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Doux Top Twenty! Number 3: Doctor Who

Doctor Who is Number 3 in Doux Reviews Top Twenty hitting shows.

New Doctor Who and classic Doctor Who both made the list. I decided that even though they have separate show pages, they should be listed together. They are, after all, the same show.

We have a lot of Who history here at Doux. Paul Kelly and I started us out sharing new Who reviewing duties for the first four seasons. Paul reviewed seasons five through ten on his own, Samantha M. Quinn did eleven, and Mikey Heinrich took over with twelve and is still reviewing, I hope, forever.

And that's not all. In 2011, Mark Greig started a project, reviewing the late Second Doctor episodes through the Eighth Doctor's movie; he finished that massive project seven years later, in 2018. And John Geoffrion joined us a while back to cover the black and white years of the first two Doctors. In fact, John just posted an article about his forty years of Who fandom.

That's a lot of Doctor Who. And here's Mikey to talk about it.

Mikey Heinrich: One of the problems inherent in talking about Doctor Who is that there just isn't much that you can say about it that hasn't already been said. Many times. At great length.

Traditionally I'd begin this by mentioning that Doctor Who premiered in November of 1963 and just celebrated its 60th anniversary. But you already know that, don't you. Because the show had been around for 60 years, which has given a number of people ample time to mention the fact. TARDIS, Daleks, Bigger on the inside, regeneration, Time Lords, etc., etc., etc. If you care enough to have clicked on this article, you already know the chapter and verse.


In the end, the only thing you can really offer when talking about Doctor Who isn't so much a case of what the show ‘means' as it is a case of what the show means to you. So, that being said, here's what Doctor Who means to me.

I came to Doctor Who fandom in a fairly typical way for an American fan of a certain age. Back in the 80s Doctor Who was a staple of public television stations across the country. The Minneapolis PBS affiliate aired omnibus editions of complete stories on Friday and Saturday nights at 10 PM. It actually wasn't until years later that I had any idea that cliffhangers and weeks between episodes were a thing. We just always got the complete story.

Now, back in the mid-80s I was a fairly unpopular kid. Socially awkward and emotionally young for my age, I spent the majority of my time alone, reading or imagining adventures. And then I was introduced to Doctor Who, which showed me that being the weird one could be a positive. (Public Television in the US at the time almost exclusively aired Tom Baker era stories).

For several years I spent every Friday evening fastidiously making a fort out of blankets and cushions ( I was always a hybrid man when it came to fort construction theory) and nesting the family room television set squarely in the fort's front opening so that I could lay in my little nest and watch the show in comfort.

Years of weekend nights ensconced in cushion foam and knitted wool, watching stories of cynicism and cruelty being defeated by optimism, open mindedness, and an enthusiasm for new things. I can still smell the musty blankets, dutifully dragged out of storage once a week for the purpose.

As the years went by I grew up a bit, and learned how to make – and more importantly how to be – a friend. There were fewer forts and more hanging out with others. Then, in early 1990, a number of things happened. Our local station proudly aired the final season of Doctor Who with Sylvester McCoy, word spread that the show had been cancelled, and I graduated from high school. As I left for college, so the television show Doctor Who left the world.

It felt right, as timing for these things go. Away with childhood things, and all that.

Well, maybe not all that 'away.' I kept and continued to re-read my complete collection of the Target novelizations. I bought and read the Virgin New and Missing adventures series as they came out. I still had an oar in the water. But it's not like I was building forts about it anymore. That would be childish.

In 1996 we had a brief glimmer of hope for a new series via the May broadcast of the Paul McGann TV movie. I mention the month specifically because I want to make it clear that the US got to see the 1996 Paul McGann movie about a month and a half before it aired in the UK due to its Canadian Co-production. It didn't air until June bank holiday in the UK. This was a point of some pride at the time. But then the movie came and went. No new series came of it. And life (and by life, I mean grad school) went on. No forts were constructed that day.

And I expected that to be the end of the story. Indeed, that was the end of the story. Until mid 2003, when the miracle happened.

Doctor Who was coming back. For real. The thing we'd all been 100% sure would never happen was happening.

It's hard to describe now, looking back, how impossible it seemed. I think we all spent months assuming that it either would turn out to be a hoax or that it would fall through somehow. But as the days, weeks, and months continued to roll by with fairly steady production updates – never anything particularly substantive, but definitely enough to prove that it was really happening – the excitement level couldn't have been higher.

And then the inevitable other shoe dropped. I didn't know the details at the time, but the nuts and bolts of it turned out to be that BBC America wasn't quite ready to launch yet in May of 2005, but that the BBCC definitely didn't want to have the new show air on any other channel. My understanding is that they priced the episodes so far outside the SciFi channel (as it was then called)'s budget that they had no choice but to pass. Which meant that the entire rest of the world BUT the US got to see the new season of Doctor Who when May finally came.

Clearly, this was in some small way the universe's karmic response to the Paul McGann film situation. I see that now.

Fortunately, by 2005 I had a few things that I hadn't had in 1996. I had a house of my own. I had a partner who had learned that being with me meant Doctor Who as part of the package. And most importantly, I had internet access.

And so it was that my friend David in York mailed to me the entire 2005 series of Doctor Who, burned onto three discs. In the interest of clear conscience, I'll add that I also purchased the official DVD set as soon as it was released. When they arrived in the mail, Roy (the aforementioned partner) said, 'Great, let's watch them,' and I responded, 'Well, we have to build a fort first.'

After a few minutes of clarification that no, I wasn't kidding, a fort was built. He made fun of me for a few minutes and then began to help. I want it on the record that the use of free weights to position blankets over a lamp as a sort of canopy was entirely his idea.

We watched the entire season from that fort over the course of one weekend. And, while we've watched every season since then, that was the last fort.

The last fort so far. I reserve the right to build more in the future.

Because that's what Doctor Who means to me. It means that the things you love, however gone they might seem to be, can come back. That there's still time for forts. That maybe, just maybe, optimism, open mindedness, and an enthusiasm for new things really are all you need to defeat the cynical and cruel.


I unashamedly love every version of this show. I love that Billie allows me to write about it. I love you for reading this far.

In conclusion; TARDIS, Daleks, Bigger on the inside, regeneration, Time Lords, etc., etc., etc. Let's get out there and hope the bad guys into submission.

5 comments:

  1. Mikey, I've read your fort story twice and it is lovely. Thank you so much, and thank you for reviewing Doctor Who for us, too.

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  2. I really loved this show during the Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith eras, but bounced hard off of Capaldi. Having watched the recent 60th-anniversary specials, I'm tempted to check it out again.

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  3. Now here's a show I've watched a lot! I stopped watching and collecting the new show, but classic and new have such a mix of good and bad, more good than bad thankfully, and it's a show I love enough to but so much on DVD and Blu-Ray, and even just for classic, it's a LOT!

    Big fan of seeing the take of the folks here on this one too. It's cool to see fans of old, new, and both relate to the various Doctors, companions, and stories.

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    Replies
    1. Love the fort bit too! That's rather wholesome and adorable!

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