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Sci-Fi Television Entertainment

Ask Slashdot: How/Where To Start Watching Dr. Who? 655

Posted by timothy
from the very-carefully-31-years-ago dept.
stinkfish writes "I am a big fan of science fiction, especially good TV science fiction. For some reason Dr. Who is a show I have watched very little of. My question to Slashdot is, whats the best strategy for enjoying this classic show? Looking at the wikipedia page on Dr. who, I see there are 11 Doctors, so is hard to pick a good starting point. If it was just up to me, I would start watching from the very beginning. But I know my wife would not watch a show that dated, though she is a science fiction fan herself and enjoyed a few seasons of Torchwood. So where do I start? Here's an article on this topic; is there more to say?"
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Ask Slashdot: How/Where To Start Watching Dr. Who?

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:04PM (#35604218)

    You aren't alone. I never got into this show, and I've just never been particularly interested in trying.

    And you know what else--I thought "Lord of the Rings" was boring (both in book and movie form), "Babylon 5" was poorly written and acted, and the movie version of "Starship Troopers" was much better than the book. There, I said it.

    I assert that being a geek doesn't mean having to like *everything* associated with geek life. And if you have to FORCE yourself to get into it, you're probably going to take all the fun out of it anyway.

    • by Crunchie Frog (791929) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:07PM (#35604262)
      Phew... well at least he didn't take a pop at Firefly
      • by jdpars (1480913)
        I love firefly, but I admit it probably never had enough appeal to be a mainstream, high-budget show.
        • by jedidiah (1196)

          Firefly was really a Western. That made it more general interest in a way. Although Westerns themselves are dated and most people would not be able to get past the whole "space" thing.

          Although it's cool that someone finally put some "historical context" into a Western.

          OTOH, if there were a better example of that I would likely be unaware of it being a Sci-Fi geek that generally dislikes Westerns.

          • Firefly was really a Western. That made it more general interest in a way. Although Westerns themselves are dated and most people would not be able to get past the whole "space" thing.

            Cowboy Bebop?

          • by kuzb (724081) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:36PM (#35604796)

            Even my mother liked firefly. We can't have nice things because the majority of people are fucking stupid, ignorant drones that believe reality TV shows like "Jersey Shore" are the pinnacle of human creation.

            • by N0Man74 (1620447) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @05:10PM (#35605380)

              It's not simply a matter of reality TV shows being more popular... They are really cheap to make. My impression is that they can cancel a typical (non-reality) television show, and replace it with a reality show, and still be more profitable even if the reality show gets less viewers.

              The free market has many strengths, but it doesn't necessarily promote the best of the arts.

              • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @07:45PM (#35607088) Homepage

                It's not simply a matter of reality TV shows being more popular... They are really cheap to make. My impression is that they can cancel a typical (non-reality) television show, and replace it with a reality show, and still be more profitable even if the reality show gets less viewers.

                This. Low paid participants who don't need any acting skills, simple camera work and almost no retakes just broadcast whatever happens. Take something like Paradise Hotel. Rent a luxury hotel, find a few good-looking guys and girls and give them skimpy swimwear and free booze. That's pretty much all the props you need for the entire season, the rest is just gossip and intrigue.

                Even if you just compare it to some drama series you still need fairly known actors, script, clothing, props, scenery, you need to do many takes per scene and so on . There's just no doubt that reality shows is much, much cheaper to produce. I once saw some numbers but I've completely forgotten, the difference was stunning though.

          • I never got firefly but then while I love scifi I hate westerns.
            It's just like "you've got a space ship. you have GOT to have a better way of doing things than walking around with a future-pistol. I mean the energy and technology that's got to be available...."

            I read the methods of rationality too much.

            • by immaterial (1520413) on Friday March 25, 2011 @12:02AM (#35608218)

              you have GOT to have a better way of doing things than walking around with a future-pistol. I mean the energy and technology that's got to be available....

              Somewhere on this planet is there's a naked kid scrounging through the mud for some fish to eat. His mom works for $0.25 an hour on an assembly line painting details onto plastic gewgaws that'll sell for fifty times that to some (relatively) astronomically rich Florida tourist on some other part of the planet she can't even dream of seeing for herself. His dad was hacked to death by angry guys with machetes and a different political opinion. When he goes home, he might wash himself off with dirty water heated up on a beat-up pot over an open flame.

