Now, I know you are staring at the screen going, “What?!” Each and everyone of you has your favorite shows and opinions as to why they are the best. Here’s the difference – I’m not talking about a ‘favorite show’ here – I’m saying that, hands down Doctor Who is the Best SciFi show on TV and I’m willing to back that up.
Sure, there’s things like ‘Lost’ and ‘Fringe’ and ‘Fast Forward’ making waves – and they are all really good shows. Heck, even ‘Dollhouse’ has stepped it up now that they have nothing to lose, but I don’t think any of them are the Best SciFi show on TV and here’s why:
Accessibility. One of the things that gets thrown around a lot these days when it comes to genre shows, is the inability to just ‘jump right in’. With something like Fast Forward, this is extremely difficult because everything is predicated on that first episode, that mammoth event when everyone on the planet was knocked out for 2 minutes. Everything that’s happened since then has built on that episode, which makes it very difficult for someone who’s been watching something else for couple months, to switch over during some reruns.
While Doctor Who has had season long story arcs, they are subtle. They don’t prevent you from simply jumping in on any particular episode and enjoying yourself for an hour.
Along with that sort of accessibility, is the PG-13 factor. Doctor Who appeals across age groups and gender. There’s stuff in it for kids, for women and men of all ages; children will love the adventure, aliens and whimsy – the plot points aren’t so complex that they can’t grasp what’s happening, for adults, the stories have enough darkness to them to be interesting and compelling without being so dark that they feel uncomfortable letting kids watch along. Plus, the humor that flies right over the kids head, hits home with us. It really is something that families can watch together. So, just as Battlestar appealed not only to men but to their wives and girlfriends as well, Doctor Who appeals to everyone in the family.
The Fun Factor. If you’ve watched an episode of Doctor Who, you have to admit – they’re fun. You can tell that they’re having a lot of fun writing and making the episodes. I mentioned whimsy earlier, and there is definitely a sense of whimsy in the character of the Doctor and in the series as a whole. Take the moment at the beginning of ‘The End of Time Part 2’ when the 10th Doctor, sporting a cowboy hat and a lay, locks the TARDIS remotely like it was a car, the light on top blinking. Fantastic.
Add to that all the little puns, quips, one liners and under his breath comments that the 10th Doctor has made through the years and you have a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which allows us, the viewers, to laugh along with them instead of at them.
Taking it seriously. As much as the show has its humorous moments, you can tell that the people behind it take what they are doing very seriously. Gone are the paper mache monsters and the TARDIS swinging on a fishing line, replaced by fantastic make-up artistry and really excellent (for television) special effects.
On top of that, the actors themselves are exceptional. The performances are poignant and heart wrenching and hysterical from moment to moment, episode to episode.
Storytelling. The writers for Doctor Who have managed to tell some fantastic, imaginative stories. With everything else I’ve listed, you might have something that was ok – just passable, but with solid storytelling and writing, combined with all the rest – that’s when you have something truly special that is going to appeal to a wider audience.
And that, my friends, is why I say that Doctor Who is the Best SciFi Show on Television. Because it combines all of these elements and does it well, because it has the storytelling and the acting and the special effects (that don’t detract from the story, but, rather, enhance it) and because it’s fun and appeals to a wide audience.
Shows like this one are what keep SciFi going, year after year, and keep us coming back for more.