That’s the one starring Christopher Eccleston in case I happen to have any Whovians reading who think I’m going to be talking about the first season from back in the ’60s. I am not a Doctor Who fan (it took me months to get through Eccleston’s 13 episode run), and I honestly don’t have any interest in going back to the earlier incarnations of the show (mostly because that’s just an absurd amount of story to catch up on, and I do have other things I like to watch).
General impressions follow.
Doctor Who is definitely a genre show. It has all the pop culture markings of science fiction with aliens, time travel, and incredible technology. What it doesn’t seem to have is a lot of justification behind its setting. What I mean is that this show is so far from hard sci-fi that I’m tempted to call it more science fantasy (putting it in the same realm as Star Wars, of which I’m a long time fan). There seem to be rules for time travel on the show, but they’re kind of haphazard, and all the alien biologies and technologies seem to have very little in-depth thought put into them. When I first started watching the show, I was a little put off by all that, mostly because I guess I had somehow in my head decided that Dr. Who was like Star Trek but vaguely contemporary and British.
All the experienced Whovians can laugh at me now.
Of course, these expectations coupled with the fact that the first five episodes or so are positively awful (I didn’t start resonating with Rose and the Doctor as characters until the episode with the Dalek who had been captured and incorporated into some obnoxious rich American guy’s internet menagerie) meant that I just didn’t get what all the love for this series was about. When I did hit on the Dalek episode, things got better really fast. I think I can say I was hooked with the two-parter about the zombie gas mask people in World War II (that story was thoroughly creepy).
Somewhere along the way, where I found the show compelling, I realized that the important thing is to let go of the idea that this is good science fiction. It’s not. In fact, it’s downright goofy, and some of my friends who are absolute nerds about science feel like the show’s just too zany for their sci-fi tastes. Of course, in place of good science fiction, I realized that it’s actually an excellent character drama (as far as I’m concerned). Also, I figured out that this season of Doctor Who is not really that much about the Doctor (again, I’m going to throw myself on the mercy of Whovians who know better, but I just figured a nearly immortal time traveler whose name is in the title of the show would be the central character). Yes, there’s some stuff developing the Doctor’s character in relation to the aftermath of the Time War (whatever that is), and that’s all good, but the arc of this season is really about Rose and her maturation as she learns to help people and never give up on her goals.
Anywho, I don’t have much else to say at this point, but I’ve definitely seen enough that I’m interested in continuing with the series. From what I can tell, David Tennant’s run following Eccleston was fantastic (or should I say, “FANTASTIC!”; I actually really liked that little quirk), so I’m hoping for good things.