I'm usually bad at watching TV series, because I don't easily find something I really like, and I suck at following something for a long time, tuning in every week to watch the new episode. I'm better at suddenly falling in love with something that has several DVD boxes out and then watching them in quick succession, but I still do it quite rarely. So I only found out about Doctor Who last year, pretty much exactly 10 years after the new series began airing. I'd known about its existence, of course, but it took quite a lot of people talking to me about it before I realised it'd be something I might love. I borrowed a DVD box of the new Series 1 and fell in love right from episode 1, 'Rose'.
Now, the first episode wasn't the best written thing ever, but I fell in love with the fun adventure, the quirkiness and the underlying hints of darkness and serious themes, as well as the whole sense of "world is a big and wonderful place full of unexpected things and you want to go out and explore it rather than just live an everyday life where you get bored of everything and forget how amazing everything can be". I loved Rose and enjoyed Ninth Doctor. Still, at first I proceeded fairly slowly - let's be honest, the really good stuff only starts midway through Series 1. I still enjoyed it and loved watching the development of the universe, the characters of Rose and the Doctor, and their relationship.
Then came 'The Empty Child'.
I was scared out of my wits by that episode, I was. At the same time I was glued to the screen. When it was over, I was aware that I had watched one of the most brilliant pieces of TV I've ever seen. I was also scared like hell. I didn't dare to continue for two or three weeks, at least. Finally I did, because it was just too good and I wanted more. Of course in 'The Doctor Dances' everything gets sorted out and it's actually one of the happiest episodes ever, with one of the best endings. I was so addicted I finished watching the rest of the series in a couple of days.
Then it was on to Series 2 very quickly. Heartbroken at the lack of Jack Harkness but enamoured of the Tenth Doctor, I progressed quickly through it and enjoyed myself thoroughly. During the late summer, autumn and winter I went through Series 3 and 4, got myself even more hopelessly entangled into this world and its characters. I slowed down during Series 4 partly because of Real Life things, partly because I didn't want it to be over quickly. There was a bit of a halt in the early part of this year because of other fandoms invading my brain, but in the spring and early summer I got my way through the Specials - which, to be honest, I didn't love as much as all the previous series, but I cried buckets at the end of the Tenth Doctor who I'd adored so much.
That's where I'm now. I haven't dared to go on to Eleven yet, because so much will change - new showrunner (and I've heard most people say that they don't like Moffat's seasons as much as Davies', no matter how brilliant Moffat's episodes during the RTD era were), new Doctor and new Companion at the same time is a bit much. And I really wanted to go back and watch all of Nine and Ten again, since I've loved those years so much. Had I watched this in anything like real time, I would have been rewatching the previous seasons while waiting for new ones, so I want to get to know this era better now, it's just so special to me. I also haven't yet watched Torchwood, though I have plans to start it. Probably I'll try to watch things 'in order'. That is, after I've rewatched Series 2, I'll get S1 of Torchwood, then S3 of Doctor Who, then S2 of Torchwood etc. If I like Torchwood enough, but I hope I will, because it has Jack. I haven't yet watched any of the classic series. Probably I will give it a try at some point.
My absolute favourite character in the show is Captain Jack Harkness. When he first came on screen, blasted and flirted and grew his way through The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances, I already knew my heart was taken. And then he stayed with the Tardis crew for what was, alas, all too short a time but still enough to capture me for good. Broke my heart when he was left behind, it did, but then I was at least glad that he was alive - they'd broken my heart just a while ago by killing him, after all. When he returned in Utopia, the feeling was very different, but in a way that entangled my heart even more hopelessly.
I'm gonna do a more detailed post on Jack eventually (probably soon, since he's all I want to talk about for 50% of the time), but well, he's the character I always needed to see without realising it before I did see him. I love characters who seem like one thing but turn out to be much more, and Jack is just that. Enjoyed the hell out of him the very first scenes where he was flirting with Rose, but never knew how much there'd be on the way.
I'm mostly not very shippy, but I ship Jack/Doctor something mad. Possibly from the end of The Doctor Dances, but the very least from "Buy me a drink first" I've been on board. The complications of Utopia made me even more in love with the pairing, because it was now so much darker and more complex and endlessly fascinating, and that's what made me seek out fanfic (and then furiously try to figure out what I could read without spoilers). I'm also a bit of an OT3-er - I'm sure one of the first things I said to one of my friends after watching S1 was something like "Please tell me there is a subgenre of fan fiction where the Doctor, Rose and Jack travel space and time together as friends, fellow adventurers and lovers - well, duh, of course there is, I know fandoms". The first fandom where I've ever had an OT3, too.
