In early 2006, I had just taken my first salaried job and had benefits I didn’t have to pay a fortune towards for the first time in my adult life. We had three young children and though things weren’t exactly perfect, they were better than they had been in a long time.
One of the things we did to celebrate the job was pay for TV service again. (It’s the little things.)
I remember seeing ads for something called Doctor Who on (then-named) Sci-Fi and wondering what this thing was about. Interested in new shows and seeing that it was a bit quirky, I set the DVR to record it and watched through that first season when it ran—and yes, first run here in the US, it was a year late.
I knew very little about the classic series, though I had a vague recollection in my mind of having seen an episode or two when I was a child and up late sick. ((PBS stations were often carrying the program in the US at that time.)) My memory is of being lightly terrified of the opening sequence and music—on looking back, I’m pretty sure it was a Tom Baker-era serial that stuck in my mind. ((Time tunnel + giant Tom Baker head = freaked out young Markel, I guess.))
Watching through that initial reboot season, I loved it. Amanda didn’t watch it with me at the time, but I recall that I found the idea fascinating and particularly enjoyed Eccleston’s performances. At some point after watching that and prior to the airing of either “The Christmas Invasion” or the second season, we decided to ditch the paid TV service and I ended up not watching any more of it.
I’d followed what was going on with the show, knowing about changes to it in superficial ways and (after joining Automattic) hearing colleagues talk about it from time to time. As the 50th anniversary approached, I started thinking that I should pay some attention to it and try to watch some, as anything that lasts that long must have some appeal. ((To put it in some perspective, it’s older than Star Trek. And I love me some Star Trek.))
For the 50th year, a box set was made that had the whole of the new series up through the end of season 7 on Blu-ray. ((You may be wondering how this is possible and if it is any improvement. It is and it is; the first four seasons were filmed in 576-line digital. NTSC DVDs have a maximum resolution of 480 lines. It’s a noticeable improvement. And the later seasons have been re-done as progressive rather than their broadcast interlaced. Oh, and the audio is DTS-MA.)) I figured that was as good a sign as any to jump in to the series, but missed the product being available on Amazon. ((It appears that BBC Worldwide only wanted this set to be available through the end of 2013, at least in North America.))
As luck would have it, my obsessive nature won out and I found through Google searching that the BBC Shop had copies that were not findable through their normal shop navigation:
I think I managed to get the last one of these in all of North America not being scalped online: pic.twitter.com/hcCoMVaEc3
— Ryan Markel (@ryanmarkel) January 15, 2014
So, I’m dragging Amanda through watching the whole thing. ((We tried including the kids at first, but the level of nightmare production for them was too great and had to switch to just us.)) We’re going somewhat slowly—at a rate of about an episode a night on average. Right now, we’re about a third of the way through season three, and the show keeps getting better. I’m looking forward to catching up to things and then watching as they push ahead to the next incarnation of The Doctor this fall.
I have some criticisms of the show, but overall it’s high-quality and quite enjoyable. ((My chief complaint is a bit of an over-reliance on “monster of the week” episodes.)) At some point I may go back and start collecting some of the older serials as well to see if they have aged well. But for now, it’s on through until I hit the 50th. I’ll probably tell you what I think as I go. :)