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

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the very-carefully-31-years-ago dept.

Sci-Fi 655

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

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655 comments

At the risk of my nerd card... (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604218)

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

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

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

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (5, Funny)

Crunchie Frog (791929) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604262)

Phew... well at least he didn't take a pop at Firefly

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (1)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604332)

I love firefly, but I admit it probably never had enough appeal to be a mainstream, high-budget show.

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604528)

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

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

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

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604280)

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

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

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604668)

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

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604292)

You aren't alone. Go on and be nerdy good sir

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604444)

If it was just up to me, I would start watching from the very beginning. But I know my wife would not watch a show that dated...

Hmm..doesn't she have her OWN tv to watch??

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604296)

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

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

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604328)

Your nerd card has been officially revoked.
-Sincerely, The Internet

LET THE NAME "elrous0" BE STRIKEN FROM THE SCROLLS!

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (2)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604352)

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

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

A good starting point would be the 2005 revamp.

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

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (1)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604466)

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

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (1)

Xaedalus (1192463) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604508)

Agreed. I just started my Dr. Who experience with the 2005 revamp, and both my wife and I are now hooked. Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor ROCKED!!!!!

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (5, Interesting)

FreonTrip (694097) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604366)

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

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

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

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604424)

Bah, who would revoke a geek card over Firefly? I'll never understand how anyone liked that show at all. No accounting for taste, I guess...

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (1)

Jimbookis (517778) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604442)

Turn 5 again so the monsters can scare the bejesus out of you. I loved to be scared by it in the Tom Baker days, especially by the Cybermen. I particularly remember being reduced to crying hysterics by them but I'd keep coming back for more. As I got older it became more apparent that it is a CHILDRENS and adolescents show. So move on and don't worry about it too much.

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604452)

My ex got me into Doctor Who a few years ago at 28. We started with the 9th Doctor (the "new" series). When David Tennant showed up, I absolutely fell in love with the show. After a couple series I had enough background to understand all the major characters, and enemies. Now I am going back at watching the older episodes that are available on Netflix, and I'm enjoying them a lot. I don't think I would have gotten into the show had a started with those and worked forward.

The newer series had a plotline and progression that reminded me of Lost. Lots of twists, open-endedness, and the occasional rewatching of an episode to go "Oh shit! I did miss that! (see "Bad Wolf")

2 cents from a very recent fan.

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604500)

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

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

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

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (4, Funny)

guspasho (941623) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604594)

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

Of course it was; it had Denise Richards.

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (5, Informative)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604608)

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

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

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

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

Anyway, my advice would best be summarized as:

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

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

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

Re:At the risk of my nerd card... (2)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604640)

the movie version of "Starship Troopers" was much better than the book.
That's b/c you missed the point of the book, and what self respecting geek doesn't love powered armor?

In my opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604234)

Start with the Christopher Eccleston ones. The americanized McGann/Roberts tv movie was awful and going back as far as Tom Baker is going to seem dated.

Even though Bingo/Billie Piper is in them, the Eccleston eps are good. Just ignore the low budget/barely leaves Earth/always running issues.

Re:In my opinion... (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604364)

Once you get into the mythology, even the older ones tend to be loved (something to which my wife and kids will attest--I was watching since I was a lad).

Re:In my opinion... (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604570)

I agree but the older ones do feel dated and 'holding a purple sheet of fur over your head' to play a monster is hard to swallow for most people.

Avoid Colin Baker and Peter Davidson (especially any with Adric) and its good cheesy SciFi entertainment.

Re:In my opinion... (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604380)

I agree with this. I love the new material, but no matter how hard I try, can't go back to the old. It's... I don't know if it's dated, or cheesy, or what, but it's something, and I don't like it.

Re:In my opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604552)

I agree.

I watched the old ones as a kid and to be honest, the new guys do it MUCH better. And when you consider the new filming tech, the new Doctor Who episodes are are just smashing!

