by Chris Lovato
All of time and space; everywhere and anywhere; every star that ever was. Where do you want to start?
We can start in 1963, when Doctor Who first graced British televisions until 1983, when it was cancelled. Resurrected by Russell T. Davies in 2005, it’s captured the hearts of American audiences quite recently, and it has only grown in popularity since then.
Doctor Who tells the story of The Doctor, a 900-some-odd year old alien called a Time Lord. He happens to get around in a time traveling ship that looks like a British police call box from the 60s, and as the quote said, can go anywhere in time and space. Perhaps the most interesting thing about his ship, the TARDIS (stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space), is that it’s bigger on the inside. Quite literally. Perhaps the most interesting thing about The Doctor is that he can regenerate into a new form, making it nearly impossible for him to die of old age.
In his travels, he picks up humans (his favorite species) and takes them along with him, irrevocably altering their lives in the process. The Companions, as he calls them, play as large a part as the Doctor himself as the series progresses, and as they come and go, one truly realizes the cost of “living forever”.
The cast really makes the show, and the fact that The Doctor regenerates allows multiple actors to play the same role (with a different twist each time, of course). Christopher Eccleston (Thor: The Dark World, 28 Days Later) kicks off the series as the ninth Doctor; this version constantly struggled with running away from his past (in the 60s series). David Tennant (Casanova, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) is the most human, emotionally speaking, of the reincarnations as the 10th Doctor (a clear fan favorite). Matt Smith (Party Animals) brought an element of playfulness to the character as the 11th Doctor, but Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It) has been rumored to be the darkest side of the character we’ve seen so far. Overall, through his regenerations, we see the true cost of bearing the weight of his past and losing the people that he cares about so much.
Of course, we can’t forget the Companions. Billie Piper (Diary of a Call Girl) is Rose, the first Companion and love interest for The Doctor, but her tenacity and durability quickly made her a fan favorite. Martha Jones, played by Freema Agyeman, steps up to the plate next as a tough nurse living in Rose’s shadow. Katherine Tate (The Katherine Tate Show) is next as Donna Noble, a fiery redhead who shows the true strength humans can have under duress. With Donna’s departure came the first couple to travel with the Doctor, Amy and Rory Pond. Karen Gillan (Oculus, Guardians of the Universe) definitely brings a brashness not seen since Donna, and Arthur Darvill (Little Dorrit) is along for the ride as her devoted fiancé, the husband. Since Amy and Rory left, Jenna Coleman (Emmerdale) has signed on as precocious and ferocious Clara Oswald.
Amid the regular Companions are the ones whose story arcs span seasons. Alex Kingston (ER) is River Song, a character who knows far more about the Doctor than he about her, and viewers will find her storyline both confusing and intriguing, once they discover the truth behind her story. John Barrowman (Torchwood) is Captain Jack Harkness, an omnisexual con man with a muddy back-story of his own.
Of course, a show about time travelling through space demands CGI by default, and as the series goes on, the crew really explores what they can do with computers as the series introduces new characters, aliens, monsters, and locales. The inside of the TARDIS is an actual set, and it changes with every Doctor (it even becomes personified in a character at one point!), which keeps things fresh in a location viewers see quite often. Of course, being bigger on the inside leaves more room (pun definitely intended) for mysteries in the ship’s depths…
Overall, if you’re a fan of sci-fi, you’ll probably love this show, and if you’re not, you may still want to give it a try. With amazing storylines, stunning visual effects, and characters you can easily get attached to, it’s definitely worth it.
Catch the premiere of Season 8 August 24th, 2014 on the BBC.
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