The first encounter I had with the Doctor was second hand at a convention. A very good friend of mine was walking around the dealer room with me and I followed him to a booth full of Whovian must haves. I shrugged off his enthusiasm and turned my sights to things that DID interest me, like Pocky and Japanese dramas. This nonchalant regard for something amazing caused my love for Doctor Who to sprout a couple of years later. After much chiding from this friend, I finally sat down in front of ye olde Xbox and began with the Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, who I’d seen in several bit rols as a villain and generally liked as an actor. I’m not going to lie and say I was immediately sucked in and watched each episode, jaw wide, and brow furrowed in concentration. I’m not going to say I watched more than two episodes in my first sitting because both of those would be lies. I ended up watching the first one and a half episodes, rolling my eyes and turning it off to play Batman: Arkham Asylum. After months of debating on whether or not to continue or delete it permanently from my queue, I finally woman’d up and sat down for the long haul. I re-watched episode 1 and paid extra attention to the characters. Little did I know that the Face of Boe from episode 2, who I initially thought was stupid looking, would end up being one of my favorite characters. My waning interest took a steep hike upward when I reached episode 7, “Dalek”, and I found myself ensconced in this universe forever. There was no turning back as the tortured and lonely Doctor spoke and goaded the imprisoned and defenseless arch nemesis of his people. I watched every single episode available on Netflix before downloading current episodes of the quirky Eleventh Doctor. When my lust for the show continued, I turned my sights to Torchwood, which helped fill my Doctor shaped gap, albeit with a much more mature take on things.
As I began attempting to infect a family member with Whovian love, she asked me: What’s so great about Doctor Who? I opened my mouth to say what I thought would be an easy answer and instead it took me quite a while to find words to describe it. What I find great about Doctor Who, others might find tedious, silly, or even alarming in some cases. If you’ve never seen an episode of Doctor Who, I’m unsure as how to describe it to you. It’s definitely science fiction but there are action elements, arcs filled with drama and romantic entanglement while at the same time, there’s comedic relief and sadness. Since I didn’t know what to say, I asked around. My first stop was a fellow Who lover, Amy Ratcliff of Geeks with Curves fame.
She states, “Doctor Who draws me in for a few reasons: the history, the balance of camp vs. heavy stories, and the interchangeable characters. I’ve only watched a small portion of the series (from the 9th Doctor on), but the show reaches back to the sixties. In my opinion, any form of entertainment that has that kind of staying power has to at least be checked out. It took me too long to do so. The stories are fun, serious, scary, and sometimes just silly adventures. I like the range and variety presented.”
Interesting as I feel all those things when I watch Doctor Who. I next spoke to Tracy Sheffield or Hot Nerd Girl since she recently got into Doctor Who and I also felt as she did.
She states, “The sci-fi aspect of it is, of course, amazing, but what draws most people in (even those who don’t have an affinity for sci-fi) is the emotional whallop it delivers with each episode. Very rarely does a TV show make grown men cry and my guy friends have hit the hankies more than a few times while watching the show. Plus, there’s almost a religious aspect to the Time Lords and believing in a greater being that saves humanity. The stories are rich and well-written and the acting is obviously top notch. I dunno, in many ways the pull of it is indescribable, it just IS, ya know?”
Oh, boy. I know what you mean. I also tried to find people who’d tried Doctor Who and didn’t like the show to see what didn’t appeal to them. Oddly, I couldn’t find many in my research and it took awhile to gather an intelligent opinion. A friend of mine finally obliged and told me straight: “First off, I have a really hard time with non-comedy Brit shows. I don’t know if I’m racist against them or what, but if it ain’t comedy I usually wont watch it, but in this case I watched ALL of the new run’s first season, and not one episode grabbed me. What sucks too is that I really kind of like Christopher Eccleston, he’s way too cool to play such a lame as fuck nerdy character. And the acting in the show? Oh my God, AWFUL man. As for the old stuff, I used to watch it in the 90’s because one of my freinds was a fan of the 70’s shit. I guess it wasn’t so bad… if I took enough drugs to make it good. All in all, I really think NO ONE like DW, but they all say they do for some sort of “geek cred” and because someone of someone said it was ‘awesome’.”
Of course, while I don’t agree (how could you NOT continue with Tennant??), everyone’s entitled to their own opinions and amazingly as soon as I found someone who didn’t like Doctor Who, another one appeared in the form of Army man Pinoy who eloquently stated, “I don’t like Doctor Who. I have tried to watch it many many times and just can’t bring myself to enjoy it. I’m not really sure what it is that I don’t like about it. There are a few episodes scattered through out the many series that I like but the show in all does not appeal to me.”
The only problem I have with these statements is there’s not a pinpointed reason about an aspect of the show that’s disliked, it’s just a general type of thing. This was becoming a much more arduous task once I began. How could I expect anyone to pinpoint what they loved or hated if I couldn’t do it myself? A list of pros and cons didn’t help either; my list was of course one sided but didn’t present a clear answer either. Perhaps a look at the construct of the character and show would help me. I sat in the back of my comic shop, ravaging back issues of Doctor Who Insider and Doctor Who Magazine to read up on interviews on the behind the scenes, and the minute detail put into each episode to present a canon the fans can appreciate. This question is harder to answer than anything else I’ve come across.
Actually, it’s similar to the glaring question everyone asks: Doctor who? Alas, only River Song knows and she has been “saved.” So I turn to you all, what do you love or hate about Doctor Who?
Is it the companions?
Is it the Time Lord himself?
The delicious Captain Jack Harkness?
Let me know, I’m very curious as to how you got into Doctor Who.
All opinions and facts are based on my own personal viewings of said series and the opinions of several well known friends. Some facts/insights have been taken from various episodes while I watched, giggling to myself.