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How To Start Watching Doctor Who

It’s the longest-running science fiction show on television, but for new fans, how easy is it to start watching the BBC’s Doctor Who? After a great Christmas special, we’ve decided that it’s time to tell you all you need to know.

What You Need To Know (1):
Doctor Who is a long-running British TV show that started in 1963, before running continuously through 1989, being revived for an unsuccessful TV pilot in 1996, and then successfully revived in 2005 for a run that’s continuing today. It was originally intended as an educational show aimed at children – a function of the Saturday afternoon timeslot it was created for – but soon gained a multi-generational audience that appreciated the off-kilter mix of science fiction, comedy and pantomime the show happily provided, keeping it alive for twenty-six years until it was unofficially cancelled – officially, “suspended” – due to falling ratings.

(One reason that the show lasted so long in its original incarnation was the inventive way of replacing the lead actor in story: Lead character The Doctor was given a background in which, instead of being killed, he would “regenerate” into another actor. Initially, the character was given twelve incarnations, but now that we’re already on the eleventh, that’s been retconned into many, many more.)

After a failed attempt to revive the series for American television in 1996, Doctor Who returned to television screens in 2005 after years of development, headed by critically-acclaimed British drama writer Russell T. Davies – Creator of the original British version of the drama Queer As Folk – and was a surprise success. Davies helmed the series through to the end of 2009, with the series continuing to grow in popularity with every season. The revived show was enough of a hit to launch two spin-offs, the more adult-based Torchwood, and the all-ages Sarah Jane Adventures, both overseen by Davies. Current showrunner Steven Moffat took over Doctor Who with the fifth season of the revived series in 2010.

What You Need To Know (2):
Doctor Who is a series about a time-travelling alien called the Doctor (Not, importantly, “Doctor Who”; that phrase is generally one heard in response to his introducing himself as “The Doctor,” if at all). Although he likes to skip around the universe in his time machine – the TARDIS, which stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space – he tends to return to Earth and/or humanity for reasons that seem to boil down to “He’s fond of us.” Fond enough to keep inviting humans to join him on his adventures which, more often than not, involve saving the day (if not the universe) from any number of nefarious plans thought up by evil forces, aliens or cosmic entities beyond our mortal comprehension.

Unlike most science fiction heroes, the Doctor has two very specific qualities: He’s an optimist, and he’s a pacifist. He’d much rather think – or, more likely, talk – his way out of trouble than shoot something, and he really, really wants everyone to get a happy ending wherever possible.

Why Should You Watch?
Because, at its best, Doctor Who is a smartly-written, well-acted science fiction show that isn’t afraid to be funny and scary and anything else that’ll make the show entertaining. There’s a formula to the series, yes, but it’s a remarkably adaptable one that will happily do whatever it takes to please (At its worst, it can be pretty embarrassing, but never “Spock’s Brain”-level unwatchable).

The Show’s Been Running Since 1963?!?
Yes. And, interestingly, everything that’s happened since then “counts” – Although it’s never been explicitly stated, the revival of the series in 2005 seems to follow on from the continuity of the 1963-1989 series and 1996 failed pilot, with on-screen cameos from former Doctors on more than one occasion. Don’t worry, though; this isn’t a heavily continuitied series, with each season – and, indeed, each episode – pretty easy to understand for new viewers. Additionally, each new Doctor generally brings around a reboot of sorts, making it very easy to start over with.

Where Should You Start, Then?
Honestly, the show’s 2010 season – the first for new Doctor Matt Smith and new showrunner Steven Moffat – may be the best the show’s ever been, if you ask me. The first episode, “The Eleventh Hour,” is probably a great place to start; if you don’t like it, chances are the show isn’t for you (Although there are, I think, better episodes in the season). If you dig that season, jump back and watch everything from the 2005 revival onwards, but be warned: The longer Russell T. Davies is in charge, the more over-the-top and sentimental the show becomes. But there’s some great stuff in those four seasons, including episodes written by Action Comics and Batman and Robin writer Paul Cornell. If you become entirely addicted, there’s always the twenty-six seasons from the original run, but be warned: They are an entirely different beast altogether, with good writing but significantly lesser special effects and, in many cases, acting.

And How Should You Start?
The show is available on iTunes and DVD, as well as pretty extensively rerun on BBC America.

Most Importantly, Should You Start?
Definitely. I may be slightly biased by nostalgic love – this is a show I grew up with – but Doctor Who is one of the best science fiction television shows ever made, and right now, it’s better than its ever been. Not even giving it a try is being stubborn to the point of stupidity.


  • tom

    “Where should I start watching Doctor Who?”

    Any given episode.

    “Rose” is as good a place to start as any though.

  • Geek To Me

    I started watchng the new series with David Tennant’s stint and the “Voyage of the Damned” special. After loving it, I went back to the second series. My fave of the Tennant seasons has to be the one with Catherine Tate as his companion. A great precursor to Karen Gillan in the current series.

  • Grant Hays

    I might also add that, though it’s almost completely devoid of the Doctor and Companion, and you’re on the fence about whether watching Doctor Who is for you or not, watch the episode Blink (season 3 episode 10) starring Carey Mulligan. It is a perfect example of how creative this show can be.