              But that can't be. There have GOT to be better ways of living than that. I mean seriously, we have nuclear reactors, hot and cold running water, machine guns and ICBMs, and specialized advanced fishing equipment with built-in radars and GPS....

      • by kuzb (724081)

        Any show that sports a ship that houses a high class hooker is A-OK with me!

        Jokes aside, does anyone notice how if a show attempts to be even remotely creative these days it gets cancelled within one or two seasons of release?

        • by nomadic (141991)
          Jokes aside, does anyone notice how if a show attempts to be even remotely creative these days it gets cancelled within one or two seasons of release?

          Huh? Lost? 24? 30 Rock? Shows tend to be a lot more creative these days than any point in history (except maybe the first few years of television when it was all new). I mean, I grew up in the 80's and TV then was terrible. Didn't get better in the 90's. 70's reruns are almost universally bad. 50's and 60's sitcoms are offensive in their tameness.
        • by pthisis (27352)

          I disagree; the last 10 years have pretty much been the golden years of TV. The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, the Sopranos, Deadwood, the Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Queer as Folk...even the step below that are still a ton better than most of what was on in the 70s, 80s, or 90s.

      • by jzarling (600712)
        I'll take a shot at Firefly -
        Joss Whedon's inclusion of the killer pixie character ruined the show.

        The source material was set in the time of Reconstruction after the Civil War, dealing with how the crew, essentially former Confederates dealt with becoming even a marginal part of the new "world" should have been the focus.
        • I'll take a shot at Firefly -

          Joss Whedon's inclusion of the killer pixie character ruined the show.

          The source material was set in the time of Reconstruction after the Civil War, dealing with how the crew, essentially former Confederates dealt with becoming even a marginal part of the new "world" should have been the focus.

          Killer Pixie - as you label her, was a real game changer and such changes will always upset the balance of a narrative. The dustbins of obscure works are populated with books, comics, etc, which could have sailed along smoothly, but for someone who thought they had a better idea - often the creator of the work itself.

          River could at any moment appear in the role of Deus Ex Machina, to bail Mal and the good crew out of any jam. That's tough for any fan to swallow, it's like having a reset button you can pres

    • Never say Babylon 5, never watched or read Starship Troopers, but beyond that, with you all the way.

      There's different classes of nerd. A movie nerd, I am not.

      • by shaitand (626655) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:29PM (#35604668) Journal

        That is the source of all this confusion. People can't seem to grasp the difference between nerds and geeks.

    • Wow, Heinein's book just trumps that ridiculous 'Saving Private Ryan' in space.

      But Babylon 5 really was beyond saving. And to my shame I followed it with a passion... kids. :-)

    • everything is a matter of tastes, personally I don't think any of the starwars movies are much good.

      If you're interested in giving Dr who a go though forget the really old ones, many of the oldest episodes are gone, tapes reused, episodes lost.

      A good starting point would be the 2005 revamp.

      Yes Dr Who is camp, yes it's a bit hit an miss but I like Dr who, as long as you're good at suspending disbelief it's a charming series.

      • by Assmasher (456699)

        Dood, I don't think I could trust someone who didn't like the original Star Wars - it's hard to trust the soulless...

      • by Xaedalus (1192463)
        Agreed. I just started my Dr. Who experience with the 2005 revamp, and both my wife and I are now hooked. Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor ROCKED!!!!!
        • Agreed. Maybe it's because he was the first Doctor I saw, but I still think he was the best.

          Then again, I like Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton as Bond for the same reason, so maybe my judgment isn't the best in these matters.
          • Timothy Dalton was an excellent Bond. I prefer Pierce Brosnan, but nonetheless, Dalton played the part quite well. Moore was OK if the movie was good (not many of the Moore movies were, sadly), but I thought he was pretty bad otherwise.
            • ... who is at least faithful to the novels' main character as depicted by Flemming, and it's Lazenby.

              All other are showman ruining splendid, dark, brutal stories, and turning them into a Hollywood sanitized farce.

              And co-starring in this movie is Diana Rigg, making it by far the best Bond ever.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Her_Majesty%27s_Secret_Service_%28film%29

              • by beanyk (230597)

                IMO, Lazenby was a joke. He smirked his way through most of OHMSS just as badly as Moore did later on. He took it about as seriously as Karen Allen took the last Indiana Jones film (which as we know WAS NEVER MADE).

