As a child, my father would often talk about one of his favorite TV shows from his youth: Doctor Who. The show first began in November of 1963, and though it was a BBC creation, it became a huge hit both in and outside of the United Kingdom. Because of my father’s love for the show, I was forced to watch the Doctor Who movie when it was released in 1996. And though the movie cannot be called a masterpiece, it opened my eyes to what I can confidently say is one of the best science-fiction series ever created.
For those who are not already Doctor Who fans, here is a short summary. (But believe me, this show must be experienced first-hand to see its greatness.)
The Doctor is the last of a race of aliens called the Time Lords from the planet Gallifrey. He travels through time and space in the TARDIS (a “Time And Relative Dimensions In Space” spaceship) disguised as a British police box. The Doctor always has a “companion” traveling with him. These companions—usually a human woman—change every few seasons, and though each of them are very different, they all add humor and drama to the show.
With the help of his TARDIS, the Doctor constantly uses his superior wit and intelligence to save planets and the entire universe from his enemies and other dangers. His oldest enemies are the Daleks, a mutant race concealed in tank-like armor whose one goal is to destroy all things not-Dalek. Though the Doctor does travel to other worlds, many of the more recent episodes have the Doctor saving earth—but he doesn’t do it by himself.
An interesting characteristic of the Time Lords is that they are able to regenerate when they get close to death, a skill they can use up to 13 times. This ability has allowed the series to change the main actor through the years. Since its creation, there have been 11 Doctors.
When the show returned in 2005, the Ninth Doctor was played by Christopher Eccleston. Though he only had the role for one year before his Doctor was killed off and replaced by David Tennant, Eccleston’s amazing job allowed the show to gain a fairly large following. With Tennant as the Doctor, however, the show truly took off. As its popularity grew, the show developed and improved, mainly through better graphics that could truly support the action-packed episodes. During his five years as the Doctor, Tennant created a Doctor that captured the viewers’ attention and adoration.
Since Tennant was such an amazing Doctor, it was hard to believe that his character was killed off last season. The newest incarnation of the Doctor, played by Matt Smith, began his journey when the season premier aired on Apr. 3. With his new companion, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), the 11th Doctor has already closed a crack in time, traveled to a future London in which the city is a spaceship, and stopped one of his biggest enemies from destroying the earth. In each of these episodes, Smith has put a new energy into the character that, if kept through the rest of the season, could make him an even more adored Doctor than his predecessor David Tennant.
What is amazing about the show is that it’s not just a redone version of the original seasons, but truly is a continuation of them. At the same time, it is not necessary for someone to have watched all the other seasons to love the show. One of the best parts of the show are all the amazing, but almost inconspicuous, connections between the episodes, and the beautiful foreshadowing that makes a person go, “Holy shit! How did the writers think of that!” Each episode has humor, adventure, mystery, tension and anything else a person is looking for in good television. And if the plot wasn’t enough, the worlds and creatures that each episode introduces make a person want to keep watching. I would even dare to say that a person who has never before enjoyed science-fiction television would become addicted to Doctor Who. It is just that amazing.