A couple of weeks ago, my father kept bugging me about a show he’d recently discovered: Doctor Who. A friend had recommended the show to me over the summer and I tried it but found myself unable to get through episode one. I found the graphics and the acting to be sub-par. But my dad kept talking about it. And I mean KEPT. Like brought it up every day on our morning bus ride to the city. I told him I didn’t like to watch shows not from the beginning (which would be quite a trick since the show started back in the 1960s and has been on and off since, being most recently rejuvenated in 2005). Finally, after he’d driven me crazy for…a few days, I agreed to watch the show, starting from the beginning of 2005 (he said you can start with 2010, but that’s not my style).
I’m glad I did because once I watched for a bit longer, I found myself actually enjoying it. Sure, the acting isn’t the greatest (I often find that British shows don’t have the best acting) and the special effects are greatly lacking (some of it is so incredibly old fashioned to the point where things that should be creepy feel more silly than creepy–I know sometimes they’re staying true to the original series, but couldn’t the Daleks have done with an upgrade?), but for some reason it’s still pretty addictive.
I think that discovering that Billie Piper of The Secret Diary of a Call Girl was the first of the companions amused me enough to give it a chance.
The show, it turns out, is fairly clever. Sometimes the cleverness has to do with plays on history (such as meeting Agatha Christie and resolving the question of where she was for the seven days that she couldn’t remember and having her think she failed as a writer) and other times it has to do with the characters.
Considering the number of changes in the Doctor’s companion, they do a good job of integrating each new personality so that it actually feels like they are close to the Doctor. Some are better than others of course, but always you can feel the bond that is developed.
I think the thing I like best about the show is the way they handle serious issues, (SPOILER) such as the departure of Rose (giving a plausible explanation without killing her while keeping her relevant, at least for season three) and the Doctor’s Daughter. I wish they did more in terms of letting us know about the Doctor, though I get that the point is that we don’t know a lot. They slowly build information over the course of the show and we learn something new about him all the time.
I’m only mid-season four so I can’t wait to see where things go. I’ve heard good things about the episode I’m up to (The Library).
I also particularly like how many episode are joint episodes, spanning two, sometimes even three, episodes per arc. It really allows you to get involved and to care about the characters, even when they are temporary.
The concept of time travel is a complicated and confusing one, which has yet to satisfactorily be explained. You can’t change events that are fixed but some are in flux and those ones can be changed. How do you determine one over the other? The Doctor knows. Not the most satisfactory answer. It may be further addressed later, but seeing as I’m pretty far into the show, I don’t think so.