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How To Start Watching Doctor Who

As "Doctor Who" superfans stare down the months-long wait for the next bout of specials, those still resistant to the series may be starting to wonder what all the fuss is about. Perhaps you've been discouraged by the number of episodes and seasons currently available to binge. Luckily, a few Whovian scholars have taken it upon themselves to make the world of "Doctor Who" accessible and digestible.

The first thing you'll likely want to do is disabuse yourself of any completionist notions. Certainly, out of a sense of either obligation, narrative interest, or sheer stubbornness, the ideal notion of finishing all 39 seasons and 18 specials is understandable — it is also, however, largely impossible. For a whole host of reasons, large swaths of the original "Doctor Who" series are unattainable (per the show's official website). More importantly, though, new viewers should know that classic "Doctor Who" is mostly irrelevant to the modern series.

When the BBC revived "Doctor Who" in 2005 with Russell T. Davies at the helm, much of the canon was revamped. In other words, the lore that truly matters is either brand new or will be carefully explained if one hops aboard the train from the 2005 premiere onward — and don't worry; they won't leave you in the dark over an obscure reference from 50 years in the past. Besides, it's not even necessary that you watch the entirety of the modern reboot either.

Follow the showrunners

Contrary to how it might appear, the new "Doctor Who" series is not itself a comprehensive product with a singular, overarching vision. Within this reboot-sequel, there are a few subtle interior reboots that can mostly be tracked by taking a look at the creative team — meaning accessible entry points for new viewers are surprisingly abundant.

In a lot of ways, the "Doctor Who" franchise can be treated like a popular comic book franchise. You don't need to have read every single issue of "Detective Comics" to understand the modern iteration of Batman, but starting at the beginning of the current writer's run will be more narratively satisfying. This same strategy can be applied to "Doctor Who" by following a specific showrunner.

Russell T. Davies led the series' revival in 2005 and oversaw its first four seasons, which follow the Ninth and Tenth Doctors (Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant, respectively). While some Whovians may advise following a specific doctor, Davies' tenure shows the flaws in this strategy. Since Eccleston departed the series after one season due to creative differences, the Ninth Doctor's end doesn't carry the same sense of weight and closure as the Christmas special "The End of Time," which marked the end of both Tennant's and Davies' time with "Doctor Who."

In many ways, the episode feels like a true series finale, resolving and paying tribute to much of what Davies built across both Doctors' storylines. That said, even though Eccleston left prematurely, it would be ill-advised to skip right to Tennant — his season establishes many important players in Davies' run, including Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and the Daleks. You can, however, jump right into Season 5, which begins Steven Moffat's tenure as showrunner and introduces Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor.

Every reboot is an opportunity

As /Film notes, Season 5 feels particularly like a full reboot of the reboot. It is also worth mentioning that five seasons into his run, Steven Moffat himself performs another soft, interior reboot with the Season 10 premiere, winkingly titled "The Pilot." Though Season 10 is the third to feature Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor, it isn't necessary to see Seasons 8 and 9 to begin here.

Showrunner Chris Chibnall, who took over from Moffat in Season 11, had the shortest run. Lasting three seasons, Chibnall's term solely followed Jodie Whitaker's Thirteenth Doctor. While you could start with Season 11, it may be wise to consider starting with Moffat's Season 10, given their proximity to one another, as well as Season 10's blatantly restorative nature. Think of it as Moffat setting Chibnall up for success. After Chibnall's run, things get interesting (and possibly very attractive) for new viewers.

The perfect starting point comes this November

If you found this article because you're a massive "Sex Education" fan and can't wait to see Ncuti Gatwa take over the TARDIS, we have excellent news: You probably don't need to watch any previous episodes.

Russell T. Davies has returned to "Doctor Who" as showrunner. For people looking to get invested in the future of the series, this is where we would recommend beginning. Though 2023's specials will seemingly focus on David Tennant, they will likely be an effective primer for potential new fans, or at least a decent barometer for whether or not you'll enjoy the series. According to the show's official website, the 2023 "Doctor Who" specials will arrive in November.

And if you become understandably enamored of Davies' iteration of "Doctor Who," you can simply start from the beginning. There is truly no better time than now to be a new "Doctor Who" fan.