The worse advice I’ve ever heard about Doctor Who

“Watch it from the beginning.”

That’s the recommendation that I heard from a Who fan (or “Whovian”, as some of them prefer) who was talking to someone who was interested in the show but had never seen an episode.

And it’s not like the advice was to start with the first episode of “nuWho”, the Christopher Eccleston episode “Rose”… No, it was to go back to the VERY FIRST EPISODE, “An Unearthly Child” and watch DECADES worth of episodes.

Sorry… but no. Horrible idea.

Now some “old school” fans may be reading this and going, “Hey, what’s your problem with ‘classic’ Who?” That’s not my problem with the recommendation. My issue is one of quantity, not quality.

If you want to introduce someone to a fifty-year old show, do NOT insist in the “completist” perspective. That is a LOT of time to invest in ANYTHING. If you were going to recommend learning something – like how to play an instrument, or pilot an airplane – that’s something you want to invest a lot of time in.

Not in watching a TV show. ANY TV show – even one as good as Doctor Who.

The better advice would be to recommend key “gateway” episodes for someone to watch, and this should include episodes from both classic and new Who. Use the rule of three – maybe two modern and one classic. And then, if they like it, recommend they watch an first series of one Doctor… The one you like.

And for God’s sake, don’t start them with Trial of a Time Lord.

Joseph Dickerson is a user experience professional and UX Lead for Microsoft based out of Atlanta, GA. He has implemented processes in user testing, design and ethnographic research and provided design and consulting services for many different projects and organizations.

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