Nerd School: Doctor Who Season 6 Primer

by Joe on April 12, 2011

Ah the Doctor, how I await your return to BBC America every year, like the swallows to Capistrano. The second best show you’re not watching is coming to the airwaves April 23rd and I’m as excited as Christopher Eccleston in a leather shop.

Oh behave!

So I figure it was time for a primer on the what, where, why, when, and who of Who. (see what I did there?)

Our Heroes:

Who is the doctor? First off, to all those who do not know the character is not Doctor Who, he’s simply called The Doctor. The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels throughout time and space with a young girl. I know, creepy, right? But he’s got a British accent so it’s OK.

The cool thing about The Doctor is that he doesn’t die, he regenerates into a new person with a different look, feel, and catchphrase. So he’s been played by 11 different guys. However, everyone currently loves either Emo Doctor (David Tennant) and Hipster Doctor (Matt Smith). Me personally, I like “Teh Scarf DooD”.

Hero to millions

The Doctor is always accompanied by his companion. The companion is usually the eye candy, and for the British that aint saying much. It was Billie Piper until she won the triple crown and was put out to stud.

Ms. Piper

Now it’s Karen Gillan, who no one is allowed to say anything bad about EVER. She’s adorable.

Even drunk you don't stand a chance

So The Doctor and his companion go on adventures using the TaRDiS (Time and Relative Dimensions (in) Space). Basically, it’s a spaceship that looks like an old police box, but since we never had those in the states, we can compare it to a phone booth. The neat trick is, that even though it’s small on the outside, it’s bigger on the inside (can’t think of joke right now, try again later).

You're a TaRDiS

So we got The Doctor, the companion, and the TaRDiS.

With me so far?


Bad guys:

The Daleks: R2D2 looking baddies with plungers for arms that say: EXTERMINATE!!!! Supposedly they are scary to  British people

whatever, they had to live through Margret Thatcher and the Bay City Rollers

Cybermen: Evil C3PO looking motherfuckers. (the funny thing is that they are less British)

not as scary as Billie Piper's teeth

The Master: A Time Lord like The Doctor, played by numerous people, most of whom you wouldn’t recognize,  so here’s how I think he should look.

Because it's DULL, you twit. It'll hurt more

The Story

Doctor Who premiered in 1963 and went off the air in 1989. Then there was a made for TV movie in 1996. The show was never really huge in America, and like many BBC shows, only gained a cult following after the show was rerun on PBS throughout the 70’s and 80’s.

ready for some hot Victorian love?

Most of these episodes are available on Netflix streaming, but they’re not essential. Part of the fun of the revamped series that debuted in 2005 is that you really didn’t need to know much about the series pre-Eccleston and Ms. Horseyface.

So let’s get you caught up.

Season 1: The Doctor reappears and starts hanging out with Rose Tyler. The story arc of the season involves the mysterious “Bad Wolf”. Overall, it’s a pretty lackluster season in comparison to  what comes later.

best episodes:

The End of the World” a pretty nice sci-fi romp. Lot’s of cool looking aliens, and a great throwaway Brittany Spears gag. It’s a nice introduction to the universe spanning adventures of The Doctor.

The Empty Child“/”The Doctor Dances“: pretty spooky two parter. It’s written by Steven Moffet (best writer on the series). It also introduces Captain Jack Sparrow Harkness, whose omnisexuality really shows how the BBC can push character boundaries that we here in America can’t contemplate in our sci-fi.

mmmm....smells like Billie Piper

Season 2: Tennant’s big romp. I know I call him emo doc, and that’s because he basically cries throughout the whole 4th season, but he really brought new life into the franchise. Season 3 introduces us to Torchwood, and more of the bi-sexual stylings of Cap’n Jack.

Best episodes:

Tooth and Claw” I love a good Queen Victoria cameo.

The Girl in the Fireplace“- This episode shows how good the show had become, and how much better it would get.

Season 3: Secretariat is out and Martha Jones is in. Also this season’s big mystery is the mysterious Mr. Saxon. Outside of season 5, I think this was The Doctor’s best season on the whole.

Best episodes:

The Shakespeare Code“- This is the type of episode that most people think of  when they hear Doctor Who, not like that’s a bad thing, it’s just a really solid episode.

Human Nature“/”The Family of Blood“- I love the WWI story, but this  two-parter really highlights Tennant’s acting skills.

Blink“- This is a great introduction to what the series will morph into in season 5 (probably my favorite episode.)

Season 4: Emo doctor is emo. Yeah, The Doctor is going to die. Also he hangs around with Donna Noble, she’s fun, but is a bit too much like a beard than a companion.

Best episodes:

Silence in the Library“/”Forest of the Dead“- This season, though featuring some solid writing, really only had one story that I would recommend. This two-parter, though a good episode, is really a must watch for the upcoming season, I’m not going to spoil it for you.

The movies: It was announced that Tennant would leave after season 4 and that Steven Moffet would take over as show runner. So they made a bunch of made for TV movies that were pretty hit and miss.

I could recommend “The End of Time” just for its overall story significance.

Season 5: With emo doc gone, we got Matt Smith, or as I call him hipster doc. He’s actually a breath of fresh air from Tennant’s doc who was so whiny towards the end that I was glad he regenerated just so he could end all of his self-pitying. Smith has his own idiosyncratic quirks, and he has a very large jaw line.

one of them slept with Cher

But he’s still a little flat as a “Doctor”.  I think after next season we’ll have a better feel for him.  But season 5 gave us Amy Pond! Oh Amy Pond and your adorable Scottish accent.

one more gratuitous pic

Anyway season 5 basically told the story of how Amy was at the center of a universe collapsing mega-event and only the doctor could save us all. Season 5 is important because it sets up what will be part of TWO ongoing storylines. The most important is finding out about the “silence” that tried to destroy the universe, and the continuation of the infamous River Song storyline started in “Silence in the Library”.

season 5 highlights

Victory of the Daleks“- Churchill and Daleks, space combat with spitfires. Not the best episode, but damn entertaining.

The Time of Angels“/”Flesh and Stone” The return of the weeping angels first seen in “Blink”. There are some great Amy and the Doctor moments, also River Song reappears. She’s super important for season 6.

Vincent and the Doctor” probably one of the best episodes of Doctor Who ever. It’s not important to the storyline, but it hits you at your core.

The Lodger” I like this episode because it has something you don’t see too often, The Doctor having to try to act human. Guess what? He’s awesome at it.

I do highly recommend all of season 5, you can skip 1-4 if you want, but they’re free on Netflix. So it wouldn’t hurt to at least check out my recommendations.

So season 6 starts in 12 days. check out the preview:

Check out Joe’s other primers: A Game of Thrones

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

nic wehrwein May 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Rocky was Cher’s kid, not her lover. stupid, joe.


Joe May 5, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Doesn’t mean Eric Stoltz didn’t hit that


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