WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH DR. WHO

August 4, 2011

YOU SHOULD GO TO BEGINNING OF CURRENT ITERATION OF DR. WHO AND START WATCHING IT.

RIGHT NOW.

WHY?

BECAUSE DR. WHO MIGHT BE HULK’S FAVORITE TELEVISION SHOW.

EVER.

… THAT A PRETTY GRAND STATEMENT, FULL OF ALL SORTS OF HYPERBOLE AND WHATEVER, BUT IT TRUE. A LOT OF AMERICANS MAY BE CONFUSED BY HULK’S RECOMMENDATION, WHEREAS A LOT OF HULK’S U.K. READERS WONDERING WHY AMERICANS WOULD BE CONFUSED AT ALL. SEE, WHILE DR. WHO AN INTRINSIC PART OF YOUR TELEVISION HISTORY AND A CULTURAL TALKING POINT, IT NOT REALLY THAT WELL-KNOWN OVER HERE IN THE STATES.(1) AS OF JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO, EVEN HULK JUST KNEW A BIT OF THIS HISTORY OF THE SHOW AND ITS IMPORTANCE AND NOT MUCH MORE. IT TOOK THE OUTRIGHT INSISTENCE OF A FEW FRIENDS TO CONVINCE HULK TO STARTING WATCHING AND, OBVIOUSLY, HULK VERY GLAD HULK DID.

BUT SERIOUSLY, FAVORITE???

CONSIDERING THE DEPTH OF TRULY GREAT TELEVISION, HULK’S PROCLAMATION MAY SEEM OUTRIGHT ABSURD. HULK CAN IMAGINE YOU SITTING THERE SAYING “BUT HULK? WHAT ABOUT ____ SHOW!” AND CHANCES ARE YOU NAME SOMETHING TOTALLY DESERVING. IN FACT, HULK HAVE A WHOLE LIST OF MODERN SHOWS THAT OBJECTIVELY “BETTER” THAN DR. WHO (YOU FREE TO ARGUE WITH ANY OF THESE): THE WIRE IS UNQUESTIONABLY THE BEST TV SHOW EVER. THE SOPRANOS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT. MAD MEN IS THE MOST INTERESTING. BREAKING BAD HAS THE BEST PERFORMANCE. LOST IS THE MOST AMBITIOUS (DRAMA). COMMUNITY IS THE MOST AMBITIOUS (COMEDY). SIX FEET UNDER IS THE DEEPEST (OR AT LEAST ALWAYS TRIED TO BE). BUFFY IS THE MOST ENTERTAINING. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS IS THE MOST HUMBLE. THE SHIELD IS THE MOST INTENSE. TWIN PEAKS WAS THE MOST WONDERFULLY LYNCHIAN (THAT ITS OWN THING). ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT IS THE WITTIEST. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA IS THE MOST AUDACIOUS. FREAKS AND GEEKS AND MY-SO-CALLED LIFE ARE THE MOST PAINFULLY HUMAN AND WELL-OBSERVED. SEINFELD IS THE MOST ORIGINAL. HOMICIDE, MR. SHOW, AND THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW ARE THE MOST AHEAD OF THEIR TIME. THE OFFICE (UK) IS THE MOST INSPIRED. AND THE SIMPSONS (GOLDEN AGE) IS THE ABSOLUTE FUNNIEST.

BUT DR. WHO MIGHT BE HULK’S FAVORITE.(2)

NOT PLEASED

WARNING: HULK’S FAVORITISM MAY JUST BE DUE TO FACT THAT HULK JUST SPENT THE LAST FEW MONTHS ON NETFLIX STREAMING, WHIZZING THROUGH THE MODERN RESURRECTION OF THE SHOW (STARTING IN 2005) AND NOW HULK COMPLETELY CAUGHT UP. WATCHING TV SHOWS IN THE “ALL AT ONCE” MANNER HAVE TENDENCY TO THROW BLINDERS ON VIEWER AND THROW REGARD FOR SHOW OUT OF WHACK… BUT HULK PRETTY GOOD AT BEING ABLE TO CONTEXTUALIZE WHATEVER HULK WATCHING; TO REMEMBER HOW HULK FELT WATCHING OTHER PROGRAMS AND WHY HULK WANTED TO KEEP WATCHING. THIS RELEVANT BECAUSE THE REASONS HULK FELT COMPELLED TO IMMEDIATELY WATCH THE NEXT EPISODE OF THE WIRE, OFTEN FAR DIFFERENT FROM THE REASONS HULK WANTED TO WATCH THE NEXT DR. WHO. MEANING EVEN IF NET RESULT THE SAME (GOOD TV LARGELY LIKE CRACK ADDICTION), THE REASONS WERE DIFFERENT. AND THE SPECIFIC NATURE OF THOSE REASONS LARGELY TELL YOU EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SHOW.

FOR ONE, THE FEELING OF WATCHING DR. WHO EQUATABLE WITH SIMPLE ELATION. THIS ENTIRE RUN BEEN AN ABSOLUTE JOY. SURE, THE SERIES STARTS OFF JUST A TAD BIT ROCKY WITH THE BUDGET-CONSTRAINED FIRST SEASON AND GENERAL UNSURENESS ABOUT THE WORLD OF THE SHOW (THERE A REASON THE SLEVEEN NO ENDURED. THEY WERE ULTIMATELY JUST STUPID FART MONSTERS), BUT WITH EVERY PASSING EPISODE HULK FOUND HULK-SELF MORE AND MORE WRAPPED UP IN THE CHARACTERS AND THE WORLD. 5 AND 1/2 SEASONS LATER? DR. WHO WAS ALL HULK THOUGH ABOUT. HULK RELISHED THE DAILY  CHANCE TO RETURN TO THE WORLD OF THE SHOW AND ENJOY THE ELATION OF WHAT MIGHT BE THE MOST HAPPINESS-PROVIDING SHOW-TYPE-THING AROUND.

WHAT MAKES IT SO ENJOYABLE? UNLIKE NEARLY EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE MODERN WORLD, DR. WHO DEFINED BY AN INEXORABLE SENSE OF OPTIMISM. IT SORT OF REMARKABLE FOR THIS DAY IN AGE REALLY. NO MISTAKE THE SHOW FOR EMPTY-HEADED-FLUFF THOUGH, ESPECIALLY SINCE IT OFTEN DEALS WITH THE FAIRLY COMMON THREAT OF APOCALYPSE OR FULL ERASURE FROM TIME AND SPACE. BUT THAT THE VERY THING THAT GIVE DR. WHO ITS GRAVITAS: IT GROUNDS ITS OPTIMISM IN APOCALYPSE. IT LOOKS AT THE SCALE OF THE UNIVERSE, THE FACT OUR LIVES ARE JUST TINY BLIPS ON AN INCONCEIVABLE TIME-LINE AND STILL MANAGES TO SHOW WHY IT MATTERS. IT SHOWS THAT MOST INCREDIBLE THING WE CAN DO IS CHERISH OUR VERY EXISTENCE AND “BE OUR BEST SELVES.” IT POSITIVE EXISTENTIALISM IN IT’S MOST CELEBRATED FORM, REFLECTING IT AS CORE HUMAN TRUTH.

AND BETTER YET, THE SHOW FOR EVERYONE. HULK THINK DR. WHO REPRESENT  THE BEST OF WHAT PIXAR OFFERS: A “YOUNG PERSON’S SHOW” THAT NOT JUST ADULT-FRIENDLY, BUT SOMETHING THAT QUITE LITERALLY FOR EVERYONE.

SO HOW BOUT THAT?

PART ONE – FOR THOSE WHO NEVER WATCHED THE SHOW

BUT REALLY HULK, YOU ASK, WHAT MAKE IT SO GREAT?

FOR STARTERS, IT CAN BE ANYTHING.

“EXPLAIN! EXPLAAAAIN!!!!

DR. WHO = THE STORY OF A 900 YEAR TIME LORD KNOWN SIMPLY AS “THE DOCTOR.” THE TIME LORDS ARE THE MOST ANCIENT AND NOBLE BEINGS IN THE UNIVERSE AND THEY WATCH OVER ALL OF TIME AND SPACE. THE DOCTOR, A FUNNY AND OFTEN BRILLIANT FIGURE, SPENDS HIS LIFE TRAVELING IN THE TARDIS, A MIRACULOUS SHIP THAT CAN ACTUALLY NAVIGATE THROUGH BOTH TIME AND SPACE (IT IS ALSO DISGUISED AS A 60’S-ESQUE POLICE BOX… THIS WILL MAKE SENSE HULK ASSURE YOU).  IN ALL THESE TRAVELS THROUGH THE STARS, THE DOCTOR OFTEN BRINGS COMPANIONS ALONG WITH HIM TO SHARE THE JOURNEY (THE COMPANIONS OFTEN HUMAN AND EVEN MORE OFTEN YOUNG WOMEN). TOGETHER THEY INVESTIGATE HISTORY, THE FUTURE, THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE, AND BEYOND. AND DESPITE THE FACT THE SHOW USUALLY HAVE SOME SORT OF “MYSTERY OF THE WEEK” ALLURE, THE SHOW CAN TAKE ON ANY FORM, SUBJECT MATTER, OR TONE.

IT CAN LITERALLY DO OR BE ANYTHING.

THIS INNATE CAPACITY FOR ENDLESS CREATIVITY THE MAIN REASON THE SHOW HAS LASTED THROUGH SIX DECADES (OH YEAH, FORGOT TO MENTION, THE ORIGINAL INCARNATION OF SHOW BEEN AROUND SINCE 1963). WELL, THAT NOT THE ONLY REASON. THE SHOW ALSO THOUGHT OF ONE RATHER INGENIOUS LITTLE PLOT DEVICE: TIME LORDS CAN REGENERATE, MEANING EVERY TIME THE ACTOR PLAYING THE DOCTOR READY TO LEAVE/GET FIRED, HE CAN SIMPLY DIE IN HIS CURRENT FORM AND REGENERATE WITH A NEW ACTOR PLAYING THE ROLE. YES, IT MAY SEEM A LITTLE HOKEY, BUT IT THE PERFECT CONCEIT FOR ONGOING SERIALIZED TELEVISION, SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE IT ALLOW THE SHOW TO MAINTAIN RICH HISTORY AND TRADITION.(3) LIKEWISE, THE SHOW HAVE A SIMILAR UNDERSTANDING OF TRUNCATING THE PLOT-LINES FOR THE COMPANIONS SO THAT THEIR ARCS ARE TIGHT AND FOCUSED, NEVER FAILING TO OVERSTAY THEIR WELCOME. BOTH CHOICES ALLOW THE SHOW TO STAVE OFF “THE STALENESS” WHICH RUINED A GREAT MANY TV SHOWS.

