Jodi Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor in Doctor Who

What You Need To Know about ‘Doctor Who’ as It Enters a New Era

As Doctor Who prepares to enter another era, now is the perfect time to get into the long-running sci-fi show. Here’s a rundown of what the show is about for those feeling daunted about getting into it.

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Initially, fans were expecting Doctor Who series 14 to premiere on May 11, 2024. However, showrunner Russell T. Davies surprised us by revealing it will actually be Doctor Who season 1. To reiterate that Ncuti Gatwa’s run as The Doctor signifies a refreshing new era, the show is experiencing something of a soft reboot. Davies explained that one of the main reasons the show has been around since 1963 is because every so often, it “stops, opens the door and refreshes itself, and gets a new audience.” Also, not many people are up to delving into a show that is 60 or so seasons deep, making it understandable to reset after a certain number.

Doctor Who was first rebooted in 2005, after 26 seasons of the show’s classic era, and the season count was restarted. Now, the count is being started all over again to emphasize the significance of Gatwa’s run. Gatwa is the first openly queer Doctor in the show’s history and only the second Black Doctor after the appearance of Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor in 2020.

Not only is Gatwa the new Doctor, but he’ll be getting new companions. Additionally, the show experienced significant changes behind the scenes, with Davies taking over as showrunner and Disney+ becoming the new streaming home for the series. Needless to say, Doctor Who is getting a fresh start and signifying to newcomers that now is the time to start watching.

What is Doctor Who about?

Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor and Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday sitting side by side
(BBC)

It’s understandable that some newcomers or viewers who lost touch with the show over the years would be hesitant to watch Doctor Who season 1, given its immense history. However, there’s really not a whole lot that you need to know about the show to enjoy it besides its basic premise.

Doctor Who follows the story of The Doctor, a human-like alien from an extraterrestrial race of beings known as Time Lords from the planet Gallifrey. The Time Lords were known for having created time travel machines. As a Time Lord, The Doctor looks human but has a few unusual characteristics, such as boasting two hearts. The most important alien characteristic The Doctor bears is the ability to regenerate. Anytime The Doctor is fatally wounded or ages significantly, they can regenerate into a new person. While they still have their old incarnations’ memories, each Doctor has a unique appearance and personality. The Doctor’s incarnations can be any gender, sexual identity, or ethnicity.

In the new season, Gatwa is the Fifteenth incarnation of The Doctor. However, there are technically two Fifteenth Doctors. The Fourteenth Doctor (David Tennant) underwent bi-generation for the first time, meaning two separate Doctors, Gatwa and Tennant, were formed and allowed to co-exist. This is the first time bi-generation has happened, but viewers should be aware of it in case they see Tennant’s Doctor pop up in season 1.

Meanwhile, since he’s a Time Lord, the Doctor has a time machine called the TARDIS, which can travel anywhere across space and time. As a result, each season sees the Doctor traveling throughout the galaxy to save the world. Whether they are fixing time anomalies, stopping interplanetary wars, or defending Earth from extraterrestrial threats, the Doctor is always on the move, serving as the galaxy’s protector.

The Doctor can get lonely as a nearly immortal being, which is why they often travel with a companion or two. In the new season, the Doctor’s companion is Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson), a young woman who decides to travel with the Doctor after he saves her from goblins.

The new season of Doctor Who will simply follow the latest Doctor and his companion as they go wherever the TARDIS takes them, defending the galaxy along the way. You may hear references to some past recurring villains, such as the Cybermen, Daleks, or The Master, as well as past companions. However, Doctor Who never goes too heavy on the lore and is perfectly enjoyable even without knowing every detail about the past Doctors’ experiences.

(featured image: BBC)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.