The power of ‘Doctor Who’

Posted: September 16, 2013 in TV Shows
Tags: , ,

Doctor Who Ten and ElevenThe other day I finally sat down and watched a couple Doctor Who specials that I had somehow missed the last two times I watched the series. These were “The Waters of Mars” and “The End of Time,” both parts.

The Eleventh Doctor is my favorite. I love David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, but Matt Smith’s childlike personality endeared me to him in ways that Tennant could not. They are two different people, really, even though they’re the same Doctor. But whereas Ten was a little deeper and a little darker, Eleven made you want to wrap your arms around him and tell him everything was going to be okay.

So even though “The End of Time Part 2” was that transition from Ten to Eleven, I definitely got teary-eyed. When he said, “But I don’t want to go,” something inside me broke, both for the character and the actor.

And that got me thinking. Doctor Who is an incredible show for so many reasons, but one in particular really stands out to me. Our favorite characters come and go — and that includes the Doctor. What other show sees the main cast change so frequently, and yet it still remains very much the same show?

There was Rose and Martha and Donna and Amy and Rory and Clara. All of them are gone now, save for the last. Maybe not permanently, but definitely on the whole they’re out. All those wonderful characters, the people we’ve fallen in love with, are gone.

And yet we’re still here, watching the show.

I think that’s a testament to the writers, to the actors, and to everyone else involved in the show. It’s such a high-class production that you can steal away character after character, and yet the show remains loved because it still has the same feel to it. When actors are replaced or characters are killed off — main characters, I mean — sometimes the show can flop right then and there.

But not Doctor Who. This show is in a category all by itself.

I wish I could explain it better. I wish I could put my finger on why it works so well, but instead I’m going to toss the question over to you, because I’d really love to know your thoughts.

  1. I’ve been a Who fan since, well, forever…it’s SO good! My take is it’s a Brit thing – just the right blend of the absurd, even whimsy, coupled with some pretty serious drama. Mix in some really sharp scripting, top-rate acting and (finally) decent special effects and it’s a winner – total suspension of disbelief. You’re right – it’s entirely in a category by itself. There’s nothing else like it – and what other SF show has been around half a century (on and off)? What I particularly like is that the 2000s incarnation isn’t a reboot – they picked up where they’d left off, and there’s an awful lot of stuff in the current shows that seems wholly up to date in terms of our concept of what SF should be doing – but which actually harks back to the original 1963 conception. The BBC really did get it right.

    • Karen Rought says:

      I totally agree that it’s a Brit thing. I have quite a few friends who have turned me on to a lot of British shows because they’re always talking about how superior they are compared to American television. While I won’t sit here and say we have nothing good over in the States, I have to agree – there’s just something about the Brits. They can capture magic that we can’t. And we try. We’ve got a ton of reboots of British shows that are just not as good as the originals. It’s a shame. But I’m happy to keep watching their shows as long as they keep making them.

      And yes! It’s so interesting to think that DW is a continuation. I know I don’t get a lot of the references because I’ve only seen a few Classic-era episodes, but I’m aware of a lot of them, and I love how they do that. They’ve simultaneously re-captured the attention of a lot of the original fans, AND have managed to gain a new following that keeps getting bigger and bigger.

  2. Star says:

    I think it’s just a great concept in general (Alien travels through time and space). Also the Doctor’s ability to regenerate, and the shows ability to reinvent itself constantly allow it to stay fresh. The cast is constantly changing, and even though it’s hard at first, it’s what gives it new life. It’s a great formula really. Oh and it’s fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    • Karen Rought says:

      Yes! All great points. I absolutely agree that the regenerations allow the show to stay fresh. It’s a risky thing to do, to have them take out favorite characters and actors and insert new ones, but somehow they manage to pull it off beautifully.

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