“]THERE NOW BEEN ELEVEN DOCTORS TO PLAY THE ROLE SO FAR AND COUNTLESS THOUSANDS OF HOURS OF PROGRAMMING . THE SHOW WENT OFF THE AIR IN 1989, HAD ONE-OFF TV MOVIE IN 1996,AND THEN FULLY RETURNED TO THE AIRWAVES IN 2005. THE BEST THING THAT IT WAS NO “REBOOT” BUT INSTEAD A COMPLETE RESURRECTION OF THE SHOW/CHARACTER WITH THE ESTABLISHED CANON/HISTORY FULLY IN TACT. YET AT SAME TIME THEY THANKFULLY CONSTRUCTED THE RESURRECTION SO THAT YOU NO NEED GO BACK AND WATCH 40 YEARS OF RATHER-DATED TELEVISION TO KEEP UP. IT BASICALLY AMOUNT TO A WONDERFUL RE-INTRODUCTION TO THE SHOW.

AND SOON ENOUGH YOU BROUGHT INTO THE FOLD, WHERE THE WORLD OF DR. WHO REVEALS ITSELF DELIGHTFULLY: THE SONIC SCREWDRIVERS, DALEKS, GALIFREY, SHADOW PROCLAMATIONS, FIXED TIME EVENTS, CYBERMEN, UNIT, SONTARANS, THE VOID, WEEPING ANGELS, OODS, CRACKS IN TIME, ALL THE TYLERS, JONES’, SARAH JANE SMITHS, NOBLES, PONDS, AND EVEN FEZZES (FEZZES ARE COOL).

NOW IF ALL THESE BITS ABOUT TIME LORDS REGENERATING AND MAGIC FLYING BOXES SOUNDS SORT OF WACKY, WELL, YOU RIGHT. IT DEFINITELY WACKY. BUT IT ALSO DEALT WITH RATHER BRILLIANTLY. AND THAT THE KEY REALLY.

EVERYTHING STARTS WITH THE FACT THAT THE DOCTOR AN IMPOSSIBLY MAGNETIC FIGURE AND AN ACTOR’S DREAM TO BOOT. HE CAN SOMETIMES JUST BE SILLY,  OFF-KILTER, OR ESOTERIC, BUT IT NEVER ONCE LOST ON US THAT HE A BEING NEARLY GOD-LIKE IN HIS CAPABILITIES. THE DOCTOR’S INNATE CAPACITY FOR DARKNESS AND ABSOLUTE POWER THE CONSTANT AND PROVERBIAL ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. YET THE DOCTOR ALSO IMBUED WITH MOST NATURAL CURIOSITY AND HE FREQUENTLY DELIGHTED BY THE IMPOSSIBLE. HIS DEALINGS WITH HUMANITY, WHILE LARGELY JUST A FUNCTION OF “BECAUSE IT US,” MORE PREDICATED ON THE NOTION THAT THE DOCTOR SOMEONE FASCINATED BY THE HUMAN CONDITION. WHY? BECAUSE IT THE SAME CONDITION THAT HE NEEDS TO KEEP GOING, 900 YEARS AND COUNTING. ULTIMATELY, HE LOVES HUMANS BECAUSE OF THE WAYS WE LOVE EACH OTHER.

SEE THE DOCTOR PROCLAIMS HIMSELF TO BE JUST A TRAVELER HE NOT JUST A TRAVELER. HE A FIGURE CAPABLE OF INCREDIBLE ACTS OF GOOD. A MAN WHO SAVES THE UNIVERSE HUNDREDS OF TIMES OVER. HE CAPABLE OF BIG, BOLD ACTION AND SACRIFICE. UNQUANTIFABLE LOVE. A BEACON. A MORAL COMPASS. AND THANKFULLY THE SCALE OF THE SHOW OFTEN FITS THE GRANDEUR OF THE CONCEPTS. FEW CHARACTERS CAN ALTERNATE SO FREELY BETWEEN TWEE AND GRAVITAS WHEN ALL OF REALITY AT STAKE. IT ANYTHING BUT SCHIZOPHRENIC, THE SHOW EXPLORES EVERY BIT OF NUANCE IN BETWEEN.

SOUNDS PRETTY GOOD RIGHT?

SPACESHIP... DREAM-ACHIEVER

IT SOUNDS SORT OF LIKE A BEAUTIFUL DREAM, TO BE WHISKED AWAY IN THE TARDIS AND SEE THE WHOLE OF TIME AND SPACE. IT ABSOLUTELY NO MISTAKE THAT “THE BLUE BOX” = THE ETERNAL SYMBOL FOR THE GATEWAY TO DREAMS.(4) IT TAP INTO SOMETHING ABOUT OUR INTRINSIC NATURE TO EXPLORE AND REFLECT.

AND THE SHOW HAS THIS ABILITY TO ELICIT A CHILD-LIKE REACTION. NO MISTAKE THIS FOR SIMPLE NOSTALGIA (HULK NEVER WATCHED THE SHOW SO THERE NOTHING TO ACTUALLY NOSTALG-TO). HULK SIMPLY TALKING ABOUT THE CAPACITY FOR THAT OH-SO-CHILD-LIKE EMOTION: GUILT-FREE JOY. IT HARD FOR THE MODERN/AWARE AUDIENCE, WHOSE CYNICISM DEFINED NOT NECESSARILY BY NEGATIVITY, BUT FROM THE IMMENSE DEARTH OF MEDIA EXPERIENCE. WE SEEN EVERYTHING, SO WHAT COULD BE NEW AND PURE? THIS SHOW PROVES THAT SOME THINGS CAN STILL BE PURE. THAT ONE CAN HAVE GUILT FREE JOY WITHOUT “TURNING BRAIN OFF.”

DR. WHO MAY NOT THE BEST SHOW EVER MADE.

BUT IT HULK’S FAVORITE.

YOU MAY NOT KNOW THIS GUY BUT HE FREAKING GENIUS

PART TWO – FOR THOSE WHO NEVER WATCHED THE SHOW BUT NOT CONVINCED BY MERE HYPERBOLE, HERE NINE TANGIBLE REASONS FOR DR. WHO’S RELATIVE GOODNESS IN THE PANTHEON OF TELEVISION

THIS FOR THOSE OF YOU LOOKING FOR FILM-Y/MORE OBJECTIVE REASONS

1. STEPHEN MOFFAT A GENIUS – SOMETIMES IT THAT SIMPLE. MOFFAT FIRST A WRITER ON THE SHOW AND HE NOW THE SHOW-RUNNER. HE HAS BECOME ONE OF HULK’S FAVORITE WRITERS. PERIOD. ONE OF THINGS THAT MAKE HIM DISTINCTIVE, ASIDE FROM UNCANNY ABILITY TO WRITE WITTY-YET-GOAL-ORIENTED DIALOGUE, THAT HE USES THE ENTIRE CANVAS OF TIME AND SPACE TO ACHIEVE ENDS OF GIVEN STORY. IT RARELY A SIMPLE CASE OF “NOW WE DOING THIS KIND OF STORY IN CENTRALIZED LOCATION.” HE DEEPLY MOTIVATED BUT THE POSSIBILITIES THAT DR. WHO PROVIDE. IT EXTREME STORYTELLING. BETTER YET, IT TRUE SCI FI.

2. ACTUALLY, THE SHOW HAD TWO BRILLIANT SHOW-RUNNERS. RUSSEL T. DAVIES RESURRECTED THE SHOW IN 2005 AND WAS THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR IT’S CURRENT STYLE. THANKFULLY, HE MADE THE EXACT RIGHT CHOICES IN EVERY REGARD. IT SHOWCASED TREMENDOUS RESPECT AND ADORATION FOR THE ORIGINAL SERIES BUT KNEW EXACTLY WHAT TO AUGMENT. AND WHILE MOFFAT MAY BE THE BETTER INDIVIDUAL WRITER, DAVIES HAD TRUE GIFT FOR DEVELOPING THE ARC OF A SEASON. NOT JUST WITHIN THE CENTRAL ARC, BUT THE INTERTWINING PLOTS YOU HAD NO IDEA WERE ACTUALLY INTERTWINED. REALLY, DAVIES AN EXPERT OF GRAND GESTURES AND WORLD BUILDING, WHICH MAKE HIM PERFECT FOR SHOW-RUNNING.

3. CONCEPTUAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL VILLAINS – IN THE MOST RECENT YEARS, DR. WHO DISPLAYS WONDERFUL PENCHANT FOR CREATING VILLAINS THAT HAVE INTRINSIC PSYCHOLOGICAL COMPONENT. WHILE THE HISTORIC ONES MORE STRAIGHT ALLEGORIC-STAND-INS (THE DALEKS ARE NAZIS, THE CYBERMEN ARE COMMUNIST, ETC). THE MODERN WORK IN MORE ABSTRACT CONCEPTS. MOFFAT SEEMS PARTICULAR INTERESTED IN WHAT UNSEEN: THERE A GROUP OF VILLAINS THAT MOVE THAT WHEN YOU DON’T LOOK AT THEM. ANOTHER THAT YOU INSTANTLY FORGET WHEN NOT LOOKING AT THEM. WHAT SOUNDS SO SIMPLE, ACTUALLY HANDLED WITH STUNNING COMPREHENSIVENESS, DIVING INTO THE DETAILS OF WHAT THAT REALLY MEANS (WHAT IF YOU HAVE TO BLINK? OR HOW REMEMBER AN ENEMY YOU CAN’T ACTUALLY REMEMBER?). IN WORLD WHERE J.J. ABRAMS REALLY SEEM CONTENT JUST GIVE US BORING OLD SAMEY ALIENS THAT HAVE NO EFFECT, DR. WHO ACTUALLY INTERESTED IN PROVING THINGS THAT REALLY FEEL NEW AND DISTINCT.