                It wasn't all Lazenby's fault, of course. The producers made half of the film (OHMSS) a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that Bond wasn't Connery any more (e.g. "this kind of thing never happened to the other fella"), when they weren't hammering home that YES THIS IS JAMES BOND, REALLY WE ME

          • by H0p313ss (811249) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:44PM (#35604916)

            Agreed. Maybe it's because he was the first Doctor I saw, but I still think he was the best.

            In Dr. Who fandom it's commonly said: "You never forget your first Doctor."

            I started watching Dr. Who in 1977 (I was eight...) when I spent four months living in an old manor house on the outskirts of Sheffield. So of course for me The Doctor will always be Tom Baker. He could even make K9 tolerable.

            • by Davorama (11731) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @05:00PM (#35605210) Journal

              No, K9 was tolerable because you were eight. At fourteen K9 was an unforgivable joke but Tom Baker was still the best Doctor.

            • by squidfood (149212)

              In Dr. Who fandom it's commonly said: "You never forget your first Doctor."

              You mean your first companion, if you're 13 and the companion is Leela.

    • by FreonTrip (694097) <freontrip&gmail,com> on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:12PM (#35604366)

      I don't agree with everything you've said, but your perspective's interesting. More importantly, it's entirely worth defending. When a friend told me to hand in my geek card because I've never cared for Firefly, I turned it around on him. After a few questions, he admitted that didn't know who Jerome Bixby or Harlan Ellison were*, and that he'd never read anything by Isaac Asimov. Long story, made short: "Nerd authenticity" is relative, and it's worth shaking the foundations a little to ensure that they stand on merit rather than orthodoxy.

      As for Doctor Who, start any place. The Fourth Doctor's a classic for a reason, and I'm partial to Chris Eccleston's turn (2005 series). Don't worry too much about formality or getting off on the wrong foot; it's designed to be pretty approachable.

      * You don't have to like them, but they were both influential enough that it really helps to know why they matter.

      • Bah, who would revoke a geek card over Firefly? I'll never understand how anyone liked that show at all. No accounting for taste, I guess...
    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:20PM (#35604500)

      I'm in the same boat. I go back and catch up on old series with Netflix. But Dr. Who is just intimidating.

      For example, my current series is Smallville. I've done 9 1/2 seasons in about 4 months. I'm going to try and time the finale with the actual shows finale. I did DS9 in 6 months. All of SG-1 in 10.

      But Dr. Who has 770 episodes. 770. That's one a day for 2 years.

      • But Dr. Who has 770 episodes. 770. That's one a day for 2 years.

        Not to mention that some of the older shows cold be insanely long. War Games was over 4 hours in its entirety. One of the lost Hartnell/Dalek episodes was 5 hours.

    • by guspasho (941623) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:26PM (#35604594)

      "the movie version of "Starship Troopers" was much better than the book. There, I said it."

      Of course it was; it had Denise Richards.

    • by Seumas (6865) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:26PM (#35604608)

      First, you need to remember that Doctor Who started life as a children's show. Thus, the first bunch of seasons were very oriented toward the 60s serial audience for children. As a Doctor Who lover, I had to really push myself through the first three doctors worth of shows. That isn't to say that there aren't some really great shows to be found early on, but I can see how it might not be the cup of tea of most viewers.

      The show really kicks off with the fourth doctor (Tom Baker), often heralded as the most popular doctor. For a certain generation (such as myself, being around thirty years old), Tom Baker is "the" doctor, kind of the same way that for people around my age think of Ronald Reagan as our concept of what "the" president should look like.

      Anyway, I would say Tom Baker is the place to start and if you discover that you have a hunger for even more, you can go back and watch the rest. There's a good chunk of missing content over the first three doctor's, however. There's some beyond the third doctor that is still missing, too, but the most content is missing from early on. Back in the day, the BBC just threw out films in order to make room to store more. And at another point, I believe a fire destroyed a lot of it. Where possible, people have recreated episodes by merging audio recordings with still photos from the set.

      Beginning with the 2005 Doctor Who, the show technically had a "reboot". You could reasonably only have ever watched these episodes and nothing before. While it's a reboot, the doctor's still count in order and the chronology of everything still happened. So it's a reboot, but . . . . not really. The tone of the show also changed, dramatically. While the doctor always had companions, it was never a show about a brooding sad doctor alone in the world having one romantic interest after another with all the intrinsic undertones. This puts a lot of fans off. If the early doctor who shows (the first three doctor's, at least) were very oriented toward young children, the latest three doctor's were very oriented toward the female "Lifetime" channel audience (to a degree). I find it a noticeable change, but honestly, I don't have a huge problem with it. I like the additional depth the doctor has grown to have.