  • Anonymous

    I never gave a toss about Doctor Who until Eccleston played him. Start there, then skip the horrible Tennant years and go straight to Matt Smith’s first season. If you ever find yourself wondering what happened to Rose – trust me, you don’t want to know.

  • Darren Wilson

    I’ve been a fan since the late ’70’s (I’m 35) and it’s never been better than it is now. Sometimes the Russell T era gets stick for being overly sentimental but I don’t care I don’t know any other sci-fi (or any other drama) series that can tug the heart strings like Who. It’s mad, scary and inspiring year after year…..and for a programme about a pacifist is steeped in death….

  • Grant Hays

    IMHO, Eccleston < Tennant < Smith

    They just keep getting better.

  • anon

    Start at the beginning of the revival in 2005. Only start with the Matt Smith series if you want nonsensical plots, devoid of characterisation and emotional impact.

  • Nick Fel

    Rose was designed to reintroduce Doctor Who to an audience who’d forgotten him, so that’s probably the best place to start. The seasons are only half as long as Americans are used to, so catching up from there isn’t so bad ;)

  • OmegaSanction

    Oddly enough I finally started watching Doctor Who two days ago after wanting to watch it for a couple years now. however I have started watching from the 2005 season because thats where It starts on Nexfilix, but I am loving it i cannot wait to get into the newer seasons!

  • Eric

    The best thing about the 2005+ years is that you can literally start at the beginning of ANY season. As much as I *love* Matt Smith, I’d recommend starting with 2005 Series/Season One. If, at any point, you’re bored/annoyed/etc. with anything in the current run, you can jump to the start of the next series/season. I’d argue strongly that each Doctor has his own plusses and minuses, and I’ve grown to appreciate all three of the newest ones.

    That said, my wife can’t stand any of the RTD stuff and so she only started paying attention to the SM/Matt Smith stuff. Luckily, there’s DW for everyone’s tastes at this point!

  • Mars

    I’d start with ‘Rose’. RTD’s Who just pulled me in and made me feel for the characters more. The latest series was a little sterile in that regard.My favourite still has to be series one, followed by series 4.

  • lead sharp

    Whovians are their own worst enemy.

    It’s ALL good stuff, from the cheap and cheerful to the deep and cerebral. You may not LIKE all of it but for a show about a little man in a blue box that can go anywhere, it simply doesn’t get better.

    You will find fans who don’t include Paul Mcgann’s Doctor (the American TV movie, which was great) or will slice out huge story-lines purely because they think it matters if Colin Baker’s Doctor acted ‘out of character’. None of it matters, honestly. If you didn’t like ‘The Caves of Androzani’ then don’t watch it, there’s plenty more to enjoy.

    Matt Smith’s Doctor is pure joy and Steven Moffat writes this series like The Prisoner on crack.

  • Richardcasey

    Rose is the best place to start. As for the Stephen Moffat’s first series being the best? WRONG. It never reaches the lowest points of series two an four and NOTHING beats the final half of THE END OF TIME part 2.

  • Sam

    Start at Tennant, then go back to Hartnell and work your way forward.

  • Holy Cinnamon

    I love it all. :) I’d give Eccleston and Tennant their due by starting with “Rose” and continuing through the first four seasons + specials. My other recommendation would be to try out “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances,” Steven Moffat’s two-parter for the Eccleston season. My first episodes of Doctor Who, and they were a *great* way to start off. I sometimes like to show “The Christmas Invasion,” Tennant’s first full episode, to get people hooked in because Tennant’s so damn charming, but I suppose the trap there is not giving Eccleston love and sort of making it the Tennant show from the get-go. I do love Tennant, but our show’s about change.

    I agree with the above posters– Doctor Who is ALWAYS good. Emotional vs. cerebral… I’m entertained either way and I don’t think one’s better than the other. RTD and Moffat are just different. I can’t knock RTD because he’s the showrunner that made me fall in love with Doctor Who in the first place! :)

  • demoncat_4

    i agree with this list as the best way to become a fan of doctor who which considering i started getting hooked on the series during the tom baker years and all up to its cancelation and revial. this list is perfect for those who may be hesitant to give the good time lord a chance.

  • Atomic Kommie Comics

    “there’s always the twenty-six seasons from the original run, but be warned: They are an entirely different beast altogether, with good writing but significantly lesser special effects and, in many cases, acting.”

    You can fault the fx. and sometimes the scripts, but never have I seen ANY actors on Classic or Current Who give ANYTHING but their best!

  • Stathamciaran

    EVERYTHING beats The End of Time specials. Those were the highpoint of Davies ridiculous overblown attitude to giving the Doctor something ridiculous to confront. Bringing back the Master was the most ham-fisted plot device ever, and the manner in which the Time President brought Gallifrey and himself to our world was convoluted and boring. Moffat’s run has brought the character back from that ridiculousness.

  • Ciren_nagoh

    I started with Eccleston and ended with Tennant….pretty much overall good stuff

  • Blow_up_the_outside

    I started from the very first episode and finished a few week ago. It took me nearly 2 years to watch every episode in order but it was great. Want to start over again.

    I recomement that everyone should give the old Doctors a try.

  • catsmeow12

    The RTD era is the best, especially Season Two for Tennant and Piper. I tried to keep watching when Moffat took over, but the new direction just wasn’t doing it for me, which is a shame because I enjoyed Matt Smith’s Doctor and new companion Amy. Nothing beats the fabulous The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End episodes at the end of Season Four in terms of pure fun. I actually found The End of Time (the exit of Tennant and RTD) to be a good jumping *off* point. Fortunately I still get my Whoniverse fix from Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

  • Adam Hughes

    Gonna sound like a nerd here, but….

    I think you’re mistaken when you write that there were originally meant to be 12 Doctors. The Doctor gets 12 REGENERATIONS, with the First Doctor not counting as a regenbration. You can’t be a regeneration of you are first in series. There are supposed to be 13 Doctors. The 2nd Doctor was the first regeneration, and so forth.

    I know it sounds pedantic, but it means that Smith’s 11th Doctor wouldn’t be second-to-last. At an average of 3 seasons to a Doctor, that means possibly at least another 8 years.

    I hope they didn’t really retcon the finite regenerations away. The dram they could squeeze out of the 13th Doctor’s run would be wonderful….

  • Tim B.

    Wasn’t that recently addressed in an episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures – the Doctor says something about having 509 regenerations. Haven’t seen the episode but it got some minor media coverage.

  • purplerose

    I loved the Blink episode and Carey Mulligan was awesome in it. I liked the Billy Shipton character as well and was very sad when he got relocated back to 1969. This episode also made one of Entertainment Weekly top 20 list of scary TV episode lists in 2010. (2nd favorite is the Empty Child with Chris Eccleston.)

  • Burnt Frog

    Well, I wouldn’t recommend watching “The Horns of Nimon” then…

  • Paulus1967

    I wasn’t going to comment as I feel a nerd as well but,,,,,
    Yes it is 13 incarnations not 12
    Its Time and Relative Dimension in Space not Dimensions except when said in error.
    Dr Who has never been pantomime!
    Although the TV movie was perceived as a flop in the US, it had a very good reception in the UK, which thankfully meant the US were not able to destroy this iconic series.

  • Flip Maker

    Two years to watch every episode? Impressive, man.

  • Burnt Frog

    I agree with this. And not only try the ‘old Doctors’ series that ran from 1963 to 1989, but there’s even more goodies around that aren’t essential material but are top sci-fi entertainment. You’ve got over 200 audio dramas of Doctor Who featuring the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors and about 40 spin-off audio dramas in addition to that – all of which have the high level of quality from the 2005+ TV series but also take place in a grittier, slightly more adult Whoniverse… as they take place in a medium which kids aren’t likely to enter. So if the all ages content of the TV show annoys you you might still enjoy the audio dramas. David Tennant even stars in a few of them. His acting in the spin-off “Dalek Empire” leads to in my opinion the finest scene of acting he has ever done.

    From the 1990s you have the classic New Adventures novel series (61 books) that were incredibly daring and trippy for a licensed series, they starred the Seventh Doctor before the movie. Concurrently running was the Missing Adventures with Doctors 1-6 (33 books), then after the TV movie failed to be a hit both the Eighth Doctor Adventures series (73 books) and the Past Doctor Adventures series that had Doctors 1-7 (this had 76 books). All these books were pretty visionary stuff and treated the reader like an adult. Characters who had already been on the show could swear, have sex, and even die (or worse than death). It’s worth pointing out that most of these books were pretty large, about 200 pages plus with small font!

    Then you have the Doctor Who comics, with contributions from Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Dave Gibbons, Bryan Hitch etc…

    So yeah: long post, but I wrote this for a reason. If you think that Doctor Who is ‘just’ a TV show kids think again.. :-D

  • Haider Abbas


  • Burnt Frog

    He said it in a quick jokey matter as he was shuffling backwards through a ventiliation shaft though…

    It’s not the end of the world if it has changed. But it’s always possible that if the BBC’s license fee gets axed before the 2010s are over that plot-device may reappear…

    Plus it just seems like it would actually give a sense of danger to the storyline, as opposed to “oh, I just have INFINITE lives, don’t ask me where when or how.” It would gicve his heroism more meaning if he is genuinely risking a dwindling supply of his lives when he tries to help humanity.

  • Jacob

    They wouldn’t do a big retcon like that outside of Who.

  • Jacob

    I don’t recall them retconning it away. They’ve provided loopholes to exploit, but as far as I’m aware, it’s still canon that The Doctor is on his eleventh or thirteen incarnations. The Master was given more regenerations (and also completely revived from the dead).

    I figure The Doctor will die during his 13th, and then be resurrected with a brand new set. Of course, that probably requires the Time-Lords to return in full force before then (which I think is incredibly likely now that RTD isn’t running it).

  • Alan

    As many have pointed out here, I’d recommend starting with the Eccleston series (first of the three ‘new’ Dpctors) and progress on to the Tennant seasons. Sadly, I think the plots started heading downhill in the final Tennant episodes (though Tennant himself has a strong claim to be the best ever Doctor).
    At this point I would skip the current – woefully miscast – Matt Smith incarnation (Dr Who as a young absent-minded professor with verbal diarrhoea who has to be rightly told to shut up by 10-year-old boys…? I don’t think so…) – as a long-time Who fan, I find them almost unwatchable.
    Much better to check out companion series Torchwood or the ‘old’ Doctors, starting with Tom Baker or John Pertwee from the 1970s.

