A reader writes:
I feel a little embarrassed writing into a site that routinely takes on serious issues to dissent with you and your readers about the state of Doctor Who. The show started going off the rails in the mid '80s. When it finally went off the air in '89, it was nothing more than a vehicle for slagging off Margaret Thatcher (a political stance I doubt you'd agree with). After it was resurrected in 2005, it rapidly degenerated into a maudlin soap opera.
The modern series is all running around aimlessly or moaning about personal relationships, without the complicated sci-fi ideas and oddball characters that made the old series so engaging. I threw in the towel and stopped watching toward the end of the David Tennant era. Not only were the scripts terrible but Tennant was the first utterly terrible actor to play the part. I can handle bad writing or a bad Doctor, but I can't handle both.
I decided to give the show a chance again when I heard Tennant was going, and after a bad start I think Matt Smith might actually make a halfway decent Doctor. But the show is definitely still on probation. Oh well, at least your favorite Doc is Tom Baker, the best ever (with Jon Pertwee a close second).
I don't disagree with its sharp decline in the 1980s - and wince at its decadent phase. But the new series, with Russell Davies in charge, has been terrific, even though the special effects lack that amateurish charm of the early days. Another writes:
I read your Doctor Who post today and thought I'd pass this along - a 2004 piece by Jesse Walker on the return of the series. It's dated now, of course, but still really interesting for fans of the show.
If you haven't seen it, check out Mark Ayres' history of the Dr Who theme; it's fascinating reading. Delia Derbyshire's original version remains one of the most astonishing pieces of electronic music ever created.
Your reader who wrote in about how the Dr Who theme song was made, and how ahead of it's time it was reminded me of this clip from 2010 Glastonbury Festival of Matt Smith on stage with the Prodigy, rocking their remix of the theme song.
The Dr. Who stuff I came across is from the English comedy show Nevermind the Buzzcock. This past Christmas they put together a Dr. Who themed show and it's quite hilarious. Part 1 is here.
Let it be said right up front: I am a massive geek. As a kid, I ran around the yard playing with a toy phaser; I dressed as a Jawa for the Star Wars theater release, etc. I was lucky enough to find a spouse who tolerated such things, even if she didn't enjoy them with me.
Then, Doctor Who happened.
There's something so universal about the Doctor. A warrior who abhors violence, who thinks that everyone deserves a second chance. I've noticed that he has recently earned a hard edge: both the Tennant and Smith doctors take very little bullshit before they will go ahead and end you. For my wife, it was a big door into a larger universe of sci-fi.
We were married a couple of years after she became a fan of the show. For a wedding present, she got me the pocket watch that the Doctor hides his Time Lord consciousness (Human Nature episode). She ordered that my groom's cake be a TARDIS.