Apart from Jack, I do love the other companions very much as well. I love it that the female companions are strong and interesting in a variety of ways, have their own stories and turn out to have a lot of magnificence of their own, even if they don't have the Doctor's Time Lord special powers. Instead, humanity is their superpower. That and their own personalities and capabilities for growth.
Out of the full-season companions my favourite is Donna. Can't get enough of her. Didn't know after the Runaway Bride that I'd say this, though. But during Partners in Crime I was already completely, absolutely sold. She's another character besides Jack who makes me sizzle out of pure excitement if she's as much as mentioned. Wish there was more stuff with her. I love her awesome boisterous personality, the kindness and the insight that comes in between, and her amazing friendship with the Doctor. Especially after S2 and S3 made a lot out of romantic aspects in the Doctor-Companion relationship, I was happy to get one that was based on friendship and pure love of adventure.
I do love both Rose and Martha, though. Rose more, I guess because she got more character development that wasn't tied to romantic feelings for the Doctor. They really went overboard with the unrequired love Martha had for the Doctor, and it makes me feel sorry for her character. She could have been more than they let her be. I confess to having a very soft spot for Ten/Rose as a pairing, but I like it that it didn't get explicitly romantic until the very end when they couldn't be together anyway. (Let's leave Journey's End out of the discussion now, that merits its own post once I've rewatched it.)
Hard to have much of a discussion on favourite Doctor when I've only seen two (I don't count the immediately post-regeneration Eleven we see a glimpse of in the last minute of The End of Time; I have a hunch I'll like him, but it's way too little time to tell). Nine is fantastic in his way and I thought he was a good one for being introduced to the show; he had a seriousness and gravitas that helped balance the silliness of some of the plots and show that there could be much more to the story than what you first see. And the balance between darkness and quirkiness is intriguing.
Still, Ten is the one I really fell in love with. Something just totally clicked for me right from his first episode on. Another case of "I always knew I needed this character though I didn't knew it before I saw him". Four seasons later (if you count the Specials as a full season) I've had nowhere near enough of him. Sometimes I want to box his ears so badly, I do, but I'm endlessly fascinated by him, and love him with all his flaws. He's so much fun on the one hand, so adorable, and then on the other hand there's so much darkness bubbling underneath, and sometimes coming out. It's never simple and things are never completely okay and yet he's easy to love, dangerously easy. I adore that. His relationships with his compansions are complex, and there's something immensely fulfilling about the way nothing's ever quite the way it should be, and the way there's always room for so much more, and so many more stories.
I guess you can already tell that my favourite thing about the show is the characters. I'm very character-oriented and emotions-oriented, so this show (at least during these seasons) is just made for me. The plots aren't always the sharpest, the science has some glaring mistakes (if I spot a science mistake, it's definitely glaring), the aliens are often silly except when they're truly, awesomely terrifying; and RTD has no understanding whatsoever of political institutions. But I'm the kind of viewer who forgives this kind of stuff when there are awesome characters and their awesome relationships with each other. The show is really good with characters, and with making you care about them. They don't always handle everything right about characters either, though. I mentioned Martha already, for example. And after how magnificently they set up Jack's character, they don't make enough use of him in Doctor Who. But even with the problems, they give me enough to be completely besotted. And sometimes the gaps they leave just make me more intrigued.
Other things I love about the show include the sheer fun and sense of adventure, and the way it combines with the darker, serious and more emotional aspects of the show. Even if the science is shoddy, it inspires this wonderful sense of "the Universe is a magnificent place full of amazing things" that makes me follow NASA news and start reading popular science books again and contemplate buying binoculars. The dialogue tends to be delightful. And I love having something that usually solves problems through brains and heart rather than violence. And something that, even if it is centred on a male hero, has strong female characters who are just as important to the show, as well as some breaking or bending of gender norms, and sexual minority characters whose sexuality is just one aspect of their character and not the main point.
This show got me back into fanfic, because there's just so much more to explore than is shown, and I can't get enoug of the characters. I've read a fair amount of fanfic by now, mostly Doctor/Jack and OT3. I also love properly in-character Donna gen when I can find it. I'm trying to be a bit careful about reading Jack fanfic because I'd like to avoid most Torchwood spoilers, but it's also rather hard to keep away from Jack fanfic. So yeah, gonna try to watch Torchwood soon to fix this problem. Though I'm a little worried about how it works to suddenly make Jack a main character; will I love him as much there as I do on Doctor Who? We'll see. Anyway, I kind of want to write fanfic myself, and I haven't wanted that for years. Let's see if something comes out of that.