Re:In my opinion... (1)

queBurro (1499731) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604596)

yeah, was just going to say the same thing myself, Christopher Eccleston was the relaunch of the series after it was cancelled back in the day (80's?), it was all interesting and exciting again, and at some point catch a few of the Tom Baker/John Pertwee ones too (but remember they were shot a while ago) otherwise you won't be able to join in on the "who was your favourite Dr" discussions down the pub oooooohhhhhhhh, don't forget the old movies, check this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060278/ [imdb.com]

New stuff (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604244)

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

Re:New stuff (2)

emag (4640) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604394)

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

Re:New stuff (1)

Willuz (1246698) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604438)

Netflix is a great place to get some of the old episodes but they have major gaps in the sub-plots. You can watch some of the "Trial of a Timelord" series but not all of it. They also don't have all of the stories written by Douglas Adams. For a new viewer though, pre-2005 episodes may not be interesting. Most of us enjoy them out of nostalgia even though they can be quite terrible. It's just not the same without the interruptions for the PBS funds drive.

Re:New stuff (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604492)

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

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

BTW you can bittorrent all of the classic episodes from demonoid.com. They have one huge file containing all of them, even the "lost" episodes.

Re:New stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604614)

at least provide some keywords...found some of the newer episodes, but not a true mega pack...

Re:New stuff (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604620)

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

From there, probably the Tom Baker years. If the low budget look of these don't turn you off then it's a toss up as to where to go. If you like the last of the Baker episodes, then just keep going through them in order. The producer that is credited for "running the show into the ground" took over in the later Baker years and remained until the end of McCoys tenure. Personally I liked the Jon Pertwee episodes better when I was younger. Patrick Troughton reminded me too much of Moe from the three stooges when I was a kid. But since I've gone back and watched some of the "restored" episodes, I found it truly a shame that most of them no longer exist.

If your wife finds the first Dr Who "dated"... (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604250)

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

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

Re:If your wife finds the first Dr Who "dated"... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604300)

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

Are You married?

Re:If your wife finds the first Dr Who "dated"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604656)

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

Are You married?

Is This Slashdot?

Re:If your wife finds the first Dr Who "dated"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604322)

I would say that your sort of prejudice would get you nowhere.

Re:If your wife finds the first Dr Who "dated"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604356)

Not married are you? :-) Any show from 1963 can be considered dated, no matter what you are a fan of. Im a huge fan of Star Trek, but I feel no need to watch the episodes from my father's childhood, Spock notwithstanding.

Re:If your wife finds the first Dr Who "dated"... (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604514)

Re marriage: No, but my partner is more of an SF geek than I am and we don't restrict ourselves to the other's prejudices.

Re dating: Might be; might not. Treat the work on a case by case basis. Religious texts make for some excellent millennia-old science fiction. I feel the past deacde's Dr Who is going to date more quickly because it has made references which so obviously tie into very contemporary events, technologies, fashions, etc.

ST: the sexism of TOS has dated it, just as the patronising 80s whiny-feeliness of Troi has dated TNG. But the messages of heroism and technical straightforwardness of TOS remain poignant today; as are the messages of dplomacy and social progressiveness of TNG.

Start with the modern ones - (4, Interesting)

DontScotty (978874) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604264)

With Billie Piper and C. Ecklsteiner.

Then, David Tenet.

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

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

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

Re:Start with the modern ones - (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604324)

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

Re:Start with the modern ones - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604382)

agreed, start with the remake/xmas specials and if you want to go further back i think netflix(US) has the older ones(not here in canada last i checked)

Re:Start with the modern ones - (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604490)

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

Or you could just watch those on your own late at night. You'll get to watch some awesome sci-fi, and she won't harass you about it because she'll think you're looking at porn.

Re:Start with the modern ones - (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604536)

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

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

Start with the most recent series (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604268)

Start with the new series 5. Then work your way through 1 - 4 and the specials leading up to series 5. Then start on the old series. Which ones you watch from here, you can moreorless pick and mix by reading the description/synopsis (though I'd make sure it isn't in the middle of a major arc like Key to Time).

In media res. (1)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604288)

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

I think you've answered the question. (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604290)

If she doesn't want something dated and enjoys Torchwood, I think I would start with Doctor Who circa 2005. There are Torchwood tie-ins that will become apparent.

