I hit a major milestone today: I have now watched or listened to ALL of the television Doctor Who episodes. That’s both New Who and Classic Who. I’ve been watching Doctor Who since just before the 50th anniversary. That means I’ve taken approximately 6 years of so to do this.
It wasn’t easy, especially given my disposition to not care for many Classic Doctors when I first began watching Classic Who. I had been home sick and a large portion of the Classic Who library was available on Hulu. Having watched and rewatched all of the New Doctor Who that was available on Netflix, I felt that it was the only place left to turn.
I immediately fell in love with Patrick Troughton. To this day I still name my electronics after his legendary line in Tomb of the Cybermen, “There is no one else in the universe who can do what we are doing.” Meanwhile, the Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Doctors were making my skin crawl or only existed in my feverish inability to stay awake. It would take several years and a desperation for never experienced stories before I would finally fall in love with the Happiness Patrol or discover how amazing Jo Grant could be, when not screaming. Once my new favorite binging pasttime disappeared from those streaming services I became a DVD hunting fiend, pouring all my entertainment budget into hunting down what I could over the course of a year.
The roughest episodes were not even the Lost Stories. Yes, you have to listen to a lot of audio or watch plenty of reconstructions, which can make for a boring affair. In the end, while I saved them for last, I enjoyed those quiet a bit. My growing love for the first Doctor’s character arc probably played a huge role in that. What was most painful for me was the never ending seasons of the Fourth Doctor. There was just SO MUCH. It didn’t help that the stories so many older fans celebrated were some of the most problematic and boring for me. It took me multiple tries to finish Pyramids of Mars and Talons of When-Chiang. After watching and falling in love with State of Decay, and honestly, the whole E-Space series, I could not fathom what made people love the problematic and slow moving stories that were lauded from earlier seasons.
I also didn’t understand the argumentative and condescending Daddy that was the Fifth Doctor. While I did come to love the concept of a crowded TARDIS, I never could love that doctor the way I would others.
On the flip side, the ground shaking and sometimes nonsensical stories of Seven and Ace were thrilling and the righteous fury of Sixie had me watching and rewatching, especially after Twelve came along, looking to complete the story arc Six was never allowed to have. The Eighth Doctor, whom I loved in audio plays, threw me for a loop when I finally got my hands on his television movie.
I am beginning to contemplate what I should do next. There are podcasts, books and blogs already dedicated to watching all the episodes in order. I feel I never would have finished watching them all if I had gone down that road. There is something in the variety of style and story between each era that helps to break it all up and make it more enticing to watch for extended periods. Breaking things up thematically in rewatching creates a large amount of frontload work to find the connections and threads and hope that nothing is left out.
Each of the Classic Doctors consumed various spaces in my life. I know I will continue to rewatch, relisten, and continue to have new experiences consuming their stories for second, third or more times. However, I can never say again that there is a Classic Doctor Who serial in my life that I have not experienced in some form or fashion. It is bitter sweet moment that I hope I can hold on to and cherish.