A common question we hear when we suggest people start watching Doctor Who: “This show has been on for 50 years! There are hundreds of episodes. Where do I start?”
The 2005 series is probably the best starting point. After almost 10 years of almost no new Doctor Who TV stories at all, and about 16 years since the original BBC series was cancelled, the Doctor was given a fresh slate. New actor, new companions, even a new TARDIS. The first two episodes,”Rose” and “The End of the World” give viewers a fantastic overview of the characters’ lives and personalities.
At the same time, there are enough off-screen events in his past which create an almost completely new story line for him. Even returning Whovians are left wondering what they missed, so they’re basically on the same page as all the new fans.
While many episodes can be watched as stand alone stories, we recommend that you watch them in order from “Rose” onward. If you’re still not sure you want to commit yourself to a new show, here are some recommendations to test the waters:
Series 1×09-10 “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances.”
Series 2×08-09 (Netflix lists as 09-10) “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit.”*
Both of these are two-part stories that have a great mix of sci-fi, monsters, and character development…all the things that fans love about this show.
The best part is, all of these are included with your Netflix instant subscription!
There are several “specials” which for some reason are not included in Netflix’s listing of the new Doctor Who, but are crucial parts of the larger over-arcing story. We highly recommend you check over the episode guide and watch them in order. Most notably, “Planet of the Dead,” “The Waters of Mars,” and “The End of Time,” all of which occur between series 4 and 5.
But what’s next? (or should I say, Who’s next? **)
While catching up with the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors you might want to check out some of the classic episodes. In years past Doctor Who was aired a little differently, presented more like mini-serials of 4 or 5 half-hour episodes to complete the story.
If you follow along with our podcast, we’ll pick some of our favorite classic Doctor Who stories, which (hopefully) tie in with the newer sagas. Or, just pick a serial and dive in! Many of the classic shows are NOT available on Netflix instant but may be acquired on DVD or streamed online. An unfortunate few have been lost forever when decades go the BBC unwisely decided to throw away entire episodes to clear out space in the warehouse.
* SPOILER THE DOCTOR REGENERATES INTO A NEW FORM. Sorry if this ruins anything for you.
** Insert forced laughter here