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A Beginner’s Guide to Doctor Who

Last Saturday marked the premiere of yet another new season of the fantastic British sci-fi time travel show, Doctor Who. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people just discovering the joys of this show, and since it has almost half a century of history behind it, there’s bound to be some confusion at one point. As the guy responsible for making most of his friends watch Doctor Who, I feel it is my duty to educate the newbies on the basics of this show so everyone gets up to speed in no time.

Doctor Who is about the adventures of a guy named The Doctor, who travels around time and space in his blue box.

Sometimes he’s a cranky old man, sometimes he’s this eccentric dude with a fondness for jelly babies, and sometimes he’s this mopey whiny dude in a nice snazzy suit. His current incarnation (played amazingly by Matt Smith) is a madman with a fondness for bow ties and questionable hat choices, but the core of the show remains the same. He bounces around space and time – often with no idea where or when he’s going – and ends up in trouble. But he always manages to save the day, because he’s clever like that.

The Doctor is more than 900 years old young, and he’s had 11 faces so far.

Of course the guy’s 900 years old, he’s an alien! A Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, in fact. The Time Lords have this unique trick – at the moment of death, their bodies begin to regenerate. Every cell in their body is renewed, giving them a new lease at life , but at a cost – their bodies, faces, and personalities change. It’s like becoming a totally new person who has the memories of the one who just died. Creepy.

In real life, it’s a clever way of keeping the show running after the leading actor decides to leave. Since the 60’s, there have been 11 actors who have played the Doctor in an official capacity (let’s not even talk about the non-canon movies, audio dramas and stage plays), and every single one of them is amazing.

The Doctor likes to show off, so he always drags a companion along.

And there’s been a LOT. The writers tend to experiment, but most of the time he brings along a hot young human girl. Every single one of them brings something new to the mythos, and like the Doctor constantly changing, this keeps the show going. There have been virginal girls from Victorian England, hot skimpily-dressed cavegirls, journalists who’s every bit as smart as the Doctor himself, pyromaniacs, a girl who the doctor meets in reverse, an awesome Scottish dude in a kilt from Braveheart’s time, and they’re all great.

The current main companion, Amy Pond (played by the gorgeous Karen Gillan), is just so frigging adorable. You can’t help but make her the reason to watch the show in the first place.

So how does The Doctor and his companions fit into that small blue police box?

That police box is actually called a TARDIS, which stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space. That’s his time machine. It’s bigger on the inside. Think of the tent in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but with a console room, lots of corridors and rooms, a library and a swimming pool. The TARDIS is so big that even The Doctor himself admits he hasn’t explored all of it.

Oh, why is it a police box? It’s a disguise. A malfunctioning one actually. The TARDIS can actually change its appearance to blend in, but its “chameleon circuits” aren’t working properly. The Doctor can’t be bothered to fix it (that’s how he rolls). Yeaaaaah, a blue police box will stand out like a sore thumb in, let’s say, Victorian England, but nobody notices it anyway, so shut your whore mouth and suspend your belief like a good fan should.

So why is he running around in space and time again?

Because it’s fun! If you were given an opportunity to jump around and travel the entire universe, go to any point in time, and save the world from evil menacing aliens time and again, wouldn’t you just do it?

Also, he stole his TARDIS and has been on the run from the Time Lords ever since. Well, that was before he destroyed his entire planet and race in the middle of a huge and destructive Time War. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention – the Time Lords are extinct. No planet, no home, last of his kind, he ends up jumping around in time and space in his blue box – it’s not like he has a choice at this point.

Wait, WHAT?

Remember the evil menacing aliens I was talking about earlier? The Time Lords were in the middle of a war with one of those races – the evil, evil and eeeevil Daleks. They’re genetically engineered creatures with all emotion sucked out of them. Well, except hate. That’s the only thing Daleks know: hate. They hate everything that is not a Dalek and they seek to exterminate all inferior life forms. Kind of like alien Nazis in space.

So yeah, the Time War got so bad that both sides became crazy evil up to the point that it doesn’t matter anymore who wins – in the end, everyone else in the universe will lose if the Time Lords or the Daleks win. So the Doctor kills everyone involved in the war. Yes, he killed his own race to save the universe. Whatta guy.

Well, wasn’t that depressing. Why should I watch Doctor Who again?

Because it’s about this awesome young old man who travels in space and time, saves the day over and over again with the help of his TARDIS, his hot companion, and his sonic screwdriver. After he’s done saving the universe, he steps into his police box to jump into another dangerous and puzzling situation to fix.

Fuck 48 years of continuity, if there’s anything you need to know about The Doctor, it’s this: he’s the universe’s biggest bad-ass motherfucker. Entire races of aliens tremble in fear when his name is mentioned. He’s destroyed countless races and planets. He can change the entire course of history whenever he wants to, but the huge amount of self-control he has keeps him from becoming his own worst enemy. He loves wearing that bow tie just a bit too much. Also, he’s an absolute madman with a box.

Now that you know all the basics of Doctor Who, just go ahead and give the 2005 series (the revival) a shot. If you don’t like to go through everything since 2005, you can start with season 5. Or if you’re not yet convinced, just look for that one episode called Blink. I promise you, it’s worth your time.

Are you watching Doctor Who already? What do you love about it? Tell me more in the comments!

Already caught up with Doctor Who? Check out 10 Great Moments from a Decade of New Doctor Who!

13 responses

  1. I think it's got some sort of perception filter, like the one in the Torchwood base, so people sort of ignore it even when it's supposed to be sticking out like a sore thumb.

  2. Yeah, sometimes they have a perception filter, sometimes they don't. I revel in Doctor Who's inconsistency with its canon.

  3. Cesar M. Romero Avatar
    Cesar M. Romero

    Just wanted to let you know that, all the way down from Mexico, I found this blog by accident, read it (I’m still unsure why), gave Doctor Who a try and fell in love with the series.

    You would make the doctor proud.

    1. Thanks, Cesar! Glad I managed to make somebody else love Doctor Who!

  4. I just started watching it and BY GOD IT’S MORE THAN PERFECT. I began with the Ninth Doctor and I can honestly tell you, its essentially all I care about right now.

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