Extra Credit: Doctor Who

By: Mary Herdman

Most of the class has seen the new Doctor Who. What true steam-punk-sci-fi fan hasn’t? But the real Doctor, I believe, is shown in the old series. It is so hard for me to choose just one episode, so I’m going to give an overview of the old 26-season run. For those who have not seen it, there have been eleven different actors playing the Doctor, each one being another “regeneration” of himself. They are all the Doctor, but they are all different people. That is why I will refer to them by number.

Doctor Who is about a time traveler (the second Doctor calls himself a Time Lord in his last story, and from there they make him an alien) from a planet called Gallifrey. The Doctor in his TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions In Space) travels through Earth’s past and onto other worlds, discovering humanity’s history (our past, present, and future) with his companions, and defending the human race from extra-terrestrial threats.

The series is science fiction from the beginning, even though the first Doctor rarely moved away from Earth. The very first story had the Doctor take his companions back to the time of the cavemen. In the beginning, the Doctor could not control where his TARDIS took him, due to a malfunction in the circuits. He traveled through time and space, meeting such alien species as the Daleks and the Cybermen. So to answer the question in the directions: all of the above.

I have loved this series for years, and have seen every episode (even spin-offs and affiliates). I guess I could say I’m obsessed with this series, so I can hardly keep from writing an extra-long piece about it for the extra credit – sorry!!

The series has many themes, depending on the episode. Most often, however, the Doctor comes to either a Utopian or Dystopian society, and finds the major flaw to either of them. In one episode, he goes to a space station occupied by three gangs of vicious girls and one gang of elderly cannibalistic women. These were refugees from a war who had been abandoned on the station to fend for themselves, and this was how they coped: the girls were brutal, having grown up with little or no adult supervision, and the old women ate travelers to the station as their only source of meat.

On the other side, Gallifrey is supposedly a Utopian society, but the Doctor is continuously running from them. We find out when meeting the Time Lords that they are merciless, having no distinct attachment to other species. The Doctor is different, idealizing humans as perfectly imperfect, and so spends more time among humans than anyone else from his own planet.

The graphics up until the new series leave much to be desired – it is a low-budget show and it is apparent. But the story lines are amazing and the acting is superb. Given certain suspension of disbelief, the story is plausible to a degree (you have to keep in mind that it was made in the 1960s, when we had less tech) and every Doctor brings something new to the show. I highly recommend this series, particularly to you who like the new series.

One Response to “Extra Credit: Doctor Who”

  1. Warren Rochelle says:

    Extra credit recorded.