For over a half century now, Dr. Who has been one of the most popular science fiction shows among TV audiences. It was broadcast in several waves, the first running from 1963 to 1989; then, during each year beginning with 2005, a new series was put on that consisted of a number (usually thirteen) episodes, plus one or two specials. In addition, BBC has produced several spoof and crossover episodes over the years, including “A Fix with Sontarans” from 1985 and the interactive mini-episode “Attack of the Graske.” No fewer than 97 episodes of Dr. Who have been reported as lost.
Today, the fan following of the show is greater than ever, with many ardent enthusiasts longing to see the most recent installment in the franchise and share his newest adventures in outer space. This article is for such people.
Reactions to the initial episodes
The very first episode of Dr. Who, known variously as “An Unearthly Child” and “100,000 BC, was broadcast weekly from November 23 to December 14, 1963. Unfortunately, the first part came on just the day after President Kennedy was shot; this event overshadowed the arrival of new series. Indeed, it has been said, though not confirmed, that the extended news coverage of the national tragedy caused the pilot to be aired ten minutes late. William Harnell, who had been in such films as The Way Ahead as well as in the comedy Carry On Sergeant, was cast in the role of the First Doctor, whose granddaughter was played by Carole Anne Ford and the teachers by four other eminent actors and actresses.
The first four episodes attracted a total of six million viewers, or 12.3 percent of the overall viewing audience, and were given reviews that were for the most part favorable. “Unearthly Child” alone was viewed by 4.4 million persons, or 9.1 percent of the total number of potential viewers.
Mary Crozier, reviewer for the Guardian, however, was not impressed when she watched the first two episodes, and she said the show offered “little to thrill” and that the second episode made for a “disappointing sequel.” Even Mark Bould, a scholar who wrote a great deal about Dr. Who, had to acknowledge that the program might have to be cancelled pretty soon owing to the great disappointment of the audience and the high cost of producing it.
Retrospective reviews of “Unearthly Child” have been much more positive: Reviewer Patrick Mulkern, of the Radio Times, praised the thrilling voyage back to the planet TARDIS, and the A. V. Club’s Christopher Bahn thought that the opening episode had been “brilliantly done.”
It was really the introduction of a whole new race of mutant extraterrestrials that rescued Dr. Who from the graveyard of TV shows. Known as the Daleks, they were totally bent on wiping out every race in the universe except for their own under the egis of the motto “Exterminate!”
How the show has managed since then
From then on, Dr. Who was to appear like a show that would never come to end. Succeeding episodes met with both positive and negative reactions; the first serial in the second season, “Planet of Giants,” has struck some viewers as odd owing to the failure of the crew to interact directly with the criminals they encountered, who were themselves described as “pretty stupid.” The revived show is currently in the middle of its eighth series.
Places to watch the new series
We now turn to the subject of where you can watch the new Dr. Who online. Xfinity on Demand is one place where full episodes are broadcast, and pieces of recent ones can also be viewed on YouTube, though you may have to pay to see them in their entirety. Among the sites that have information on the series are the blog of Australia’s ABC site and BBC itself.