      Anyway, my advice would best be summarized as:

      + You can get away with just watching the modern Doctor Who.
      + I'd really suggest watching everything beginning with Tom Baker onward.
      + If you're hungry for more, afterward, go back and pick up what you can of the first three doctors.

      Then you can add on the rest of the shows, like Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood (none of which I have watched yet, but will, eventually -- I don't know much about them).

      As for how to find them? You can find old episodes on Netflix. Not sure how much is there. I'm not sure what the legal status is of the copyright and distribution on the content is, but if you know where to look around, you can find collections of all Doctor Who episodes available to the world on bit torrent. It comes out to 26 seasons and about 750 episodes (none of this including 2005+). I would absolutely love to have some sort of an official collection of every single Doctor Who content out there (they also have lots of books, comics, and radio plays . . . all of which I've owned to some extent over the years, because I'm a raging dork). Unfortunately, I don't know where you can find a lot of the content, commercially, and torrent seems possibly the only way for much of it.

      • by Raffaello (230287) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:45PM (#35604958)

        I'm a whole generation older than you, so I started watching Tom Baker as the Doctor when I was a teen in the 70s. I have a friend the same age as me who lived in the UK as a child and watched the original series live as a small child. He remembers thinking it was craptastic even as a 5 year old (but he watched it anyway - not a lot of good options back then). I saw the shows from the 60s in my teens in the mid 70s and really couldn't get past the lack of production values. Revisiting them later on in my 30s, I still didn't find them really worth watching.

        For me, the best Doctors were Tom Baker, David Tennant, Peter Davison, and Christopher Eccelston. I like Matt Smith, the current doctor as well.

        I agree with your overall advice to the OP:

        1. If you have have limited time, just start watching from the "reboot" of 2005.
        2. If you have more time, start with Tom Baker, then continue on with his successors from the original series as long as your interest holds up.

      • The preferred Doctor seems to be the one you grow up with. My elder sister was a Pertwee fan I was a Baker fan. However, in saying this, I would start at Baker. The style of the show (while remaining lovingly cheesy) became more along the lines of what you may be used to in today's age. As mentioned, Hartnell and Troughton led shows more aimed at the younger generation and Hartnell was depicted as a grandfather figure to young Susan, so the episodes can get a little parental preachy. The problem for me with
    • the movie version of "Starship Troopers" was much better than the book.
      That's b/c you missed the point of the book, and what self respecting geek doesn't love powered armor?

      • I imagine he got the point of the book. The movie is better because, whether intentionally or not, it completely turned Heinlein's message on its head by taking it to such a ridiculous extreme it became satire.

        • by elrous0 (869638) *

          It was very intentional. If you listen to the commentary track, Verhoeven makes it clear that this was his intention from the get-go (and it put him at odds with the screen-writer, who was a big Heinlen fan). Verhoeven found the neo-fascist philosophy of the book laughable, and having grown up under Nazi rule himself, decided to satirize it.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      You aren't alone. I never got into this show, and I've just never been particularly interested in trying.

      And you know what else--I thought "Lord of the Rings" was boring (both in book and movie form), "Babylon 5" was poorly written and acted, and the movie version of "Starship Troopers" was much better than the book. There, I said it.

      I assert that being a geek doesn't mean having to like *everything* associated with geek life. And if you have to FORCE yourself to get into it, you're probably going to take all the fun out of it anyway.

      I feel the same way about Red Dwarf - the books were kinda-sorta OK, though I felt highly derivative of H2G2. When I first saw the Red Dwarf shows on TV I wasn't so much non-plussed as mildly revolted - yet the series has a strong following. Not all things for all geeks.

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      I am nerd beyond measure, yet I have found the series to be at best mildly interesting.

      Nerdy friends would force me to sit through it, all the while I'd be saying very uncharacteristic things like, "let's go out side and toss a(n American) football."

  • This is probably blasphemy to a lot of /.ers, but the new seasons, 2005 onwards, are alright. Good a place as any to start. I've been meaning to go back and watch the whole Trial of a Timelord season, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

    • by emag (4640)

      If there's one season worth skipping, IMHO it's Trial of a Timelord. Colin Baker's probably my least favorite Doctor...

