A Doctor Who Primer

If you’re anything like us, you always have a few fandoms on the back burner that you’re planning on getting into sooner or later. Today our friend melooza1 is sharing a Doctor Who primer for anyone who might be thinking about checking this whole TARDIS thing tardisout. Enjoy! 


Ok I’m here to give you a Doctor Who Primer and I hope it may spark your interest in the show. I’m going to break down the Mythology of the show, talk classic Who versus Reboot,  give you starting points, spin offs, and then finish off with the odds and ends! Let’s roll! (I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers but forgive me if I fail.)

Mythology 101

Now while there is much much more to Who, this is just the basic stuff to get you started.

  • The Doctor: This is our main man. He’s a Time Lord who hails from the world of Gallifrey. The Doctor is immortal and instead of dying he regenerates into a completely new person. There have been 10 regenerations and eleven Doctors.  He flies through space and time in his ship named the T.A.R.D.I.S. He almost always has a companion with him in his travels. We don’t know his name and when he has to give a name he likes “John Smith”. Most fans refer to the Doctor based on their order.

  • T.A.R.D.I.S: Stands for “Time And Relative Dimensions In Spaces” and is the Doctor’s ship. It’s bigger on the inside and has a consciousness all its own.

  • Companions: They are the fortunate (and sometimes unfortunate) folks that travel with the Doctor. There have been male, female, alien and robot. All bring something to the Doctor and are powerful in their own right.

  • Time Vortex: The highway they travel on so to speak.

  • Sonic Screwdriver: Doctor’s favorite tool of choice. It’s like his wand if he were a wizard.

Sonic screwdriver. Hey now...
Sonic screwdriver. Hey now…

Classic Who vs Reboot

Classic Who ran from 1963-1989. It had a total of 26 (HELLO!) series with 8 Doctors. Now, this was the longest running Sci-fi series and was truly amazing in it’s own right. I haven’t watched much of it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching. I’ve promised myself I am going to at least watch the Tom Baker (The 4th Doctor) series soon.

Reboot premiered in 2005 with the episode “Rose” and shows no signs of stopping. It embraces the old Who as well as bringing in its own vibe. It’s divided into the Russell T Davies, run and the Steven Moffat run (Which we are still on now.) You can definitely tell the difference but each have their own strengths and weaknesses. I, myself am more of a RTD gal but I’m thankful that Moffat is there to keep Who alive and fresh. Be warned tho, RTD will make you weep at least once. (More like a million times but whatever.)

Where to Start

That’s really up to you! I know that netflix has all of Classic Who now so you can start at the beginning if you want! Now, is power watching 33 series of Who seems a bit much but what to give Classic Who a try I would suggest starting with Tom Baker’s Run. He seems to be the most beloved Doctor of the Old School Gang AND he inspired my favorite Doctor, David Tennant, to follow his dream and become an actor. That’s enough for me!! But if Old School isn’t for you, you can do what I did and start with the reboot.


Now if I can stress one thing to you, just one thing, it would be: DO NOT SKIP NINE! DON’T DO IT. I know David Tennant is dreamy and Matt Smith is adorable but you need Nine for so many reasons. He’s sassy, awesome and if you miss his series you really will miss so much in terms of story arch’s it’s sad. Nine isn’t my fave but I would fight for him in a heartbeat. I will admit I did not appreciate the power of Nine in the beginning bc I came in at series three (Martha Jones whaaaat!) so I had to go back as re-watch. I am so glad I did bc SO many things made sense once I did. So please, give Nine a chance. PLUS without him you miss out on the creation for one of my fave Doctor Who man ever. Capt Jack. Which leads me to my next thing…


Now I know you may be thinking “Why do I want spin-offs in my Who primer?”. Well let me tell you! There is a good chance that you will get to a point where you won’t be able to get enough Who (Especially for all my RTD fans out there) and you will need more ergo Spin-offs! There is also the chance that the Spin-off may offer you something you’re missing in Who. These shows also have a lot of crossover storylines that enrich the main Who verse.

  • Torchwood: This show follows Capt. Jack around and is much MUCH darker. Now I’m not kidding when I say this.. You will cry. A lot. But that’s part of the beauty if this show. It’s darker and grittier than Who but very much a part of the Who family. (You’ll also recognize other cast members from Who in the Torchwood cast *wink wink*) Also, for all my slash fans/LGBT folks out there, this may interest you: Capt. Jack has an open relationship with a male co-star. It’s moving and beautiful. No subtext here. I would start this one after you’ve watched series one of Who (Reboot).



