my first exposure to DOCTOR WHO was the episode BLINK. it was sometime a couple of years ago that a website listed it as one of the scariest episodes on television, and the scene they included convinced me. so i started looking for a copy that particular episode.
but before i found a copy, DOCTOR WHO series 5 had begun. and i started watching that.
beginning 2010, DOCTOR WHO stars matt smith, the eleventh incarnation of the title character. and he is brilliant. if it weren’t for him, i would’ve stopped my search for DOCTOR WHO with the copy of BLINK. instead i finished all series 5 episodes, waiting with abated breath for each episode weekly, and then started searching for copies of the first four series: the days of christopher ecclestion and david tennant.
for the uninitiated, DOCTOR WHO follows the doctor as he travels through time and space. it’s first broadcast was back in 1963, and it aired until 1989. that’s 26 years of the original DOCTOR WHO. it wasn’t until 2005 that the series was successfully relaunched, and it’s had three doctors since then.
i won’t talk about the matt smith days yet, as i’ll probably do that when series 6 kicks off with the 2010 christmas special this year. and i’ll probably give it another post when neil gaiman’s episode airs early next year. so instead, i’ll be writing about the ecclestion and tennant days.
i read somewhere that russel t. davis, the man who successfully relaunched the program, was influenced by BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER‘s season-long arcs in his four (five?) years as the series runner. and you can actually see it in the episodes. the first series, the only one that starred christopher ecclestion, had the words “bad wolf” popping up everywhere, and it’s not until the penultimate episode that we find out why. the second series had “torchwood” being mentioned over and over again, before series 2 culminated in a stand-off inside torchwood — and before TORCHWOOD the television series itself began.
one of the things that has me hooked on DOCTOR WHO is rose tyler, the character portrayed by once-pop star billie piper. what’s funny is that billie piper annoyed me, a lot, back when she was a pop star. i thought some of her songs were catchy, but i thought her music career was the trying-hard version of britney spears. who would’ve guessed that nearly a decade later she’d be the more successful version of mandy moore? music career mostly non-existent, with a nice foothold in the world of acting.
the success of DOCTOR WHO‘s first series, in my opinion, should mostly be credited to the character of rose tyler. she was the everyday person who is now part of this fantastic journey through worlds. and as the doctor takes her into amazing places in time, he is also taking us through her. we are discovering these worlds through her. and that is why, whenever something happens to rose, we feel for her. because rose is our anchor.
so when rose tyler’s story ends in series 2, i was a bit apprehensive of what will come next. i mean, i know DOCTOR WHO continued to be successful. if it hadn’t, there wouldn’t be a series 5 to hook me into going backwards. but david tennant has such charm as the tenth doctor, that you don’t really care who he’s with anymore. in fact, by the time series 3 begins, you want to be the new companion.
that’s not to say donna noble and martha jones aren’t worthy replacements of rose tyler. well, they aren’t. replacements. both new companions bring a different sort of dynamic with the doctor. martha jones is the perennial friend who will never be anything more, but loves unconditionally anyways. and donna noble is the type of mate who will laugh at you if you trip, but will be the first one beside you if there’s an actual possibility that you’re in any way hurt.
neither one of them are anchors for viewers though. because by this time the doctor is so familiar, and the world is so fantastical, that we don’t need anchors anymore to enjoy and understand this crazy worlds the doctor takes us too. all you want to do is just be taken along for the ride.
and that’s what i’ve been doing for the past week now: hitching a ride with the doctor and his companions, on the tardis.