At Comic Con and at WonderCon thousands of fans line up for hours to see their favorite characters, and it doesn’t matter who you talk to, almost everyone’s knows of Doctor Who, even if they don’t watch it.
Overall, Doctor Who has ran for 34 television seasons, divided by a break between 1989 and 2005, when the show was finally, successfully revived. While it’s a staple of British culture, the fact remains that Dr. Who’s also very popular here in America.
The 2013 Doctor Who Christmas Special scored record ratings for BBC America, as it hit what the Hollywood Reporter said was an “all time high” for the 25-to-54 year old demographic.
Is what the man in the Comic Con video said, true? Is it that Doctor Who has managed to, for want of a better term, ‘regenerate’ itself over time? According to Peter Pachal over at Mashable, Doctor Who picked up when it shifted from Syfy to BBC America, where it was given its rightful place as a flagship program, and “marketing dollars poured in.”
I think Peter hit the nail on the head. With people like me, Doctor Who has always been a favorite, but that’s because we had to look for it. It was a hit with my friends, as we were also into science fiction in general, and Star Trek foremost of all. Doctor Who was part of the scope of television we commonly consumed, but if you consider the history of the original Star Trek, it took quite a while for that to build into the American Cultural phenomenon it is today.
Doctor Who became a hit because BBC America saw that it was under-marketed, knew that a greater expenditure of dollars would produce a ratings hit, and were correct.
But that still doesn’t explain what makes Doctor Who so popular. After all, the BBC could have been plain wrong.
It’s hard to get a definitive answer, so I’ll go with my own: Doctor Who became sexy. The original Doctor Who was more cerebral in a really crazy way, and that’s a way the current version was not. It lacked that sexy female lead, and the sexual tension that goes with having her, in this case, with Matt Smith and now Jenna-Louise Coleman, who plays Clara Oswald.
I think that element, and also a tuning out of the violence that was a point of complaint, particularly during the 70s, coupled with marketing, as well as a generational tilt toward fantasy content, has helped drive the success of the modern Doctor Who.
Why do you like Doctor Who?