  • Alan

    Absolutely right: the Eccleston and Tennant series were, for the most part, brilliant. The Smith one the exact opposite. And I speak as a fan from the ’60s on.

  • Corey Charette

    I totally agree that the 2005 revival is a great place to start watching for anyone. It’s great that the revival of show allows new people to be introduced to characters and places that were in the original run without alienating them while not talking down to the fans of the show before the revival. There are two other places that people can get into the show. The first is “An Unearthly Child.” Why not start at the beginning of the original run. The other place is the start of Season 7 with “Spearhead from Space.” The reason I say this is because you don’t need to know about regeneration and it’s the first time the series has a regular cast and setting.

  • Adam Hughes

    Thank you for putting it into words; that’s EXACTLY how I feel. If the Doctor is essentially immortal (barring getting blow’d up), it’s less interesting & dramatic than if he has a finite lifespan of some kind.

    It’s probably a moot point; the show’s producers will do what they want when the time comes. It’s just that they’ve done a nice job attempting to keep the continuity of a 47 year-old show for us old geezer fans. :-)

  • Theolddude

    Time and Relative DIMENSION in space. Sorry the geek in me me! But to all people thinking about it – watch it! It is awesome. Love the new stuff – but my favourite Doctor? # 3 – Jon Pertwee 1970-74. You could do worse.

  • Lion_okitkat

    Is there a website where you can check out old episodes of Dr.Who, like really old episodes? I haven’t seen the tv movie pilot with Paul McGann either.

  • Mou101

    Funny, I just started watching “Doctor Who”…today, as a matter of fact. I’d heard good things about the Matt Smith/Steven Moffat season, and I downloaded it from iTunes. Loved “Eleventh Hour!” Can’t wait to continue!

  • Ndhorse

    I have just been renting the discs from Netflix. About a third to half of them are available through streaming. I started with the 2005 revival and then went back to the back to the beginning out of curiosity.

  • Moonpieone1

    ‘Spock’s Brain’ unwatchable?!??!?!?
    And you’re writing about Doctor Who??
    What are you, British?? hee-hee.

  • Jakk

    Agree. They should of said The Way to Eden instead. =P

  • Htkeusch

    Seems I’m not alone in thinking that the Matt Smith season is the weakest since the revival in 2005

  • LightningBug

    The suggestion of beginning with Series 5 and going back to Series 1 is exactly how I got into Doctor Who. I had watched a couple of the Davies episodes and not quite gotten it, but Moffat’s run got me so pumped about it I had to go back and watch everything else!

    Another comic connection: Bryan Hitch was the concept artist on the reboot.

  • Cforshaw67220

    Please, no-one listen to Alan’s constant trolling of Matt Smith. I’ve met more people who like him than not (and that isn’t my opinion, it is the opinions of people I know), and, to be honest, he’s a much more complex character now that RTD and Tennant aren’t insisting he spend his time either as a grinning buffoon or a menacing intergalactic statesman (again, that description wasn’t me, but Charlie Brooker).

    The fact is that right now we have a compelling ongoing plot surrounding the identity of both River Song and the mysterious silence, and hefty emotional drama that, in the last three episodes, has seen characters betray each other, nearly die, desperately seek redemption and love, and be imprisoned for millenia by an unlikely alliance of villains attempting to save all of creation – all whilst touching on the Van Gogh, the Blitz, Romans, Greek mythology, Dickens, and decades worth of back-story, but without ever, once, being inaccessable.

    Compared to the incredibly indulgent Tennant years (which were entertaining, but, lets be honest here – Tennant didn’t actually do a full series, and was never fully committed to ‘Who’, given that every year had to have a Doctor-free episode, before, in his final series, he said he wanted to go and do Shakespeare instead, and even when the BBC accomodated him, he quit to go off and do… a remake of ‘Fright Night’?) where RTD used only two major bad guys for the main series story arc over five years (either those pepperpots, or the Doctor’s Moriarty (to avoid spoiling it for others)), and we had to put up with rubbish like ‘Love and Monsters’ and that terrible episode about a living sun (written by Chris Chibnall, whose episodes made the first two series of ‘Torchwood’ unwatchable more often than not, and who left before the superb, Quatermass-like ‘Children of Earth’), or the rubbish one about the Olympics…

    Look, the Tennant years were good, but not as good as most people make out. The Christopher Eccleston series was generally entertaining, but a bit lame at times (every time the Slitheen show up, for example). Meanwhile, every year there has been one thing that has been consistent about the show – Steven Moffat’s episodes have been the best. ‘The Empty Child’/’The Doctor Dances’ was the point where people started to take the reboot seriously, ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ was probably Tennant’s best all round performance (being funny, heroic and tragic), ‘Blink’ is spoken of in hushed tones for a reason, and ‘Silence in the Library’/’The Forrest of the Dead’ was the best part of season four, especially the ending, which shows just why The Doctor is such a great hero – something we didn’t see in Russell T. Davies finales that tended to rest on a deus ex machina (Bad Wolf, shut down a paradox, meta-crisis).

