I can’t be the only one who got into Doctor Who after the 2005 series reboot and is now completely overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to get into the original series. I know some of the basics of course, but where (and how) to start watching the original stories?? Well, there are some DVDs available, BUT I found another loophole / fun avenue to explore: Doctor Who novelizations. Here’s two I’ve read recently to get started with:
The Dinosaur Invasion, published 1976, stars the Third Doctor (think gentleman scientist) and superstar companion Sarah Jane Smith (journalist, legend, icon) attempting to unravel a mysterious plot to bring live dinosaurs across time into modern-day London, assisted of course by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and UNIT. I adore Sarah Jane (pro tip for parents: The Sarah Jane Adventures is a fun and kid-friendly introduction into the Doctor Who universe) and I love that this book showed her off in all her determination and resourcefulness. I also enjoyed the informative, no-nonsense writing style because it felt like a good immersion into 1970s sci-fi / spy culture.
Shada, by comparison, is much more tongue-in-cheek because it was developed from a script written by Douglas Adams (definite sci-fi icon, humorist extraordinaire and one of my all-time favorite authors). Here, the Fourth Doctor (Mr. Being Eccentric is my Job and I’m Good At It) and Romana (Paragon of Dignity) travel with K-9 (Surprisingly Sassy Robot Dog) to Cambridge to meet up with an old friend, Professor Chronotis. Once there, they get entangled with a mysterious Gallifreyan relic, a megalomaniac with a mind-stealing orb, and a pair of hapless almost-romantically-involved scientists. The humorous tone is absolutely perfect, the stakes are high, the action is well-paced, and most importantly the characters are sympathetic and well-made. This one was published later, so it captures the spirit of the character while fleshing out some underdeveloped elements.
If you like Doctor Who, 60s and 70s sci-fi, Douglas Adams, or novelizations of famous TV series, you may enjoy one or the other of these books.
Hello Fellow Whovians!
I am happy to report that the long wait is over – Doctor Who returns to BBC America on Saturday April 15! Hooray! This will be Peter Capaldi’s last season as the Doctor and Steven Moffat’s last season as the main writer and showrunner, plus there’s a new companion this season. Lots of changes coming for our favorite Time Lord!
Of course, change is nothing new for Doctor Who – the show is brilliant at reinventing itself season after season, changing to keep up with current tastes yet remaining essentially at its core the story of the Doctor, a survivor and explorer of the Universe, zipping around in his time traveling TARDIS (it’s bigger on the inside!), chased by Daleks and Cybermen. And who is not opposed to stopping and helping various aliens and cultures (and time periods) on his journey, always with a faithful companion or two in tow. There’s a lot of humor in this series, but there’s also a lot of depth and heart.
Doctor Who has been a mainstay of British television since it premiered in 1963. When the original Doctor, William Hartnell became ill and could no longer work, the producers came up with the idea of having the character “regenerate”, allowing a new actor to take over. This turned out to be a brilliant move, keeping the series running almost continuously since then and allowing each actor to bring his own interpretation and personality to the show. The show slipped in popularity, ending in 1989 but was revived 2005. It’s been embraced by old and new fans and is now enjoying some of it’s greatest popularity.
Interested in jumping aboard this crazy train? (It’s tons of fun) The library has DVDs of all of the series including the originals. I recommend that you start with the “modern” series by watching a season when a new Doctor is introduced – the Ninth Doctor (series 1), the Tenth Doctor (series 2), the Eleventh Doctor (series 5) or the Twelfth Doctor (series 8). This way you are introduced to the “rules” of this series at the same time as the new Doctor, who is just as confused and bewildered as you are as he adjusts to his new body and gets back his memories. There are also the Christmas episodes (a British Christmas is listening to the Queen’s Speech in the morning and watching the Doctor Who Christmas Special in the evening!) and the excellent 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor.
The library also has novelizations, graphic novels and fan guides. It’s a fandom that just keeps giving!
So, here’s a question that can set off endless debates: who’s your favorite Doctor? I love Ten (played by David Tennant and most people’s favorite) but Eleven (Matt Smith) is my favorite. (Actually, the TARDIS is my absolute favorite character!) Who is your favorite doctor? Favorite episode? (“Vincent and the Doctor” maybe, or “Blink”?) Favorite villan? (Weeping Angels? The Silence?) Join the conversation!
The big day is nearly here – Saturday is the 50th anniversary of the beloved cult-favorite Doctor Who television series! Following the adventures of a time-traveling alien known as The Doctor who travels through space in a 1960s-era blue police box (the TARDIS), the British production has gained an avid following in America thanks first to PBS and now BBC America. By turns thoughtful and irreverent, the show has been a huge influence on several generations of British (and now American) children, who remain lifelong and enthusiastic fans. Whether you’re a newbie just discovering the series, or have been following since the black-and-white era, the library has plenty of videos and books to help you celebrate the phenomenon that is Doctor Who.
Videos. The library has the complete range of the series that are available on DVD (not all of the series is on DVD and, famously, several early episodes have been “lost”) If you’re just starting out my advice is to begin with one of the Doctors when he first appears after regenerating (The Doctor can regenerate; his 12th reincarnation begins next year. You’ll get what this all means when you watch the show!) The most popular place to begin is with a Doctor from when the series rebooted in 2005, especially Ten (played by David Tennant) in series 2-4 or Eleven (played by Matt Smith) in series 5-7.
Guides. Don’t know a Cyberman from a Dalek? Confused by who came first, Donna or Martha? Wondering what, exactly, is a Pandorica? The library has a large selection of guides available that will help you with the important and the minutia of the Doctor Who universe. Believe me, you’ll want to know what to do if confronted by a Weeping Angel! And be sure to check out Doctor Who: the Vault. Treasures from the Past Fifty Years for a great visual reference to all of the creatures, gadgets and characters from the series.
Books. Extend your Doctor Who experience with one of the many novels that picks up favorite characters and puts them in new and exciting situations. You’ll find them in both the Graphic Novels and in the Science Fiction section of the library.
Now you should be ready now for all things Whovian! Enjoy!