Ronald D. Moore’s Doctor Who
A gritty drama about a Time Lord dealing with the overwhelming guilt of committing genocide against his own race while fleeing the Dalek fleet. The Doctor spends the show searching for his lost planet Gallifrey and what remains of his species, guided by mystical signs and temples scattered throughout time and space. Also, there are Cylons probably, because why not. In the series finale, it’s revealed that God left these signs for him, and also his companion Amy Pond was actually an angel or something.
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse’s Doctor Who
Who is Doctor Who? Where does he come from? And what does he want with Amy and Rory Pond, the two “companions” he abducts into space aboard his time traveling phone box? These questions aren’t answered for six seasons, but instead deflected with contrived dialogue like, “I’ll tell you later,” or “It doesn’t matter right now,” or “Because the Tardis wanted it.” Each episode is intercut with flashbacks to Amy and Rory’s past (Amy’s a murderer while Rory’s a recovering heroin addict), showing how the Doctor’s time traveling has influenced their lives. Online debates rage over whether the Tardis is alive, a holodeck, a dream, or purgatory. In the series finale, it’s revealed the Tardis is heaven and the Doctor is God/Allah/whatever. It’s terrible. It makes the rest of the show unwatchable because you know what it leads up to is terrible.
Joss Whedon’s Doctor Who
At the start, the Doctor is shot by a Sonoran and regenerates as a woman played by Gina Torres or possibly Alyson Hannigan. After that, she fights evil aliens using karate along with mesmerizing wit. Fran Kranz plays her companion Rory (by companion, I mean space prostitute), and beneath their verbal sparring and irritation with one another is a burgeoning romance that will, of course, never be resolved due to cancellation after 11 episodes. The show will still have a lot of words ending in ‘y’ that don’t normally end with a ‘y’ like ‘timey wimey’, and still maintain a lighthearted tone even in the face of imminent universal apocalypse.
Jonathan Ames’s Doctor Who
The Doctor, an overly sensitive hipster, travels the universe in his vintage telephone box, drinking white wine, writing a novel, and trying to sleep with aliens who inevitably reject him in various hilariously awkward ways. His companion, played by Ted Danson, always wants to come along on adventures and remains excited even as events spiral out of control. Often, the Doctor tries to stop an alien monster by asking it to please stop because violence is bad and, come on, you don’t want to hurt people, and then he quotes Samuel Beckett or makes another equally hip reference. After passing around a joint and discussing their mutual relationship problems, he and the monster part as friends. The Daleks are replaced by a horde of callous intergalactic book reviewers called the Hodgemen who feed on creatures’ insecurities. On the series finale, the Doctor goes back in time and falls in love with a woman he later discovers is his grandmother. Nevertheless, the show ends with the two of them dancing and making out. Gross.
David Simon’s Doctor Who
An exploration of the systemic flaws of various institutions throughout time and space, which the Doctor tries to solve, but usually fails despite tremendous effort. The first season shows how poverty stricken minorities are thrust into lives as Cybermen. The second season shows how the Daleks’ lack of emotion and race supremacy restricts their ability to coexist with other species, leading to mass extermination and a constant need for explanations. The third season shows how journalists’ lack of coverage of The Silence (because no one can remember seeing them) leads to further entrenchment of the aliens in our institutions. The fourth season shows how corrupt Gallifreyan politics leads to the last great time war, forcing the Doctor to time lock all the Time Lords out of existence. The fifth season shows the Doctor robbing and murdering drug dealers.
Amy Sherman Palladino’s Doctor Who
The fast-talking Doctor travels through time and space, searching for a place to open the quaint little bed and breakfast she’s always dreamed of, while struggling with her feelings for her companion, the smart but curmudgeonly Jess. (Did I mention the Doctor is a teenage girl? Because she’s a teenage girl.) In addition, she juggles college in ancient Athens with the quirky Professor Socrates, which sometimes gets in the way of her time traveling with Jess (and then Patrick in season two and then back to Jess in season three and then Brent in season four). The show drops a ton of pop culture references and the soundtrack consists of a Dalek singing “lala” over and over.