4. WHILE THE SHOW CAN TAKE ON ANY FORM, IT STILL HAVE REMARKABLE SIMILARITY OF TONE TO BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, WHICH IN CASE NO HAVE SEEN ONE OF THE BEST SHOWS OF ALL TIME.(5) IT GOES BEYOND THE SIMPLE BALANCING OF INDIVIDUAL ADVENTURES WITH THE OVERALL ARC AND “BIG BAD.” IT EMBRACE MANY OF THE SAME STORYTELLING CONVENTIONS: THE NARRATIVE CAN SHIFT, CHARACTERS CAN REVERSE PERSONALITIES FOR A TIME (ALL IN THE NAME OF GOOD-OLE TV FUN), BUT IT ALSO DONE SO WITH ACUTE SENSE OF HOW TO PLAY THOSE TROPES. THE ONLY MAJOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO COMES BACK TO OPTIMISM. NOT TO IMPLY THE WORLD OF BUFFY A CYNICAL ONE, BUT OFTEN SHE SEEMED A MERE CANDLE IN THE DARK, STEMMING THE ONSLAUGHT OF HORROR. MEANWHILE, THE WORLD OF DR. WHO MORE INCLUSIVE OF MAN’S OWN CONTRIBUTIONS AND THE INNATE GOODNESS OF ALL PEOPLE.

5. EVERY SHOW HAVE INHERENT PROBLEMS OR LIMITATIONS OF CONCEIT, BUT DR. WHO HAS NEIGH-UNCANNY ABILITY FOR GLIDING OVER IT’S PROBLEMS WITH GRACE AND HUMOR. FOR ONE, IT A SHOW THAT SELF-AWARE, BUT NOT PAINFULLY OR PARALYZINGLY SELF AWARE. . THINK WHAT HAPPEN WITH THE SIMPSONS AND HOW IT STOPPED TELLING STORIES BECAUSE IT BECAME TOO PAINFULLY SELF-AWARE OF ITS OWN STORYTELLING DYNAMICS.(6) AND LIKE ANYTHING, THERE BEEN SOME MORE DULL EPISODES, BUT RARELY AN ACTUAL MISSTEP. AND WHEN THERE ACTUAL MIS-STEPS, THEY ALWAYS SEEM TO RECOVER. ALSO THE PROBLEMS OF INDIVIDUAL EPISODES TEND GET FORGIVEN EASIER WHEN BLASTING THROUGH SHOW AT RAPID PACE, BUT IN TURN, THE LEGITIMACY OF ARCS AND THEIR PACING WAY MORE ACUTELY SENSED. IT REWARD GOOD GRADUAL STORYTELLING. WHICH DR. WHO SURPRISINGLY HAVE.

THE SIMPSONS STRETCHED THE IN-JOKE AND FOREVER LOST THE AFFECT OF SCENES LIKE THIS

6. ONE OF HULK’S FAVORITE ASPECT THAT THERE A COMPLETELY LACK OF FAUX-DRAMA. FAUX-DRAMA A SPECIFIC THING WHERE THEY SUDDENLY DECIDE TO MAKE A CHARACTER DO SOMETHING UNLIKABLE TO CREATE THEIR OWN DRAMA, RARELY FOR GOOD REASON. IT A TV STAPLE DONE BUT IN NAME OF CREATING CONFLICT BUT IT VERY DIFFICULT THING TO ACHIEVE. IT SEEM FALSE BECAUSE IT FEEL FALSE. THINK JULIE TAYLOR SUDDENLY BECOMING INSUFFERABLE BRAT IN SEASON 2 OF FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. HULK SENSED THE WRITERS WANTED TO EXPLORE CONCEPT OF HOW TEENS SUDDENLY BECOME SELFISH, BUT SUDDENLY SHE WAS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON. PEOPLE DON’T JUST SUDDENLY BECOME UNADJUSTED. THIS NOT IMPLY HULK ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO DISLIKE WHEN CHARACTERS DO THINGS HULK NO LIKE. THAT INSIPID. IT JUST SOME SHOWS HAVE TACT WITH THEIR UNLIKABLE-NESS (THINK SIX FEET UNDER), IN WHICH CHARACTERS MOSTLY DO HORRIBLE THINGS TO EACH OTHER. ANYWHO, AS OF 5 AND 1/2 SEASONS OF DR. WHO THEY YET TO DO THAT ONCE. IT JUST A MARK OF GOOD WRITING.

6. ONE OF HULK’S LITTLE FAVORITE THINGS HOW IT CONSTANTLY THROW OFF OUR SENSE OF AMERI-CENTRISM. IT JARRING TO SEE ALIENS LAND ON EARTH AND MAKE WAY FOR THIS MYSTERIOUS “LONDON” PLACE. IT ACTUALLY JARRING BECAUSE AMERICANS, WHO IN CONTROL OF MEDIA AND STUFF, REGULARLY SEE THEMSELVES AS CENTER OF UNIVERSE: “WHY THOSE ALIENS NOT LANDING IN NEW YORK?!?!!?” THIS, OF COURSE, JUST A CONDITIONED RESPONSE. THOUGH IT BEAR MENTIONING THAT THE DAVIES ERA ONCE OR TWICE WENT A LITTLE TOO FAR IN ITS OWN RIGHT OF LONDON THINKING IT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. BUT REALLY THE ANGLO-CENTRICISM JUST WONDERFUL. IT HAVE THIS ADDED BENEFIT OF INCORPORATING MULTI-ETHNIC CAST THAT SOMEWHAT FREE FROM THE ETHNIC ASSOCIATIONS WE MAKE OF THEM IN AMERICA AND THE SHOW NOT BAT AN EYE AT THE INCLUSION OF BLACK OR PAKISTANI ACTORS.(7)

7. THE MUSIC OF MURRAY GOLD. WITH THE INCLUSION OF SEASON 5’S WORK, IT NOT JUST THE BEST SCORED SHOW ON TELEVISION, IT TRANSCEND TELEVISION. IT “REALLY GOOD MOVIE SCORE” GOOD.

OBVIOUSLY, THIS JUST NOT THE FREQUENT TELEVISION “MOOD MUSIC” AND “TONES.” NOPE. DR. WHO NOT AFRAID TO BIG, BOMBASTIC. AND IMPOSSIBLY GRAND. BUT AGAIN, THE SCALE OF THE MUSIC FIT THE SCALE OF THE SHOW. AND THE OTHER PART OF THE MUSIC’S SUCCESS BECAUSE THEY SUBSCRIBE TO KUBRICKS “MUSIC WORKS LIKE A CHORUS” THEORY A BIT MORE THAN MOST… HINT: KUBRICK AIN’T NO SLOUCH.

8. BILLIE PIPER, FREEMA AGYEMAN, CATHERINE TATE, AND KAREN GILLAN MANAGE TO INFUSE MORE PERSONALITY AND NUANCE INTO THEIR CHARACTERS THAT JUST ABOUT EVERY OTHER FEMALE IN AMERICAN SCI FI/GENRE. WAIT, THAT WAY TOO LIMITED. THEY MIGHT BE FOUR OF HULK’S FOUR FAVORITE WRITTEN WOMEN IN TV… EASY … ALSO HULK FULLY WILLING TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT MAYBE JUST THE ACCENTS.

9. EVERY TIME YOU THINK YOU NO LIKE A CHARACTER… WAIT. THE SHOW KNOW HOW TO EXECUTE CHARACTER ARCS BETTER THAN ALMOST ANY OTHER SHOW.

PART THREE – FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO SEEN THE ENTIRE SHOW AND BEEN WAITING FOR HULK TO TALK SPECIFICS!

SERIOUSLY. IF YOU NO SEEN GO AWAY. THIS WILL ONLY RUIN THINGS.

[WAITING TIL YOU GO AWAY]

OKAY…

LET’S TALK WHO!

CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON – AT THIS POINT IT SORT OF HARD TO REMEMBER HOW MUCH HULK LIKED CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON AND HOW HE COMPARE TO THE OTHER TWO GUYS. HE HAVE BENEFIT OF BEING HULK’S “FIRST DOCTOR” BUT HULK ABSORBED HIM IN SUCH RAPID WAY THAT HE NOT REALLY SINK IN. AND THEN THERE THE MATTER THAT THE FIRST SEASON SOMEWHAT UNEVEN. HULK REMEMBER FINDING HIM QUITE LIKABLE FOR WHAT IT WORTH, THOUGH HULK ALSO REMEMBER HIM ONLY REALLY HAVING TWO DOCTOR MODES – DOPEY + SMILEY AND THEN YELLING + SERIOUS. THAT PROBABLY NOT FAIR, BUT IT WHAT HULK REMEMBER.

DAVID TENNANT – ACTUALLY, ECCLESTON MUST HAVE HAD MORE NUANCE THAN HULK REMEMBER, BECAUSE HULK AT FIRST THOUGHT TENNANT COMING OUT THE GATE A BIT BROAD AND MANIC FOR HULK’S TASTE. HULK REMEMBER MISSING THE LACK OF CONTROL. AND THEN… WELL… YEAH. TENNANT ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. HIS RUN SPANNED 4 YEARS AND HE JUST REMARKABLE, MIXING ABOUT 9 DIFFERENT KINDS OF COMIC PERSONAS. AND AS FOR HIS MOMENTS OF SOLEMNITY HE CAN ACQUIT HIMSELF BEAUTIFULLY. HIS “I’M SO SORRY” SPEECHES BECAME BIT OF CLICHE, BUT FOR GOOD REASON. THEY ABSURDLY EFFECTIVE AND NONE BETTER THAN HIS FINALE “SO SORRY” SPEECH AT THE END OF “THE WATERS OF MARS.” AS HE TALKED INTO THAT CAMERA HULK NOT GONNA LIE. THERE SOME HULK TEARS. JUST INCREDIBLE. THERE FAMOUS ANECDOTE ABOUT HOW DAVID TENNANT WATCHED DR. WHO AND SAID “I WANT TO DO THAT.” AND THEN WENT ABOUT HIS LIFE TURNING THAT INTO REALITY. FOR MOST PEOPLE WATCHING THE SHOW TODAY, TENNANT IS “THEIR DOCTOR.”