My opinion - for what little it's worth (1)

Tigger's Pet (130655) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604298)

I would recommend that you start with the 'newer' series, from about 2005 onwards. This will get you Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith. The older ones just look aged, or rather pants (McCoy & McGann never really seemed to fill the role properly).

Opinions are like arseholes - everybody's got one and this is mine.

Depends (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604308)

If you have a *lot* of drugs you can start with the older stuff, but not all the way back. Maybe some Pertwee? If you are really really high, it's pretty entertaining. Otherwise, start with 2005 (Christopher Eccleston).

Start modern and mix in classic (1)

Fiddlingfrog (718529) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604314)

Start with the first series of the modern production (Christopher Eccleston) and go forward, and intersperse it with some stories from the classic series. For the classic episodes I don't think it's necessary to go in totally perfect order, but try to go in Doctor order to get a sense of the show's progression.

Tom Baker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604316)

The new series are fun, but the fourth Doctor was most consistent. You have to look past a few wobbly sets and plastic monsters along the way, and it decays a touch near the end of his run, but still the definitive portrait to this point. If I had to recommend particular stories, Pyramids of Mars, Genesis of the Daleks, or for a deeper dip, the whole season that is the Key To Time.

I'd start with the 2005 series (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604326)

It has the newer feel, somewhat like Torchwood. My wife (and I) enjoyed the new run immensely.

Doctors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604334)

we recently started watching the series, personally i started with Torchwood because jack is oh so very attractive. 9th doctor is the first doctor of the recent series, i believe they started in 2005. if you do not want to watch a 'dated' show i recommend you start there. in my opinion 9th doctor is not so great, i think they were about 10 years too late with his type of character. 10th doctor (in my opinion) is AMAZING. i think he falls right in with the geeky but all powerful here i come to the rescue superhero. also 9th doctor series ties in with Torchwood, because it takes place before Torchwood series starts. There is also some cross reference (like the hand in the jar and the mysterious Doctor) also Toshiko and Gwen are in the series with the 9th doctor =). Personally i dont think i have missed anything by forgoing the 1960s series, perhaps i will watch them at a later time. but i do not think you will lose any joy of watching the series if you start with doctor #9.

If you can't start at the beginning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604338)

then start at the restart, with the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), episode "Rose" (2005). For a lot of people, this would be a good starting point, IMHO. Of course, I'd say start with episode 1, "An Unearthly Child" from 1963 if you can, even though I think I *first* saw fthe Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) sometime in the early 80s while surfing channels as a kid, then eventually wound up w/ the local PBS station starting over from the beginning.

Beginning not an option (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604340)

My understanding is that most (all?) of the First Doctor's episodes are sadly no longer extant.

Re:Beginning not an option (1)

Zot Quixote (548930) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604450)

I believe the First Doctor episodes are still intact. Some of the Second Doctor is missing though.

Re:Beginning not an option (1)

D'Arque Bishop (84624) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604458)

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

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

Re:Beginning not an option (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604612)

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

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

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

Not Ture (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604560)

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

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

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

For example, I would recomand "Robots of Death" - a Tom Baker / 4th Doctor story - when you get done with the "modern" stories. I think it was 3 [or 4?] 1/2 hour episodes that's now a 90 minute "movie". The pacing is very different.

Re:Beginning not an option (1)

Goobergunch (876745) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604606)

Actually, the Second Doctor got hit hardest by the BBC throwing out episodes. (Algeria bought most of the first two seasons and didn't return its copies until after the junkings stopped.) That being said, 108 missing episodes is a bit of a hurdle to jump through... at least we have audio!

Inconsistency in post: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604344)

"I am a big fan of science fiction, especially good TV science fiction [...] But I know my wife [...]"

Sure .... a wife :)

Tom Baker is the best doctor of them all (1)

melancolico (1525281) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604354)

Tom Baker is the best doctor of them all, start with him, then go forward or backward it doesn't matter, every other doctor pales by comparison.

Re:Tom Baker is the best doctor of them all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604494)

Would you like jely baby?