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      I thought T of T season was dull. I think the best episodes of the Classic Who are from circa 1975 to 1985. Prior to that the stories were s-l-o-w (6 hours long when they should have been 1.5 hours) and after that the writers lost their ability to tell a good story. Of course it didn't help that BBC canceled the show for a year, fired the actor playing the doctor, and that disrupted the writing staff.

      My starting point was Doctor #8, the movie doctor, and then I went back and watched the 5th doctor on PBS

    • Agreed. You probably should start with the 2005 series and watch them through until the most current.

      From there, probably the Tom Baker years. If the low budget look of these don't turn you off then it's a toss up as to where to go. If you like the last of the Baker episodes, then just keep going through them in order. The producer that is credited for "running the show into the ground" took over in the later Baker years and remained until the end of McCoys tenure. Personally I liked the Jon Pertwee episode

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Yep, start with the Christopher Eccleston version. It has enough info along the way to fill you in on what needs to be said, and the series never really assumes that you're a long time fan who knows everything. Sure occasionally something is tossed into a background that fans might appreciate for its foreshadowing but it won't leave new viewers scratching their heads.

      The doctor's companions as well are completely new to the Doctor Who genre as well, so they act as a nice surrogate for the viewer. You don

  • ...without even having watched it then she isn't really a "science fiction fan". That sort of prejudice will get you nowhere.

    Also, don't base your aesthetics on what your wife will tolerate.

  • by DontScotty (978874) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:07PM (#35604264) Homepage Journal

    With Billie Piper and C. Ecklsteiner.

    Then, David Tenet.

    Then - I haven't seen them, but get caught up.

    From there - you'll know the flavor of Doctor you like, and be able to make a more informed choice.

    The nice thing about a Time Travel series - is you need not watch it sequentially!

    • Buy the boxed whole season sets. Don't eat your bandwidth, they don't cost that much - and they're not affiliated with Sony.
    • by tool462 (677306)

      Agreed. The recent seasons have modern writing, effects, and production values, so nothing to distract a new viewer in that sense. And if your wife enjoyed Torchwood, she's quite likely to enjoy these. My wife likes it and she's not a science fiction fan, generally speaking. After getting through the current stuff, she may be hooked enough to overlook the aesthetic distractions of the older shows and enjoy those too.

      Or you could just watch those on your own late at night. You'll get to watch some aweso

    • The nice thing about a Time Travel series - is you need not watch it sequentially!

      Actually, you sometimes do. Quite often, they refer to things that happened in the past (relative to the Doctor). If you never saw the older episodes, you won't know to what they're referring to.

    • I absolutely agree to start with the modern ones. The older ones are good (I got hooked with Tom Baker) but looking at them now the 70s/80s directing style shows through and they appear much slower paced to a modern audience.

      I firmly believe you gotta love it before getting steeped in the older lore. I'd suggest just going straight to Tennant. I'm not convinced you should cherry pick among the fan-rated best (for example "Blink") mainly because some of the coolness of that will be lost on you first time thr

  • Start with the beginning of the modern show, then sample previous eras here an there as you go. The discs of the old shows usually have entire story arcs on them, so you can treat it like a buffet.

  • If you have a *lot* of drugs you can start with the older stuff, but not all the way back. Maybe some Pertwee? If you are really really high, it's pretty entertaining. Otherwise, start with 2005 (Christopher Eccleston).
  • My understanding is that most (all?) of the First Doctor's episodes are sadly no longer extant.

    • Several still do exist, actually. In fact, the first three serials (including "The Daleks") are available in a box set called "The Beginning".

      My only advice, though, is to remember two things: 1) "The Daleks" is rather slow and is best watched over multiple nights, and 2) the Doctor is not a very nice person in his first incarnation. It took a while for him to lose his arrogance and low regard for other people.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        ...then perhaps a good approach would be to start with a "best of" selection from each of the classic doctors. Perhaps include the regeneration episodes.

        Definitely get the introduction of the recurring major villans like The Master, the Cybermen, the Daleks and the Sontarans.

        Since Sara Jane shows up, perhaps include some more early Baker(1) episodes.

    • Most of the episodes are still around. Some have been lost. Others have not been released to DVD yet.

      You can get An Unearthy Child, the first episode from Amazon or whatnot. Now, mind you, it is "live teleplay" and in black and white, so it is going to be a lot different then today's doctor who.

