One muggy day in August 2015, I sat down to watch my first episode of Dr. Who.1 As it turns out, that was a fantastic decision. I heard the intro music for the first time and watched a blue Police Box float through a wormhole. Before I knew it, plastic mannequins came to life and started to attack this young girl, Rose Tyler. My heartbeat quickened as I asked myself what kind of series this was. Horror? Sci-fi? Rose seemed doomed. And then we meet the Doctor.2 He takes her hand and leads her out of danger. Though a bit rude and brash, his witty lines won me over in an instant.
I fell in love with the series and raced through nine Series and 12 Christmas specials over three semesters. And, as we prepare to welcome the Doctor back for Series 10, I thought I would share some of the reasons we should be excited for the Doctor’s return.
1. It’s been a while.
The short answer is simple: no episodes have aired for Dr. Who since the Christmas special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio.” That three-month-hiatus is enough for me. For more long-term fans of the series, there has been nothing but that special since December 2015. A year is more than enough time to wait to get back inside the TARDIS.
2. Getting to know Dr. Who
The series’ title asks one central question: who is the Doctor? He has been portrayed by thirteen different actors throughout the series’ run.3 Each incarnation has a different personality, but deep down is the same character. With each new body, another aspect of who he is comes to light.
The Doctor can range from silly, as he defends his choice to wear a bow tie or a fez (regardless of what anybody else says),4 to serious, in his speeches in the face of hostile aliens.5 Operating between these two extremes, he demonstrates just how complex people really can be, as a Time Lord who effectively can live forever.
3. The companions who shape the Doctor
At their best, the companions make the Doctor a better person. Rose Tyler taught him to care again after the scarring effects of the Time War and Donna Noble stopped the Doctor from turning into a monster in her debut.
This series, we are introduced to a new companion, Bill and we know little about her. How will the Doctor react to travelling with a new person, especially after he went through hell6 to try and save the last one’s life?
4. The Fandom is bigger on the inside
The Whovian community has produced a number of adaptations of songs and a band that writes music inspired by the series. The fandom extends far beyond costumes and music too.
The St. Louis Science Center hosts a Dr. Who night (where yours truly may or may not have been in attendance. A number of people dressed as characters from the series, including some incredible handmade costumes. One person had hand-knitted the Fourth Doctor’s scarf and another had made her own habit for this obscure character.
Did I mention that I have acquired three posters and a TARDIS travel mug which sits proudly on my desk. And how else can I get away with wearing a bow tie and suspenders in public?
5. Tight writing takes you deep.
One thing that snuck up on me in watching Dr. Who is how tight the writing can be. Sure, plot holes exist in the overarching narrative, but the series does a wonderful job of subtly tying its series together. Innocuous references throughout a series turn out to play a big role by the series finale. Spoilers: count the number of Bad Wolf references in series 1 or Saxon in series 3.
Individual episodes also can carry tremendous weight. Blink from series 3 contains perhaps the most well-known speech and explanation7 of time travel. And the two-part story right before it explores the Doctor’s chance to be human. It still gives me chills.
6. Villains, classic and new
The series continues to bring back classic villains like Daleks and Cybermen, while at the same time introducing new ones like the Weeping Angels. Each antagonist, particularly the repeat ones, provide a different challenge for the Doctor and his companions, a different feel to the story, and it is richer for it. What makes it even more interesting is that these villains often have great strength, powers, or weapons, but the Doctor can only use his wits to defeat them.
7. It’s fun!
When I stop and think about the series, I recall that I am following the (mis)adventures of an alien and his human companions as they travel through time and space in a blue Police Box. As a premise, it is silly and nonsensical, and that is why I love it. It can be sad to say farewell to companions8 or to the Doctor,9 but they make the series stronger and more versatile. Still, Dr. Who is a fun romp at heart.
8. Something Big is going to happen.
Sadly, Peter Capaldi has announced this will be his last series as the Doctor. This means that, by the Christmas special this year, we will be introduced to a new Doctor. This is also the last series with Steven Moffat as the head writer. The last time this happened, David Tennant tied together all of Russell T. Davies’ universe and opened the doors for Moffat’s brilliant writing.
Consider this an invitation to grab your Sonic Screwdrivers and join me. Allons-y!