Doctor Who sees to be that one show that everyone recommends whenever you ask about where you should start if you want to get into science fiction. But is it truly as good as the people would have you believe?
The answer is an absolute yes! From amazing writing and performance to the groundbreaking premise and mechanisms it introduces the show is revolutionary from every aspect and for that reason the show is absolutely worth watching.
If you would like to know what the show is about and what makes it good before actually committing to it, make sure to read this article as we will go through everything that makes Doctor Who the best science fiction show ever.
1. The Doctor himself
The first reason is the main character himself, The Doctor. In today’s media, the main characters are usually the same when it comes to their personalities and backstory. This makes The Doctor unique in comparison to what the rest of the science fiction genre has to offer.
The Doctor is set up as the last of the Time Lords. He is traveling through all of the time and space whilst helping anyone he comes across.
The character of The Doctor presents a step away from the typical science fiction main character. The Doctor doesn’t carry any weapon and prefers to outsmart his characters and solve his problems in a peaceful manner.
The Doctor replaces typical science fiction weapons with his sonic screwdriver and psychic paper. Although many fans argue that Doctor’s gadgets are a way for the writers to escape the situations they cannot write themselves out of, they are much cooler than anything common within the genre.
In addition to these gadgets, the Doctor also has the TARDIS. The TARDIS is a Time Lord machine that allows the Doctor to travel through time and space.
It is disguised as a blue telephone box which is bigger on the inside and changes as the Doctor regenerates. As the show became more popular, the TARDIS became a pop culture symbol.
Despite being shown as an overall good character, he has his flaws and darker moments. This makes him an even more interesting character since he seems to be ever so slightly afraid of his own power. This was shown a few times, mainly in the modern series, and gives him a very human note.
He is written as a character who found his purpose in helping others and using his powers to help better the existing world, however, throughout the series, his tragic backstory and war-torn personality make an appearance, making him even more interesting.
The Doctor is extremely powerful to the point that he himself is afraid of his own power. The Doctor is feared by his enemies due to the countless times he saved the universe.
His willingness to help others exceeds the idea of sacrificing his own life. During the fifth season, the TARDIS gets stuck in a time loop destroying the entire universe, and the only way to save it is for the Doctor to lock himself inside a prison made specifically for him. This would enable the Universe to restart is for him to stay locked out of it.
2. All the Villains
In addition to an amazing main character, the show also has captivating villains. After traveling through all time and space for over 2000 years, it is no surprise that The Doctor has an extensive rogue’s gallery.
There are too many to count, but there most iconic ones are the Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, and the Master.
It is a well-known saying that a hero is only as good as his villain. The villains, especially the recurring ones, are written in a way that naturally creates conflict between them and The Doctor.
Although this can be seen in his relationships with most of his villains, it is most expressive with The Master. The Master is also a Time Lord and he and The Doctor used to be friends.
This makes for excellent dynamics between the two since they are so similar, yet have opposing ideologies. They met on several occasions and The Doctor was both on the winning and the losing side.
Despite the fact that your mind probably immediately thought of John Simm’s Master, his latest portrayal by Michelle Gomez is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
This portrayal further explores their friendly relationship and even ends with Missy completely switching sides and being determined to help The Doctor, so much so that her previous iteration sees killing her as the only way to defeat her.
3. The Companions
Although The Doctor claims he prefers traveling alone, over the years he had quite a few companions. This part of the show makes for a great addition to the character, especially because they are regularly switched out for one another depending on how well they fit the current Doctor.
Some of the most memorable companions include aliens, humans, and even a robotic dog that later got its own spin-off. The idea of companions enables to change the tune of the episodes making the show more versatile with every change.
Although pretty much all of the companions went through all different situations Doctor finds himself in, certain companions build dynamics that work better for specific genres.
For example, Donne Noble, due to her sassy personality and the way she bonded with the Doctor makes for the best companions for the stories which lean more to the humorous side. Someone like Rose works better for creating emotional scenes since she had such an emotional relationship with the Doctor.
In addition to this, Doctor’s companions make him more grounded when he gets lost in his loneliness. Since most of the companions are human, they help The Doctor remember why he chose to do what he does.
The general premise of the show would have you think it is a serious affair. Although every Doctor convincingly plays this serious role, the humor was a central part of the character even from the early days of the show.
Despite the fact that the Modern Who leans more to the serious note the humor still remains a crucial part of every iteration. From the ninth Doctor forward, every regenerated Doctor has been funny in its own way.
The writers used this established part of the character as a way to make The Doctor a bit more human. Snarky and sarcastic remarks balance out perfectly with his displays of power and knowledge making the fact that he is an alien with something human about him more believable.
This is also a beloved part of the character. The fact that Tom Baker’s Doctor, which is widely regarded as the best Doctor, is coincidently the funniest and the quirkiest in the series is no coincidence.
The humor also comes from the show’s ability to reference itself. Since the show is almost 60 years there is plenty of material to reference. Besides being humorous it is a subtle nod to the long-time fans.
