I was about twelve or thirteen when I first found out about Doctor Who. The Doctor, though he’s nearly a thousand years old, is also only about four months older than I am, having made his debut in Nov. 1963 (I debuted in March 1964). But his adventures were on the BBC, and I was stuck in Bumfu Jonesboro, GA, where we didn’t get much BBC except whatever nuggets got picked up by PBS.
So my first exposure came through Doctor Who paperbacks, that I think were probably just novelizations of episodes from the show. I can sort of remember the covers, and I enjoyed them enough as a young teen that I lamented the fact I couldn’t see the actual series.
Later, and I have no idea how much later, I got to see an actual episode. Maybe it was being shown on PBS, maybe I saw it at a science fiction convention…I’m not sure. All I recall is that I was seriously disillusioned, because the show had really cheesy special effects and was, I think, campier than I’d expected. And I really don’t care for camp as a general rule. Even as a kid I disliked it.
So for most of my life, that was my Doctor Who experience. And I remember instances where I cited the show when joking about low budget genre productions that were really cheesy.
Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction show in the world. The original series ran from 1963 till 1989, there was a TV movie in 1996 that was a failed attempt at relaunch, then the show successfully relaunched in 2005 and is going strong. At this writing, there are 753 episodes. There are also two spinoff shows involving characters who originated on Doctor Who (Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures), with a third in the works focusing on The Doctor’s robot dog K-9 from the 1970s.
I watched the TV movie in 1996, and for the first time since reading those paperbacks I enjoyed Doctor Who. I don’t remember anything about it now (I’m going to rewatch it soon to see if it holds up to my older, more jaded standards), but at the time I was disappointed it didn’t go to series.
Then, recently, I started watching the rebooted series that began in 2005, and it’s simply one of the most marvelous television shows there’s ever been. Continue reading →