Doctor Who: The Best Television Show in the Universe | Teen Ink

Doctor Who: The Best Television Show in the Universe

November 1, 2012
8 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Most television serials include this: studio laughter, people falling in love, and/or people (for no apparent reason) betraying the ones they just fell in love with. Most television serials do not include this: outer space, time travel, or deep characters. A serial that did contain universe-related themes, the concept of traveling through time, and fascinating protagonists, therefore, would be considered by most to be very different from others. Some, an approximate eight million or more people, might even consider it to be more interesting than most serials. Luckily for these eight million people, then, a show like this does exist, called "Doctor Who." In fact, scratch the last sentence. Luckily for everyone, "Doctor Who" exists, because without it there would be no significant television program declaring refusal to conform with the sameness of all the others.

"Doctor Who" was first created in 1963. The Guiness Book of World Records labeled it the longest-running science fiction program ever. The show features a Time Lord (one of a species of humanoid aliens that has the ability to see everything in time that was, is, or could be) who calls himself the Doctor. Running away from his home planet Gallifrey during the great Time War, a war between the Time Lords and their arch enemies the Daleks, the Doctor travels through all of time and space in a time machine, called the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space). The show tells the story of the adventures he has as he travels around the universe with human companions.

Being a Time Lord, the Doctor can never die in normal circumstances. Instead of death, Time Lords go through a process called regeneration, where their current body dies and they take on a different form. Along with their appearance, the Time Lords’ interests, personality, and preferences also change. They still retain their memories, though. Each “version” of the Doctor has his good and bad sides, and each Doctor is mourned as he goes through regeneration and is replaced with “some new man.” In the same way, the Doctor often travels with a human companion who is loved by "Doctor Who" fans as much the Doctor himself. Now knowing more about “Doctor Who,” one would find it quite evident that it is not like any other television program.

The Doctor himself is a very complicated character. Scarred by the terrible sacrifices he had to make in the Time War, he nurses a biased hatred toward the Daleks. This hatred is also applied to other antagonists such as the Cybermen, the Sontarans, and the Master. However, the Doctor generally solves problems and gets rid of threats using not violence or bias, but reason. Most people whom the Doctor meets are changed forever.
One example of this is Amelia Pond, his most recent companion. First having met the Doctor one evening when she was seven, Amelia dreamed about growing up and traveling around the universe with him, having adventures. She drew pictures of herself with him, she made her own action figures, and she even wrote cartoons about “The Raggedy Doctor.” Amelia, who in any other situation would be sassy and bold, had a childlike faith in the Doctor even several years after her midnight encounter. She always believed that the Doctor would be there to save her, even though she was perfectly capable of fending for herself.
The characters in "Doctor Who" are, as described by the sketches above, multi-dimensional and relatable to the real world. This is not as evidently seen in Gus from "Psych," or Ted from "How I Met Your Mother." "Doctor Who" obviously surpasses other serials in terms of character strength and development.
Though it is officially labeled as science fiction, "Doctor Who" can’t be tied to that one genre. Science fiction means traveling through time and creating paradoxes, visiting different planets and meeting aliens. However, there is so much more to the show than the simple tab of science fiction. Each episode has a genre of its own, which ultimately creates something that has a bit of every genre, something to meet everyone’s interests. For example, the episode “Blink”, written by Steven Moffat, is a thriller (and here’s a fun fact: it won the British Academy Television Award for best writer, the Hugo Award for best presentation, and the BAFTA for best screenwriter). The episode “The Lodger”, written by Gareth Roberts, can be counted as comic. The episodes “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone,” written by Steven Moffat, are definitely horror. Every episode is of a different genre, so in theory every viewer could be interested in at least one episode. The same can’t be said about several other television programs on air today.
These are all reasons "Doctor Who" is transcendent and unforgettable, but there are so many other smaller aspects that further establish its superiority. One of these is the fact that though the Doctor is the equivalent to a superhero, he doesn’t make humans (or policemen) look stupid or incompetent. In fact, in some cases the humans appear to be of a kinder nature than the Doctor himself. This lack of Superman-like perfection is rare in stories featuring people in his position. Also, each episode has its own message that isn’t blared at the viewer, but rather implied by someone’s folly or badly intentioned actions. The messages are not overly moralistic, but unlike in other shows, they exist. Though so many aspects of "Doctor Who" seem unthinkable, many of the overall ideas in the show are more realistic than the ones without time travel or aliens.
To summarize, the show "Doctor Who" challenges the modern definition of the words “television serial.” It has science-related and fantastical themes, such as time and space travel. It has characters with many layers, none of whom are perfect, even the legendary Doctor. It defies the label “sci-fi” by incorporating several genres into its episodes. "Doctor Who" has also won several awards. There are other small details as well that make it different from and ultimately superior to other shows. So in the end, the only real question that remains is, why does it only have a fan base of over eight million people?

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This article has 1 comment.

on Jan. 11 2013 at 10:18 pm
helizabethg GOLD, New York, New York
10 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
The stories we love best do live in us forever.

  I love this opinion. I completely agree that Doctor Who needs more than a measley 8 million viewers. Your analysis of the Doctor himself and the companions all mirror things that I've thought myself and explored in my own mind.