    Then came this series, where The Doctor was eccentric, amazingly flawed, occasionally alien, and just about good enough to get himself out of the messes caused by a life that seemingly was starting to catch up with him, and all through his own wit and wisdom. This time he was the one saving the day, he was the one clever enough to fight his own battles. The show itself had consistent themes, and a coherant narrative told over the course of the season – not just in a bit of five minute long exposition at the end of the first part of a two-parter, leading to cliffhanger that gets me all excited, and then falls apart in the finale. And what a finale… Wow. The significance of the story The Doctor tells Amy is worth is weight in gold, alone.

    Plus, look at what we have next year: the resolution to a long-running mystery, the reveal of a mysterious enemy, The Doctor travelling with a married couple for the first time, an episode by Neil Gaiman… The show has never been better.

  • Sarah Milan

    I think it’s best to start watching with “Rose” and go through in order (watching all of the specials, of course).

  • Andrew Buckle

    Impossible to pick a where to start, they have all had their magic moments as well as quite a few arrgh (Horns of Nimon etc) moments over the 40 odd years. Matt Smith has been fine, likewise David Tennant, Chris Eccleston, all the way back to William Hartnell. I just wish the TV channels over here in the UK would actually repeat some of the pre-Eccleston episodes – it is as if those Doctors no longer exist.

    As to starting point, perhaps pick a few stories from each period.. Genesis of the Daleks (Tom Baker), Curse of Peladon (Jon Pertwee) etc as well as the Dr Who Lost In Time DVD set to get an overview of the really early material. There are quite a few dud episodes in all the Doctors

    As to best Doctor.. everyone will disagree, mine has always been Patrick Troughton but then again, most of the best episodes of his period have long been wiped, the quality of the recordings will never be transferred to HD, so probably more total nostalgia.

    And as to the regenerations, was William Hartnell truly the first? he was the first actor but has it ever been stated that he was the first incarnation? Perhaps he was the fourth or fifth – never liked the limit added on the character, anyway, with the blast of tardis energy etc perhaps he can now regenerate 100 times or more

  • Ronzo

    About three months ago I started watching the Doctor from the beginning, yes the William Hartnell Doctor. I am now on the third Doctor Jon Pertwee. Even though a lot of the early episodes were erased, I am really enjoying every single story and the extras on the DVD that I am watching through Netflix.

  • Heartbreaksoup

    I believe that you have that in reverse, Jacob. If Time Lords “can live forever, barring accidents,” as the Doctor stated in the TV series many years before the “thirteen incarnations” retcon in 1976, and the concept of “a new life cycle” (of, presumably, thirteen more) in 1983, then surely it was the Time Lords themselves who enforced (somehow) the thirteen lives limit. Now that they are all gone, what’s to stop the Doctor from having the 507 lives that he told Clyde about last year?

  • Zorro

    Sure, he says he has plenty of regenerations to go, but Tennant’s final episode also stated that the Doctor himself considers each regeneration as an actual DEATH- “I die, and am replaced by a completely new person with my memories”.
    That said, I suspect that (since Moffat has hinted that both he and Smith plan to stay on until the 50th Anniversary), there may be a major reboot in the works for then…

  • Zorro

    I found the best way to get into “Classic WHO” was not to focus on any specific Doctor, but rather on a specific WRITER- Robert Holmes, who worked on and off for the show from the late 1960’s to the mid-1980’s. Any list of the show’s best episodes will have at least a couple of his stories on it.

  • Equinox999equinox

    I watched The End of Times again last weekend on Netflix and must say that I found it far more entertaining than this year’s Matt Smith special. Tennent’s last words were touching and really capped off my favorite doctor to date.

    @Stathamciaran – I get it, you are in love with Matt Smith. Good for you and enjoy. Not everyone is going to share your view.

  • Nanobee

    This is a timely article. My wife and I just became interested in the newer Doctor Who series as a result of the 2010 Christmas special and watched The Eleventh Hour episode yesterday. We also remember the Doctor from our childhood and are loving the 2010 season so far. GERONIMO!!!!

  • ruthie

    “The Eleventh Hour,” is probably a great place to start; if you don’t like it, chances are the show isn’t for you.” Untrue, I think. What makes Doctor Who so brilliant is that it changes genre and tone episode to episode. Even
    if you hate an episode it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t love another.

  • Anonymous

    “Compared to the incredibly indulgent Tennant years (which were entertaining, but, lets be honest here – Tennant didn’t actually do a full series, and was never fully committed to ‘Who’, given that every year had to have a Doctor-free episode, before, in his final series, he said he wanted to go and do Shakespeare instead, and even when the BBC accomodated him, he quit to go off and do…”

    Oh good lord, where to begin? At the top:

    Tennant did do a fill series. The Doctor-free episodes were due to the need to make two or three episodes at the same time — commonly called double banking — which meant that Tennant +1 had to be off making a different story at the same time. It was coped with the in the fourth season by shooting Turn Left and Midnight at the same time and making one effectively Donna-less. In Moffat’s first series this wasn’t requited because there wasn’t a Christmas special in the schedule and it’s being dealt with for next year by splitting the series in two giving move production space.

