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The Modern Era of Doctor Who Celebrates Its 15th Anniversary

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BY March 27, 2020
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In November of 2013, Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary with an epic special featuring two Doctors and shown in theaters across the globe. However, it was something of a fudge. Yes, it was the 50th anniversary of the premiere of the British children’s program, but it spent about 15 years out of production. Doctor Who returned in a big way in 2005, when Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner, and Christopher Eccleston brought the show back. The 15th anniversary of that episode passed on March 26, and it’s worth looking back at how the modern era of Doctor Who changed the game for the Time Lords. What was once a niche, sci-fi series for kids or the nerdiest of nerds is now a mainstream franchise that shows no signs of stopping.

Why the 15th Anniversary of the Modern Doctor Who Is Important

15th anniversary of modern era doctor who Matt Smith David Tennant Day of the Doctor Image via BBC

When the news broke in 2005 that Doctor Who would return to television for another series, fans were excited. However, not many others were. As mentioned above, it was a niche series and not for everyone. The final seasons of Doctor Who were not a high point for the series. The attempted 1996 reboot for Americans also missed the mark. (Though, Paul McGann was an excellent Doctor and set the standard for how the character is played in the modern era.) Yet, when the series started to air, Doctor Who was not just for nerds anymore. It was well-produced, well-written, well-acted, and appealed to a broader, more mainstream audience. Yet, at its core, the series still clung to the values of the original. All it took was a war.

The major difference in the Doctor’s character in the modern era was that he, basically, committed some heavy genocide to save the entire universe. The Time Lords and the Daleks fought a Time War, and the Doctor ended it by destroying both of them. This detail shaped the Doctor’s character throughout the 50th Anniversary Special. Then, it retconned it. Instead of destroying everyone, he saved the Time Lords and the Daleks destroyed themselves. (But also came back a bajillion times anyway and are set to return for the holiday special.) Since then we’ve seen the Doctor grapple with that decision, learn from it, and essentially become a pacifist with Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor.

It took a long time for the Doctor of War to become the plain-old Doctor again. He, well she now, travels through time and space saving lives and helping where she can. We’ve gotten great Doctors, and some of the best companions of all time.

Why We Should Appreciate the Doctor Who We Have

15th anniversary of modern era doctor who Jodie Whittaker Image via BBC

The 15th anniversary of the modern era of Doctor Who is a big deal. When Davies first brought the series back, he assumed it would be a one-and-done series. Christopher Eccleston moved on after a single season. British shows, other than Doctor Who, are notoriously short runs. Yet, David Tennant stepped in for a few years, and then Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi took swings at the character. With each change, the Doctor only grew in popularity. We all have our favorites, of course, but the series has been a consistently thrilling and sweet sci-fi adventure. Whittaker’s Doctor continues that trend, and deepens the mythology with other, unknown Doctors and a whole lot of mysterious history about the Doctor’s origins.

Though, things aren’t completely rosy for the Doctor. We know that Jodie Whittaker will do at least one more series (season to us Yanks) as the Doctor. Yet, the ratings for this year were some of the worst seen in the modern era. However, the fanbase is still growing. Some fans are upset about the change in the series. (Though, it seems they are mostly disappointed in showrunner Chris Chibnall than Whittaker, thank the TARDIS.) Still, nothing is guaranteed. So, we should celebrate the 15th anniversary of the modern era of Doctor Who because it was all borrowed time. The modern era of Doctor Who has been a gift to fans of the first run and those of us who only found it since 2005.

How do you feel about the 15th anniversary of the modern era of Doctor Who? Which Doctor is your favorite?

Featured image via BBC

Pop CultureTV ShowsDoctor WhoJodie Whittaker

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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