A Geek Watches His First Episode of Dr Who

A Geek Watches His First Episode of Dr Who. Let’s get this out of the way right up front. I’m not an idiot. I’ve known about Dr. Who for what, decades now. I’ve been aware of the general, overall concept, but I’ve never seen a single episode. I’ve actually never seen even a millisecond of a slice of an episode. Not the opener, the music, anything. In fact, I was so confused about the Dr. Who universe I had zero idea how to start.

If you curious how this will go… tag along, and we’ll see what we can make of it all. Because, at the end of it, I need some questions answered still, and some advice from the huge fan base.

How Did My Desire to Try Dr. Who Start?

Really great question. I have absolutely no idea. I’m sure that it started with a Dr. Who bumper sticker, and a red light. I mean, they are ubiquitous where I live. I see one almost daily. But this time I remembered a really cool timeline of Dr. Who I saw once.

I mean, it is practically, for all intents and purposes, unreadable. But it is really cool nonetheless. And you may, or may not know it, but I’ve made a few fairly famous (well, in the subterranean depths of the geek world anyway) timelines in my day:

I mean, this Tenet Timeline I made is pretty cool – read more about it here:

Or this glorious Predestination timeline? Or maybe these Dark family trees – which, you should be warned, imply a lot of timeline details, so yeah… lots and lots of spoilers behind that there link. Or these Timelapse whiteboard sketches I made in an attempt to wrap my brain around that amazing movie. Or this Timecrimes timeline that Nacho Vigalondo even said he enjoyed. You get the idea. So yeah, I’m a fan of time travel movies and confusing threads, and convoluted movies and shows that you need to work to figure out. So IT JUST MAKES SENSE that I would be a Dr. Who fan. I mean, it seems like an anomaly in the universe that I am not. Right? It’s like, there’s a disturbance in the force because of this MASSIVE oversight.

Where Should a Dr. Who Noob Start?

Generally, when starting to watch a new show, you put season 1, episode 1, in the DVD player (do we still do those? Blu-Ray? Heck, Dr. Who is so old, if you started at the beginning beginning, I bet you’d do it on VHS, no? Laser Disc?) But apparently, Dr. Who has had so many different Doctors in the role, and it’s gone so many different directions, that it is really fluid as to where you should/could start.

This actually is more problematic than you would realize. Again, I KNOW NOTHING about Dr. Who – and I’d say to someone, “Hey, Dr. Who fan… which episode of Dr. Who should I start with?” And what would they say?? “You need to start with the Thirteenth Doctor.” – – – I’m sorry, what? Is that an episode? Or they’d say, “No, I would start with the First Doctor!” Or whatever. I had no idea what they were talking about. Pre-chewed food people! I NEED baby food. PABLUM! Eventually, after some research, I figured out that this is what they were talking about:

  1. William Hartnell (1963-1966): The First Doctor
  2. Patrick Troughton (1966-1969): The Second Doctor
  3. Jon Pertwee (1970-1974): The Third Doctor
  4. Tom Baker (1974-1981): The Fourth Doctor
  5. Peter Davison (1982-1984): The Fifth Doctor
  6. Colin Baker (1984-1986): The Sixth Doctor
  7. Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989, 1996): The Seventh Doctor
  8. Paul McGann (1996): The Eighth Doctor (appeared in the 1996 TV movie)
  9. Christopher Eccleston (2005): The Ninth Doctor
  10. David Tennant (2005-2010): The Tenth Doctor
  11. Matt Smith (2010-2013): The Eleventh Doctor
  12. Peter Capaldi (2013-2017): The Twelfth Doctor
  13. Jodie Whittaker (2017-2022): The Thirteenth Doctor
  14. David Tennant (2023-2023): The Fourteenth Doctor
  15. Ncuti Gatwa (2023- ???): The Fifteenth Doctor

Okay, that isn’t daunting at all. Nope. Hahaha.

