Having heard high praise for the Weeping Angel episode, I started watching the third season of the new Doctor Who. I haven’t previously seen any episodes at all (old or new), but did read a book on the old series when I was 7 or 8 and was fascinated by the backstories of the Daleks and Cybermen.
The first episode in season three is the Christmas episode “The Runaway Bride”, and was quite a surprise as my first impression of the Doctor Who series. It’s an incredibly campy show: the special effects are amateurish, the acting overdone (David Tennant spends most of his time wiggling his eyebrows and staring around bug-eyed), the stories disconnected and silly, the “science” ridiculous (a Sonic Screwdriver, really?), full of technobabble and no doubt internally inconsistent.
Yet, over a couple more episodes, the appeal of the series started to shine through. Despite constant mugging, predictable and pretty dumb storylines, frigging furries(!), bad American accents, destruction of the world every episode, and utterly over-the-top villains, there’s something that beckons me back. Perhaps it’s the fourth disc, which I haven’t seen yet and contains Blink. Perhaps it’s obligation that I watch the series before returning it. Well, it’s certainly both of those, but Doctor Who is a loosely plotted adventure series, with completely different situations each episode, and the freedom to hop around in space and time concocting new worlds and situations. There’s a little bit of historical information on the 30s and Shakespeare’s time (mixed in with utter fantasy), and satire of marriage-obsession and bureaucracy (mixed in spider people and cat people). It’s something new each time, and the quality can vary wildly with the writers.
I still find it difficult to believe David Tennant’s Doctor is a hit Martha Jones or with female viewers. There’s a hilarious line in the 30s New York episode: “Oh, I should have realised. He’s into musical theatre.”