    On Shakespeare: For production reasons, again, RTD and the BBC agreed the show needed to take a break and left with a gap in his schedules Tennant cast about for work, contracts were signed with the RSC for a season then the fact the show was taking a break had to be announced early because the RSC put out a leaflet advertising Tennant in the upcoming season which was then incorrectly turned into the version of events you give by a tabloid newspaper which wasn’t too quick afterwards in correcting itself. No actor is famous enough to stop production of a television series in this way. He also decided to leave in 2008 giving the writer time to work properly on his demise.

  • Jamie R Corder

    I completely disagree. Why would the character being immortal make it less interesting and dramatic. Have you seen Torchwood? Besides, the mortality of the characters is addressed in almost every episode by the risk to the companions, who are very mortal!

  • Rdfozz

    While Who continuity isn’t critical for following most stories, there is continuity. And, that said, that continuity contains several loopholes that would allow further regenerations:

    1) An argument exists that the Hartnell-to-Troughton (1st to 2nd) change wasn’t actually a regeneration.

    2) Given the circumstances behind the 2nd-to-3rd switch (Troughton’s Doctor was tried for meddling in the affairs of others, and was apparently forced to change and exiled to Earth as a punishment [and please don’t bring up the season 6B theory, as that would really confuse things]), it’s possible that this change wasn’t an actual “regeneration”.

    3) During the 4th doctor’s travels, he consumes a substance that heals Time Lords somehow (“Brain of Morbius”). I have always felt that it was probably that this healing effect essentially restored “lost” regenerations. That would give us three extra regenerations, even ignoring the previous two points. And (unusual as it) I think that the elixir or whatever was still being produced after the Doctor left.

    4) Possibly connected to the last item: the Master at one point had used his last regeneration (“The Deadly Assassin”). He managed to restore himself by taking over the body of someone else (“The Keeper of Traken”), twice (the 1996 TV Movie). We’ve seen him in at least one other body, possibly two, since the 2005 restart, implying that some sort of other option is available.

    5) Possibly tying into both 3 and 4 above; the Master was once approached by Gallifrey to assist the Doctor in resolving a situation on their homeworld (“The Five Doctors”). He was promised a new cycle of regenerations for this. Given the person behind all those events, that promise may have been a lie; but it’s possible they did have some option available.

    6) It would be relatively simple to decide that something that occurred during the Time War (off-screen, apparently shortly before the restart in 2005) changed the Doctor’s status.

  • supernursekatie

    Oh my gosh if your are an american fan of the DR. and let me tell you we are out there. I cant wait to see the new episodes about the us that BBC is advertising you really need to start watching back when the series started again back in 2004. Although i have a soft spot in my heart for the Dr. by Matt, David Tennent was most awsome Dr. his character was so amazing and he brought so much feeling to the Dr. You just need to start watching anywhere even Net Flix has past episodes. Go Dr. WHO!!

  • Colierrannd2

    I actually kind of enjoyed the animated Doctor Who show, can’t remember the name of the top of my head but it had him in Nevada and there was this waitress and…well it was quite fun. I’ve seen a little of the actual show from time to time. Might have to actually sit down and watch it all.

  • Sijo

    Does Dr. Who really need an introduction? It’s probably the only British TV show that rivals Star Trek or Galactica in international popularity.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the Fourth Doctor series, which is the only season that aired here (Puerto Rico) in Spanish. I have seen the occasional “New Era” Who episode on Cable, but I haven’t followed them because I hear that, contrary to what this article implies, it has a lack of happy endings, to the point it gets lampshaded in the show itself. Still, the series still seems very well written. I may give it a better chance one of this days.

    I Haven’t seen the spinoffs either.

  • Jacob

    That’s interesting. I didn’t think of it like that. But, that would require the Time-Lords to forcefully terminate anyone who tried to regenerate a thirteenth time. Seems tedious. Far more likely that it’s genetic, and The Doctor would still be afflicted with it. (could still be an artificial limitation, it would just genocide on an annoyingly large scale)

    I took “can live forever, barring accidents,” to mean that, as long as Time-Lords don’t go running around time fighting evil and having adventures, they’d never use all 13 incarnations.

  • Jacob

    It’s not that being immortal takes away from the drama, it just removes the danger. No matter what, The Doctor will be fine. No matter what, Jack will be fine. When The Doctor gets in front of someone about to be attacked, he’s acting as an impenetrable shield, not risking his life to save someone else.

  • Jacob

    Well considering it was 26 years worth of episodes, and that he’s probably got a life outside of watching Who (unthinkable to me), two years is a reasonable amount of time.

  • Jacob

    It isn’t really lampshaded (that’s when they poke fun at something), but there is an unfortunate lack of true happy endings. In fact, there are several real tearjerkers (“End of Time” and “Human Nature”/”Family of Blood” come to mind immediately) throughout Tennant’s run. The only actual happy ending I can think of is “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”.

  • Thunarr

    Where did you get the missing Hartnell and Troughton stuff? The BBC will love you forever if you get it to them!

