What the hell is it about Doctor Who?

Yeah, many years ago I read Harlan Ellison’s explanation why this series is different, but it isn’t enough. I’ve watched all of them, from Star Trek and Star Wars through B5 and both iterations of BSG, as well as other books and shows, both before and after. It doesn’t matter. From the cheesy effects at the start through the wonderful programs now I’m captured, glued to the TV screen, repeatedly. Why?


I haven’t kept up with it as I should, but I just saw an episode that made me wonder why I haven’t kept up with it as I should, and made me wish I had kept up with it as I should.


I watched it because I’ve become a fan of Carey Mulligan, who will almost certainly be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in An Education. That was the first I’d seen her, in that movie. If I’d been watching Doctor Who 2 years ago and seen her as Sally Sparrow then, I would have already known who she was before seeing An Education.

And, it’s a great episode!

Personally, I was glued by an attractive carnival barker.

It’s a science fiction show that doesn’t take the science seriously at all (unlike Star Trek: TNG which pretended to take the science seriously). It’s a fun show that mixes light hearted fun with true drama, and in some cases, with true dread (Blink is pretty creepy, and The Empty Child freaked me right the hell out).

I dunno, but I love the show now more than ever (Watched Tom Baker, the Forth Doctor as a kid on PBS).

Greatest. Episode. Evah.

Blink was a little different because it didn’t feature David Tennant in every scene. It was a way of stretching the filming schedule.

I wouldn’t mind seeing them do more episodes like that. Not all the time. Maybe two or three a season. It gives us a chance to see other strong characters (like Sally Sparrow) that carry the episode with limited help from the Doctor.


They did something similar in series 4 with “Midnight” & “Turn Left.” Each featuring only one of the two main stars so the other could do filming for other episodes.

And yet it worked. Did they ever try that with Star Trek?

Not quite taken to the same extent, but I thought of this TNG episode:


Definitely still had appearances from the regular cast, but the emphasis was shifted to four new faces and one returning guest star for an episode.

There’s a whole TV Tropes page based on the concept (and named after the TNG episode).

It’s the character, I caught just a bit while clicking around, David Tennant plops himself on a bus next to some cute chick (who’s just robbed a museum) and starts prattling on about Easter. He exudes so much confidence, even while looking defenseless, and charming. He’s most like James Bond – you know under the charming, smooth exterior, he’s got some mad skills. I feel the same way about other characters I really like – John Crighton from Farscape, or David Addison from Moonlighting. Or Hawkeye Pierce from early epidsodes of MASH. The smart-aleck lines, delivered with confidence, while still looking vulnerable.

It’s a story about a wizard, is why. And he does magical things. It’s not a story about the destination, but about the journey.

I agree with the poster upthread who said that it’s a sci-fi show that doesn’t take the sci-fi seriously, which, IMHO, is why the Whoniverse probably has more female fans (Tennant notwithstanding) than any other sci-fi series.

Besides, how can you not chuckle whenever you see a Dalek?

Well, everyone loves a road trip story and that’s essentially what Doctor Who is. Only instead of a car, he travels in a magic box that can go anywhere, anytime and pretty much produce anything he needs (except he never seems to need anything except for his sonic screwdriver. Who looks at a screwdriver and says “this needs to be more sonic”?) So you can pretty much have and endless number of stories.

The main difference between those characters is that the Doctor always seems to be in his element no matter wherever or whenever he is. It doesn’t matter if he shows up in Victorian England or on some undermanned alien firebase under attack on some foreign planet. While most people would have just been summarily locked up or shot, he just sort of takes over within a few minutes,

Crighton, Addison (or any Bruce Willis character for that matter) have the intellectual equivalent of “retard strength”. They bumble through situations they clearly have no understanding of. And yet someone they come out on top while their friends and enemies are left scratching their head.

Doctor Who survives on the bedrock of all good fiction: good stories. The revival has two fantastic writers in Russell Davies and Stephen Moffat, and Davies as script editor knows a good script when he sees it.

It’s also based on what science fiction originally was: adventures in wonderous worlds.

The Doctor is also the person we’d all like to be: smart, witty, idealistic, confident, and brave. Davies was smart enough to add “vulnerable” to the list, which gives him more depth.

He’s just this guy, you know?

Whenever I watch TV, it seems like he’s always on.


Quite so. :smiley:

I see what you did there.

Kudos! :smiley: