. All while quipping away about anything and everything. There is a little of something for everyone in the series. There is some mystery episodes, some action-centered episodes, comedic stories and a whole lot of adventure stories. There was even a western episode. The worst episode in this series (going with Fear Her 2x11) is better then 80% of the crap on television today.
The show also does a good job of giving you all the information you need. Granted, if you watch the Classic Doctor Who you will catch jokes or back-story, but it is not needed. The show will give you everything you need in the narrative. No catching up required.
Doctor Who is one of my favorite shows. Just hearing the dramatic Doctor music in the commercials gets my hair standing up and me wanting more Who. I do not know what it is about a crazy man with a box, but it makes great television. I really don't know why you are still reading this, not jumping on Netflix and watching it. It is so good that I feel everyone should watch at least two episodes of each Doctor. If you do not like one, jump to the next one and give him a try.
I'll leave with this quote from the Eleventh "I wouldn't say that. The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant."