I have friends. I’ve learned to trust my friends’ opinions. “Elissa,” one says, “you’d really love Buffy!” I watch all seven seasons and I agree that yes, I really love Buffy. “Elissa,” another says, “you love chocolate and honey… I bet you’d love the Cadbury Crunchie!” I find the Cadbury Crunchie, eat it, and discover that I am now addicted to a $2.99 imported candy bar. (Side note: damn you, Sarahhhh!)
So when many of my friends told me that I was missing out by not watching Doctor Who, I thought to myself, “Self, I should give this a try.”
The problem is, Doctor Who is the longest-running science-fiction television program in existence, and I’m not sure where to start. At my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner last week, my brother-in-law Max said, “Just start with the newer version. David Tennant is the best Doctor. Skip season 1 and go right to season 2.”
“Will it make sense?” I asked.
“Yeah, every time there’s a new Doctor the series kinda reboots.”
I trundled home and, later that week, attempted to watch season 2 with David Tennant. The season premiere starts with a blue telephone box landing somewhere in England during Christmas. Robotic Santas playing musical instruments open fire in a crowded market. The entire time the not-quite-regenerated Doctor gasped for breath after running from a Christmas tree that started to whirl around like a buzz-saw on a track, all I could think was, “What in the world is happening? Why is Barty Crouch Jr. heaving? Oh look, it’s Isobel Crawley! What is she doing here in modern clothes?” And so on and so on.
I paused the show, called my friend and sometimes second-shooter Chris, and asked him what part of this show I was supposed to understand. He told me to watch a season three episode, called “Blink,” instead of hopping in at the beginning of season 2.
I know there are quirks and charms to every darling TV series. Buffy, for instance, is wonderful, but you have to sit through the campy, low-budget first season to appreciate the later seasons. You don’t have to watch the movie with Kristy Swanson if you don’t want to.
I’m pretty sure that I started Doctor Who wrong. I know there are a lots of fans out there who would love to set me straight. Do you recommend that I just read the Wiki for it to get caught up, then jump right back in? Is there a certain point to start watching from? Is Chris right — should I actually jump to a season 3 episode, then jump back to the beginning? Would my appreciation for the show be deeper if I started with Christopher Eccleston? Or even before?
Yeah. “The Christmas Invasion” is a not-so-great place to jump in. Maybe the one right after that? With that at least you have the huge jump of it happening far away from modern times and reality.
Or maybe power through “Rose” and then watch the episode after that, “The End of the World”. The companion is the audience surrogate, so when they are new, things get explained to them.