Your New to Who FAQ: A Guide For People Ready to Meet the Doctor
Having taken Doctor Who as an official religion about a year ago, then managing to trick a major metropolitan news outlet in paying me to talk about it constantly, you're probably not surprised to hear that I have a lot of people on Facebook and other social media asking me about my latest and greatest obsession. I get slews of questions from readers who figure that no one would go on and on like I do about something that wasn't worth the time, and want to maybe join in.
That being said, Doctor Who isn't like other shows. The sheer number of episodes alone is often enough to daunt people wanting to sample it. That was the reason I resisted so long myself. So in order to cut down on the number of times I have to answer questions, I thought I'd pen a basic FAQ in order to help anyone who has been putting off joining in the fun get started.
What the hell is this show about?
The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He travels through space and time in a ship called the TARDIS, which is bigger on the inside and is disguised as a police phone box. When critically injured, the Doctor can regenerate into a new form with a new look and personality. We are currently on the Eleventh Doctor. He usually travels with between one and three human companions, though occasionally alone. That's the basic gist.
Is that it?
Pretty much everything you need to know about how Doctor Who works can be summed up in a single two minute scene.
Do I have to watch the old series first?
Absolutely not. First off, you can't watch all of it anyway because some of the episodes have been lost. Second, Doctor Who is not some continuous storyline. It more or less reboots with every new incarnation, though the basic history is kept more or less intact. You will have no problem following the new series if you haven't seen the old.
But should I watch the old series?
Of course at some point. Lots of it is brilliant. The easiest place to start old school Who is with the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker). He has loads of complete serials streaming on Netflix. In addition to being one of the most popular Doctors ever, Baker also had two of the best companions, Sarah Jane Smith and the robotic dog K-9, and a couple of episodes written by none other than Douglas Adams. I suggest "Pyramids of Mars" as a jumping off point for those wanting to explore the classics.