If you’re a Whovian, you’ve run into the problem: You tell a friend about this great show you love, about an alien from Gallifrey who regenerates into a new person at the moment of death. They get excited, log onto Netflix and start watching. But after one or two episodes, they say, “It’s not really for me.”
I understand. I did that. The first season (2004) of Doctor Who can be a barrier that keeps people for watching one of the best-written shows out there. I love getting to the end of the season and saying, “Oh! When they said this, in that episode, it meant this!” It’s a great show with beautiful writing (Vincent and the Doctor, anyone?) But it was only after watching the episodes featuring the weeping angels that I decided I wanted to watch this show.
Why is Season One so bad? Well, The original series ran from 1963 to 1989. Due to low viewership (I blame Colin Baker), the series was cancelled. Russell T. Davies pushed to bring the series back. BCC was reluctant to do it. Season One was funded by BBC-Wales. Because no one was sure it would succeed, the investment was light. Most of the first season looked like it was filmed in a basement in Cardiff. Special effects were poor because of the budget. No, really! Mickey getting kidnapped by a trash can, anyone?
The other problem was that no one knew what Doctor Who was going to be. The characters weren’t well-developed, and their personalities changed. It took me a season and a half to like Rose after End of the World. It also took them awhile to decide what approach to take. Poor Christopher Eccleston had to face flatulent aliens—twice.
So how should you introduce your friends to the Doctor? You could just start at The Christmas Invasion and watch Season 2, then once they’re invested, go back and show them the Ninth Doctor. Or you could show then a smattering of good episodes and hook them quickly. Season One is still valuable because it introduces you to people and aliens that are core to the series, but they need help to make it through. Based on that second approach, here are my suggested episodes to introduce your friends to the Doctor.
Introducing them to the series:
Blink This is a great episode because the POV character doesn’t know the Doctor, so the viewer can be introduced to the time traveler. Note, Love and Monsters also has this advantage, but the episode isn’t as suspenseful. Besides, statues that attack when you’re not looking is so compelling that you can’t. Look. Away.
Human Nature/Family of Blood In this two-part episode, the Doctor transforms into a human and can’t remember that he’s a Time Lord. Once he comes to himself, the way the Doctor punishes these aliens that have killed so many is epic.
Vincent and the Doctor The final scenes are great in this one. The Doctor and his companion help Vincent Van Gogh fight off a monster. The scene where they show Vincent his legacy is beautiful.
Girl in the Fireplace The Doctor meets Jeannette Poisson, mistress of Charles XV. This was written as a love story for the lonely Time Lord. The episode is full of great lines, such as “I just snogged Madame De Pompadour!” and You’re so thick! You’re mister thick thickity thick face from thicktown thickannia. And so is your Dad!”
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship The title says it all. This episode represents all of Matt Smith’s manic energy. The bickering robots are a fun addition to a great episode. Besides, it’s fun watching Amy fight off raptors. Did I mention that Filch from Hogwarts is the villain?
Robots of Sherwood Peter Capaldi comes into his own in this episode. He beats Robin Hood at sword fighting with a spoon. His argument with the famous outlaw in the prison is hilarious.
A Christmas Carol Speaking of Hogwarts, Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) plays a mean-spirited man that Doctor tries to change on Christmas Eve to save a spaceship full of people. The episode also has flying sharks and the Doctor marrying Marilyn Monroe. What else do you want?
The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances Not all Season One episodes were bad. This one is a bit creepy, but really good. It’s like zombies during the London Blitz. The Doctor’s “everyobody lives!” speech is great, and the phrase “Are you my mummy?” has never been more terrifying.
There you go, my suggestions to help your friends love the Time Lord. Allons-y!