More on the new Doctor Who

Based on some comments on my previous post complaining that the first episode of the new Doctor Who was a bit uneven and the stories not so great, I thought I’d mention my overview of the season.

I have one thing to say:

Patience.

I agree that the first couple of episodes were uneven and realize that I have the benefit of hindsight. I also understand that it’s also a bit hard at first for longtime Who fans to get used to the new format of one hour episodes with self-contained stories (although there are some two-part stories scattered throughout the season). Remember that it always takes at least a couple of stories (each of which, in the old days, usually consisted of four half-hour episodes, complete with cliffhangers at the end of them) for a new Doctor to settle in. I would further point out that the first couple of stories with Tom Baker weren’t exactly the ones that we remember him most for or consider high points of his seven season run on the series. The first and second stories with Tom Baker as the Doctor, Robot and The Ark in Space, were pretty uneven, for example. The third story, The Sontaran Experiment, was better, but only somewhat. It wasn’t until the epic six-part story Genesis of the Daleks (one of my three favorite Who stories of all time) that Tom Baker truly came into his own playing the Doctor. Finally, even the “classic” Who seasons contained some stinkers. Does anyone remember, for example, The Brain of Morbius with special effects reminiscent of They Saved Hitler’s Brain) or The Horns of Nimon (one of my personal picks for a list of the worst Doctor Who episodes of all time)? I can point out similar episodes from the tenures of all the Doctors with the exceptions of Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell (mainly because I’ve seen only one Troughton story and zero Hartnell stories).

Over the course of the 13 episodes, I came to view Christopher Eccleston as being in a tie for my second favorite Doctor of all time after Tom Baker.

Here are some episodes to look out for:

  • The Unquiet Undead (an “old-fashioned” Doctor Who set in Victorian London)
  • Dalek (a new and different take on an old enemy, so much so that you almost feel sympathy for the Dalek–almost)
  • The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (two-parter, in which another Doctor companion, Captain Jack, is introduced; also set in World War II-era London)

And, in particular, the two-part season finale:

Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways (Two words: Dalek invasion. There are also some wicked parodies of reality TV and game shows.)

One thing that’s cool about this series is that there are recurring themes, and actions the Doctor takes have repercussions that we don’t find out about until several episodes later. This is a series that grows on you, as does the character of the Doctor. One thing they try to do in this show is emphasize a bit more the Doctor’s alienness. He doesn’t always think like humans, and his sense of morality does not always jibe with ours.

I also think Rose’s mother and boyfriend are both a hoot. And, looking at the trailers, they’re bringing back the Cybermen, K-9, and Sara Jane Smith for appearances in the second season of the new Doctor Who, which, if this first one is successful in the U.S., will almost certainly appear here. Even if it doesn’t, I still have my mother recording episodes for me off of Canadian TV.

I’d be interested in hearing what the skeptics think as we get further into the season and particularly after they’ve had the chance to see all 13 episodes. I rather suspect their opinions will become much more favorable and that they–as I do–will be sorry that Eccleston only stayed for one season.