      I will echo what a lot of people have been saying. Start with the reboot with "Rose". It not that the older stuff is bad - it is just very different.

      For example, I would recomand "Robots of Death" - a Tom Baker /

    • Actually, the Second Doctor got hit hardest by the BBC throwing out episodes. (Algeria bought most of the first two seasons and didn't return its copies until after the junkings stopped.) That being said, 108 missing episodes is a bit of a hurdle to jump through... at least we have audio!
  • ...and watch some future episodes
  • I had been considering that question, myself, and then decided that if I were to introduce someone to the show, I'd do so with a new series episode, and one that would give the newbie an idea of why kids used to watch the show from behind the sofa.

    One word: "Blink." [wikipedia.org]

    • Good choice, unless it's someone who can't deal with scary very well (me). I love Doctor Who, but the Weeping Angels freak me the fuck out. If that had been my first experience I might have run and never looked back.

      Still... good Doctor, excellent writing, creative premise. It's a solid first episode with the aforementioned caveat.

  • You really can't start at the beginning. The very first shows are available on DVD, but then there are gaps where shows got taped over because the BBC could not imagine anyone *ever* wanting to watch something that was already broadcast. Yeah, TV executives haven't improved very much.

    I have no idea where you should start. :) The first black and white episodes are good too see where it all started. Shoestring budgets, but even then the Daleks were pretty cool.

  • I started with the first season of the modern ones. Hooked me, and now I've seen all the modern ones as well as the specials. I would suggest the same thing. The older ones move much slower.
  • Even if you did start watching from the very beginning, you'd have a tough time tracking down all the episodes, since a good number of them are simply lost to time. That is to say, there's NO way to watch them all. Some have been found again, some have been animated based on radio broadcasts, some have been restored...but some are just gone.

    My advice for someone new to Who: give the new series a go. It's incredibly accessible and available, and David Tennant does a great job at playing the Doctor. If he can

  • Start with the 11th Doctor.

    It's a sort-of fresh start and while it does reference the past Doctors, if you're interested in knowing more - look up the episode on Wikipedia and I'm sure a bigger nerd will have linked to the past episode.

    The biggest things that came back from past episodes were the Steven Moffat episodes from the previous seasons - those might be worth viewing just to catch up and also to see how good Doctor Who can be if in the hands of a good writer.

    Previous Steven Moffat stories:
    Series 1:
    1

  • You really have to decide whether you want to start watching the "new" series (starting with Christopher Eccleston) or the old series (starting with, conceivably, William Hartnell).

    The new series has much better special effects, but, occasionally, they pay homage to the old series, so those bits will be lost on you. The old series has, by today's standards, cheesy special effects (perhaps even cheesy by the standards way back then).

    However, the old series does have some very good stories, so if you can

  • I generally agree with the article that starting with the 2005 series is the easiest way to get into Doctor Who. There are a few references to old stuff that you won't get, but they're subtle and not important to understanding what's going on.

    If you want to start with the classic series, the more accessible places to start are either with Season 7's Spearhead from Space (the Third Doctor) or Season 12's Robot (the Fourth Doctor). Many episodes in the first six seasons were thrown out by the BBC, so they c
  • I would start with the revival, that would be the 9th doctor, Christopher Eccleston. If you want to include torchwood and/or the sarah jane adventures (although a kids show is better than most stuff on tv), heres the viewing order i kinda pieced together along with all the specials.

    Doctor Who S1
    Doctor Who - Children In Need Short (2006)
    Doctor Who - Christmas Invasion
    Doctor Who - Attack of the Graske
    Doctor Who S2
    Doctor Who - The Runaway Bride
    Torchwood S1
    Sarah Jane Adventures - Invasion of the Bane
    Doctor Who

  • Start with the 2005 reboot with Christopher Eccleston. It's a nice introduction that doesn't need any background to get in to, and it's recent so you don't have to watch 40 years of stuff to get to the good stuff (good as in not horribly dated and of poor production quality). One thing of note is that if you do start with Eccleston then you will notice they frequently refer to a particular past event (Read backwards for spoiler: RAW EMIT EHT). This event didn't happen in any of the earlier episodes you skip

  • Tom Baker seems to be a favourite but most people tend to like the one they grew up with.

    There are two Dr Who Films that you might want to view, I'm not sure how they well regarded they are by fans but I like them. They have Peter Cushing in and are about the Daleks. They were made in the 1960s. You can at least have a laugh at the terrible FX and funky music.

