Monday, October 3, 2011

Why I Love Doctor Who

If you're a regular reader of my blog (and frankly, who isn't?) then you know I'm a big fan of Doctor Who. Around here it's always Doctor this, and Who that. I've posted a ton of Who-inspired illustrations as well. It's dethroned Star Trek as my all-time favorite TV show.

One reason I love Doctor Who is because it doesn't take itself as seriously as other shows. Sure it's often dramatic, but it's not afraid to be silly now and then. I also like that Who doesn't get too bogged down in its own continuity. It references past episodes now and then and has multi-part story arcs, but for the most part you don't need to be a Who scholar to enjoy it. You practically needed a degree in Trekology in order to watch the various Star Trek shows.

But the main reason I love Doctor Who so much? Because it's just plain batsh•t crazy.

Current showrunner and writer Steven Moffat packs more concepts and insanity into one episode of Doctor Who than other shows have in an entire season. And just when you think he's done, he crams in some more. He throws ideas at the screen so fast that sometimes I have to replay scenes just to absorb it all. It's all a little overwhelming, but in a good way. I think about Who episodes long after I've forgotten about other shows.

Take the recent episode A Good Man Goes To War. It was the mid-season cliffhanger and promised to provide answers to a lot of questions. And answer them it did, along with bringing up even more. Here's just some of what happened in that episode. Spoilers, obviously.

In the episode, the Doctor's companion Amy Pond and her newborn daughter Melody have been kidnapped by sinister forces. The Doctor and Amy's husband Rory are determined to rescue her. Here we see the asteroid space station where Amy is being held, called Demon's Run. It's currently occupied by the Church's army. In the 51st century, the Anglican Church has its own military force, complete with Clerics (foot soldiers) commanded by Bishops (Officers). The Church is headed by a "female" computerized Pope, called the Papal Mainframe.

Other shows would take an entire episode just to showcase the 51st century Church and it's army, but here it's thrown at you in an instant, and before you have a chance to comprehend what you've just seen, they trowel on some more concepts.

We're then introduced to Madame Kovarian, an evil agent of the Silence, who wears a cool high tech eye patch. She's the one who's been holding Amy and Melody hostage. Those are a couple of Cleric soldiers behind her.

We also get a cool cameo by the Cybermen, one of the Doctor's oldest enemies.

Read the rest by clicking below.
Then we see the return of Roman Centurion Rory as he delivers a deadly message to the Cybermen. Rory's quickly become my favorite character. In just a little more than one season he went from nerdy milquetoast to bad ass action hero.

Rory's got a long and complicated back story. Basically he was Amy's boyfriend, he got killed and wiped out of existence, he somehow got reincarnated as a robotic Auton Roman Soldier, his programming caused him to kill Amy, the Doctor put Amy in a device that would heal her in a thousand years, Robotic Rory guarded the device all those years as penance, then he was returned to flesh and blood form when the Doctor rebooted the universe. Oh, and Rory and Amy got married. See, what did I tell you, batsh•t crazy!

Back on Demon's Run we meet two Clerics, known as the "Thin, Fat Gay Married Anglican Marines." Apparently in the 51st century same-sex marriage between military church members is sanctioned. I bet that made some church leader's head spin!

We're introduced to The Headless Monks, who are also part of the Church. The Monks literally are headless; they believe that the heart houses true faith while the brain is filled with skepticism. Therefore they remove their one impediment to true faith. Apparently their superior faith keeps them alive. Oh, and they all wield cool flaming swords.

We get another glimpse of Professor River Song, a mysterious woman from the Doctor's future. She's sort of a sexy cat burglar type who also travels through time. Because of the nature of time travel, the Doctor knows little to nothing about her, while she knows everything about him. They also keep meeting in the wrong order.

In order to rescue Amy from Demon's Run, the Doctor recruits an army of beings from across time and space who owe him a favor. Here we see Commander Strax, a Sontaran nurse. Sontarans are kind of like Klingons. They're a race of cloned soldiers who live only for the glory of war and to die in battle.

Strax apparently crossed the Doctor at some point in the past, and was forced into becoming a nurse as penance. Serving as a nurse–someone who heals instead of kills– is the ultimate insult and punishment for a Sontaran.

Next up the Doctor recruits Madame Vastra, a Silurian Warrior living in Victorian era England. Silurians were the dominant species on Earth millions of years ago until an ecological disaster forced them underground, where they've been mostly dormant for eons. When we first meet Madame Vastra, she reports that she's just killed (and consumed!) Jack the Ripper. Batsh•t crazy again!

Oh, and we also meet Vastra's human servant Jenny. The two of them are sort of a crime fighting team, ala Batman and Robin. And it's strongly hinted that they're in a relationship.

Then we're taken to a cool space outpost on a distant planet.

And we see the return of Dorium Maldovar, an alien smuggler of dubious repute.

The Doctor's army attacks Demon's Run and we get a cameo appearance by an army of Silurian Warriors.

As well as the rhino-like Judoon police force.

We then see the brief return of Danny Boy, an RAF pilot from WWII who flies a fighter plane that's been modified to fly through space. Again, crazy.

Then we get an appearance from Captain Avery and his son Toby. Avery was a seafaring pirate on Earth in the year 1690, but after encountering the Doctor he now commands an alien space craft and travels the stars.

We see Rory reunited with Amy and baby Melody.

And we learn that the Doctor speaks "baby." He scolds the infant Melody for calling Amy "big milk thing."

And we finally learn the shocking secret origin of Professor River Song, which I won't spoil here.

Whew! Keep in mind that all that was crammed into just one 45 minute episode! Star Trek would have needed an entire season for all that. LOST would have stretched it out for ten years (and we still wouldn't get any answers)!

Moffat's given us plenty of weirdness in previous episodes as well. Creepy gas mask-wearing children, wind-up robots dressed like 17th century French noblemen, aliens who turn into statues when you look at them and only attack when you blink, zombie skeleton astronauts, flying sharks pulling Christmas sleighs and human shaped spaceships filled with tiny Time Cops and jellyfish robots.

I can't imagine a weirder show, but I love it!


  1. Great Post, the best episode from the last run has to be "The Doctors Wife" where the Tardis gets turned into human form! - mad, but a bloody great episode. I also love the fact that it has been explained that the human word "Doctor" comes from him in the past, as one who heals and on certain other planets the word Doctor weans warrior! The last six Sarah Jane adventures are just starting to be aired over here - so sad.

  2. Thanks, RobS! I liked the "Doctor's Wife" episode as well. Another ultra crazy one. The heart & soul of the Tardis residing in a human female? Crazy! I can't think of another show that throws so many crazy concepts at the screen.

    I think Sarah Jane Adventures might air here on BBC America, but I don't have cable. Maybe I can catch them online. These last episodes will be bittersweet.

  3. Another utterly brilliant UK series is MisFits on E4 if you have not discovered this one yet, find a way to watch it. A freak storm gives a whole town and 5 misfits from the title super powers, but its not the DC/Marvel image of superheroes its gritty and very, very funny. if you can watch it then its one of the best things on TV at the moment.
    Good luck in tracking it down (and SJA)


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