MATT SMITH -WELL IF DAVID TENNANT BORN TO PLAY DR. WHO THEN MATT SMITH BORN TO PLAY ANYONE. HOLY SHIT WHAT AN ACTOR. HIS RAPID SPEED DELIVERY, WHICH TOTALLY JARRING AT FIRST, COMES TO BE ONE OF THE MOST ENJOYABLE THINGS ON PLANET. IT AN UNSTOPPABLE WEAPON. LIKE KAREEM’S SKYHOOK OR JORDAN’S FALL-AWAY.(8) THE SHOW GET IMPOSSIBLE MILEAGE OF WATCHING SMITH WALK INTO A GROUP OF PEOPLE AND JUST START TALKING. AND BY THE END OF SEASON 5 (AND ESPECIALLY IN THE FIRST PART OF SEASON 6), SMITH HAVE TOTAL CONFIDENCE TOO. HE KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HE DOING AND HOW TO PACE THE PERSONA THAT MAKE THE RAPID-FIRE DOCTOR WORK (ALSO THE WRITERS HAVE A BETTER SENSE OF HIS AMAZING CAPACITY TO FLING WORDS ABOUT). THERE JUST A LITANY OF AMAZING MOMENTS WITH SMITH: THE “I’M THE DOCTOR” SPEECH AT THE END OF HIS FIRST EPISODE. THE INCREDIBLE SPEECH AT STONEHENGE. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HIS INTERACTIONS WITH RORY. AND ONE OF THINGS HULK LIKE THAT MATT SMITH’S DOCTOR FEELS MORE OUT OF CONTROL. ALL THE DOCTORS SORT OF UNHINGED, BUT THE DARKNESS IN SMITHS FEEL LESS “SAFE” THAN THE OTHERS. FROM A NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE IT GREAT BECAUSE IT ALLOW FOR REAL FEELING OF DANGER INSTEAD OF JUST THE IDEA OF DANGER.

BILLIE PIPER – SHE SORTA BOXY, SORTA TRASHY, BUT SHE OUT-AND-OUT JOY. HAS THE FLIRTATIOUS SMILE DOWN TO A SCIENCE AND YOU COMPLETELY BUY HER AS SOMEONE GENUINELY CONCERNED WITH PEOPLE. HER ARC DOWNRIGHT FANTASTIC. SHE “THE COMPANION” OF THE NEW INCARNATION AND DESERVE EVERY BIT OF PRAISE SHE EVER GOTTEN. THE SHOW KNEW EXACTLY WHO SHE WAS AND WHAT TO DO WITH HER.

FREEMA AGYEMAN – ALSO INCREDIBLE. HULK THINK HULK LIKED HER MORE THAN MOST, BUT THIS IN LARGE PART DUE TO WHAT HULK THOUGHT WAS GREAT INTRODUCTION EPISODE. IT TRUE HER ARC SORT OF PETERED OUT AND HERS THE STORY OF UNREQUITED LOVE (AREN’T THEY ALL IN THIS SHOW?) BUT THERE SOME SORT OF JUST “OH WELL” ABOUT HOW SHE WENT ON HER DEPARTURE. ALSO, HULK SORT OF DISAPPOINTED WITH HOW HER POST-SEASON 3 GUEST SPOTS TURNED OUT… OH WELL.

CATHERINE TATE – WHAT A TURN… THE ONE EVERYONE HATED BECAME OH SO LOVED… SHE ALSO THE FUNNIEST COMPANION BY END OF HER RUN.

KAREN GILLAN – SHE NOT POLISHED ACTRESS THE SAME WAY THE OTHERS WERE AND SHE NOT HAVE INNATE FLIRTATIOUSNESS THAT PIPER HAD, BUT SHE HAVE OTHER THINGS THAT PERHAPS LESS EVIDENT. OKAY THE MOST EVIDENT THING THAT SHE FREAKING GORGEOUS, BUT THAT NOT DO IT FOR ACTRESSES. NOT BE LONG SHOT. LUCKILY, THERE SO MUCH MORE. SHE, LIKE ALL COMPANIONS, MADE BEAUTIFUL NOT BY WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE BUT WHO THEY ARE. FOR ONE, A FASCINATING STORY BUILT AROUND A SUBTLE CASE OF ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. A CHARACTER WHO EQUALLY NEVER QUITE COMFORTABLE WITH HERSELF, ALWAYS UNSURE. THE SHOW KNOWS EXACTLY HOW TO WRITE FOR KAREN’S STRENGTHS, HER WIDE EYED VULNERABILITY, HER ALPHA-FEMALE INSTINCTS, AND HER GANGLY-AWKWARD PRESENCE. HULK FASCINATED BY THE CHARACTER OF AMY POND AND CAN NO WAIT FOR MORE.

RUSSELL T. DAVIES – HE A GREAT SHOW-RUNNER AND KNEW HOW TO CONSTRUCT A SEASON OF TELEVISION, BUT HULK THINK HE HONESTLY NOT THAT THAT GREAT A WRITER. LOOKING OVER HIS ENTIRE WORK IN THE SERIES, HE WROTE MOST OF THE SPECIALS, PREMIERS, FINALES, ETC. BUT THOSE CATERED TO HIS BIG GRAND GESTURES. THEY WERE NOT REALLY TIGHT BITS OF STORYTELLING. HULK ACTUALLY FEEL LIKE “SMITH AND JONES” (FREEMA’S INTRODUCTION TO SERIES) ACTUALLY HIS BEST EPISODE BY FAR. HULK THINK HIS WORST EPISODE ACTUALLY “MIDNIGHT” WHICH START PROMISING AND HAVE SOME GREAT IDEAS, BUT HE NEVER REALIZED HAVING PEOPLE YELL AT EACH OTHER FOR 1 HOUR STRAIGHT THE LEAST EFFECTIVE MODE OF STORYTELLING EVER (HORROR MOVIES MAKE THIS MISTAKE ALL THE TIME).

STEVEN MOFFAT – AND THEN THERE THIS GENIUS. MOFFAT’S INDIVIDUAL EPISODES PROBABLY INCLUDE 13 OF THE 17 BEST IN THE SERIES. BUT OVERALL WORK AS SHOW-RUNNER STILL SLIGHTLY UNEVEN (THE ONE-OFF STORIES IN SEASON SIX MUCH BETTER THAN SEASON 5. “HUNGRY EARTH” / “COLD BLOOD” = LEGITIMATELY BAD). HULK THINK THAT SOME PEOPLE CRITICIZE THE MOFFAT ERA AS NOT BEING AS “FUN” BUT HULK LARGELY BELIEVE THAT BECAUSE THEY CHANGED THE CINEMATOGRAPHY MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. EVERYTHING SORT OF HAVE WASHED-OUT GRAY LOOK NOW, WHICH HAVE PLUSES AND MINUSES, BUT IT ONE OF THOSE STRANGE THINGS WHERE IT REALLY AFFECTING SOME PEOPLE. BUT AGAIN, STEPHEN MOFFAT’S SCRIPTS SHOULD BE TAUGHT IN FILM SCHOOLS.

YES THAT CAREY MULLIGAN

BEST EPISODE – HOW IN THE WORLD HULK GOT TO REACH THE EPISODE WITH ABSOLUTELY ZERO BUILDUP HULK NOT KNOW, BUT “BLINK” ONE OF THE BEST HOURS OF TELEVISION. PERIOD.

LITTLE THINGS HULK LOVES:

-THE INCREDIBLE ARC OF RORY WILLIAMS – THE SCHLUBBY “OTHER GUY” A STAPLE OF STORYTELLING AND IT ONE THAT MOFFAT SOUGHT TO REVISE WITH LASER LIKE ACCURACY. RORY’S JOURNEY TO BECOMING “THE LAST CENTURION” ONE OF THE TRUE JOYS OF GETTING TO WATCH A CHARACTER ARC AND NOW IT IN SUCH AN INTERESTING PLACE. RORY HAS 1000 YEARS ON THE DOCTOR AFTER ALL.

-NEIL GAIMAN’S EPISODE = PERFECT.

-THE INFINITE POSSIBILITIES OF RIVER SONG

-ROSE SAYING “EVFREEFING.”

-ROSE’S MOM

-THE JUXTAPOSITION OF DONNA NOBLE BEING GREAT SET-UP FOR WHY HE PICK MARTHA JONES.

-MARTHA JONES IN THE LAB COAT.

-THEN COMING AROUND ON DONNA NOBLE

-DAVID TENNANT PULLING OUT THE GLASSES

-THE ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT OF AMY POND AND HOW THE SHOW DEALS WITH SUCH CARE.

-THE FACE OF BOE AND WHO IT MIGHT BE

-THAT THEY CAME TO UNDERSTAND THAT DALEKS ARE MOSTLY JUST FUNNY.

GENERAL QUESTIONS:

-WHY DID MICKEY AND MARTHA END UP TOGETHER AGAIN? SORTA SEEMED A LITTLE THROW-AWAY-Y AND SHE HAD HER OTHER DUDE WE LIKED.

-WHO THOUGHT “VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED” WAS GOOD IDEA?

-WATCHING THE SHOW ALL AT ONCE… IT REALLY KINDA ANNOYING TO HAVE SO MUCH TORCHWOOD CROSSOVER FUCKING EVERYWHERE. ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING HULK BARELY WATCHED IT. BAD MOVE ON THEIR PART? ON HULK’S?

HULK’S FAVORITE LINES:

“I THOUGHT YOU WERE JUST A MADMAN WITH A BOX.” / “THERE’S SOMETHING YOU BETTER UNDERSTAND ABOUT ME, ‘CAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT AND ONE DAY YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT. I AM DEFINITELY A MADMAN WITH A BOX.”

DOCTOR: “_____ ARE COOL”

“FEAR ME I’VE KILLED HUNDREDS OF TIME LORDS” / “FEAR ME I’VE KILLED ALL OF THEM.”

“BITING’S EXCELLENT. IT’S LIKE KISSING ONLY THERE IS A WINNER.”

“DO THE SMART THING. LET SOME ONE ELSE TRY FIRST”

DALEK LINES: “EXPLAIN! EXPLAAAAAAIN!” / “ENJOY THE TEA! ENJOOOOOOOOY!” / “MERCY! MERCYYYYYY!”

“AM I… GINGER?”

“NEW-NEW DOCTOR.”

“I’M AMELIA AND YOU’RE LATE.”

“IT DOESN’T DO WOOD.”

“CALL HER MUMMY, NOT ‘BIG MILK THING.'” / “YOU SPEAK BABY?” / “I SPEAK EVERYTHING.”

“BASICALLY, RUN.”

“CROSSING INTO ESTABLISHED EVENTS IS FORBIDDEN. EXCEPT FOR CHEAP TRICKS.”

“I’M SORRY AMY, BUT YOUR HOUSE IS TOO BIG.”

[REACHES FOR TOP OF HEAD] “I CAN BUY A FEZ”

“OH AND I MET A HORSE”

[TURNS] “YOU WERE FANTASTIC.”

