By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Even a novice can appreciate 'Doctor Who'
Peter Capaldi as The Doctor - photo by Jim Bennett
Contrary to conventional wisdom, being a geek is not just about keeping your hair unkempt and making poor wardrobe choices.

No, to have any street cred in the geek community, you have to be able to list all the original Star Trek movies in order of quality, read the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual and memorize every line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in order to recite them at inappropriate times, like wedding toasts.

I qualify in almost every respect, but for years, Ive overlooked one crucial requirement that has dogged me every time I apply for my official geek card. As it happens, prior to this summer, I had never seen a single episode of Doctor Who.


In my defense, its not that I didnt want to watch the celebrated BBC staple that has spawned legions of cosplayers dressed up in giant trash cans with toilet plungers for eyes who called themselves Daleks.

My main problem was I had no idea where to start. The show has been around since 1963, and there has been a bakers dozen of actors who have played the titular role. So whats the right point to wade into the ongoing tale of a time-traveling intergalactic alien with two hearts who travels through time and space in a 1960s-era British police box?

With such a massive history and hundreds of hours of episodes, the show seemed far too intimidating. So when Doctor Who came up, I would nod and smile awkwardly, all the while looking for an opportunity for an inappropriate Python quote. (We have found a witch! May we burn her?)

But my brother-in-law, a devoted Whovian, pointed out the series was off the air from 1989 until 2005, so the 21st-century revival provided a clean jumping-on point for the uninitiated. Most of the main characters, like me, hadnt ever met the Doctor before, so the audience is brought up to speed right along with the people on the screen. I was never confused, and I was hooked from the very first episode.

The thing I loved most was how British everything is. Having lived in Scotland for two years, I loved the fact all of the slang and pop culture references are rooted firmly in the U.K. and not the U.S. Its kind of refreshing to watch a show where America isnt the center of the universe. Its also fun to watch English actors occasionally try to fake American accents and fail miserably. They all end up sounding like a botched cross between James Gandolfini and John Wayne.

But the shows real strength is it has absolutely no limits on where the stories can go. While one episode focuses on werewolves in Victorian England, the next takes you to the outskirts of a black hole 10,000 years from now. And since the Doctor frequently changes companions and even his physical form, you cant be sure anyone is going to still be around by the time the credits roll.

But this isnt a Game of Thrones-style bloodbath. The Doctor doesnt even carry a weapon, so he has to rely solely on his wits to get out of impossible situations, which makes him particularly appealing to geeks with more brains than brawn. The writing is witty and well-plotted, and Im surprised by how many times I watch the thing and have no idea how its going to end. That doesnt happen on television very often.

Im now three seasons in on Netflix, making me a fledgling Whovian in my own right. Now I dont need an inappropriate Python quote to sound smart, but it never hurts to cover all your geek bases. (Its just a flesh wound!)
Sign up for our E-Newsletters