  • Thunarr

    I was talking to Paul Cornell at the Thought Bubble Comic Convention. Obviously, Dr Who came up. Despite the fact Cornell and Steven Moffatt are good friends, he hasn’t been asked to write for the new Doctor yet. Which is a shame. But (and this is one in the eye for anti-Moffatt/Smith trolls) Paul Cornell rates Matt Smith as being “the next Tom Baker”. Being a fan since I was old enought to watch it in the 70’s, I’m not going to argue. Matt Smith’s first year was the best and most consistent run since the restart, possibly ever.

    Nuff said!

  • Andahaion

    At any rate, it’s all inferior to ‘Red Dwarf’.

  • Ronen Mark

    “Blink” is, of course, an amazing episode for anyone who has very little idea what the series is about. It’s like a mini-movie, it’s brilliantly written and stands very well on its own.

    I had a rather wibbly-wobbly intro to the series myself. I started with “Blink,” then saw some of series 5, then went back and watched all the way from Eccleston through Tennant, then finished series 5. Not the most linear way to go about it, but I think the Doctor would not disapprove.

  • Lynda B

    Doctor Who – it’s ALL good. what else can I say? Everyone has their favorite Doctors, favorite episodes. You won’t get much agreement with the Whovians (Doctor Who fans). Don’t pay any attention to all the bickering.

    I say, just jump in with “The Eleventh Hour” and Matt Smith as the Doctor. He’s one of the best Doctors ever, and if you like what you see, watch the rest of the series. Everything you need to know is explained to you in this episode, you don’t have to have watched ANY of the older episodes to understand what is going on.

    THEN, if you liked Series 5, watch “A Christmas Carol” that just came out at Christmas. Lovely, it is.

    Then go and start with Series 1, watch Chris Eccelston as the Doctor (in “Rose”) and work your way back up. And I’m so envious. To watch Doctor Who for the first time, with 65 glorious episodes and you haven’t seen any of them, what a treat!

    Then if you managed to make it through all those, then try out the classic episodes from way back; however, I’d skip those until you’ve seen everything from 2005. Have fun!

  • Simon Bromley

    Love all the new Stuff, love most of the old stuff. However, the Classic series and the 21st Century series are very different. The old series isn’t bad, it was just made differently for a different audience. The 60s stories are different from the 70s stories, which in turn are different to the 80s stories, which suffered from the Heads of department at the BBC hating the show and not caring what it looked like.
    Certainly the ‘new’ Doctors have been fantastic actors – when Chris Eccleston left after just one series, I was devastated, but David Tennant was outstanding, showing a depth of character and range of acting talent rarely seen on TV at all, let alone Doctor Who. It was going to be difficult to accept any other actor in the TARDIS…but then Matt Smith arrived and made the part his own.
    New viewers should probably start with Rose, learn to love the show, then, once they’ve grown to know the character, check out some older stories, classics like Genesis of the Daleks or The Caves of Androzani.

  • Fseabrook1971

    Very good article. However, three points:

    1) Initially, there were no limits for how many time the Doctor could regenerate. In The War Games, the Second Doctor said he could change infinitely ‘barring accidents’.

    2) The above was then retconned in The Deadly Assassin in 1976 with the Fourth Doctor when a limit of 13 (not 12 – there are 12 *regenerations) incarnations was stated for Time Lords.

    3) The comments made by the Eleventh Doctor to Clyde in Death Of A Doctor (SJA) was clearly a throwaway remark made to shut Clyde up while they escaped from danger. The figure of 507 was plucked out of air. So I would dispute that this retconned what happened in TDA. However, I agree other things in Who ‘canon’ have been retconned or changed over the years.

  • Franz

    And for new fas, ignore the negative ‘fans’ about the latest season. I’ve yet to see a bad Doctor. The thing you will have to accept about this show is that the way it’s produced and how the Doctor is portrayed will change, always has and always will. People who say Moffat can’t do emotional impact are wrong. It;s just that he can do understated and subtle emotions rather than the full in your face style that RTD favoured. Both are equally valid ways of doing the show.

  • Fseabrook1971

    Sorry but Ten went out a whiner. RTD did regeneration much better with Eccleston at the end of The Parting Of The Ways. None of the other Doctors were so self-involved at the end and Ten will always be remembered as the only one who was.

  • Jacob


  • Leigh

    As much as I love Blink, I don’t like to recommend it to new viewers. It doesn’t “fit” the other episodes properly and I’ve had a couple of people end up irritated because it gave them a distorted view of how the series works.

    So when I introduce the show to friends I pick whatever episode most closely fits what I know that person likes, and then for their second one I do Blink.

  • Guest

    Also many of the seasons and spinoffs are available on netflix

  • Ben

    Classic Doctor Who – especially the Tom Baker years – is worth watching.

