Discovering Doctor Who [Spoiler Alert]

People have been telling me to watch BBC’s Doctor Who for years – playmates from a MUD I used to run around in, my best friend, even my clients. They kept saying the show is brilliant, the Doctor is awesome, the daleks are terrifying, et cetera. A couple of months ago, I finally bit the bullet and sought out the Doctor.

Doctor Who

It was love at first sight. My first Doctor is Christopher Eccleston‘s Ninth Doctor, he of the leather jacket, the spastic but adorable dance moves, the quick smiles that hide a broken and conflicted personality. He captured my heart the moment he bid Rose hello in that companion’s eponymous first episode of the revival series. I’m hooked.

When I get hooked on a TV show that already has a few seasons/series to it, I usually go on a binge-watching spree from the pilot episode onward until I reach the latest available episode. I couldn’t do it with Doctor Who. I’d watch an episode or two, and then give it a rest for a couple of days before watching another episode. The most I’ve watched in one day is three episodes in a row, and as of this writing I’m still in the middle of Series Two.

I don’t think Doctor Who is a series designed for binge-watching. Binge-watching it feels exactly like how binge-eating feels – bloated and heavy. The series presents itself as a sci-fi comedy on the surface, but at its heart it’s much, much deeper. Each episode has a dark theme lurking in the background, emerging gradually until it hits you in the face. Some of the episodes I’ve seen so far are creepy, even terrifying. For example, the two-parter “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” scared the bejeezus out of me, and I made the mistake of watching it alone in the middle of the night. I couldn’t get the phrase “Are you my Mummy?” out of my head for a long while.



More than the comedy, the mumbo-jumbo and the terror factor, the charm of Doctor Who lies in the Doctor himself, of course. Each incarnation of the Doctor is a unique personality; the two Doctors I’ve met so far are both quirky oddballs. The Doctor is no perfect hero, though. If anything, he is remarkably flawed.

I find the Ninth Doctor to be a tad judgmental. Take this restaurant scene in “Boom Town,” the 11th episode in Series One:



He also has a thin streak of cruelty – although this one is understandable because the recipient is a Dalek:



(By the way, Daleks are the stuff of nightmares. Especially with the Dalek Emperor around.)

And the Doctor is incredibly lonely, a fact pointed out by Madame de Pompadour in the Series Two episode “The Girl in the Fireplace.”

I now understand the appeal of Doctor Who and why my friends kept making me watch it. It’s got everything for everyone – drama, comedy, horror and the occasional philosophical debacle. I just wish I gave in to their demands much, much sooner so I wouldn’t have so much to catch up on.

Doctor Who

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Anna Sibal-Gonzaga is a freelance writer based in the Philippines. She likes reading books and watching movies and TV shows in the sci-fi, fantasy and historical genres. She is also a casual gamer and an all-around nerd.

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