Almost everyone in the English-speaking world has a friend who regularly recruit others to indulge in the wonder that is the television show “Doctor Who.” This friend is annoying, at best! (Also likely unhygienic.) May I give it a whirl though?
In the rebooted show, the Doctor, as even you likely know, is a fast-talking, friendly and adorable time-traveling alien who tends to pick up women, indulge them in bizarre adventures throughout space and time, after which the duo will teeter on the verge of romantic affair and then he will fling them back to their ordinary lives (for, ostensibly, their own good). This sounds terrible and very silly! Yet “Doctor Who” is a rare television show in that it runs on equal tracks of high drama, broad comedy, fantasy and irony.
There are three ways in!
• If you were really going to start with “Doctor Who” and do it up, I would urge that you begin with what is technically episode #157, but what is also Season 1, Episode 1 of the new “Doctor Who,” which had been off the air for 16 years when it returned in 2005. This starts a fantastic two-season story-line… that’ll end with you sobbing your eyes out. No joke.
• You can also quite reasonably start with episode #203, or Season 5, Episode 1, which was the most recent season to air. That will introduce you to the current characters.
• But you may also begin this Saturday, with the first airing of episode #214, or Season 6, Episode 1. Step in afresh! You can always backtrack if you enjoy! And I will get you up to speed.
What to expect.
What I think is off-putting to Americans, in particular, though probably Canadians too, because they’re so humorless, is the “Doctor Who” willingness to go cheesy-lowbrow comedy-drama. Foreign TV has foreign conventions! The first viewing can feel icky and odd. Even the editing feels weird, if you don’t watch non-American TV.
Your tastes will modulate as you progress.
Each episode has, obviously, a plot, and often that plot isn’t (immediately) central to the season’s larger plot, and so each episode often involves silly struggles and fighting with goofy enemies. There is lots of very rapid moderately accented talking, and some goofy feats of derring-do.
But the stakes can be rather low in each episode! You may be somewhat charmed, but you will most not likely be immediately impressed by the drama elements. (Nor by the alien menaces.) You will likely think, so what? And also: this is silly.
You might also think it skews too young for you. (Unlike, what, NCIS?)
But you need to stick around. What the producers and directors are expert at is building stakes over a season, weaving little drama skeins into something substantial as (linear!) time progresses.
Getting you up to speed!
Okay so there’s this dude. He is called “the Doctor.” He is kind of a manic cute nerd. He’s actually a SCARY ENDLESSLY OLD ALIEN with TWO HEARTS. He is against violence, doesn’t like guns and thinks people are really funny. Yes, he travels in a time-space ship that is an old telephone box. (IT’S STUCK.)
For the last little bit, he’s been trekking around with a lady named Amy Pond, who is a mouthy thing, and her fiance, Rory, who is sort of dull but is coming into his own. There has been a bit of a love triangle sexual tension thing (uniformly heterosexualist in nature, unfortunately) that has abated. “Now” Rory and Amy are wed.
The Doctor first met Amy when she was seven years old. He jetted in, swore he’d be back in 15 minutes, and then arrived 12 years later. So everyone thought she was craaaazy. But of course she wasn’t. Amy is a great companion for the Doctor because stodgy old English people think she’s kind of a tart! (She’s Scottish. Racists.)
All the last season, it turned out that time was becoming unraveled! As with any time travel plot, it’s nearly impossible to convey, but let’s just say that a really big explosion happened, leaving behind it little cracks in time, which had a tendency to suck things out of existence (such as Amy’s family, and then Rory, and then eventually almost everyone).
That’s all fixed now though! (Into the heart of the sun!) All better, so you, the delighted new viewer, can start afresh.
Also there is a character named River Song (really) but you don’t actually need to know anything about who she is, because we don’t either. There is an exceptional Quora thread that addresses who she may be, if Quora ever comes back online (it was sucked into a time-hole). Don’t worry about it! Let it wash over you.
Here is another way in.
Yes. If you watched just the first five minutes, you’d have seen 40 different kinds of ludicrosities, up to and including Amy Pond and River Song. The real question is: CAN YOU HANG?