You never forget your first Doctor…
Mine was David Tennant, Ten, but then I didn’t grow up on Doctor Who. I discovered an intriguing, historically-set show (before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth) where watching a new TV set could cause your face to disappear. It was a Doctor Who marathon on SyFy, and was different from any other sci-fi show I’d ever seen. For one thing, it wasn’t set in outer space. Actually this quirky little show started fifty years ago with a police box in a junk yard, low budget, not necessarily expected to succeed. If you grew up in the UK, you might have referred to “your” Doctor as Tom Baker or Peter Davidson.
The Doctor, from my first discovery, always surprised me. The show didn’t fit neatly into a little sci-fi box, because this box was bigger on the inside. It had contemporary, historical, and futuristic settings, some on Earth or New Earth or on the edge of a black hole. Some of the early BBC episodes were completely historical except for the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) itself. And even if the setting was completely alien, I always had the Doctor’s companions to humanize it for me.
But what I love overall about Doctor Who is that it is so old. It’s weighty. It has fifty years behind it. It had those original 26 seasons, a couple of movies, and a whole lot of novelizations behind it. It has the Doctor’s 900+ years of experience. The reason I haven’t grown tired with it is that there’s so much more to explore. I can read about the early years of the BBC, the strike that caused an entire season not to be produced, the Fox movie reboot. Then there’s the debates over what’s canon. Are the Cushing movies canon? What about the Big Finish audio books? Do you have to care about these things to enjoy Doctor Who? Certainly not, but it brings an added depth to the experience.
So, if you would like to delve deeper into Doctor Who, here’s a few ideas. I found a couple of old copies of the Doctor Who Programme Guide, Vol. 1 & 2, by Jean-Marc Lofficier. These guides have lists of episodes divided by Doctors and seasons, companions, production notes and synopsis. Volume 2 cross-references monsters, settings, etc. Those super original Autons Nine and Rose run from in 2005 first appeared in a Pertwee episode in the 70s. I’ve been making little pencil check marks in my copies to try to keep track of which episodes I’ve seen. To learn more about the behind the scenes, there’s a series called About Time: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who. I’ve only read Volume 1, but have found it very interesting. If you want to find yourself very confused, try out Eclectic Gypsy: An Unauthorized Biography of Doctor Who by Dave Thompson. To learn more about the novelizations, try Doctor Who: A Collector’s Guide to the Novels. There are several spin-off characters seen only in the novels as well. Some of the most interesting information can be gleaned from the bonus features on the myriad Doctor Who DVDs. BBC is releasing more and more of them everyday. That in itself is a fun story considering the BBC destroyed many of the original tapes and has now been scouring the globe to find old copies and piecing them back together with audio and animation.
Shara Lanel is an obsessive TV viewer, book collector, and Whovian. She also writes steamy, suspenseful romance. Her latest book, A TWISTED MAGICK, is available at Ellora’s Cave.