    The films don't really have anything in common with the TV shows.

  • There are 7 Canonical doctors, and then there's the remake series. I'd suggest you ignore the latter entirely, and start with Hartnell (1st) or Tom Baker (4th). The series varied reasonably in style over the years it ran; some of the doctors had story arcs while with others the episodes were closer to being one-off. It was a fantastic series.

  • I would suggest that pretty early on you see the first season, with Hartenll, in as much completeness as available. I think the first series has some very strong serials. I believe many episodes are mssing, so it is hit and miss. This will form a background on the what the show was intended to be.

    After that I would take a look at several serials from later doctors. For instance for Troughton the Wheel in Space or the Krotons. For Pertwee Carnival of Monsters. For Baker The Talons of Weng-Chiang or

  • with anything pre-Christopher Eccleston. The original Dr was somehow both tedious and campy.

    Start with whatever you happen to see now (because the episodes are usually self-contained, or close enough to it) and then netflix from the beginning.

    Don't watch Torchwood (love it!) until after you've seen at least one full season with David Tennant as the Dr.

    And for the love of god, don't get anywhere close to the Dr Who mini-series/movie from Fox? from about a decade ago.

  • Doctor Who is not so much science fiction as a kind of theatrical sitcom based on a certain set of premises. If you keep that in mind, you'll be more able to enjoy its many interesting quirks and it's - ahem - relaxed pace.

    Occasionally, depending on the writer, a given script makes reference to some genuine science, or at any rate a tenable line of speculation. Other times it's utter nonsense. What's more, the production often finds a way to allude to the fact of it being nonsense, whether through a s
  • That show came to prominence in the late 70s on PBS in the US. For this viewer, his era is then only one that matters. Watch an episode featuring him, and you'll know why.

  • I watched some of the old stuff as a kid with my dad, missed the series starting back up, then got my wife into it right after the birth of my daughter. We had a lot of time where there was a sleeping baby preventing you from doing very much, so we got a NetFlix subscription and caught up on what had been happening since the 2005 revival of the show.

    Start with the 9th doctor (Christopher Eccleston). The show had a great run in it's heyday, fizzled a bit, and went off the air for ~10 years. When it was re

  • by Leo Sasquatch (977162) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:44PM (#35604924)
    would be like watching Enterprise, and not wanting to watch original Trek because it was dated and didn't have bucket-loads of CGI for space battles.

    He's good, but for the full flavour, you need some of the early stuff.

    Start with 'An Unearthly Child', then 'The Daleks' - the first two stories of Hartnell. Try 'Tomb of the Cybermen' - the first existant Troughton. Watch 'War Games', then 'Spearhead from Space' to get the transition to Pertwee's doctor. Most Pertwee stuff is pretty good, but with special mention for 'Terror of the Autons'. Tom Baker had a lot of good stories, but again, special mention for 'Genesis of the Daleks', 'Pyramids of Mars', and 'The Masque of Mandragora'.

    Peter Davison is a little harder to pick and choose, as they were running loosely-connected plot arcs over entire series at this point, but 'Earthshock' is a good one.

    From Colin Baker, I'd pick 'Vengeance on Varos', and for Sylvester McCoy, 'Battlefield', and 'The Curse of Fenric'.

    Remember, budgets were pitiful, it spent a lot of time being perceived as a children's show, and yes, they did script pacing differently back then. Sets are wobbly, some effects are woeful, and some acting isn't up to much. But underneath are stories, characters and entire mythologies that make something greater than the sum of their cardboard spaceships and bad chromakey effects.

    The Daleks, the Cybermen, the Doctor himself, these will be myths and legends long after everyone's forgotten Firefly.
    • by eck011219 (851729)

      I mostly don't disagree, but I would only say that starting with Eccleston is more akin to starting with "Next Generation," not "Enterprise." The new Doctor Who is very well-formed and works well as a standalone series, but is nicely enhanced by any information you might have from the original.

      Dang, that's a level of sci-fi geektalk I never imagined I'd write. But there it is, and I'm not sorry.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @09:31PM (#35607620)
    You should watch them in completely random order. This is the best way to get the TARDIS time travel experience.

    Also, if you watch them chronologically, then you'll just have weird experiences, like wondering why the doctor keeps wearing the same clothes for years at a time, and nobody commenting about the smell.

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