  • Ryuichi

    I rly want to give it a shot it seems awesome and i dont know why i didnt give it a try before now :/ When i saw there where 26 seasons and more before the one from 2005, I kind of wanted to give up… xP Specially when its in black/white, i hate it, srsly… But i think i start with the first season from 2005 and then watch all of it :D I got christmas holiday so why not? xP And i rly want 2 xPP

  • Ryuichi

    A friend that got me into Doctor Who in the first place told me i should begin to watch from the beginning and that would make more sense, and I’m pretty sure that is the case. And I hate watching from the middle and miss some important stuff that would make me go like …. ? later on(But to tell the truth, I really dont like black/white and the series with Matt Smith seem so much more intresting, but i guess all of it is) xP So thats what i gonna do on christmas holiday, I dont got a life xP

  • Stannis Baratheon

    Ok, what is the first episode with Tennant? I don’t care for Eccleston. And I want it with English subs. Any *help* welcome. mairetar(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Beau23

    If you want my Opinion. The episodes are a MUST SEE for any Doctor Who Fan are as follows: 
    First Doctor: An Unearthly Child (The original 1963 pilot)
    Second Doctor: The Invasion, Tomb of the Cybermen OR The War Games
    Third Doctor: Carnival Of Monsters OR Planet of the SpidersFourth Doctor: Pyramids of Mars, 
    Fifth Doctor: Either Castrovalva or Caves of Androzani
    Sixth Doctor: Mark Of The RaniSeventh Doctor: Either The Greatest Show In The Galaxy OR Survival
    Eighth Doctor: 1996 TV Movie (OR The Audio CD’s Which are a MUST for any whovian)
    Ninth Doctor: Dalek OR The End Of The World
    Tenth Doctor: New Earth OR End of Time Eleventh Doctor: Time Of The Angels/Flesh and Stone OR The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon.Now recently i have been really annoyed that so called ‘Whovians’ watch only the new series and none of the old. If this is your case, seek medical attention, and call yourself a NUvian.

  • nataliesharp

    Start at the Eleventh Doctor. Always. Tennant fanboys/girls may say otherwise, but it;s the most beginner friendly the show has ever been.

  • Zee

    I would start at the 2005 season, so far the 5th season is a disappointment :( I liked Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, but David Tennant took on the role so seamlessly that I wasn’t too disappointed when Eccleston left. Matt Smith isn’t bad, but he isn’t as great as Tennant or Eccleston.

  • Emerson

    I watched as a kid in the 70s so that’s all vague, and am not a fan boy, but I vote for season 6 as the best of the new run. The stories are complicated and emotional, and seasons 5 and 6 lack the chav factor of prior seasons.

  • Kdiebold8715

    Start at the 2010 season!? Youre a joke. Ya guys just start at 2010. Dont bother starting with maybe season 1 or perhaps a taste of the show with watching “Blink” first. Dont watch perhaps the best actor to ever play the Doctor. Start with Matt Smith cause, well, bowties are just cool….Oh how i hate you Graeme.

  • David Dodge

    deleted when i saw how old this article was.

  • Abcd

    Lol, are you serious? The only Doctor Who episode I’ve seen is “Rose,” and it was the worst pilot episode I’ve seen in my life! The only reason I am even trying out the series after that is because it is so highly recommended by friends.

  • tomdaylight

    Not the best episode ever (I’d suggest sticking through to episode two before making your judgement) but it’s the starting point of the modern era, or at least was when I wrote that post two years ago.

  • Nightcauldron

    The same happened to me!! I didn’t get the rythm or even liked the show until the episode “empty children” (season 1 2005) and only continued to wath beacuse everybody said it was so good! But it got better, trust me

  • Guest

    yes, jump right ahead to season 5. Great TV that is! Matt smith is great!

  • Anon

    It’s also on Netflix!

  • Sam

    You cant start with Matt You have to start with chris then david

  • Techngro

    “the horrible Tennant years”?

    Dude, are you serious? Eccleston was decent as the Doctor, I watched the first half of Smith’s season, and I could barely keep my interest. Haven’t even bothered watching the second half of series 7. But Tennant was THE BEST doctor of this modern run. By far.

  • Techngro

    Where to start?

    Anywhere but with Matt Smith.

    You might as well start with the Eccleston series and work your way forward. Or backwards. It’s up to you, just stay away from Smith unless you really feel the need to complete the series.

  • Paula Alexa

    I first watched some random Christmas specials and then started watching season 4. It’s still my favourite of the season. The whole Rose thing never caught me, but I still found the show seriously awesome. And, yes, among them, I think “Rose” was the worst, but provides a good starting point.

  • Devil_Dinosaur

    I was serious. Nevertheless, this webmaster, for reasons I cannot understand, chose to delete my original post.

  • alvinchimp

    Just start at the beggining on netflix and watch through each season it will make you more attatched to the characters if an episodes too boring just skip it

  • YouHanoiMe

    Oh, all right!

  • disqus_TpeJORVqSp

    With Netflix and Shomi and everything on the Internet, it’s easy to start watching a show from the beginning. I highly recommend watching Doctor Who beginning with the 2005 season. “Rose” may not be the best pilot, but it introduces you to the Whoniverse, and the rest of season one is very well-written and (for the most part) is comprised of amazing stories, the finale expertly weaving season-long loose threads together. However, my opinion may be biased slightly, as the Ninth Doctor is my favourite incarnation of the Time Lord. The entire show builds up from Series One, and I have found references to the earlier series in episodes, most recently Series Eight referenced Series One and Four.

  • Scott Keith

    I’m trying to start at the beginning, from the first Doctor. It’s hard, as so many episodes are missing, the production quality is terrible, and I already know that the history of the Dalek’s has been retconned, so what I am watching now doesn’t even count. But, I will power through.