Catching Up on Doctor Who (Spoilers for the first twenty+ seasons and the BBC Books)

There’s currently a thread regarding the new Doctor Who Series showing on the Sci-fi channel. Okay, so it’s new to us USAians, not to everyone else in the world.

The purpose of this thread is to catch everyone up to the current Series. If it is discussed in the new series (ie it involves Doctor #9 or higher) please box it. If it involves Doctors # 1-8 in TV, book, or radio form, it is fair game.

As far as backstory goes, there’s not really anything from the old series that you need to know to understand the new one. The Wikipedia article on Doctor Who contains a wealth of information that can help you fill in the blanks, but all in all the new series is pretty much self-contained.

Remember, too, that, in continuity, the doctor has been around for centuries (the last age I recal was that he was in his mid-700s). He has had many adventures that were never shown on the air (for instance, in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang,” he says he took part on “The final assault on Reykjavik” against Magnus Greel, but that has never been portrayed.)

So the writers can bring anything up and make it part of his background. You really don’t need to know much about it when watching the series – and the writers are usually pretty good about having him mention the connection.

For instance, in “Rose” (the first episode shown Friday night), the aliens were clearly Autons and the Nestine Consciousness from two earlier Dr. Who episodes. However, if you didn’t know that, it didn’t really matter, since it had no real impact on the plot.

I have a Dr. Who related question. Namely…the guy has a time machine. So why is he always in such a hurry to stop the bad guys?

Fer example, in Rose and the End of the World, they go to a space station that has been sabotaged and Bad Things happen. Specifically, the hot female tree gets burned to ashes. Which was too bad, 'cause she probably would have made a better female companion than Rose who spent most of the episode curled up in a fetal ball. Naturally, at the last moment, the day is saved.

Why doesn’t the Doctor ever use the Tardis to go back in time to fix things before they become dire? Or, if that would cause time paradoxes, why doesn’t he pull a Bil&Ted and hide necessary things so that they’ll be handy when things fall apart?

Is there any explanation in the Dr. Who canon that explains it?

Yes. It’s currently explained as “The Blinovich Limitation Effect,” as indicated in this thread, post #34.

In the earlier days of the show, that wasn’t a problem, since the Doctor had very limited control of where he could go, and (going to the very beginning) could never revisit a time and place.

It’s been mentioned in the Second Episode of the new series, that The Doctor is the last Time Lord. So what happened to Romana and Susan?

Wasn’t Romana left in E-space? Or whatever the mini-universe was called?

The canonical explanation for things like this is as follows:
Companion: Why does/doesn’t/is/isn’t/can/can’t etc.?
Doctor: I’ll explain later.

The BBC has a complete episode guide if you want to read up on the adventures of the first 8 Doctors and his companions.

Not to mention that the TARDIS often ended up being moved or otherwise made inaccessible until the current problem was solved.

Well, since we never really find out the exact details of what happened to Gallifrey and the Time Lords, we don’t really know. But it’s interesting that the Doctor seems to be very definite about the fact that he is the last of his kind - that he believes that every other Time Lord in every other time is dead and gone. This obviously implies that something far more drastic happened than Gallifrey blowing up. Somehow the Time Lords and their enemies were removed from time and space, although the universe retains some kind of mythical knowledge of them (the tree lady, for instance, seems to have heard of the Time Lords, but refuses to believe it when her little hand-held doohickey tells her that the Doctor is one.)

Something similar (but different) happened in the novels - the Doctor removed Gallifrey and the Time Lords from history to avoid a war that he knew was coming and was going to devestate the universe. He was protected from the change, but lost all his memories and knowledge of his origins, and from that point on travelled throughout a universe that had never known the Time Lords. If the novels and the new series are to be considered to have the same continuity, then Gallifrey must have been restored at some point, since the way it happens in the new series and the way it happened in the novels were fairly different. And indeed, the final Eighth Doctor novel (published some time soon after the start of the new series, I believe) puts in place all the elements necessary to allow the Time Lords to be restored to the universe… which is a bummer for them, really, as they’re destined to die all over again. Not the luckiest of planets. (Russel T. Davies considers the unfortunate fact of Gallifrey being destroyed twice as being somewhat like Earth’s two world wars.)

Yep. According to the novels, she eventually returned to our universe and became President of Gallifrey, and a right royal bitch. The novels aren’t cannon, of course, but Russel T. Davies has confirmed that Romana was president of Gallifrey during the Time War.

As for Susan, in the novels she eventually left Earth, where the Doctor unceremoniously offloaded her after the Dakek Invasion, got her hands on the Master’s TARDIS, and had her own adventures in time and space. But presumably she’s dead in a ditch as well.

Some Time Lords disassociated themselves from their colleagues from Gallifrey. They can still regenerate but no longer have a TARDIS; they are, in effect, retired. I wonder if any of them are still around in the time of the Ninth Doctor.

For some reason, I thought the BBC Novels were cannon.

There’s an episode in this season, actually, that shows the consequences of what happens when a time traveller interferes in a moment of time s/he’s already involved in.

You mean like Professor Chronotis? :slight_smile:

Really? Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve heard anything official either way, but had just assumed they wouldn’t be. Bad me.

I’d love it if they were cannon. Not that it would ever happen, but it would mean we could potentially meet Fitz or Compassion, which would be great. Although Compassion has probably gone the way of the Time Lords.

Also the guru K’anpo Rimpoche from “Planet of the Spiders”.

Never speak such blasphemy again. Those things were abominations.