The now traditional Christmas Doctor Who show brought Matt Smith’s reign as the 11th Doctor to a close wrapping up a number of previous plot points and introducing Peter Capaldi as the next version of the character.
I’m somewhat in the minority when it comes to this most recent vintage of the Doctor. I like Matt Smith a lot and he does an excellent job with the material provided, but it is that material that I question. For every mind numbingly brilliant episode that show runner Steven Moffat crafts, there remains that rather awkward reality that Moffat thinks he’s funny and he isn’t. Such was the case in The Time of the Doctor where an ongoing nudity joke was ill conceived and poorly delivered. Somewhere, somehow, Moffat needs an editor with the power to hit him over the head and say, “could do better.”
Recently a friend of mine posted the rather startling statement that he had never watched Doctor Who and given all the recent high profile fuss, was interested in where to start.
The immediate reaction from his friends, it was after all a facebook posting, were fairly unanimous in either starting with the Matt Smith version of the Doctor or going back to the start of the new shows with Christopher Eccleston in the role.
And it is here that my issue with Moffat surfaces. The 11th Doctor is not the foundation on which to base an interest in all things Doctor Who. Moffat has delivered some unquestionably superb television, but he’s riffing on the earlier work that should be consumed first.
As such the recommendation to my friend, and to any of you who have yet to be mesmerized by the spell that is Doctor Who, is to go back to the era of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. Here the classic monsters of the Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors, Sea Devils and Autons etc., not to mention The Master, have their foundations created and give a basis on which to understand later appearances. This is particularly so with the Doctor’s companion Sarah Jane Smith as the magnificent episode School Reunion, during the run of the 10th Doctor David Tennant, loses a lot of the emotional punch without understanding what the character meant to the Doctor and the audience.
Hulu Plus currently has numerous episodes featuring Pertwee and Baker as the third and fourth Doctor and once seen, it then makes perfect sense to jump forward to the ninth Doctor of Eccleston to continue on to the latest shows. Search for “Classic Doctor Who” starting with Season 7, Episode 1 Spearhead from Space and you have 216 episodes of Pertwee and Baker all the way through the end of Season 18 to keep you entertained in the nine months between now and the next new episodes of the show.
– Wallace Poulter