5. Unlimited Exploration of Time and Space
The fact that the plot can take place literally anywhere and anytime makes for an interesting show on its own. The writers have unlimited potential to make sure the show never gets boring.
This makes for the episodes to go one of two ways. The Doctor will find himself in a historical event which makes for an episode which is based on a historical event with a twist.
There are a plethora of such episodes, but the most memorable ones are the ones featuring British Prime Minister Winston Churchill or Elisabeth the first.
These kinds of episodes are always extremely entertaining to watch since the viewer has at the very least a basic knowledge of what is going on and the show provides either additional information which explains events that we are completely familiar with or offers alternative explanations for events we understand.
One such episode is the episode that takes place during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii.
Another way the episode can go is by taking place somewhere and sometimes we are not even sure to exist. These episodes often turn out even more interesting. It allows the writers to introduce things that do not exist.
This as a concept has proven itself to be very entertaining; after all, it has been on the air for almost 60 years and has one of the most loyal fan bases.
6. The idea of regeneration
The idea of generation was considered a pretty risky move when it was first introduced. It was a genius move that no other show attempted at that point and to this day very few or none shows pulled it off successfully.
This mechanism, as the show progressed proved itself to be the perfect match for this show.
The fact that the main character can change provides something fans can be excited over, which is important since the premise does not change at any point of the show.
Because the show runs on plot points that get resolved during the run time of an episode, with the few exceptions of arcs that stretch over the entire season or reoccurring villains, it should technically get boring quickly.
This was proven by many similar shows that went on for too long, however, by introducing regeneration the show managed to create an excuse to swap out the character of The Doctor from time to time.
Besides being an interesting way to move the plot along it also enables the writers to explore different aspects of the Doctor’s personality. The best example of this would be the War Doctor, who enables the show to explore the idea of the Doctor dealing with the burden of being responsible for destroying two species in the name of peace.
The main theme of the show is surrounding the science fiction idea of time travel, the show plays with elements of different genres on a quite regular basis.
There are many villains throughout the show that allows the creators to have a few horror moments. The best examples of this are Weeping Angles and The Silence.
The mechanic of these two species makes them inherently terrifying despite the fact that they were repeatedly outsmarted by The Doctor.
Some characters are written in a way that makes the show funny regardless of the situation our protagonists find themselves in. A good example of this character is Mickey Tyler or even the ninth Doctor himself.
Among all of this, the show also manages to have many emotional moments when it is trying to convey its message that everyone is special.
One of the most memorable moments of this kind is The Doctor taking Vincent van Gogh to the present-day Louvre and asking a curator to place rank van Gogh among other great artists to convey this message.
8. The Heart Breaking Moments
Despite being silly for the most part, Doctor Who has a few emotionally impactful moments. The amazing writing and performance from the actors these moments become some of the most memorable moments of the show.
The purpose the Doctor has assigned to himself caused him to sacrifice himself on a number of occasions. One of the most memorable moments of the show has to be the moment right before the tenth Doctor regenerates.
Despite the entirety of David Tennant’s run being memorable and at the top of the list when it comes to fan-favorite versions of the Doctor, the first moment you will remember will be his last words.
These kinds of moments are reoccurring in the show since the Doctor is essentially immortal which causes him to lose people he cares about along the way.
In addition to this, the Doctor sometimes pushes his companions from the fear for their life. This for the most part follows by a period of self-imposed exile until someone eventually comes along and the Doctor lets them into his life.
9. The writing
The show has its moments when it slips into certain areas that don’t end up being received well, but besides that, it is overall well written.
At its core, the show is a science fiction show with all the belonging tropes. However, because of the premise of the show, the writers have the ability to experiment with different ideas.
The story often manages to seamlessly introduce different genres into the core theme. Playing with the ideas you cannot look away from or ones that you forget after looking away can introduce a dose of horror to the general mix of the show.
The Doctor’s personality may fool you into thinking that the show is lacking in the dynamic; however, the show is action-filled.
Hand to hand with the fact that the show exists as long as it does, the writers have to have a dose of self-awareness.
Characters are written in a way that allows them to play off each other, deepening the already existing characters. The villains in particular are set up in a way that creates direct conflict between them and the Doctor.
One of these moments is the incredible monolog twelfth Doctor delivers while talking to Davros before his death. Another similar moment is the eleventh Doctor’s first episode where he defends the Earth.
One thing that can make or break a show is acting. The show could have the best possible premise and script poor execution can completely undermine everything good about it.
Luckily, Doctor Who continuously casts people who manage to make the show believable. It is easy to see how the wrong choice of casting could make some of the emotional moments in the show cheesy rather than impactful.
The Doctor himself was written as quirky essentially from the beginning of the show. To make this work, the actors have to be able to completely pull off the character in the way the writers envisioned him.
In correlation with this, the Doctor was played by some of the most beloved actors such as David Tennant. In addition to this, the show had many guest actors, which added a special note to the series, such as Karen Gillan and Catherine Tate.
It became a sort of a tradition for the show to bring in a popular actor for a cameo for every season. Some of the famous names that stared in the Doctor Who series, which you may recognize are John Simm, Maisie Williams, and Michael Gambon.