What's so great about Doctor Who?

I’m watching the episode School Reunion right now and I’m completely underwhelmed. I understand that it’s impossible to judge an entire show by one episode but really, I don’t get the huge amount of love.

Is that so? :slight_smile:

Well, first of all, it’s not for everybody. In the U.S., at least, it’s definitely a cult phenomenon, so “huge amount of love” is a relative term.

Second, who told you to start with “School Reunion”? That’s an episode that’s greatly enhanced by familiarity with not only the new series but with 1970s Who. It would have been much better to start with “Blink” (often named as the highlight of the series, and not at all dependent on previous episodes), or “Rose,” which served to re-introduce the series after a nearly 20-year hiatus and was designed to be enjoyed by people who’d never seen “Doctor Who,” or this year’s “The Eleventh Hour,” which serves a similar purpose as it introduces an entirely new cast and storylines.

ETA: I realize this post is short on “what’s so great about Doctor Who,” but really I’ve never seen the point of trying to argue someone into liking a show. Watch a couple more episodes if you think it might be worth your time. If not, there’s a whole world of entertainment that might be more to your liking.

I want to like it, but I just find it bad. No matter what decade it’s made in, it always feels like it’s ten years behind the times. (Maybe even the TV production involves time travel…)

shrug Different strokes.

BBC did.

The production value is probably the first thing I noticed when I started watching. So I’m in agreement with this.

A [del]Blindmelonjunction[/del], sorry, Aclockworkmelon, what is so great about Dr. Who - the immortal question:

1- it is kind of cheesy. The original Dr. Who incarnations were BBC productions that had no money behind them. They worked within significant restraints to come up with a solid science fiction mythos in a time without much good science fiction. The cheesiness became part of the glory of the story, kind of like how original Trek is enhanced by SHATner’s actTING. Similarly, just as the transporter effect was a cost saving measure on Trek, the Tardis was cheap, and created a unifying effect.

2- It’s been there forever, so there’s an established mythos that requires reinterpretation, giving fans layering of meaning when the Daleks or Cybermen show up in a new incarnation.

3- The Doctor is relatively non-violent, and usually thinks his way out of the problem. I’d never realized this before, but he kind of reminds me of McGiver.

4 - It’s taken decades, and the full context and depth of the Whoniverse is still not completely revealed. They have managed to keep the Doctor from getting hemmed in, despite the long history of the show. Similarly, they keep changing the Doctor, so if you don’t like one, eventually a new one shows up and reinvents the show.

5 - He’s got these smokin’ hot companions.

Well, what do they know?

That’s something most Doctor Who fans have agreed to consider charming. If it’s something you can’t accept, you had best give up now. It seems no Doctor Who producer has ever said, “That’s a great concept, but we don’t have the budget to do it effectively.”

But if you seriously want to give it another try and the not-so-special effects are getting in the way, start with Blink. It’s a “cheap” episode with no CGI to speak of, which ironically helps make it one of the best-looking episodes they’ve made so far.

It’s just fun. It’s a show to watch with other people - I couldn’t get into it alone, but with the boyfriend I love it. It has a certain… joy about it. Nobody blase about it, you know? They’re all “Holy fuck, we’re on a spaceship with three headed aliens on it and that is some wacky-ass shit! Awesome!”

Whatchoo talkin’ 'bout, Willis?

I’m a TIME LORD, baby!

That’s it for me. It’s such a* joyous *series, made by people who are having great fun and it’s infectious. It’s a kids’ show, but appeals to all ages.

As for the special effects - dunno. They seem fine for me.

Kandy Man?


I don’t think it is actually that popular outside its native land. And that it is successful in Britain perhaps says more about the state of British TV.
It’s a quirky, off-beat children’s show that somehow occupies a prime slot in the BBC’s schedules. The stories don’t make much sense, the production values are a bit ropy, everything takes place in Wales for some reason, and yet it’s this big cultural institution. I have a sort of like/hate relationship with it myself. If you watch the occasional episode, with decent gaps between them, it has a certain charm. Don’t get sucked into watching it every week, though. That way, madness lies.

I know some people will disagree with me, but I don’t think the special effects (and props, and costumes, etc.) are bad or cheap per se, I just think sometimes they aren’t up to the creators’ intent. Chalk it up to that exuberance. Whereas some producers would say, “We need to scale back the concept,” the Doctor Who philosophy seems to be “Let’s go for it.”

Back to School Reunion a bit, one reason this episode has a special appeal to fans that would be totally lost to a first-time viewer is that it ties the old series and new series together as no episode had before. Throughout the 2005 season, there was some confusion as to whether it was a continuation or a reboot of the show. (It was called “Series One” after all.) Bringing in an actor from the old show in the same role and having her talk about her history with the Doctor showed that the series was prepared to embrace its past instead of running from it. And it wasn’t just any old character of course, but an all-time fan favorite. And finally, yes, the tin dog was kitschy even in the '70s. So what?

ETA: NoClueBoy, how could you do that and not *show *anybody the wonder that is Kandy Man?

Watch series 1, starting with Rose. If the show does nothing for you after that, then fair enough. Not everybody is going to like it. But if you want to know what’s so “great” about it, you can see it in those 13 episodes.

But if you don’t want to bother, then my answer is that it’s a fun, charming, exciting, sometimes scary, often times clever, and ultimately uplifting if not life affirming.

It’s actually a fairly clever premise. The show is about an extremely intelligent and charasmatic drifter who lives in a time traveling space ship the size of a phone booth with an interior that can be as big as the story needs it to be. Every episode can take place anywhere at any time in the universe and essentially be about anything. They can take on or drop off a character whenever they feel like and whenever they get sick of the main character, they can just “regenerate” him into a new actor.

Which begs the question what do you need to “reboot” in a show where the only constant in 50 years is the theme song, the TARDIS appearing as an obsolete London “police box” and a couple fan favorite enemies?

Well they did change the theme song a little …

The reboot issue is over how much or little continuity matters.

Yes, still continuity is never perfect - this isn’t Lord of the Rings - much backstory is made up on the fly and sometimes they flub it. But not being a reboot means that the old stories matter, even if no one is too orthodox about what is canon. It’s Doctor Who; neither we fans nor the writers take it too seriously, we just go with the timey-whimey flow.

It’s fun and creative and has a balance of self-mocking, of humor, of characters you care about, of excitement, of twists and turns. Yes, I grew up watching my favorite Doctor and loving the schlockiness and the cheese, by comparison these FX are great, but what impresses me is that both my 15 year old and my 19 year old and their friends are all into it as much as I am.

School Reunion was one of my least favorite episodes, for what it’s worth.

If you’re going to judge the show by its effects, then there’s no point in watching. Doctor Who is about story, not effects. There are certainly bad episodes, and the earlier ones may seem a bit dated, but overall, the show has produced a greater percentage of first-class science fiction than any other, and the new incarnation is the best SF on TV today.

“School Reunion” is a terrible place to start, though. It is a delight if you’ve watched the show in its original run, but that gets lost if you don’t know who Sarah Jane is. It was part of the greater depth of the new version – to show the characters had lives and feelings.