2005 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604358)

I vaguely remember watching the classic series as a kid, but I only truly started watching it in 2005 with christopher eccleston. If you find it sparks your interest try experimenting with some of the major classic series episodes, I'd reccomend skipping the first two doctors due to various missing episodes, and take the paul mcgann tv movie with a pinch of salt

Dated (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604376)

For me, that "dated" feel of Doctor Who was what made it great. Though some of the very early black and white ones where a little too much for me, some of the B&W ones were great. I still enjoy the last few "modern" seasons, but the look and feel of the show has changed a lot from the classics for me, and I just don't enjoy them as much. The sets and effects are a little TOO perfect in the new ones, which really breaks my suspension of disbelief.

If you want fun, start with Tom Baker and go forward from there, but you will miss a lot of important back story and character development that happened early on.

Eccleston (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604384)

I started watching with the recent episodes (2005? With Eccleston as the Doctor). My wife tried watching an found she liked them too. I can't imagine her enjoying the older ones (80s era and before) though I haven't seen many of those myself and could be misreading her tastes. Especially if you watched Torchwood, this is a good place to jump in.

Don't turn your back, don't look away, and don't.. (1)

D'Arque Bishop (84624) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604386)

I had been considering that question, myself, and then decided that if I were to introduce someone to the show, I'd do so with a new series episode, and one that would give the newbie an idea of why kids used to watch the show from behind the sofa.

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

Early shows (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604400)

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

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

The books were better (1)

ShitSoup (2022948) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604402)

I have actually read a whole lot of Doctor Who Books published by BBC rather than see the series......I have also seen some of the earliest episodes and the latest ones. I must say- Books were better.

deciphering fake vs. real, math & history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604404)

you had to be there, or know somebody? otherwise it's all (what really happened) hush hush. if we end up like dr. who's world, whose fault will that be? ray guns? we've got those. exploding stuff? that too. real science & math however, remain total fiction to many of us. babys rule. perfect math. restores 1+1=everybody as valid universally.

I didn't start until last year. (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604410)

I started with the first season of the modern ones. Hooked me, and now I've seen all the modern ones as well as the specials. I would suggest the same thing. The older ones move much slower.

You can safely start with the modern run... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604412)

You can start pretty safely with the modern run. It's directly connected with the earlier show, but they introduce it so that it's immediately accessible.

If "Rose" (first episode of the resurrected show) doesn't do it for you, try skipping to Tennant's run (series 2), or maybe even to the first episode of Smith's run (series 5). I have a friend who tried watching the new show from the start, and gave up immediately after watching Rose; when I finally convinced him to give it another shot with Matt Smith, he actually got into the show.

Start New (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604420)

Even if you did start watching from the very beginning, you'd have a tough time tracking down all the episodes, since a good number of them are simply lost to time. That is to say, there's NO way to watch them all. Some have been found again, some have been animated based on radio broadcasts, some have been restored...but some are just gone.

My advice for someone new to Who: give the new series a go. It's incredibly accessible and available, and David Tennant does a great job at playing the Doctor. If he can't make you fall in love with the whole thing, maybe it's not for you. And once you're in love with the series, you'll probably have an easier time accepting the older, lower-budget episodes of days gone by, and you'll be positively drooling for the back story the older episodes provide.

Of course, someone with a different favorite Doctor may tell you to start elsewhere, but I think my argument of accessibility/availability is still a good one. :)

If you're short on time... (2)

Brazilian Geek (25299) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604446)

Start with the 11th Doctor.

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

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

Previous Steven Moffat stories:
Series 1:
1.9 "The Empty Child"
1.10 "The Doctor Dances"

Series 2:
2.4 "The Girl in the Fireplace"

Series 3:
3.10 "Blink"

Series 4:
4.9 "Silence in the Library"
4.10 "Forest of the Dead"

Just listing those episodes reminds me of a lot of the stuff introduced in them that are referenced in later episodes.

Old series or new series? (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604462)

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

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

However, the old series does have some very good stories, so if you can suspend your criticism of the special effects, start with the old series. Many of my favorites are in the Tom Baker (#4) era. In the new series, anything written by Steven Moffat is brilliant.

Although there tends to be a Dr. Who bias whereby whichever Doctor you see first is your favorite Doctor (similar to one's first James Bond), my personal favorites are Tom Baker (#4) and David Tennant (#10).

A note on the oldest episodes... (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604470)

The BBC didn't save all of its old tapes, so many of the oldest episodes were lost. Some have been converted from private collections (VHS/beta tapes) to fill in the gaps.

At one point in time, WTTW in Chicago ran through all the doctors (to the then current one) in order, and I recorded every single episode. I regret to admit that I, like so many others, consigned those tapes to the trash years ago.

Anyway, just keep that in mind if you do decide to go back and watch the earlier series. I really liked the first three Doctors, by the way. Baker was fine--I first found the series while he was on--but I was never convinced that he was the ultimate one (I know, that's blasphemy to some).

Where to start Dr. Who (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604472)

My wife and I started watching Dr. Who in the mid-70's, during the time of the 3rd Doctor. You'd have a hard time watching from the beginning, since most of those early episodes have been destroyed, but it wouldn't hurt to watch the very first episode ever, "An Unearthly Child", starring William Hartnell, the first Doctor. This is available on VHS tape and possibly DVD. This will give you an idea of how the show works. The all-time favorite Doctor is usually agreed to be Tom Baker, (the 4th). These shows are dated, but they are all available and explain much. But if you're not willing to watch nearly 40 years of episodes to catch up, starting with the newer episodes with Christopher Ecclestone and Billie Piper will help a lot. During this run, since there was a gap in production for a few years, much is explained for the newer fans.

I read the (slashdotted) article (1)

Goobergunch (876745) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604486)

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

If you want to start with the classic series, the more accessible places to start are either with Season 7's Spearhead from Space (the Third Doctor) or Season 12's Robot (the Fourth Doctor). Many episodes in the first six seasons were thrown out by the BBC, so they can only now be watched through audios and slide-show like reconstructions which can a bit challenging to watch. There are some restoration issues with the Third Doctor's stories, but at least all of the episodes are there.

Note that not all of classic Who has been released on DVD, so some of it may be a bit hard to find (at least legally).

SImple (1)

LDAPMAN (930041) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604496)

Tom Baker....anything before that is too dated. The Tom Baker episodes hold up well and he is very entertaining.

Re:SImple (1)

ormico (1226940) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604610)

I agree. Start with Tom Baker and go forward. Though, I have to admit that going back and watching them now, they don't have quite the same magic. The episodes later in the Tom Baker years are better than the earliest as they improved quite a lot as they went along, but it may be easier to start at the begining of his term. If you don't want to go that far back or if you just can't get into the old oes, skip ahead to the "new" series.

Start with the modern ones. (1)

Cyno01 (573917) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604510)

I would start with the revival, that would be the 9th doctor, Christopher Eccleston. If you want to include torchwood and/or the sarah jane adventures (although a kids show is better than most stuff on tv), heres the viewing order i kinda pieced together along with all the specials.

Doctor Who S1
Doctor Who - Children In Need Short (2006)
Doctor Who - Christmas Invasion
Doctor Who - Attack of the Graske
Doctor Who S2
Doctor Who - The Runaway Bride
Torchwood S1
Sarah Jane Adventures - Invasion of the Bane
Doctor Who S3
Doctor Who - The Infinite Quest (actually takes place between 3x09 and 3x10)
Doctor Who - Time Crash (2007 Children In Need)
Doctor Who - Voyage of the Damned
Sarah Jane Adventures S1
Torchwood S2
Doctor Who S4
Sarah Jane Adventures S2
Doctor Who at the Proms
Doctor Who - The Next Doctor
Doctor Who - Dreamland
Doctor Who - Planet of the Dead
Torchwood S3 - Children of Earth (some of the best television ever)
Sarah Jane Adventures S3
Doctor Who - The Waters of Mars
Doctor Who - The End of Time
Doctor Who S5
Sarah Jane Adventures S4
Doctor Who - A Christmas Carol
Doctor Who - Space & Time (comic relief 2011)

Steven Moffat - start with him. (1)

scott2181 (920153) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604534)

Current head writer Steven Moffat's episodes are pretty much golden. Search through the episode list [wikipedia.org] and start with those. I started with The Empty Child - a gorgeous horror tale with the Ninth Doctor, set in Blitz-era London, with a little gas-mask child walking the streets. Properly spooky stuff, superbly written and directed. Blink is a modern classic, inventive plotting, clever ideas and (surprisingly) very little of the Doctor. it also boasts the best monsters (the Weeping Angels) since the series revival.

