On the 26th of March 2005, I settled down to watch the TV. It was a sunny Saturday evening and the television was tuned into BBC One. An ad came on; ‘Coming up next, the new series of Doctor Who.’ Doctor Who? I thought. Interesting. I’d seen the TV movie a few years previously which had cast Paul McGann as the time travelling Doctor and set him off on an adventure in America. And I had fake recollections of seeing the odd seventies episode on UK Gold or some other satellite channel when I was younger. But that was as far as my knowledge went so I figured I’d leave the Beeb on and check out the new series.
Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor, Billie Piper played Rose – his new companion. I learned what the TARDIS was and that you didn’t call him Doctor Who. You simply called him the Doctor. It was a fun adventure with shop mannequins coming to life. Not the greatest piece of Saturday night television I’d ever seen but fun nonetheless. At the end, there was a trailer for the second episode. The Doctor and Rose would travel to the end of the universe to watch Earth blink out of existence. There was a character featured briefly in the teaser called Cassandra. She consisted of a face on a piece of flesh stretched across a frame. And she was the last human. This simple but ingenious character is what got me hooked on Doctor Who from that moment. Cassandra – although she’s long been disposed of – still signifies most what I love about the show.
While the head writer Russell T Davies managed the impossible – to make people watch the Doctor once more, the current show-runner Steven Moffat has turned the show into a truly brilliant and layered piece of work. In the Eccleston and Tennant years we had Bad Wolf and the reappearance of the Daleks, the Time Lords, the Master and so on. But now we’ve got the mystery of cracks, the fear of the Silence and the Weeping Angels and twists aplenty. The most recent twist was in last nights sterling mid-season finale, where we finally learned who River Song actually is. What was particularly great about it was – in the words of a script-writing lecturer I had – it managed to surprise but not shock.
There’s so much to love about the Matt Smith years. The effects are fantastic, the jokes hilarious and the stories enthralling. Moffat has managed to surprise the viewers time and time again; it’s never an anti-climax with him, even if it’s always threatening. One of the most ingenious pieces of writing in the past two series was also the simplest – ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.’ If you watch it, you’ll get it.
I could go on and on about how great Smith is in the role or what a sassy and fun character Amy Pond is or how Rory Williams/Pond is one of the genuinely most heroic characters you’ll ever see on TV or how Alex Kingston’s River Song is just SO COOL. I could even mention the hilarious one-liners and catchphrases like ‘Bowties are cool’ or ‘Hello Sweetie’. I could list all the fantastic writers that are involved currently or list my top three monsters (Angles, Silence, Sontaran). I could remind you that the Doctor is the man who ‘chased an entire alien fleet out of Earth, only to call them back for a scolding.’ But I won’t do that. Because if you do watch this show, you’ll know how good it is. If you haven’t sat down yet to immerse yourself in the Doctor’s world, then you’re missing out. He’s waiting for you. And like Amy and Rory and all the other companions before them, he’ll take you on an amazing adventure.