“____ THE GIRL/BOY WHO WAITED.”

‘I’VE SEEN FAKE GODS AND BAD GODS AND DEMIGODS AND WOULD-BE GODS; OUT OF ALL THAT, OUT OF THAT WHOLE PANTHEON, IF BELIEVE IN ONE THING… JUST ONE THING… I BELIEVE IN HER.”

“BUT FOR ONE MOMENT. ONE SHINING MOMENT. SHE WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT WOMAN IN THE UNIVERSE.”

AND THEN… THERE THIS:

EPIC.

ENDNOTES

(1) – THERE A FAIR AMOUNT OF ADULTS WHO SOME WATCHED THE OLDER ITERATION OF THE SHOW (THE ONES WHO COULD GET PAST THE VIDEO PRODUCTION AESTHETICS), BUT WITH THE MODERN ITERATION, ESPECIALLY HULK’S GENERATION, IT JUST NOT KNOWN ON LEVEL OF POPULARITY IT SHOULD BE. IT NOW JUST REACHING THE LEVEL OF SMALL-CABLE-SIZED HIT WITH LITTLE CULTURAL PENETRATION BEYOND THE FANS THAT DESPERATELY LOVE IT. STILL, THERE DEFINITELY A MOVEMENT GROWING BEHIND AND HULK WANT THROW SUPPORT BEHIND THAT. SO, YOU KNOW, THIS COLUMN.

(2) – WHY NO OLDER SHOWS ON THAT LIST? THE TRUTH THAT THERE JUST TOO SEVERE A DIFFERENCE IN QUALITY OF TELEVISION POST-SOPRANOS AS OPPOSED TO PRE-SOPRANOS. IT HAVE THE SAME EFFECT AS THE HAYS CODE. OF COURSE THERE A MILLION INCREDIBLE TV SHOWS OF NON-MODERN INTEREST: MARY TYLER MOORE (SHOULD BE  A TV-WRITERS TEXT BOOK), CHEERS, ALL IN THE FAMILY, THE WONDER YEARS, HILL ST. BLUES, ETC. THEY GREAT THEY JUST LIMITED IN THEIR SCOPE AND POSSIBLITY. IT TOTALLY NOT A MATTER OF JUST BEING ABLE TO SAY “FUCK.” IT A MATTER OF BEING ABLE TO EXPLORE CONCEPTS IN A CINEMATIC WAY, OR SERIALIZED CHARACTER STUDY. THAT THE BIG CHANGE. TV SHOWS NEVER MEANT TO HAVE SHELF LIFE AND DURATION BEYOND REPEATS. EVEN HILL STREET BLUES WAS ABOUT BEING INTERESTING “THAT WEEK” AND NOT TELLING A LARGER STORY (THOUGH THEY COULD DO THAT). AND THE SERIALIZED STORYTELLING OF THE ERA WAS EITHER JUVENILE OR NOT-SO-GOOD PULPY. THERE JUST TOO MANY DIFFERENCES IN THE APPROACH. A POSSIBLE COMPARISON = THE DEAD-BALL ERA IN BASEBALL. IT JUST NO COMPARE.

(3)  -THERE GREAT THEORY THAT JAMES BOND ACTUALLY A TIME LORD. THINK ABOUT IT. IT MAKE PERFECT SENSE.

(4) – IT NO MISTAKE IN MULHOLLAND DRIVE TOO.

(5) – UGH. HERE WE GO. HULK LOVE WHEDON’S WORK BUT HULK NOT A “WHEDON PERSON” IF THAT MAKE SENSE. THERE THIS WEIRD TENDENCY OF HIS FANDOM TO BORDER ON MEGALOMANIA, AS IF HE THE ONLY ONE MAKING TRULY EXCELLENT PROGRAMMING WITH DISTINCT VOICE, WHEN ACTUALLY HE JUST ONE OF MANY. HULK IMAGINE THIS HAPPEN FOR SEVERAL REASONS: A) IT CAME AT TIME IN THEIR LIFE THAT THERE JUST NOT MUCH ELSE LIKE IT SO IT HUGELY INFLUENTIAL B) THE WHEDON FANS SO USED TO BE ON THEIR OWN ISLAND AND RIDICULED BY OTHER NERD FANS THAT DIDN’T GET IT THAT THEY CREATED THIS SOLIPSISTIC LIKE MINDSET. NOW IT JUST THIS INGRAINED DEFENSIVE MECHANISM DESPITE THE FACT LOTS PEOPLE FINALLY COME AROUND ON JOSS. WHY TAKE SO LONG? WELL IT DID FOR HULK TOO. HULK SUSPECT IT BECAUSE THERE SERIOUS HURDLES IN JUMPING INTO JOSS’S TONE BECAUSE ON SURFACE IT ALL JUST SEEM KINDA STUPID. BUT ONCE GET INTO IT, IT TRANSCENDENT. WELL, THE SAME WAS TRUE OF DR. WHO. HULK HAVE NO IDEA WHY WE KEEP DOING THIS. WE ASSUME THESE BELOVED THINGS ARE SOME “LESS THAN” AND IT ALWAYS A MISTAKE. AND REMEMBER THIS FROM SOMEHULK WHO LIKE ALL HIS WORK OUTSIDE OF DOLLHOUSE (WHICH STILL FASCINATING IN ITS FAILURE). AND IF YOU KNOW THINK HE NOT GOING TO TURN AVENGERS INTO VERY GOOD MOVIE YOU LIKELY MISTAKEN.

(6) – EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT PROBLEMS WITH THE SIMPSONS, BUT NO ONE SEEMS MENTION THE FACT THAT THE STORYTELLING DISAPPEARED UP ITS OWN ASSHOLE. THEY USED TO USE THE JAMES L. BROOKS MODEL. SEASON 10 IS UNRECOGNIZABLE TO THAT.

(7) – ONE LITTLE THING HULK FIND INTERESTING: THE USE OF THE WORD “BLACK” IN U.K. FAR DIFFERENT THAN HERE. AFRICAN-AMERICAN = THE PROPER WRITTEN NOMENCLATURE IN AMERICA, BUT NOT NECESSARILY IN U.K. WHERE “BLACK” CONSIDERED PERFECTLY PROPER. THIS NOT TO IMPLY BLACK NECESSARILY A “BAD WORD” HERE. IT INTERESTING BECAUSE A LOT OF OTHER EUROPEAN NATIONS HAVE ADOPTED “AFRO-____” NOMENCLATURE, BUT SOMETIMES WE FORGET THAT P.C. TERMINOLOGY NOT NECESSARILY TRANSLATE ACROSS CULTURE. OH AND FOR LOVE OF GOD, NO THINK HULK COMPLAINING P.C. VERBIAGE NOR THINK ONE HAS TO ADHERE TO IT. HULK JUST HIGHLY INTERESTED IN THE LINGUISTIC DISCUSSION. THAT ALL. HULK WANT U.K. READERS INPUT!

(8) – SORRY. THOSE ARE REALLY GOOD BASKETBALL PLAYERS WHO EACH HAD AN UNSTOPPABLE MOVE THAT ALWAYS WENT IN.

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53 Responses to “WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH DR. WHO”

  1. 4raser said

    Just a fantastic write-up, Hulk. So glad to see you joining the Who fold with such an abundance of gusto. For myself, I’ve been following it since the 2005 revival, but I have to say it wasn’t until Moffat took the reigns that I felt comfortable counting it amongst my very favourite TV shows.

    I do envy you having the benefit of pouring through the show all at once in one long, unfiltered stream, because I have to say following the show through the RTD years were as often a source of exhausting and deep frustration to me as they were a source of unparalleled televisual joy.

    As you said, the premise is so brilliantly able to adapt to suit any kind of genre or story structure, but for me this was always a double-edged sword. Until the Moff stepped up, when Who was good it was “Absolutely fantastic!” but when Who was bad, it infuriated me with how ham-handedly, gratuitously bad it was.

    Nowadays I don’t have that problem. There’s a lot of rival camps in Who-fandom about… well, everything, really… but where as following the show through the Eccelston and Tennant runs sometimes left me wondering why I still bother (I think the occasional example of a truly exceptional episode like Blink, and my personal favourite two-parter Human Nature/Family of Blood, which I think shows Tennant at his most transcendently brilliant, is what kept me going through the dark, farting times), Moffat has finally taken the potential of Who’s limitless premise and turned it into simply one of the very best shows airing today, and I only hope the BBC can leave him alone, and stop slashing his budgets, and trying to reduce his episode count, long enough for him to give us a few more years of Smith-led bliss.

    Sorry, that turned into a bit of a gushing, aimless ramble. Doctor Who brings that out in me. So yeah, great to have you on-board.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK HAPPY TO BE ON BOARD. GLAD YOU LIKED. AS YOU SAID THERE REAL BENEFIT IN HOW HULK ABSORBED, BEING ABLE TO SWING THROUGH TWO OR THREE IN A NIGHT INSTEAD OF LETTING WHATEVER BOTHERED HULK FESTER FOR A WEEK.

  2. Garnet said

    I watched Dr Who over the original broadcast run, so my take on some things is a bit different from yours, Hulk. Most notably, my take on Rose Tyler.

    I liked Rose at first. She was spunky and eager, but not cartoonishly so, and she worked very well indeed with both Ecclestone and Tennant. My biggest complaint, when the time came to finally send her on her way, was that it was a bit of a cheat, since travelling to a parallel universe is hardly ‘dying’, now is it? But it was all well and good, and then the Titanic hit the TARDIS and he met up with Martha and Donna and off we went.

    And then Rose came back.

    Here’s the thing. Rose’s clinginess towards the Doctor was acceptable when she was the companion, and the way she kind of got pissy with Sarah Jane even worked, because it was a wake-up call for her and because she seemed to get a bit better afterwards. But after Rose we had Martha, who knew the Doctor had had a previous companion and didn’t obsess over it, and Donna, who the Doctor met and left and met again, and who was none the worse for it. So after having had the two of them, seeing Rose come back, all clingy and demanding and pouting about being left off the sub-wave network like she wasn’t in an entirely different dimension last anyone heard, was just grating. Everyone’s working, trying to figure something out, making brave and desperate last stands, and she just teleports in with a big gun and no plan and expects to be the centre of attention. It was just really, really annoying.

