On the eve of Chicago’s annual 26.2-mile road race and the dawn of a new (and particularly significant) season of “Doctor Who” just hours away, you could say I have marathons on the brain.
On the one hand, I wish the (approximately) 45,000 runners hitting the streets tomorrow morning (47 percent of whom are women) the best of luck.
On the other hand, I wish the new “Doctor Who” team the best of luck. This show not only kicks off a new season tomorrow but also introduces a new creative team, and a new Doctor (7.69 of whom are female). Of course, in this case, that 7.69 percent lies all on one woman, Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor.
In both cases, I’d highly discourage deciding to join in tomorrow if you haven’t properly trained. In the case of the 26.2-mile, it’s too late. Seriously, that ship has sailed. But there’s always another race.
In the case of “Doctor Who,” there’s no time like the present (except for the past and future, of course). So, while there is not enough time for you to watch the entire series (yes, even if you just start with the new series), I may have a few starter episodes to get you in the right frame of mind before tomorrow’s premiere.
Truth be told, if you’re going to come in mid-series, there are worse places to start than at the beginning of a new Doctor’s time in the TARDIS. But if you want some backstory before jumping in, here are a few of my favorites.
“The Day of the Doctor”
If you can literally only watch one episode ahead of the premiere, this is the one. No other episode will give you the sense of history this one will. As it should, this is the 50th-anniversary special that brought together not one, not two, but four incarnations of the Doctor. It does not get more timey wimey than this.
“Twice Upon a Time”
This is Peter Capaldi’s (the 12th Doctor) final episode and (technically) Jodie Whittaker’s (the 13th Doctor) first. But if you have the time (and if you start now you will). I would start at the beginning of the 10th season to get a bit more context. However, if you’re crunched, this Christmas special will get you set up.
“Vincent and the Doctor”
I just love this episode. The series has always had an episode or two a season that really needs little context and this is one of them. This episode pays a visit to Vincent Van Gogh, just before the end of his life. It explores the impact of loneliness, the realities of mental illness, and there’s a space monster (because it’s “Doctor Who”). Be warned, you’ll probably cry.
If you’re wary to jump into a new series without any familiar faces, I present to you the James Corden episode. Here again, the show demonstrates its ability to tell really compelling stories in just one single episode. Also, the headbutt scene provides a very quick catch-up moment.
This one has another familiar face, Carey Mulligan, and some of the most iconic moments of “Doctor Who,” not to mention the most terrifying “villains” of the franchise — the weeping angels. I could debate whether they’re truly evil all day, but then we would be here all day. So, instead, watch (and don’t blink).
And then you’re going to want to block off the rest of the year to allow time to go back and (at the very least), watch the previous ten seasons of “Doctor Who” to really soak in the character development. See you in 2019.