November 23rd is less than a week away, and in these 11 days leading to the Doctor Who 50th anniversary we here at Nerd Bastard’s want to share with you a few of our favorite Whovian things. With only three more days to go (How could I resist using that picture of Jon Pertwee, eh?) I’m going to use our time to impart some knowledge on any n00bs in the crowd. Those who’ve, possibly against their better judgement, have decided the 50th anniversary is the time to get into this Doctor Who thing. So here it is, my three things you need to know in order to “get” Doctor Who.
1) Though he looks human The Doctor is most definitely alien. Born on the planet Gallifrey, The Doctor is of a race called the Time Lords who monitor and observe all of time and space. Typically they don’t get involved, unless it’s a matter of grave importance, but just like Star Trek breaking the prime directive every week, the Time Lords will muck with things when it suits them. Or choose to abstain from helping when it suits them. They’re a right bunch a-holes, really, very pompous and full of themselves.
The Doctor isn’t like that, he’s all about being involved with the universe and likes getting his hands dirty. The Doctor is innately trustworthy. From the moment he swaggers on the scene just about everyone looks to him for advice. He’s almost always the cleverest one in the room, so it’s usually a solid plan to hear what he has to say. The Doctor claims trouble follows him, but even when he’s not looking for trouble, he’s looking for trouble. He’ll never ignore a plea for help, not matter how small or inconsequential. To him, everything in the universe has value.
This lifestyle of traveling the universe, helping those in need, is dangerous. So lucky for The Doctor he’s a Time Lord and has the ability to regenerate or renew his body when he’s near death. This is why there have been more than one Doctor, or rather more than one actor playing The Doctor. It can be an alarming process, sometimes disorienting The Doctor for a period of time. After regenerating The Doctor is essentially the same man, same memories, but his appearance, personality, dress sense, and other quirks are different.
Currently in the series The Doctor is the last of the Time Lords. It’s still a mystery as to what exactly happened, but we know there was a great Time War which The Doctor ended by locking away all those involved in a kind of time seal, trapping them and the war forever. He’s got some serious guilt about that, and we’re expecting to learn more about it the 50th anniversary special.
2) Enabling The Doctor to travel through all of space and time is the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space). Basically, it’s a space ship and a time machine, though really so much more. The Doctor nicked his Type 40 TARDIS, left Gallifrey, and has been on the run ever since. (Running is sort of his thing.) Conveniently, every TARDIS comes with something called a chameleon circuit which will camouflage the ship allowing it to blend in with its surroundings. The Doctor’s TARDIS, however, has a broken chameleon circuit he’s neglected to fix since it got stuck as a 1960’s British Police Box. And after all these years, why change? The look of the blue box rattling through space has become synonymous with The Doctor.
Yet it’s looks can be deceiving. Upon entering almost everyone exclaims, “It’s bigger on the inside!” And it is, immensely so. Stepping inside the TARDIS is to walk into a separate, pocket dimension housed within. The TARDIS interior is vast, and even The Doctor isn’t exactly sure of the square footage. Most of the action takes place in the console room, the first room you find upon entering, as it’s where the TARDIS can be steered. The Doctor is relatively capable of steering, though she’s intended to be piloted by a whole crew rather than just one man.
Using the TARDIS, The Doctor can travel anywhere is space and time. Meaning, you want to visit Earth in the past, no problem. Another world? Easy. Another world, another time? Yeah, that’s exactly what she’s built to do.
That being said, the TARDIS can be temperamental and won’t always operate as The Doctor intends. See, the TARDIS is alive, she’s more than just machine. And while she won’t always take The Doctor where he wants to go, she does always take him where he needs to go.
3) The Doctor should never be alone. His companions, those who travel with him, keep The Doctor grounded and act as his conscious. He has a great fondness for us humans which is why more often than not his companions come from Earth. The Doctor has a definite type: young, leggy girls for the most part, but all types have traveled with him; robots, aliens, robot aliens.
Though not all have what it takes to be a companion. For starters, The Doctor has to like them, or at least tolerate them tagging along. A companion must also be clever, tenacious, and not too easily frightened. Above all, a companion must be prepared for the worst. Traveling with The Doctor is dangerous, and unlike him most companions can’t regenerate when injured. Throughout his travels The Doctor’s had to say goodbye to each and every one of his companions. They either leave, move on, get left behind, or worse, die. A companion can spend the rest of their life with him, but The Doctor could never spend all of his life with them.
But it’s not all running for your life–okay, it is, but in between the running a companion gets to see all sorts of things you and I can only dream of. The life you experience with The Doctor is unlike any life you could lead staying on your own planet, in your own time. For most, that’s more than worth the risks involved. Besides, the danger is part of the fun!
That’s it, that’s the show. But only at its most basic. What makes Doctor Who such a unique show, and more than capable of lasting another 50 years, is its ability to be anything. It can be a drama, a soap opera, a comedy, a thriller, full of explosions and action set pieces. It can be small and personal or huge and universe-shattering. It could take place in present day London or deep in outer space moments after The Big Bang. It will make you laugh, cheer, cry, and yell angrily at the top of your lungs.
Doctor Who is the best show because it can be every show.