    • KingOfDoma said

      I have a theory about Rose Tyler. The thing about her is, she was there for the first two seasons, was mentioned CONSTANTLY in the third, and returned for meme status and an eventual full return in the fourth. It kind of reminds me of why Ricardo Montalban retook his role as Khan in Star Trek II: he realized that whenever he wasn’t onscreen as Khan, people WERE TALKING about Khan. So it was with Rose. When you didn’t see her, you HEARD about her. ALL THE TIME.

      All that stopped once Russell T. Davies was done his run.

      Now, this theory is based solely on speculation, but it makes as much sense as James Bond being a Time Lord (I like to think he’d be called The Agent).

      Rose was a self-insert of Russell T. Davies, who used her as a way to express his feelings of love for the Doctor.

      I don’t know what Davies’ personality is like, or what mannerisms he has, so maybe it’s as simple as having someone living out his Who-loving fantasies vicariously, but I couldn’t help noticing the names.

      Rose Tyler
      Rose T
      Russ T
      Russell T
      Russell T Davies

      It takes on an extra layer of weird when you consider that Russell’s name is a pseudonym (he was born Stephen Russell Davies).

      Now, I’m not saying this is TRUE, necessarily, but if it was, it’d make a hell of a lot of sense. Yes, he did bring Doctor Who back from the brink of oblivion, and yes, Rose’s journey made a lot of sense (even when it sorta felt like it should have ended and it… didn’t), but having the basis of her character being Davies? I wouldn’t be shocked.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        GARNET – ANNOYING? PERHAPS. BUT HULK THOUGHT THERE ELEMENT OF HUMOR TO THAT MOMENT THAT IT WORKED WELL ENOUGH.

        KING OF DOMA – HULK SURMISE IT NOT NECESSARILY A ONE-TO-ONE BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM, BUT BY PROXY THROUGH US. YOU DEFINITELY RIGHT THAT DAVIES APPROACH HIS CONSTRUCTION OF THE SHOW VERY MUCH AS A FAN, BUT THINK ABOUT ABOUT ROSE THAT SHE ALSO THE FAN STAND-IN TOO. THE FACT THAT SHE HIS STAND-IN COULD JUST BE COINCIDENTAL THEN. WHICH NOT TO DISMISS YOUR THOUGHTS WHATSOEVER. ROSE THE ONE WHO REALLY ATTACHED TO THE DOCTOR’S HEARTS (SHE ALSO THE ONE THAT GOT TWO SEASONS NOT JUST ONE). BUT IT WORTH NOTING THAT MOFFAT’S DR. NOT ONLY ABANDONED THE REFERENCES TO ROSE BUT PRETTY MUCH MOST OF THE ELEMENTS OF DAVIES GROUP ALL TOGETHER. MOFFAT CREATING A NEW WHO WORLD IN SOME WAYS. WHICH PART OF THE FUN OF THE SHOW.

      • KingOfDoma said

        (In response to FCHulk since multiple replies are frowned upon by the comment system gods…)

        Very true, and that’s another brilliant aspect of the show that ties back into regeneration. When you get a new Doctor, you can literally remake the show to fit him. Any unwanted character beats? Fully removed from the character. Undesirable themes or tone? Kicked to the curb. Cast? Rebuilt from the ground up (although, seriously, Moffatt. You CREATED Captain Jack. Couldn’t you have pulled Barrowman from the Torchwood set for, like, a week to SPOILERSPOILER?). It certainly is a wonderful opportunity for a creator to craft a world (with ridiculously fun toys already built in) to suit his or her own sensibilities.

  3. N D Brandt said

    Fantastic, well thought out summation of Doctor Who. I hope to get my wife to read it so that she can finally understand what I see in it. I’ve been trying to get her to just watch Blink — been kept on the Tivo for MONTHS Wholeheartedly agree across the board, especially footnote (6)

    Thank you for all your posts. I am a fan.

  4. DavidCrake said

    SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T ENDED DAVID TENNANT’S RUN

    I will never not cry when thinking about Tennant’s last line and his delivery of it. Especially after I saw the behind the scenes clip on YouTube where he tries three different intensities of sadness.

  5. blatherful said

    I adore Matt Smith with an obviously unhealthy passion. He can go from absurd to mildly distracted to utterly imposing in a sentence.
    He plays the Doctor as someone who thinks so fast it takes a few seconds for his mouth to work through the process of catching up, and it works wonderfully.

    I’ve been an admirer of Steven Moffat since a children’s television show called Press Gang. It was so good it won BAFTAs and was touted to be moved to prime time from the kids’ post-school slot for a while. It has aged somewhat (particularly the first season) but you can still see the elegance of his characterisation, the dagger-like wit of his dialogue and a true appreciation for having fun while always respecting his audience.

    It’s great to see Doctor Who taking hold here in the US (I’m an English ex-pat) and the Comic-Con panel apparently made Twilight look anemic, which is appropriate. I know Chris Hardwick of The Nerdist and Craig Ferguson of The Late Late Show are devout Whovians and have been pushing coverage for a while.

    “My Doctor” was Tom Baker, who was as deeply unsettling a hero that has ever been on television.

    I’m glad you had such a good time watching this series; the excitement builds for “Let’s Kill Hitler”.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK GETTIN PRETTY OBSESSED WITH SMITH TOO. HE JUST EXTRAORDINARY. WILL CHECK OUT PRESS GANG. HEARD GOOD THINGS. DR. WHO WILL GROW AND GROW AND GROW. HULK THANK!

  6. Are you watching the Torchwood miniseries on Starz and if so, what do you think?

  7. Hmmmm. as a long time fan i could quibble with some specifics, but i think it really comes down to a matter of taste.
    it is a WONDERFUL show, and i’m glad it’s begining to reach a larger audience.
    I have a much younger (15 YEARS younger) brother who i am schooling in the ways of Nerdom, and he just finally saw Blink a few weeks ago. it was a joyful experiance to watch it blow his mind.
    I am curious as to your problems with Dollhouse and would love to hear your thoughts on it.

    • My biggest problem with Dollhouse is the entire premise. Playing with personal identity and what defines you as a human being is a great concept, but the execution was a little absurd, especially in the context of an all-purpose brothel.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      DOLLHOUSE FASCINATING BECAUSE FOR EVERYTHING IT DO WELL THERE SOMETHING EQUALLY PROBLEMATIC. HULK WILL GET INTO AT LATER DATE THOUGH.

  8. I can’t agree more with anything you posted, HULK. We discovered The Doctor at the urging of some friends and now I push the show like a crack addict on anyone who even thinks about asking me about television. I’ve enjoyed all of your reviews, but this one was especially fun because I know the joy you’re talking about. How much fun is it to post “Bad Wolf” on your Facebook wall and watch all your nerd friends ask if the world is ending?
    Does this mean HULK will soon be sporting a bow tie and a fez? Bow ties and fezzes are cool.

    • ALSO! The series is the TARDIS. On the outside it seems like a simple, silly sci-fi show. But its much bigger on the inside. “I like it when they say its bigger on the inside.”

  9. Ross May said

    Very cool write-up. You should check out some (not all for Pete’s sake, you’d die if you tried to burn through them!) classic Dr. Who. William Hartnell is interesting for being different from what the character ends up becoming – he’s ruthless and doesn’t value human life much yet, but that actually fits in with the idea of “recently leaving Gallifrey” idea. And Tom Baker, of course.

    Stephen Moffat is sort of a mad genius of storytelling. He’s the first one to really play with the time travel mechanics, and not just use it as a way to get to a setting. That said, I disagree with you a lot for adoring him. By employing time travel so much I find plot holes (how come he can save River Song jumping out of a building in “Impossible Astronaut” but states emphatically he can’t go back a bit and save other people who die in his adventures).

    I like the idea of River Song, but she’s such a Mary Sue: “I know everything about the Doctor but I won’t tell him my secrets. Also, I’m more of badass.” Then ambitious stories like “the Almost People”/”Rebel Flesh” are undermined when the Doctor destroys Amy Pond’s flesh-clone, ruining the whole point that the flesh deserved rights to life as well (did you also notice that if the real Doctor stayed out to destroy the evil flesh monster but the good clones went inside the Tardis, those two wouldn’t need to sacrifice themselves?). This whole latest season’s setup, that the Doctor WILL DIE to me is just jerking fans around, applying a stunt like Superman dying in comics.

    Much like the character of the Doctor himself, Moffatt is a mad genius who comes up with brilliant ideas (Weeping Angels, the IDEA of interacting with other people non-linearly, though I find this execution off several times). I want to see him try harder to fix logistical problems in his storytelling. Davies didn’t go as wild with imagination, but he did fantastic things using solid storytelling.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK BEEN SPENDING ALL THIS TIME LOOKING UP OLD DOCTOR CLIPS ON YOUTUBE. AGREE ON THE HARTNELL POINT FOR SURE.

      HULK DISAGREE ON THE MOFFAT HAVING PLOT-HOLE POINT (THO HIS STORYTELLING DEFINITELY MORE FLY BY NIGHT). FOR EXAMPLE WITH THE TWO EXAMPLES OF PLOT-HOLES YOU USE HULK THINK THERE SOME CONFUSION: HOW HE SAVING RIVER SONG FROM HER DEATH? THAT WAS NO HER BEING SAVED BUT A PLAN OF ESCAPE. AND WHAT HE TALKING ABOUT = NOT GOING BACK TO HIS OWN TIMELINE AND NOT INTERFERING WITH FIXED POINTS. AND THEY STILL HOLDING TRUE TO THIS BECAUSE “NOT SAVING HER” CAUSE HE KNOWS THE EXACT MOMENT SHE DIE (WHEN HE FIRST MEET HER IN “SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY”) SO THAT THE MOMENT WHERE SHE ACTUALLY NEED BE SAVED. HE NOT INTERFERING WITH THAT AT ALL.

      ALSO, WHEN DID THE DOCTOR DESTROY POND’S FLESH-CLONE? THAT WAS “SOMETHING ELSE” THAT HE DESTROYED WHEN SHE TURNED TO GOOP. SAME WITH THE BABY. FROM WHAT HE SEEMED IMPLY THEY WEREN’T “REAL” LIKE THE FLESH-COPIES WERE REAL. THEY JUST GOOP.

      AND LASTLY, HULK NOT WILLING TO CALL IT A STUNT UNTIL HULK SEE THE EXECUTION. ALL THAT IT NEEDS TO NOT BE A STUNT = TO IMBUE THE EVENT WITH SOMETHING POIGNANT, PROBABLY WITH THE NATURE OF LIFE. WE SHALL SEE.

