How To Watch All ‘Doctor Who’ Spinoff Shows in Order
Doctor Who is a beloved British sci-fi franchise that first aired in 1963. The series follows the adventures of the Doctor, a time-traveling extraterrestrial who travels the multiverse to help people in need. With each new incarnation of the series, the Doctor regenerates and a new actor takes on the role. Starting your Doctor Who journey is already daunting given the massive catalog of episodes (over 800!). So naturally, navigating the world of Doctor Who spinoffs can be difficult when you’re trying to wade into the fandom. Not to worry though, because we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to watch all the Doctor Who spinoff shows in order.
The first spinoff, Torchwood, was created as a more adult take on the family-friendly Doctor Who. The show features the return of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), erstwhile companion of the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston). Torchwood sees Harkness leading a team of dysfunctional special agents who investigate ghosts, monsters, and aliens in Cardiff. Meanwhile, he tries to understand the source of his strange immortality. Fast-paced, frightening, and gory at times, Torchwood brings complex relationship drama and manages to avoid taking itself too seriously. Except for the final season, but it’s clearly not actually canon, so just don’t watch that.
The Infinite Quest
The Infinite Quest is an animated series that was part of the children’s magazine show Totally Doctor Who. The series follows the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Martha (Freema Agyeman) as they face off against a villain named Baltazar and try to reach the Infinite before he does. An ancient spaceship, the Infinite is capable of granting those on board their hearts’ desires, or an illusion of them anyway. Featuring sentient crows and a quest around the galaxy, The Infinite Quest is a surprisingly dark, sad story for a children’s show, but absolutely captures classic Doctor Who vibes.
The Sarah Jane Adventures
The first live-action children’s show in the franchise, The Sarah Jane Adventures features beloved former companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), now middle-aged and unwilling to put up with the Doctor’s nonsense. She’s joined by her super-smart, genetically engineered adoptive son Luke (Tommy Knight) and his teenage friends. Together, they repel hostile aliens, protect vulnerable ones, and generally have less traumatic adventures than the characters in the more adult-oriented shows. It’s a fun, heartwarming series that’s generally enjoyable to watch.
Darker than The Sarah Jane Adventures, Class feels more like Torchwood for a young adult audience. The series follows a group of teenagers enrolled at Coal Hill Academy, a school that often finds itself in the path of the Doctor and his enemy of the week. Student Charlie (Greg Austin) has a secret: he’s an alien prince, the last survivor of his kind, living in exile on Earth after a species known as the Shadow Kin committed genocide against his people. When the Shadow Kin descend on Earth, the students will have to work together (along with the prince’s unwilling bodyguard) to repel them and keep themselves and the planet safe. Dealing with heavy themes of death and loss, as well as standard teenage issues, Class has a diverse cast and features a queer romance between two of the main characters.
Sarah Jane’s Alien Files
A companion series to The Sarah Jane Adventures, Sarah Jane’s Alien Files pairs clips from the former series with commentary from Sarah Jane and her team discussing different alien species. The conceit of the series sees the team creating an alien database in their supercomputer, Mr. Smith. You know, in the case of Sarah Jane’s death or incapacitation, which would leave her unable to keep protecting Earth. The show is a great recapper and source of info on aliens but shares a little too much content with its parent show to make for an enjoyable paired episode watch.
Set in a dystopian future London, K9 is a mixed computer animation/live-action show of dubious canonicity. Because the production company only had the rights for K9 the character, and nothing else from the BBC-owned franchise (not even K9’s character design which had to be completely changed for this show), its place in the Doctor Who universe is up for debate. A classic eccentric scientist and a group of misfit teenagers team up to fight hostile aliens and the oppressive government alike, building a found family in the process.
This American-set animated series sees the Doctor facing off against the U.S. military at Area 51. The military installation has formed an alliance with a group of warlike Viperox and is helping them search for a weapon that could cause global genocide at the push of a button. It’s up to the Doctor and his new human friends to stop them and free the classic Roswell grey aliens imprisoned there. Dreamland is a classic Doctor Who story about genocide, ethics, and revenge, aimed at kids but viewable for adults as well.
(featured image: BBC)
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