I wasn’t originally planning on making a post about a TV show, but since I wasn’t originally planning on making a post today at all, I guess it all evens out in the wash. See, I don’t have cable. All movies and TV shows that grace my ocular globes are streamed straight through the Xbox (I’m… not sure why I just said ocular globes instead of eyes just now). As the story goes, one day I woke up with an insatiable appetite for terrible science fiction shows, which have led me down the path of watching shows like Farscape (meh), Sliders (ehhhh) and Primeval (ugh). One show that I have found that I have enjoyed thoroughly, however, has been Dr. Who, which I kind of went in to with complete ignorance about what kind of show that was.
Dr. Who has been a staple in British culture for the past five decades or so. My brother once told me that the one thing every British man has is common is the memory of hiding behind the couch during the scary parts of Dr. Who, which I can totally understand. If I had stumbled across this show when I was a kid, I totally would have hidden behind the couch, if not a table or family member. I’m not going to get into the entire, massive canon of Dr. Who, though, mostly because I don’t know large chunks of it. I started with the new series, that started in 2005, because I figured maybe I shouldn’t jump into the movies blind, and also because none of the older series were available on Netflix.
Here’s the basic rundown of Dr. Who. He is the last of an ancient race of time travelers known as Time Lords, who look like humans but have two hearts, what for double efficiency. (I get the feeling that him being the last is a somewhat recent development at the beginning of the series, but I don’t have much proof of this) No one knows his name. He just introduces himself as “The Doctor” to everyone, which, once again, I’m guessing is just something Time Lords do.
Anyway, The Doctor has a time machine called a Tardis. This looks like a blue police box, because as the Doctor puts it, it landed in the 1970s and its built-in camouflage just sort of got stuck that way. He is also over 900 years old, and has spent much of that leapfrogging through history, space, and time to cause/solve shenanigans. He also has a habit of picking up companions from across history, though most of those are usually attractive women from London who are exceptionally bright, but who live boring, boring lives.
Enosh (God rest his soul) once commented that Dr. Who randomly meandered through 60 years of canon, and that’s precisely what it does. There’s a bit of a mechanic, wherein the doctor regenerates as a different person if he gets too hurt, which means we’re talking about the same doctor through the past few decades. This also means those extremely retro-looking cybermen and the insanely dangerous Dalek who look like trash cans with toilet plungers stuck to the front, are still around. Don’t worry, though… there are other monsters to see if you’re in the mood for something more current.
What I found fascinating about Dr. Who is the wide range you’ll experience in each episode. Each season is basically leading toward a “showdown” (though honestly I had a hard time telling which plot threads were left dangling by accident and which were intentional), but in each season you’ll find horror stories, action tales, and plenty of comedy to go around, and you’ll be hard pressed to find an episode you don’t enjoy. Because hey? The doctor is fucking nuts. He talks at a mile a minute and has a tendency to hug random people just for being people.
My main problem with this show, however, is that I had a hard time taking some of the episodes seriously. This is because Dr. Who’s antics are tempered by his good friend, Deus Ex Machina.
What do I mean by this? Well, several times in the series horrible things happen, not just to the doctor and to his companions, but to London, the world, and sometimes the universe. But that big evil never seems to stick. There’s always some previously-unheard of solution that can fix everything, reverse doomsday, and return the world to rainbows and lollipops forever. Hell, the doctor carries a damn Deus Ex Machina around with him. It’s called a “sonic screwdriver” that seems to be able to do whatever he needs it to.
The cast of the show, which are pretty numerous by the time you run out of episodes on Netflicks, are all very well done. You’ll actually care what happens to each of them, which is more than I can say about some shows I’ve watched since then. (Seriously, if half the characters of Farscape died, I don’t think I’d notice)
At the very least you should give it a shot and embrace the sci-fi. Come on, get some British culture in you. Did you know that when they say “chips” they really mean “french fries?” What do they call chips then? When will you solve THAT mystery, Dr. Who? When?