What's so great about Doctor Who?

And if you want a good standalone episode, try Blink. There’s really no effects to get in the way, either.

Stay away from anything that has a large CGI creature, unless you want last generation console style rendering.

I think if you want to get a real sense of what Doctor Who is all about, don’t start with Blink. It’s a fine episode, but it has very little of the Doctor, and at the end of the day, it’s his show. I would never show that episode to somebody if I wanted them to really get what the show is all about. From that season, I would suggest The Shakespeare Code, which requires little to no backstory to understand, and the premise of the show (awesome drifter moving through time and space, solving mysteries and righting wrongs) is actually highlighted. Plus he meets Shakespeare!

What you have to understand about Doctor Who is that when it started nearly 50 years ago, it was totally unlike anything else. It even predates the original Star Trek. In the 1960’s 70’s and early 80’s there was very little to rival it. There just weren’t very many science fiction shows in the same format. That is ongoing, episodic stories with a recurring central character. There had been anthology shows such as Twilight Zone, and a few mini-series that told one story over several episodes, then stopped. But very few ongoing ones. The fact that there have been many other such shows since then does not diminish the innovation in the original series. You may be able to name several science fiction series that were better, but all of them came later, and were following in Doctor Who’s footsteps, to a certain extent. For those of us who grew up watching the classic series, the new series is a welcome return.

As for the episode that you saw, School Reunion, that features the return of a popular character who was in the series years ago. If you grew up watching her, then it’s great to see her again. If you don’t know who she is, then the episode could be both dull and confusing. I can see why you didn’t like it. But many long time fans liked it.

Can’t remember the title, but I really liked the two-parter where the Doctor was living as a schoolteacher during WWI having forgotten his original identity.

Of course… just like Blink that’s an episode that doesn’t feature the Doctor so much… at least, not mentally…

Hmm… Maybe the Planet of the Ood? (I think that’s the name of the one I’m thinking of… I mean the one where the Ood are slaves on this station orbiting a black hole or something.)

Never been able to figure it out myself, although the damn thing has been on forever. My brother was more into it, and I remember seeing episodes with Tom Baker as the Doctor.

As I recall, Daleks suck.

Some fans might be interested in the BBC online archive. They have several documents relating to the beginning of the series.

Human Nature/Family of Blood – probably the highlight of season 3.

I think you mean The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, from season 2 – loved the first part. But I think both of these two-parters are more effective if you’ve seen the Doctor/Companionship develop over the preceding episodes. The Planet of the Ood is in season 4, and should definitely be seen after the previous Ood episodes.

I liked School Reunion, mostly because it had Evil!Giles! in it. Really, though, you want to start with the first NuWho episodes, from Rose on. If you don’t get it by the third episode (The Unquiet Dead), you won’t ever get it, I think.

Anthony Head has made a bit of a career in the UK lately playing utter bastards, and he’s generally very very good at it.

You don’t need continuity when you have time travel. You can always just imply that events from a previous episode changed the timeline.

The one thing I kind of don’t like about the new series is that there is TOO much continuity. I seem to recall from the Tom Baker days that each 5 part episode pretty much stood on its own.

Yes - the first part is the perfect Who story. The Doctor and his companion land on some remote human outpost in the far future right when something mysterious starts killing the crew…

Those are my favorite Who stories.

I used to say about British science fiction movies that I suspected that the reason they disliked the aliens not so much because they were grotesque slimy inhuman things* that wanted to destroy us and to eat people, but because they weren’t British. I still suspect there’s some truth in that.
Then it struck me that the reason they love The Doctor is that he’s a non-slimy non0human-eating alien. But, more important, he’s an alien who is British. He’s like the British Alien Dude in the 1950s film the Strange World of Planet X, only more resourceful and approachable.

*and they have really gone for slimy disgusting aliens in a big way --look at the ones in the 1950s films – The Quatermass Xperiment, The Trollenberg TerrorQuatermass 2– slimy and yucky and gross. And they have a tendency to “possess” people. The Doctor never does that – it’d be rude.

I think that’s a sign of the times. If producers get a little loosey-goosey with continuity, then they’ll get inundated with complaints from the same people who complain that Kirk used two different combinations on his cabin safe.

Good point. I was meaning good in terms of special effects. Otherwise I wouldn’t tell him to avoid big monsters, as they are often the coolest episodes. (But boy did that Lazarus beast look horrible.)

Ha, I knew that’s what you were talking about. We just watched that one a few days ago and it was not good. Not just the effects, although I did feel like I was playing something on the N64, but the storytelling was pretty awful too. “Oh boy, can we have another big action scene? Let’s!”

On special effects. Dr. Who is kind of famous in Britain for being “watching from behind the sofa” television. I used to watch the Tom Baker version (which is btw the best and the one you should be watching :wink: ) re-runs and being absolutely terrified and I wasn’t a sensitive kid. The effects would have been well dated by then, but it was the way Tom Baker just made these big google eyes looking at a whatever empty cereal box DIY the special effects department had come with and went " Oh NO, this is the end of the world, we’re DOOMED". :eek::eek::eek:

I’d recommend Midnight. It features a lot more of the Doctor than Blink, but it’s also a really tight episode with solid character acting and genuine suspense. It gives you most of what you really need to know about what the Doctor is about, and there’s little to no Companion distractions.

Yeah, that’s a great episode. It takes place in one room and there are no special effect creatures, yet it’s one of the creepiest, tightly plotted and well-acted episodes I’ve seen. It’s simply the Doctor and a handful of strangers trapped on a bus/plane with *something *outside.

That’s a really good choice of first episode actually. It’s not one I’d have picked before, but on reflection everything you say is correct.

And what Eyebrows says. ^^^^

Honestly OP School Reunion isn’t a great episode to start with, what with the old companion dynamic (and K9!). I can’t believe the BBC recommended this to you as a first episode. Where did they do that?

Anyway, I just looked up the date of the first Doctor Who story I can remember watching, The Green Death, broadcast in May/June 1973. I was five. Those maggoty things gave me nightmares, but that is half the point of the programme, to scare kids.

But throughout it all, all those decades of broadcast, it’s always had a playful seriousness about it, a campiness, a sense of humour mixed with the horror. Fuck the special effects, it’s the stories. If you really really like OMG CGI then it’s not the show for you. The show you do like that has OMG CGI, well, that’s going to look out of date in a few years time anyway.

Not all of the revival has worked, the former showrunner’s (Russell Davies) tastes could run to the absurdly grandiose, but it has still been good to great, imo. Some long-time fans hate that there has been been the introduction of a larger hinterland to the companions, and the Doctor himself, but that is very much a matter of opinion. Personally, I’ve enjoyed it - there are after all consequences when travelling with a Timelord, why not explore them?

Under the new showrunner (Steven Moffat), well, I think he has melded in a superb way the old Who and the new in splendid fashion. It doesn’t hurt that Matt Smith is fantastic as the Doctor - he’s very convincing as an ancient eccentric alien - albeit he seems to be playing himself. A bit like the deeply-odd Tom Baker in a way, although Smith’s Doctor reminds me more of Pat Troughton.

deep breath

So, people who like Doctor Who tend to like the show a lot, it’s not compulsory. It’s an oddity.

HA! In an episode of Coupling, which was Moffat’s romantic-comedy series on BBC a few years before he started writing for (and now running) Doctor Who, there was a scene in a furniture shop where one of the characters gave three reasons for having a sofa, and the third one was “hiding from Daleks,” and was said as he ducked down behind the sofa.