  • Sarah Jane Smith Adventures: This is the Yin to Torchwood’s Yang. Where it’s a much softer side to the who verse that can be easier for kiddos to watch. It’s geared towards a younger crowd but don’t let that stop you! It’s nice when you’ve just finished season three of Torchwood and you need to get your hope in humanity back. (I’m not even being hyperbolic here.) Plus you get more David Tennant so Woot! If you started with Classic who at any point I don’t need to tell you why you should watch, right? Right? I would recommend starting this after series two of Who (Reboot).

 The wrap up

Doctor Who sounds ridiculous until you give it a try. Then suddenly you’re weeping with the Doctor and wondering where you can get edible ball bearings. It also lends itself to rewatches that will provoke more emotions bc most of the storylines are non-linear. (River!) You get great on liners and visit amazing places in history. There are amazing guest stars (Simon Pegg, Colin Morgan what what?) and truly moving stories. But mostly the stories all boil to love in it’s many forms. Who wouldn’t want to watch that?

Thanks Mel! Any other Doctor Who fans out there? What advice do you have for folks interested in getting involved in the fandom? 



Meg Keysmash

Meg Keysmash

Historian with lots of useless knowledge about mules and pirates. Professional beast wrangler and full-time crazy cat lady with a sheep who walks on a leash. It’s often hard to tell whether or not she's speaking in euphemisms. Her gdocs is a vast wasteland of incomplete stories about dragons and teen wolves. She has a difficult time finishing anyth-oh! Posey is on Twitter!
Meg Keysmash

Latest posts by Meg Keysmash (see all)

  • NINE IS THE BEST. SASSMASTER. He and Rose stewed in sexual tension for half a season and when they finally kissed, he regenerated. *kicks can over* But Ten grew on me, and now Eleven is leaving. What direction now, Moffat?

    • Mel

      I was hesitant towards nine bc I came in with Martha Jones. But once I watched I loved him. While 10 will always be *My* Doctor, 9 was fantastic.

      I really want them to pick someone older for the next Doctor. Idris Elba would be fantastic!

  • Brie Keysmash

    I have never seen Doctor Who, but so many of my friends are OBSESSED! I want to check it out, but then I’m like omg there are SO MANY EPISODES. Haha! However, Torchwood has a full blown m/m relationship? Here for it.

    • Mel

      It is a lot of shows to watch! I would recommend watching the first season of the 05 Who bc that’s where you learn of how Jack came to be. And then after you finishes Series one of Torchwood watch the last three Episodes of Series three of who for reasons. Oh and then after series two of TW watch the 2 part Series 4 finally of Who. And and and Have I mentioned there is a lot of xover? lol

      Who as a whole is VERY LGBTQ friendly and positive. There is a Lizard women and her wife in 11’s run.

      • Brie Keysmash

        I think my head is spinning! HAHAHA!


  • sk_lou

    I love Tom Baker! When I was in Jr high, our local PBS station would show Who late Saturday nights, and I came in when they were on the 4th Doctor. Sadly, they pulled it a few months later and I never searched it out again.
    Fast forward to about a 2 yrs ago when I discovered Tumblr. Who was on my dash CONSTANTLY. Thanks to Netflix I was able to get caught up and now here I am anxiously awaiting the 50th anniversary special and freaking out over who will be cast as 12.
    Attn Parents: Doctor Who is one of those shows that the entire family can enjoy. My 8 yo probably knows more than I do about Whoniverse and cosplays as 11. The Weeping Angels are his favorite villian. Mine too. My 4 loves the ‘Targis’ (we’re working on correct pronunciation 🙂 The boys have Who building sets and they LOVE IT.

    If you are thinking about watching Who, but are still unsure, I recommend watching Blink first. It’s almost a standalone episode and will give you a taste of Who without feeling overwhelmed. If you like it, go back to ‘Rose’ and jump right in!

    • Mel

      Yessss! I have to be I little careful bc my kiddos are younger (6 and 3) but I have watched the Master’s episodes at least 15 times bc mini Loves them.

      • Sk_lou

        Yeah, the 4 yo has not been allowed to watch just anything. His most frequent request is the 11th Hour. The 8 yo gets free rein.

    • Brie Keysmash

      Which season is Blink in?

      • 3×10 if I’m not wrong.

        • Brie Keysmash

          Found it! Watching now!

    • Brie Keysmash

      Starting with Blink! Watching now…will report back!