All things considered (14 episodes) the Eleventh Doctor is my favourite Doctor. He's just the right shade of alien, oblivious, brilliant and full on performance. The Eleventh Hour was the reason I paid the licence fee last year - a gorgeous, imaginative fantasy about a time-travelling imaginary friend, a crashing spaceship, a brilliant magician, spunky eye-candy and a plot of deft nonsense. That story hits all the classic fantasy notes, from Narnia to Roald Dahl's wibblier flights of fancy.

Hope you enjoy the show.

Start with.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604538)

Start with finding a doctor that you like. Tom Baker for humor. Sylvestor McCoy for intelligence. Peter Davidson and Colin Baker for storylines. The first 3 doctors to me are the least of my favorites as the production quality isn't up to my liking.

It's obvious, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604540)

My question to Slashdot is, whats the best strategy for enjoying this classic show?

Begin with Season 12 episode 'Robot'. End with Season 18 episode 'Logopolis'. Duh.

There is no Doctor but Tom Baker. All prior actors were but a pale shadow, all the ones after pale by comparison.

Tom Baker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604550)

Start with all the Tom Baker episodes. By far the most enjoyable.

Baker all the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604554)

The Tom Baker Dr. Who is where everyone should start, and where most will stop. Tom Baker is the gold standard of Doctor Whos.

here's a good thorough answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604566)

I asked this once of a friend in the know. Here was his great answer:

Excellent question. As you rightly point out, it's a rather long run;
the show is 45 years old, with a 16-year hiatus from 1989 to 2005
interrupted only by a rightly maligned Fox/BBC coproduction in 1996.

Also... of the 250-odd episodes made during the 1960s, there are 108
which are missing from the archives to this day. So the idea of going
from beginning to end is already broken at that level.

I suggest a two-pronged strategy. One prong is to pick up the modern
(2005+) series from the beginning. It has a modern sassy 21st-century
feel but retains the general spirit and demeanour of the original
series. As a relaunch, the early episodes are set up to introduce the
new viewer (e.g. people not even born in 1996) to the series concepts.
It's also pretty good; the first season is worth watching in its
entirety. It's marketed as "Doctor Who -- The Complete First Series",
and there is a lot of variety in the styles of the different episodes.
There's 4 seasons so far, with the next full season coming up in 2010.

The other prong is to pick out a variety of classic serials and watch
them in semi-random order. There's not too much by way of plot arcs in
the old days, and there are only a few cases where it's worth making a
special effort to watch a sequence of serials in chronological order.

They divide by doctor: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon
Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy.

My favourites are Troughton and Tom Baker.

Troughton (1966-69) is particularly afflicted by the episode
destruction, and there are only a handful of extant stories, all of
which have to be watched in a good spirit of archival appreciation.
They're good, but they have lots of characteristics that can put off a
modern viewer (pace, integrity of the sets, special effect failures,
overacting, unevolved political attitudes, etc). For Troughton, I'd
try to watch "The Tomb of the Cybermen" to get a really characteristic
experience of mid/late 1960s Doctor Who, and maybe "The Mind Robber"
for something a bit weirder.

Tom Baker (1974-1981) is an absolute must. It was the role of his
life, and no one has quite gotten under the skin of Doctor Who as well
as he did. A really accessible starting point is "City of Death",
which was co-written by Douglas Adams (under a pseudonym) and is a
sparkling wittty ingenious piece of work. It's set in Paris. It's late
rather than early Baker. The classic period for Tom Baker is his first
three seasons. You'd want to see "The Ark in Space", "Genesis of the
Daleks", "Terror of the Zygons", "Pyramids of Mars", "The Seeds of
Doom", "The Deadly Assassin", "The Robots of Death", "The Talons of
Weng Chiang", "Horror of Fang Rock", to give a selection of good ones.
I'd start with "Pyramids of Mars", out of those.

Let me know how you get along!

