Doctor Who (1963-present)
Appropriateness Rating: Don’t Miss It
Entertainment Rating: Epic
Doctor who is a long-running British TV series about an alien called “The Doctor” who travels through time and space in a machine called a TARDIS. He goes around saving planets and resolving conflicts and he has human companions who travel with him to see the wonders of the universe and help him out. It’s an excellent show that will appeal to kids who enjoy science fiction, kids who like action movies, and most parents as well! It earns a rating of Don’t Miss It because while it does have some inappropriate parts or scenes they aren’t overwhelming and they shouldn’t stop you from watching the show with your family. However, we would recommend watching the episodes first before showing them to your kids.
Warnings: girlfriend/boyfriend interactions in a few episodes only, some references to homosexual relationships
If you watch the Classic episodes of Doctor Who you’ll see a lot less of this, but in the new series that began in 2005 some of the Doctor’s companions have boyfriends, etc. Also, there is a new trend of adding side-stories of the Doctor’s (usually female) companions falling in love with him, etc. Fortunately, these remain as side-stories that can easily be skipped or ignoring, without affecting the overall story-lines about defeating monsters, etc. In this sense Doctor Who remains a lot cleaner than anything your kids can watch on TV and if you pre-watch the episodes and know when to skip they will never know those inappropriate interactions ever happened.
A few episodes of Doctor Who contain characters that are homosexual and refer to homosexuality or even show people of the same sex kissing. So far these characters are Jack Harkness and Madam Vastra and Jenny. I would recommend skipping the scenes in the Jack episodes and possibly skipping all the Madam Vastra Episodes as they are FULL of these references.
Like most good science fiction Doctor Who tackles a lot of social issues and has many important messages. There are themes of working together, friendship, power and helping the less powerful, themes about the media and its effect on society, and on and on. This makes the show enjoyable and meaningful to watch as the Doctor and his companions are always struggling to act with good conscience and do the right thing. They also learn about the effects of their meddling in other people’s lives and often discover that while they were trying to help they actually created a new problem. If you’re looking for meaningful themes and messages Doctor Who is a great show to watch with your family.
It’s a very big show, with so many episodes and seasons that parents might find it difficult to know where to begin and how to choose good episodes. Here’s a handy guide to help you make the right decisions for your family:
Doctor Who Overview:
The Doctor is the main character. He is an alien that travels through time and space in his TARDIS and takes human companions along with him. He also has the ability to change his body and appearance as a way of healing himself if he gets very seriously injured. This is called regeneration. In this way, the show has been able to continue as normal when the actor playing the Doctor needs to leave the show so you will often see references to “The First Doctor” or “The Sixth Doctor” or “The Tenth Doctor” or sometimes people will just refer to the name of the actor who played the Doctor at that time.
Classic Doctor Who 1963-1989
The first 26 seasons of Doctor Who running from 1963-1989 are often referred to as the Classic Series. The first episodes are in Black and White and the special effects, even in the 80s episodes isn’t as convincing as all the CGI that your kids will see in movies today. So while the episodes in these series are excellent and while they will contain less inappropriate material than the newer seasons your kids might not be able to enjoy them as much in comparison to the flashy, fancy special effects of today’s movies and tv shows. It might be a good idea to just watch the first few episodes and then pick and choose episodes from the Classic Series to watch. The show was cancelled in 1989 after seven Doctors had been sen on screen and there were a few years where no new Doctor Who episodes were being made.
1996 American Doctor Who Movie
In 1996 an American movie was made showing the seventh Doctor regenerating into the Eighth Doctor and having some adventures in America. Skip this movie. It centers around a love story between the Doctor and a nurse and it’s very different from the BBC tv show that you will grow to love. Fans of Doctor Who generally consider this movie a disaster even though many of them love the eighth doctor because of other audio and book stories.
New Who: Russel T. Davies Era 2005-2010
Russel T. Davies is the show-runner who brought Doctor Who back to the BBC in 2005. Under his supervision the show had many great themes and episodes, two wonderful Doctors (the Ninth Doctor and the Tenth Doctor) many excellent companions, and while it had some minor love stories it remained clean and appropriate overall. The graphics and special effects are much more convincing and modern and will appeal to your kids and hold their attention. Watch it with your family for many hours of family fun, but watch out for the Jack Harkness episodes and the relationship between Rose and the Tenth Doctor in Season 2.
Out of this era the fourth Season with Donna Noble as the Doctor’s companion was the best because Donna was not at all interested in falling in love with the Doctor so there is a lot less inappropriate content to have to worry about or skip.
When I watched these four Seasons with my family it was so easy for me to skip the minor inappropriate scenes and the younger kids really had no idea that any of it had happened.
New Who: Steven Moffat Era 2010-present
Starting with the Eleventh Doctor in series 5 in 2010 New Who changed considerably. Steven Moffat, one of the writers on the show became the new show-runner and under his direction the series started getting more and more Americanized. There are many more references to sex, the female companions keep falling in love with the doctor and there’s a lot of awkward tension, the female companions wear very short skirts (and the doctor comments on it continuously, drawing attention to it and suggesting that he is paying attention to it) and you can’t seem to get a female character on the show who isn’t intimately involved with someone. It becomes a much more difficult task to skip the bad stuff and just show your kids the monster-stories. Even many non-Muslim fans of the show who don’t have the same strict Muslim sensitivities when it comes to these issues have found the show increasingly sexist in its portrayal of women and have spoken out about this.
Another issue with this era of Doctor Who is that there’s a lot less of the good messages and themes and the writing is not as well done so the plots end up being convoluted and pointless. I wouldn’t say to stop watching at this point, because there are still many episodes that are good and that don’t have bad parts, but be very careful and don’t be afraid to skip many of the episodes and just watch the clean ones. I also found that kids find these seasons more boring than previous ones so you won’t have a hard time with them begging to see the episodes you’ve decided to skip – they’ll understand when you tell them that episode is boring or stupid, at least up to a certain age.
Overall, Doctor Who is a great show and one that remains surprisingly clean compared to most other shows. Like me, you’ve probably been saddened to hear young Muslim kids talking on and on about shows whose whole point is “who’s going out with who” so instead of trying to keep kids completely insulated from any TV as many parents are tempted to do, you can find good episodes of Doctor Who that even teenagers will enjoy and you can watch them together as a family.