      BUT HULK TOTALLY AGREE THAT DAVIES DID FANTASTIC THINGS WITH SOLID STORYTELLING.

      • The Doctor only cut off the signal to Ganger Amy. With no ‘broadcast’ to give it shape/motive, the flesh just dissolved. He didn’t actually destroy anything.

      • Ross May said

        I think some of these are things we would have to agree to disagree.

        Re: Amy’s ganger, I interpreted it as a flesh-clone same as the others (implied more sophisticated based on later technology, but the same). Now, even if you’re correct Hulk and it’s supposed to be something so far removed that it’s 100% an avatar and has no merit to life on its own, I think that still undercuts the episode’s message that these things that we feel might not have a right to life in fact do. The adventure was good, the twist with Amy at the end was good I suppose – but together they invalidate each other’s message (these things are alive and matter vs. this thing isn’t alive and doesn’t matter at all).

        To Matt: I realise that’s technically what happened, but it doesn’t change the result (and Doctor seeming to know the result in advance). He severed the link, causing the flesh to dissolve. Even if this ganger had no personality of its own like the others, a big running theme in the story was that the flesh was still alive and somewhat aware, and hated being killed.

  10. Bevin said

    I had friends who were super-crazy into the David Tennant shows and I watched one or two on Sci-Fi but I didn’t really get what the big deal was. I didn’t get the show and I found it to be a little too melodramatic and I really didn’t get why anyone was scared of the rolling trash bins with the plungers glued on.

    Then last year a friend of mine got me to watch the first Matt Smith episode and I fell completely in love with it. Something about this version gels for me in ways the previous seasons didn’t. Maybe I get what the show is a bit more now, maybe it’s the writing (my friend really dislikes Davies as a writer but I’ve really only paid attention to the Jack Harkness episodes so I have no idea), maybe it’s the utterly charming main cast and how well they all spark off each other, I don’t know. But I really love the Matt Smith episodes and I hope he sticks around for a long time.

    Also, I really love that you went into the difference between “the best” and “favorite” because it took me a while to get that and it still trips up a lot of the people I know. I love some things that I know are not the best or really even terrifically good, but there’s something about them that makes me stupidly happy.

    I have to ask what the deal is with the blue box and dreams. I never made that connection before but you’re right and now I’m wondering if it’s a coincidence, if there’s some sort of precedent I’m not aware of, or if David Lynch is just a Dr Who fan (it wouldn’t surprise me).

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK DEFINITELY RECOMMEND THE WHOLE JOURNEY. THE TONGUE + NATURE OF FIRST FOUR SEASONS BECOME MORE PALATABLE WITHIN IN CONTEXT OF OVERALL STORY. PLUS IT CREATE NICE COUNTERPOINT FOR MOFFAT ERA. AND SOME OF MOFFAT’S EPS IN THE DAVIES ERA = THE BEST IN THE SERIES.

      THE BLUE BOX JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT BEEN AROUND FOREVER. FROM 2001: A SPACE ODDESSY TO GILGAMESH.GOES BACK TO PANDORA’S BOX TOO. THE IDEA OF THE OTHERWORLDLY TRANSPORT, TO DIFFERENT PURPOSES.

      HULK GETTIN SEMIOTIC UP IN HER.

  11. Joe G said

    It’s great to see you’re a Doctor Who fan, even if I disagree with favourite episode choices and whatnot (I love Midnight! I didn’t think Neil Gaiman’s episode was that great!).

    One thing I thought you’d touch on was the decline in quality through Russell T’s run on the show. To my mind ‘Journey’s End’ and ‘The End of Time’ two-parter are the absolute nadir of the programme. The former felt like a Doctor Who fan fiction (and then a doctor grew out of the hand and then the new doctor loved rose but he was angry so the real doctor yelled at him and then donna got super powers and then…) and the latter was unfocused and dull until the last half of the second episode. Then there was that ‘slow time walk’ that lasted 15 minutes and served very little purpose other than for Russell T to play with his action figures one last time before putting them away.

    But hey, I don’t think he’s a bad writer, I just thought by the end of his run he wasn’t really trying. Series 1, 2 and, to an extent, 3 I love, Torchwood post-series 3 is universally excellent, and before Doctor Who he wrote a mini-series starring Christopher Eccleston on the BBC called ‘Second Coming’ which is great (and also where the two met I believe).

    Also, if you like Matt Smith/ Russell T, then try and find two episodes of ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ called ‘The Death of The Doctor’, for a chance to see Russell write the Eleventh Doctor (spoiler: he’s quite good at it).

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      WILL DEFINITELY CHECK OUT THAT EP OF SARAH JANE. HULK THANK!

      AND UNDERSTAND HULK THINK MIDNIGHT A GREAT IDEA W/ GREAT SETUP AND HAVE TONS OF GREAT INSTINCTS, IT JUST A MATTER OF EXECUTION. MAY HAVE EVEN BEEN OKAY EVEN AS WRITTEN, BUT EVERY SNIPPET OF ARGUMENT IN THE ENTIRE THING GOES ON 3-4 LINES TOO LONG AND GETS GNAWINGLY REPETITIVE. ESSENTIALLY, HULK BIGGEST PROBLEM THAT THE WHOLE THING COULD BE FIXED SO, SO, SO EASILY.

      • William Keith said

        Also, if you haven’t already, check out a prior season ep of Sarah Jane, The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith, 2 parts. Features 10, David Tennant. Both fun and poignant.
        Also, great site!

  12. J Thomas said

    Its nice to see the Dr getting some attention worldwide. Over here (the UK) there was always very little sci fi on telly so Dr who managed to stick in peoples minds. In my youth the show was often derided for its poor effects but it still managed to scare (the cheetah men! and paradise towers swimming pool robot? petrified me) and inspire children with its creativity, stories etc, and these children are now some of our talented writers. Substance over style is the english way it seems.

    I never really took to Eccleston when it was relaunched though, he never seemed that comfortable and It required Tennant for me to become hooked again.

    And yeah, Black is not such a big deal over here. Ive never been to america but it seems like slavery and leaving it behind are a big part of your countries history and self image and it has affected attitudes. Of course we had slavery too but lots more other history to focus on for sense of national identity. The recent “OMFG new ultimate spider man is NOT WHITE” reported like its shift in attitudes was surprising, didnt think was a big deal. Racism is still about but mostly with old, posh or stupid people. the wankers.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      AGREE, SOMETIMES HULK FEEL LIKE AMERICANS FORGET HOW HISTORICALLY RECENT SLAVERY WAS. THERE STILL GRANDPARENTS ALIVE TODAY WHO HAD GRANDPARENTS WHO SLAVES. WE ONLY ONE “LIFETIME” REMOVED. THE POST-CIVIL RIGHTS ERA HAS SEEN MARKED IMPROVEMENT IN SO MANY WAYS, BUT THERE JUST ANOTHER PART OF THE POPULATION DRAGGING THEIR HEALS IN JUST AS MANY WAYS. U.K. HAS ITS PROBLEMS TOO, BUT THEY JUST DIFFERENT PROBLEMS.

  13. not eb said

    Have you ever watched ‘Angel’? It is, as you point out in (5), ‘a little stupid’ on the surface, but it’s extraordinarily fine television that has the best character growth I’ve seen on television (better than Buffy, not having seen Dr. Who). And it all leads to a spectacular final season that throws everything out of the window while still tying everything together.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK WATCHED ANGEL. WENT DOWN LIKE THIS: WATCHED ENTIRE BUFFY SERIES AT ONCE. LOVED IT. WATCHED ENTIRE ANGEL SERIES AT ONCE. LIKED IT. SOMETIMES ANGEL DID REALLY EXPLORE INTERESTING CONCEPTS BUT HULK FELT LIKE BUFFY THE MORE COHESIVE OVERALL SERIES IN OVERALL TONE AND DYNAMICISM. HULK TOTALLY KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THOUGH. WESLEY’S TRANSFORMATION REMARKABLE, AS WAS CORDELIA, FRED, AND GUNN’S. HULK JUST LIKE BUFFY MORE BECAUSE THE WORLD AND INTERESTS OF THE SHOW FELT MORE FAR-RANGED, WHEREAS ANGEL FELT MORE MONOTONE (IN COMPARISON). DON’T GET HULK WRONG. REALLY LIKED IT. THIS LIKE NEGOTIATING DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A+ AND A-. WHAT FUNNY IS THAT HULK DABBLED IN THE COMIC RUNS AFTER THE SERIES FINISHED. HULK NOT LIKE THE BUFFY SERIES BUT VERY MUCH LIKED THE ANGEL SERIES.

      • blatherful said

        Whedon himself has admitted that Buffy Season 8 was a mis-step. He stated that he suddenly had the more open canvas of comics and was overcome by more grandiose storytelling that was not possible on television’s inhibiting budget,
        In fact Buffy as a comic series became so fantastical it bore little resemblance to the original series (sky-sex universe building etc.) when what made Buffy as popular was the depth of characterisation and how relatable they all were.
        Joss has said he’s very excited to produce Season 9 as he gets to go back to telling the sort of stories that Buffy should be involved with. Also now that Angel and Buffy are with the same publisher we can get some great interaction between the casts of characters.

        I agree with you on the comparison between Buffy and Angel. I think Angel’s 5th season is fantastic fun which also contains some of the most moving episodes I’ve had the pleasure to watch (Wesley and Fred, good god I wept). However if you compare season to season, Buffy was more consistent and included more stand out episodes (The Body, Hush, Once More With Feeling, Passion, etc.) than Angel.

        I loved both series but Buffy still holds the edge.

  14. blatherful said

    I have to also add that Angel’s final episode was phenomenal and I am confounded by those who see it as disappointing due to being a cliffhanger.

    The final shot sums up Angel as a character perfectly than any moment in the series. Which is all a finale should aspire to.

    SIgh, you’ve got me itching to sit in front of Netflix again.

    • Not eb said

      Oh, man, that final episode. Best ending of a show. Everyone gets their moment, which shows how much respect they had for each character in that show, and what all last episodes should aspire to. Contrast that to that demon-girl in Buffy just kinda dying real quick, with no emotion to it.

      ‘I’ve always wanted to kill a dragon.’

      C’mon.

  15. Elaine said

    Wow… thank you. What an amazing post. And one I have been looking forward to since you announced on Twitter that you were starting to watch the new series.