Eccleston (1)

guspasho (941623) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604568)

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

I watched all of the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) and one thing you'll notice from those older episodes is how poor the production quality is sometimes (rubber monster suits, dialogue that is completely obscured by background noise). So you're better off starting somewhere recent like 2005 then going back and watching the older stuff. I never got around to watching any other old doctors, you probably won't either.

lost in history. (1)

renegade600 (204461) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604572)

unfortunately you will not be able to watch it from the beginning. So many early shows have been lost. I started watching Doctor Who with Tom Baker and only seen a few of the earlier Doctors on Netflix. I recently got caught up with watching all the episodes of new series. Personally I found the new series not as entertaining as the old. It is not to say the newer ones are bad, they are actually pretty good in their own way but when compared to the older, they are lacking and much, much darker.

To answer your question, if you were going to try to addict someone with Doctor Who, start with Tom Baker. Once addicted then try to make them hard core by watching the black an white series that's available.

Baker (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604602)

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

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

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

Too late, mate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604604)

The best strategy for enjoying this show is to start watching it when you are nine.

Same goes for Star Wars.

Start modern, then work back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604624)

I'd suggest starting out with the 'new series', with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. It was intended to introduce new fans to the series, and isn't nearly as dated as the older episodes. You can watch in order from there, going up to David Tennant and then Matt Smith, and if you're ever interested in where the show got started go back to older episodes. Tom Baker (4th Doctor) had a great run, as did Peter Davidson (5th Doctor), and while they are rather campy by today's standards I learned to like them after seeing enough of the new show to have my interest piqued. Anything before Tom Baker is rather harder to watch in my opinion, and you get into black and white if you go far enough back, so even as a big Doctor Who fan I've only seen a few episodes from that era.

Hartnell+Baker (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604638)

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

Douglas Adams (1)

tomcode (261182) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604642)

I grew up watching the old series and I think I have the answer you're looking for: 4 key episodes from the old series and the infinitely more watchable new series.

The modern series definitely stands on its own, but it does have a lot of in-jokes and references to the old series, so it might be worth finding a few key episodes from the Tom Baker (4th Doctor) years. I'd recommend just as a sample the ones where Douglas Adams was involved: Pirate Planet (you'll recognize the writing if you've read THHGTTG), Shada, and City of Death. You will also want to watch Genesis of the Daleks, as Davros and the Daleks play an important role in the Doctor Who multiverse.

So there's 4 old episodes to get your bearings, and then dive into the new series from the beginning (and listen carefully for a mention of that nice young man Arthur Dent in series 1).

Do start with the first (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#35604648)

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

After that I would take a look at several serials from later doctors. For instance for Troughton the Wheel in Space or the Krotons. For Pertwee Carnival of Monsters. For Baker The Talons of Weng-Chiang or City of Death. And so on. You may like to look at different companions/assistants as well.

Each Doctor has a different feel, and by looking at the various doctors you will find a few favorites. Then you can look for episodes that feature your favorite Doctor or Companion. A limiting factor on this may be available episodes, though Netflix and Itunes has a good selection.

The current incarnation there is no reason to not start with the current series. The last christmas episode, in my mind was quite strong. If you stick with Matt Smith, there is really no reason to go back. If you want to go back further, then start with Eccleston and the relaunch "Rose". There is quite a bit of history and buildup during the first few seasons. I something think the purposefully cut the series apart when they hires Smith. It seems they did this couple times in the before when they felt they were getting bogged down.

One thing with the first twenty some odd series is that they are classic tv. They expected people to sit there and wait for the story to develop. Sometime it is strained when they required a 6 part serial and the 4th and 5th part are clearly filler. There is a lot of corridor acting, of various quality. If one serial is not to your liking, there is probably another that is more dramatic or whatever you want. It can get a bit Shakespearian. But many are really well made TV. Remember the original serials were serials, meant to be wants in small chunks.

Careful watching anything pre 2007... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35604654)

... or whenever it was that the leftwing nutjobs at the BBC decided to bring Doctor Who back (and ruin it).

You might see what my childhood was like - an all white country, where London wasn't a third world city, and we can't have that, can we.

White people have the right to have their own countries.

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