What to watch for tonight: Doctor Who
Everybody’s usually got their own favorite TV show or two. Most of my friends go with How I Met Your Mother, which I also watch occasionally but to actually never meet who the real mother is after 8 or so season is getting tiring, really. And I never really get into any TV show anyway, because honestly the idea of investing hours and hours to watch 30 to 45 minutes of each episode of a TV show sounds really exhausting to me, do I really have that much of a spare time everyday?
Turns out I did.
A few months back, a very British TV show caught my attention. It wasn’t because of its Britishness, which if it is then I would just watch Downton Abbey instead, which I currently kinda almost do having downloaded 5 of its episodes, but because it’s a sci-fi TV show. Turns out I have a soft spot for anything sci-fi. And unlike other shows lasting 5-8 seasons without being heard of again, this one have been running for almost fifty years, save for the decade-long gap in the 90’s. The show is called Doctor Who.
So what is it really about? Doctor Who tells the tale about a time-travelling alien named The Doctor, who travels through time and space with his spaceship, a blue British police box named TARDIS that is bigger on the inside. And he occasionally brings one or two companions throughout his journey. And he cannot die, since every time he almost died he regenerated instead into a new face, new body and (kind of) new personality. That about sums the whole story of Doctor Who. The show first started back in 1963, and yes, the Doctor we see now is the same character as the Doctor when the series first started 50 years ago. There have been lots and lots of companions going with him all the time, but he is essentially the same Doctor from the black-and-white age of television back in the 60’s.
If you’re wondering why a show could last so long, worry not. The plot device that is his regenerative ability allows the Doctor to be played by different actors throughout the show’s timeline, and in fact so far the Doctor has regenerated 10 times which makes the current Doctor, Matt Smith, as the eleventh Doctor. His companions are easier to be changed though, any plot twist could be easily made to replace the companions over the time. Usually it’s a young woman, but companions could be anyone from another time traveler (Jack Harkness) to a robotic dog (K-9).
Being a traveler in space and time allows him to go anywhere, from 18th century England to the last planet in the end of the universe. The Doctor has battled numerous aliens, from his centuries-old nemesis the Daleks to the quantum-locked statues the Weeping Angels (which is one of the more interesting enemies). This flexibility also allows the writer to stay on the same characters and rules over the years since it’s not exactly linear, so why the hell should they stop the journey after a final big boss battle? It’s never exactly a battle either, since the Doctor is known to be a pacifist and refuses to bear arms other than his super-handy sonic screwdriver.
Throughout the journey, Doctor Who was not always everybody’s favorite. In 1989, the show was probably running out of ideas and declining in quality and popularity, and thus BBC decided that Doctor Who should come into a halt. The Doctor was on his seventh form, played by Sylvester McCoy, when the show was stopped. 1996 saw the making of the film version with the eighth Doctor being played by Paul McGann, and almost nothing more was heard from the franchise until the show was revived by BBC in 2005’s Doctor Who First Series.
In the 2005 revived series, the ninth Doctor is played by Christopher Eccleston, which only last one season due to him being uncomfortable to the culture and environment of the Doctor Who crew. His companion, Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, lasted through the next seasons exceeding the Eccleston himself. Nevertheless, executive producer Russell T. Davies brought back the show to enormous success, and Eccleston’s Doctor gained a lot of fans due to the charismatic portrayal and the darker side of his Doctor. The next season brought the stylish David Tennant as the tenth Doctor, with his energetic performance and trademark “Allons-y!” stealing the hearts of many. Tennant’s tenure lasted three exciting season, with several companions including Rose from the previous season, Martha Jones, and Donna Noble.
The fifth season was different altogether from the new version of the iconic opening theme, new show logo, to the new Doctor and even new companion. Now headed by Steven Moffat (you might know him as the writer of the hit series Sherlock), the show took a different direction and felt very fresh cinematic and story-wise. The BBC-produced Sherlock series was in fact came to existence from discussions between Moffat and Mark Gatiss who were both working in Doctor Who. The eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, has a highly distinctive style and his new companion Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan, was arguably the prettiest of companions of the revived series.
Currently the show is entering the second half of the seventh season, which introduces Jenna-Louise Coleman as the new companion for Matt Smith in the episode ‘The Bells of Saint John’. The show will be returning exactly today, March 30, which makes a pretty good reason to write this post! This year the show will also celebrate its 50th anniversary in November. Better start watching now, because the show is bigger on the inside. 😀