Doesn’t seem like I am going to start with the 1963 episodes. That doesn’t seem like a good time. Other than that though – where should I start?? I did repeatedly get one answer back to this question, and it was pretty consistent. “Start with the 9th Doctor.” Between the 8th and 9th Doctor, there was apparently a pretty enormous hiatus… and the 9th reboot reintroduced all of the major details discussed prior, and basically started viewers from scratch. Worse? Prior to the 9th Doctor there are something like 60 episodes that have gone missing. Like, poofed out of existence. So, yeah, it makes sense to think of the 9th Dr. Who as the 1st practical modern(ish) Doctor. Therefore, if you are like me, and you are interested in giving the show a shot, I think it’s pretty widely understood that the 9th Doctor is really the only place to start.

Phew, that answer down. I think I had everything I needed to start. After a few false starts, I eventually figured out that you can watch the 9th Dr. over on Max, Vudu, Prime Video or Apple TV. (It really shouldn’t be this much work to start a new show!)

So I Watched An Episode of Doctor Who?

The first episode of the 9th Doctor – is called Rose – and it tells the story of a shop assistant who is chased by store mannequins.

So, let’s just stop there. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting Dr. Who to be a cheesy, older version, of X Files. And it is. X-files pointed its brain at Extraterrestrials and a myriad of other unexplained, covered up phenomenon. (Yeti, Werewolves, UFOs, etc.) But this? Killer plastic? What? It also didn’t help that I just had ZERO context for anything. Like zero. I knew there was time travel. But other than that, I didn’t know who the Doctor was (and I think that’s the point – right? I mean, the title?) and I had no real context for the setup of the show.

Rose is eventually rescued by our esteemed Ninth Doctor who destroys the building. Soon after, the Doctor is attack by a left over remnant of the attacking mannequin. A left behind arm. Because, I mean, why not? When Rose begins investigating this Doctor fellow, she realizes that he has been appearing throughout history in various conflicts and in various times. The doctor obviously equals bad – and if he’s there, bad things are happening. But Clive, the bloke helping Rose, is abducted by more plastic, and replaced with a plastic doppelgänger version of himself. The plastic monstrosity attempts to get Rose to tell him about the Doctor, but what does she know? And when the Doctor decapitates this guy, and he just keeps attacking, she realizes (finally), that she’s been had.

Thankfully, the Doctor has a vial of “ANTI-PLASTIC”… come on, that’s great. And that he will be able to destroy the “Nestene Consciousness” with it if necessary. Realizing the London Eye (which, I can personally recommend as a good time – if a bit pricey) is actually a transmitter, they descend underneath the Eye and find Mickey held captive. The Doctor attempts to negotiate with the Nestene Consciousness, craziness happiness, arcades, more “autons,” etc., etc., etc., they escape with their lives by dropping the anti-plastic on a vat where the Nestene Consciousness resides… and kills it. And with that, the Doctor uses his extremely charismatic charm to convince Rose to leave her deadbeat boyfriend, and join him in hopping from time zone to time zone to stamp out Nestene chaos.

A Geek Watches His First Episode of Dr Who?

So, yeah – I watched my first episode of Dr. Who now. And while I still know very little about the show, and about Dr. Who, I think I understand a smidge more? I realized, just from the show itself, and not external reading – that the Doctor is actually an alien of some sort. Some sort of Extraterrestrial Men in Black sort of character. No? I mean, The Tardis is a time traveling phone booth? Which is meant to disguise it? It’s larger on the inside than the outside? Yeah, there are a lot of hints that he isn’t human and his technology is extra-terrestrial.

The show – the “9th Doctor” was filmed in 2005. And yet, it FEELS like it was shot in 1955. I think that is true of really any low budget television shot in the aughts, it just feels like forever ago. But I can get past the editing, and the bad effects, and the bad remastering/coloring. If it is actually worth the watch? Episode 1 of the 9th Doctor definitely had a me a SMIDGE curious who these two would get on together, and what the second episode would look like. But personally? I’m not continuing on until I hear some encouragement from the Dr. Who fans out there to defend this specific episode. If the show is just going to serially repeat, weird manifestation of the autons, time and time again, and only slightly reveal microscopic levels of who this Doctor fellow is? Yeah, no thanks, I’m out. But if we actually get some answers? Okay, maybe? But it’ll require some encouragement.

So, do me a favor, and give me your perspective on why the Dr. Who series is worth the watch… I’m really honestly curious. And I will continue if enough people come to the defense of the show and explain what the heck just happened with this episode entitled Rose!