To Classic Who or Not to Classic Who?

Eleven Doctors

About a week and a half ago, I posted this on tumblr. A while I had not (and still haven’t for the same reason this post was made) watched the memorial episode of Glee for Finn Hudson/Cory Monteith, I was silly enough to watch “Bad Wolf” and “The Parting of Ways” which dedicated Whovians know are the last two episodes of Doctor Who’s Series One -and the last episodes of the Ninth Doctor. And of course I was crying over the “death” of a fictional character in an episode (and scene) I’ve watched many times. Because as I tagged in the post, I cry every time; just as I cry over the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration in The End of Time and probably will when Eleven regenerates in this year’s Christmas special. But then I struck a new thought; these feelings may be a reason that I haven’t really gotten into the classic Doctor Who.

My beginning with Doctor Who is … complicated. By which I mean, in all the confusion of when SciFi (because if you haven’t guessed, I’m American) was airing/premiering the new series and school being my life, I can’t exactly remember what the first episode I saw was. I remember the talk about Nine’s rather different look and parts of different episodes from series one and two, but all I know for sure is that I did not see “Rose” until I sat down with my Amazon Prime benefits and started making my way through the first four series. I think the first episode I watched was most of “The Girl in the Fireplace.” (On a side note, I picked the worst episodes to catch the end of aka “The Doctor Dances” and “Last of the Time Lords.” I hadn’t seen any of series one at that point though I marathoned through “Bad Wolf” after and the only other episode of series three that I’d seen was “Smith and Jones.” I unintentionally spoiled myself.) A classmate tried to fix some of this and I saw the first few episodes of series two (“The Christmas Invasion” through “The Girl in the Fireplace” minus “Tooth and Claw” because she didn’t like it.) But because the only legal source at the time was expensive DVD sets and the hope that SciFi would have a marathon, it didn’t really take. Until just after series six ended and I utilized the wonder that is streaming video websites.

So now I’m all caught up … with the New Who. I’ve had a few false starts with Classic Who, but I haven’t really tried to watch any of it. But my comment that I would get too attached to each Doctor to want to go through each regeneration had me thinking about all the reasons why I haven’t started watching.

Reason 1: Too Many Feels

I’m not ashamed to say I can be sentimental about things. I mean I bawled when I saw Les Miserables in theater, and I teared up over Rue’s death in The Hunger Games, both times I saw it on the big screen. Books can make me cry and the end of a series can make me feel bereft. And as I’ve already stated, the regenerations of Nine and Ten make me cry every time I watch them. Add on the regenerations of One through Seven and I just may not want to go through with that. Having to say good-bye, possibly just as I was starting to love each Doctor (The main exception of course being Four. I will probably have fallen in and out of love with Four many times before he regenerates.) feels too cruel to submit myself to.

But I know this is a weak reason, and I’ve done less with the same expectation of emotional impact. Les Miserables is the perfect example of this.

Reason 2: The Inability to Watch Each Episode in Order

One of the tragedies of Doctor Who is that the BBC didn’t have the foresight to preserve the early seasons, and we have 96 missing episodes with 26 incomplete serials. One missing episode is the First Doctor’s final episode where he regenerates. The bad news is that it’s highly unlikely that we will ever have all the missing episodes; the good news is that some are still popping up as just this month eleven episodes were announced as recovered. These gaps present a problem for me because as I’ve mentioned before, I am a completionist who prefers to watch/read/listen to things in the production/release order.

It is rare, nowadays, that I don’t start with book one or episode one of a series. My most recent exceptions to this were the new Doctor Who as I’ve already explained above and NCIS which my roommate got me into by constantly playing season one for background noise. Neither of these is recent. I’m someone who will not care that each book/episode is meant to stand alone; I will read/watch in order. Which I can’t do with Classic Who. Though technically when it comes to Doctor Who, I’ve already started in the middle.

Reason 3: Where to Start?

Now this chart shows, there are multiple start points for Classic Who. The question becomes where do I start?

If I’m going to accept that each Doctor represents a starting point instead of focusing on the entirety of Doctor Who’s original run (plus attempted 90s revival), then I have to carefully consider where to start. Obvious Doctors One and Two are out; they are missing episodes and it would frustrate me that there are stories that I would be missing. I could start with the Fourth Doctor, he is the longest running and most iconic of the Doctors, but Sarah Jane Smith started as a companion for the Third Doctor, and that would mess with my need to see things in order because I would be missing the beginning of her story. And I could find similar excuses for the other Doctors. Eight especially because his movie begins with Seven’s regeneration. So I would still start with the Third Doctor and think back to the two that I had to skip.

In Conclusion

My reasons for not watching Classic Who can be deemed as pointless excuses, but are really important to me. However, the biggest one is simply that all of the released Classic Who serials aren’t available on Netflix, and I don’t have the financial resources to buy them. So for now Classic Who is on my someday list.


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