    I have loved Dr Who since the new series started. Eccelston brought a certain amount of gravitas to the role but Tennant, to me, will always be “my” doctor. I enjoy watching Matt Smith and do think he is wonderful in the role but I just feel that no-one will ever bring the same amount of heartbreaking sincerity to the role like David Tennant did. Every time he said “I’m sorry” (cliched and all as it became) you actually felt like he really *was* sorry. And I know that could be simply attributed to just good acting but my heart broke every time!

    You have rightly stated that Steven Moffat is indeed some sort of genius and I’m delighted to see that you’re planning on watching Sherlock, which is simply amazing. But if you’re really planning on getting into the whole Moff-culture, I’d recommend watching “Jekyll” (written by Moffat & starring fellow Irishman James Nesbitt) and also “Coupling” (a sitcom which could be likened to a very British “Friends”), both of which are fantastic and demonstrate that this man was fantastic even before Doctor Who came along.

  16. Maintainer said

    Goddamn it Hulk, you make me want to hug the world.

    HUGS!

    I’m very happy you’ve discovered Doctor Who.

  17. bmh said

    “IT ABSOLUTELY NO MISTAKE THAT “THE BLUE BOX” = THE ETERNAL SYMBOL FOR THE GATEWAY TO DREAMS.”

    I might be too old for this, but sometimes I stay up at night and wait to hear the TARDIS landing sound.

    Thank you so much for this reminder of why I fell in love with Doctor Who in the first place. I might have been choked up with laughter for half of the time, but I was choked up with tears for the other half, like I got choked up the other night watching “The Eleventh Hour” for the eleventh time. “Goodbye, Leadworth. Hello, everything”.

    I once told someone that I love Doctor Who because it’s the most uplifting show ever. I’m glad you feel the same.

    You’ve just warmed the heart of a Grammar Nazi.

    P.S. Farting monsters= Slitheen, not Sleveen.

    P.P.S. I might start reading your blog regularly :D

  18. Jackie said

    The show is part of the culture here in the UK. In some countries it’s seen as a scary show unsuitable for children, in the UK it’s considered good viewing for the whole family to watch together. It’s so much part of the culture that a live-action participative show in Manchester recently saw grown ups and kids running up and down corridors and let me tell you, being stuck in a corridor with the lights flichering on and off and a certain monster getting closer every time the lights went out was well scary for kids of 6 to 60. And FUN! Even Steve Moffat tweeted after he’d done it that it was scary.

    With the earlier stuff, sure the 1970s weren’t so good visually compared with today’s effects and standards and having to pad shows out to save the budget didn’t help, but when the story is god and the actors on top of their game, it can still be gripping stuff and even modern kids can be captivated.

  19. Hulk Slots said

    Thanks to sharing nice post. I am really appreciated to visit this nice post. This is give a little suggestion of Why you should like to watch a DR. WHO. I like to Shaw this nice program that really interesting and amazing. I am always wait to Shaw this episode.

  20. Marbled said

    Arriving rather late to the party, but you’ve got me thinking about a show which as a Brit I’ve always rather taken for granted. It’s such an integral part of British TV (the Xmas episodes are watched by seemingly everyone in the country) that I’ve never really given it that much thought.

    For me, the show has sometimes achieved greatness, but more often teeters on the edge without quite getting there, and I think that this can more than anything be accounted for by the two show runners. Russell T. Davies achieved something extraordinary by bringing the show back, and deserves a huge amount of the credit for its success, but always seemed to want to go one bigger than what came before.

    There was an escalating pattern throughout his time of bringing back something from the previous show and using it to the point that it became devalued. A great example would be the Daleks. The first appearance in “Dalek” was genuinely impactful, and gave us a great look at the Doctor’s pain over the Time War. By the end of the second series, hundreds of them are flying over London and battling Cybermen. What was originally powerful has become sheer spectacle, and distracts from the tragic ending for Rose and the Doctor. For me this was also true for the Cybermen and the Master (although I’ll grant that having Derek Jacobi play him for the first episode did make things hard for John Simm). Davies’ era was characterised by nice ideas being a bit overdone – too much was loud and over the top.

    Since Steven Moffat took over I think the show has really developed, and has been consistently excellent, but his problem is that when he goes big his mind writes stories that the show can’t deliver. His end-series storylines are stunning on a conceptual level – the destruction and rebooting of the universe in The Big Bang, the collapse of time in The Wedding of River Song – but are so elaborate that a huge amount of time is spent in telling the audience what’s going on. The depiction of a world without time could have been fascinating in a book, but on television it felt a bit silly, and I was left trying to figure out if it actually made sense rather than being carried along by it.

    I still love the show, and like you said several episodes are as near to perfect as you can imagine (Blink, The Doctor’s Wife), but for me these flaws hold it back from true greatness.

    On a separate point, I don’t know if you’ve seen the Children in Need special, but it can be seen here – a nice tribute from Moffat to his favourite Doctor:

    Lastly, although Torchwood is a far less consistent show than Doctor Who, the Children of Earth miniseries is fantastic and worth watching even if you’re not going to watch the rest of the show.

  21. I’m also quite late to the party here, having just found this through your archive post. I enjoyed reading this so much; it’s kind of incredible to have someone explain what I feel about a series I love so much, but didn’t quite have the words for. My experience with the Doctor has been a bit timey wimey, as the first episode I saw was Neil Gaiman’s, after which I went back and watched from the beginning of the reboot. So Matt Smith is definitely my Doctor, though I loved Tennant and Eccleston and will grudgingly give in to adoration for whoever comes after (hopefully not for a while!). I absolutely agree with and appreciate your explanation of the brilliance and insanity of his portrayal of the Doctor.

  22. Pete Smith said

    Very late on the commenting on this blog post (sequentially reading your stuff via the Badassdigest compendium), but thought I’d chime in with praise for Moffat’s run (not that he needs it).

    There are many reasons to love Moffat. His scripts (whether written or supervised) are a wonder, in that they are (generally) internally consistent, individually satisfying and add to the whole. He’s great with creating iconic characters and the witty lines – oh, the witty lines. Matt Smith is his doctor – the fella is designed for Moffat’s writing. And how he likes to leave things dangling ready to be used later (we still don’t know about that other TARDIS that we found above Craig’s flat in “The Lodger” do we???), which I think is more about him thinking long form than giving himself a deux ex machina should he write himself into a corner later on…

    My main love for Moffat though is that he uses the conceit of time travel in far cleverer a way than previous showrunners (see: River Song – I did not see the revelation of who she was, even though in hindsight it was obvious). I have always thought that the time travel was always present but hardly ever used in the plot – it was the vehicle by which they could change the style of story week by week (which you note above makes the formula so pliable). He is perhaps the first to realise that the tricksiness of time can allow him to play not only with where, when and what the show is, but HOW he delivers it to the viewing public.

    In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’ll bear out that the latest season is not run in chronological order, and indeed, some of the episodes take place during the run of NEXT season – I base this on some odd tonal shifts between the end of one episode and the start of the next (for example, the way that Rory and Amy seem to quickly forget about their daughter and never mention her). He did something similar in the previous season, where the Doctor in the final episode actually showed up in earlier episodes we’d already seen (spotted by eagle-eyed viewers during the season who noticed him briefly wearing different clothes, wondering whether it was a continuity error or something more significant).

    Anyway, whether I’m right or wrong (probably the latter as he’s sure to come up with something more satisfying than I could possibly design), there’s one tradition from the old school series that they have yet to undertake, and I’m sure it’ll be coming in the next season – multiple Doctors… Given their ability to time travel, the Doctor has historically crossed paths with himself, in his former incarnations, and I can think of at least 4 actors who could still hold up their part (McGann onwards). I’d be fascinated to see how Smith plays off Tennant for starters….

    Anyway, great article, back to the archive to find more…

  23. FuzzyDuck81 said

    Great article, though theres one exchange you forgot to put in from the “christmas carol” special:

    “im a responsible adult” *holds up psychic paper*
    “it’s all just fuzzy lines”
    *glances at it* “its shorted out.. finally, a lie too big”

  24. antonomasia said

    I agree with some of this review, especially the parts about the joys of discovering the universe, the ultimate goodness of humanity, and the ability of the show to be a chameleon, and to be equally comfortable with comedy and tragedy. And the epicness of Rory and Mickey, and the adorableness of the 10th Doctor. And, of course, the music is awesome, and the sheer amount of quotable and iconic material is wonderful.

    However, not all of what was said holds true for me, though I will admit that most of my disagreements relate to series 6, particularly the second half, which isn’t discussed. I would like to say, though, that the tone shifts in a dramatically darker direction during series 6, with the Doctor committing genocide by the second episode, and various other things in later episodes that I won’t mention because spoilers. I also absolutely hated Amy’s pregnancy arc, because I felt that it was handled too cavalierly, and that nobody really cared enough about the little girl, especially when they discovered that she was going to become River.

    There was also no mention in this review of the gut-wrenching trauma of watching a beloved Doctor die and regenerate, or a favorite companion leave. Or the tension between fans of Old Who and NuWho (I myself have been watching since 2007, have seen all of the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors as well as a bit of the 4th and 5th, and vastly prefer the new version, but have met a few people who sneer at fans of the new). Or the vitriol of some of the fans when they dislike an episode or a character. And there are some episodes that are just genuinely bad. Hungry Earth/Cold Blood and Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks spring instantly to mind. But, on the other hand, when it’s good, it’s REALLY good.

    I would also like to say that Midnight is still my all-time favorite Doctor Who episode. I found it to be a perfectly-executed writing exercise in tension-building, which examined the extent of the Doctor’s pride and arrogance, his ineffectiveness in certain situations, and the depths to which humanity can sink. Plus, it had Colin Morgan, who is amazing. A lot of the best episodes in the Russell T. Davies era were written by Steven Moffat, yes, but RTD had a few good ones of his own, Turn Left being the example I would choose, not all of Moffat’s were perfect (I didn’t like The Beast Below), and I would argue that Paul Cornell’s episodes were beautiful. I prefer the cinematography now, but I don’t think that Moffat is as good of a showrunner as he is a writer. For one thing, we still don’t know who blew up the TARDIS at the end of series 5. The writers seem to have forgotten about it.

  25. Jewelry said

    If all of them admit it, then they have to agree with the popular vote.

  26. batman18 said

    Reblogged this on AUSTIN BOUSE and commented:
    In honor of the 50th birthday of my favorite TV show, here’s an amazing essay from Film Crit Hulk!

  27. Awesamo said

    Would love to hear your thoughts on The Time of the Doctor and post-series six Moffat.

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