In my Lost entry, I noted that so much has been written about the show that it seemed silly for me to try and contribute anything. Well, that holds doubly true for Dr. Who. The hardcore online following it has means every episode or bit of news or anything Who-related generates a ton of noise from its many dedicated fans.
Well, I don’t consider myself one of the Tards, or Whovians, or whatever Dr. Who fans go by these days. But I do like the show as some cheese-ball sci-fi fun that occasionally transcends the goofy into some legitimately good storytelling and character work. I’ve seen two and a half seasons of the show — enough to get a good taste for the modern version of the show, but not enough to really be an authority on it, or generalize about the eleven (twelve?) doctors — i.e. protagonists — in the show’s history.
The show deals with a time-traveling, human-like alien known as “The Doctor” who can fly anywhere in space or time in his phone booth called the Tardis which opens up into a spacious cockpit as soon as you step inside. The Doctor has regenerated into several forms — i.e. actors — over the show’s fifty year history, and they all find some Earthling to bring along on adventures as a “companion.”
The rest of the show is set up somewhat like a procedural, The Doctor playing the role of the detective, with a few serial plotlines carrying from episode to episode. The fun of the Tardis’s ability to go anywhere in space and time is that the show can tackle pretty much any setting it would like to, and even do mind-trippy time-travel stories.
Most of what I’ve watched has featured the Eleventh Doctor, this form played by the gangly Matt Smith. I hear that these episodes were tilted a bit more towards comedy than some of the show’s other iterations, and I’d believe it — there’s been a strong emphasis on one-liners and goofiness in the episodes I’ve seen, which I’ve enjoyed.
The best episodes thrust a main character into some external conflict and embroil one of the character’s fundamental flaws: The Doctor’s refusal to compromise, companion Amy Pond’s flightiness, or other-companion Rory’s wimpiness and knack for dying.
My wife and I lost steam watching this show on Netflix, but we definitely intend to catch up and perhaps revisit the beloved Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) at some point. There is some eye-rolling corniness in what we’ve seen so far — cheap SFX, Rory’s repeated deaths, the universe exploding in a season finale, and a blatant disregard for time-travel paradoxes — but there’s plenty to enjoy in this understandable cult hit show.