"If you've never watched Doctor Who, this Saturday's midseason premiere is a good time to start. Here's what you need to know before tuning in....
One of the smartest things about the BBC’s Doctor Who is that the long-running sci-fi show — which celebrates its 50th anniversary this November — has a built-in renewal mechanism that keeps the show fresh and leaves the story mostly unencumbered by what came before. When the title character experiences the sort of trauma that would kill lesser mortals, the Doctor ”regenerates” into a new actor, offering a new entry point for viewers, and removes the weight of continuity.
While the current incarnation of the Doctor is in the midst of his third season, this Saturday’s episode, “The Bells of Saint John,” is actually pretty close to a quiet reboot of the series, with a new companion joining the Doctor after the loss of his former time-traveling friends. That said, if you’re relatively unfamiliar with Doctor Who history, here’s what you might want to know before tuning in:
At the start of the episode, the Doctor — the last of a near-immortal alien race who travels through time and space in a living time machine called the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space) — is on his own, something that historically goes badly for him due to the resulting loneliness and the absence of a human perspective on his actions...."