MANILA, PHILIPPINES — There is perhaps no show in television history that is as enduring as Doctor Who. November 23 marks the 59th year since its first episode, An Unearthly Child, was released. What started as a science fiction show has become a pop culture phenomenon with a cult following worldwide.
Many spin-offs and mixed reactions from its fandom later, Doctor Who still continues to find ways to be loved by its fans, most recently with casting Jodie Whitaker as the 13th doctor and next year when Ncuti Gatwa takes over. The diamond anniversary will also get a revamp of the classic logo familiar to the older fans.
Plot holes and filler episodes aside, Doctor Who’s significance is undeniable, and in celebration of Doctor Who Day, here is a run down of our favorite things about the show:
Vincent Van Gogh
Throughout the years, there was no shortage of historical figures (William Shakespeare, Richard Nixon, Agatha Christie) that has been incorporated into the storyline of the show, but fans will definitely agree that Vincent Van Gogh’s appearance was a noteworthy one.
In Vincent and the Doctor, The Doctor and Amy meet Vincent Van Gogh and help him face his demons (both the physical and the ones in his head). Seeing the tragedy of his times and condition, The Doctor and Amy takes Vincent into the present time at the Musée d’Orsay where his artworks were in display and he hears how he was described by the curator as the greatest, most popular painter in history.
Villains & Monsters
Doctor Who has served some of the most terrifying villains (We’re not blinking, weeping angels). Every episode starts off with the world in near doom either from humankind or aliens that invade the Earth until The Doctor, together with a companion, swoops in to save the day. Some recurring fan-favorite villains are Cybermen, the Daleks, and the archenemy: The Master.
While there are villains that have revealed themselves as irreparable, The Doctor approaches each one with caution, knowing that some might be suffering from loneliness or simply being misunderstood.
A traveler must never be without companion. Even The Doctor’s wife, River Song, warned him that he should never be alone for a long time. The Doctor’s companions often provide a balancing worldview to him as they face new places and times. They keep The Doctor compassionate and human.
With some resistance, the ninth Doctor takes on the first companion of the 2005 reboot: Rose Tyler. Being the companion does not come without its risk; often times, their lives are put in danger. This has led The Doctor to be weary of taking on companions, having some of them die, and even transformed into another being.
Change and Inclusivity
One thing that fans of the show have always accepted is change, and not just about regeneration. First introduced as the last of his kind and left without a home, The Doctor is a stranger to every time and place he goes to.
Yet, many still resonate with his amiable qualities. Optimism is a trait that prevails after all that he went through.
The show also welcomes non-binary characters like Captain Jack Harkness and Bill Potts, and celebrate even inter-species relationships such as Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint’s.
Steven Moffat on heroes
Despite his flaws and earned hate from some, Steven Moffat wrote some of the most compelling episodes in the modern Who. He especially notes how important The Doctor is as a hero who uncharacteristically do not possess what most others do.
Watch how he describes The Doctor below: