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Doctor Who Season 1 Thoughts…

I know I’m just getting to this series, but wow! I keep wondering why it took me so long to start watching. The other folks here (John especially) raved about it. It isn’t that I didn’t believe them.

I guess I was thinking of that pretty campy Tom Baker version I watched right before Monty Python on my local PBS station so many years ago. Perhaps I simply didn’t understand it back then, but I certain can appreciate it now. This series is fantastic. It is easily the best Sci-Fi TV I’ve seen in a long time.

I loaded Doctor Who Season 1 DVDs up on my NetFlix ‘Instant Watch’ queue and it sat there for over a month. Every time I sat down to watch TV I would see it there and instantly think of that old show and skip it. But then one day I happened to be on and saw a little note next to the entry for Season 1 saying that It was going to be removed on April 13th. I decided I better get to it watching it or lose my chance.

This isn’t anything like what my mind remembers the old show being. Sure, it still has some humor in it, but it is a smart kind of humor. I don’t find it rediculously campy at all. The special effects aren’t up to Battlestar Galactica maybe, but then they don’t really need to be. The science fiction is excellent, better than anything I can think of being on TV since Babylon 5. Some of the episodes, such as The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, are downright scary and pretty far away from humor.

It has proved to be an excellent opportunity for my son (9 years old) and I to discuss time travel and the implications of it. As an aside, I hum the children’s song, “I’m My Own Grandpa” at these times but I’m not sure he gets that (the Muppet version, of course.)

The season starts off a little slow with “Rose”. The pilot/starter episodes are always filled with exposition and this is no exception. “The End of the World” allows the show to flex some sci-fi muscles and frankly had me a little fooled as to how the show was going to progress. “The Unquiet Dead” is a big change from the previous episode and a flashback to earlier Doctor Who shows that used travel to the past as a way to educate children on history. I’m not sure what children will get out of this season’s historic episodes, but there are some historical figures here. Again I thought I had the formula figured out, when suddenly we get the 2-part “Aliens of London / World War Three”. Very nice, but perhaps also the campiest of the season (with the alien’s gas balancing problems the main culprit.) Another 2-parter in “The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances” comes later in the season and are the episodes I think were outstanding. My son and I are still talking about those two. The season ends with “The Parting of the Ways”, which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t fantastic either. I was glad I could start season 2 right away thanks to Netflix, but more on that in another post.

In terms of the formula, I like how the show keeps things mixed up between story arcs and individual episodes. It keeps it feeling unique. I have especially liked how the arcs end up linking together sometimes. The show is a little disjoint because of the different places they end up, but bringing the plot together helped the show feel part of a larger universe to me.

In any event, if you’ve held out from watching the show and have Netflix, you owe it to yourself to add the season to your queue and give it a go. I can’t imagine you being disapointed.

8 Comments on Doctor Who Season 1 Thoughts…

  1. And now we’ll see what you think of the David Tennant edition of the Doctor.  


    Season 1 has really good stuff (which you touched upon) but even better is yet to come!

  2. Wait until you get to the “Blink” episode.  Awesome.

  3. Series One was amazing, and even more amazing is when you look back on it after watching the others and realize that actually, the writers have not even BEGUN to flex their muscles yet. Doctor Who can go from funny and madcap and exciting, to still and heartbreaking in about ten seconds. It was the only TV series SINCE Babylon 5 that my wife and I made sure to get all of on DVD. Just astonishing.

    And the little Gas-Mask Boy, going around saying “Are you my mummy?” scared the willies out of me. 😀

  4. They don’t make the Doc like they used to. I find the New Who forgettable at best, embarrassing at worst. You can’t go home again….even with a TARDIS.

  5. Yeah, I finally caved in and started losing the Whoginity a few months ago myself. (I did not want to watch the show because I don’t like the whole “we change half/the entire cast every year” thing.) Yup, it’s good. I just started S4.

  6. Oh yayyyy, it’s fun to see someone enjoying it for the first time!! I was/am madly in love with Christopher Eccleston and expected to hate/deeply resent David Tennant, but love him too now.

    I want a Tardis.

  7. Maria: Yeah, it took my wife a few episodes to accept David Tennant. Of course, he’s imminently acceptable, so she was won over. 😀 While we were watching the four series on DVD, we slavishly avoided any and all possible spoilers. I dodged every detail I could and yelled at friends who were talking about it. I was enjoying so much experiencing the show fresh, with every twist and turn shocking and new.

    I think one of the real magics of Doctor Who, to me, is that it gives me that jaw-dropping delight/sadness/investment that it was so easy to put into shows when I was twelve or so. 🙂

    Now, I’m just trying to figure out how to get access to “Planet of the Dead” when it airs on April 16th, since I cannot access the BBC web-site (being American, darn it). I’m going to have to fly over there, aren’t I. Darn you, other places!

  8. Richard Novak // April 9, 2009 at 3:20 pm //

    It’s about time!

    Glad you can share the first time with your son.

    Love & blessings


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