The best shows like Doctor Who
Doctor Who is one of the most celebrated and longest-running shows on television, having been a hugely important part of the science fiction world on screen since it first broadcast on the BBC on 23rd November 1963.
During the many decades that have followed, there have been myriad different stars of the show from William Hartnell to Ncuti Gatwa, and it has had its ups and its downs, being cancelled in 1989, rebooted with a movie in 1996, before disappearing from the television screens of viewers again until 2005 when the show returned under the creative leadership of Russell T Davies.
Since 2005, the show has won over a new generation of fans, who have fallen in love with the sci-fi phenomenon again and hidden behind the sofa from the best Doctor Who villains, enemies and baddies like the Daleks and the Cybermen and more modern creations like the Weeping Angels.
But the problem with all TV shows is that they can’t be making new episodes all of the time. In fact, there are often fairly long gaps between seasons of Doctor Who and so it’s very important that science fiction fans have other shows to watch during these down times.
Luckily we have spoken to lots of sci-fi fans online and asked them what are the best shows like Doctor Who that they would recommend to people who love the series.
The result, this list of great TV shows that you can watch and stream right now as you await the next instalment of Doctor Who…
This may not be a time travel show, but it shares a lot in common with Doctor Who because of its writer and creator connections. The modern retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories is co-created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gaitiss. As fans of Who will know, Steven Moffat was the showrunner of Doctor Who as well as being one of the most prolific writers on the show in the modern era – and Mark Gaitiss has both written for the show and starred in several episodes over the years. Therefore Sherlock, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, shares many sensibilities and tone with Doctor Who, even if there are fewer monsters from far flung planets involved.
This is a show that many Doctor Who fans have recommended to others, and which has been described as a beautifully crafted piece of science fiction. The series rand for over a hundred episodes in the 1990s and although special effects and production techniques may have moved on a little since the show was made, the quality of the writing, the storylines and the acting shines through even today for a show that continues to earn new fans all the time.
If you’re a fan of the lighter side of Doctor Who, then The Librarians may be a show that you’re interested in giving a try. It is a direct spin-off from the film series which had the same name and tells the story of a group of highly intelligent and skilled people who protect the world from nefarious magic and wrong-doing through their collective wit, wisdom and powers. Many believe the library set looks a bit like the TARDIS, but even beyond this similarity, there’s definitely much about this show that will make Doctor Who fans feel at home.
This is a show that again many Doctor Who fans have recommended. It originally ran from July 7th 2009 to May 19th 2014 and has been described by some as, wait for it, a mix of The X-Files, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Moonlighting! Yep, that’s quite the description, right? The show follows the fortunes of a team of agents who track down and capture artefacts that can become extremely dangerous if they are not kept in the right hands. The place they are kept is the titular Warehouse 13. This is a series that oozes sci-fi intrigue and has more than its fair share of humour along the way.
Life on Mars
Life on Mars is a police procedural set in the 1970s, but with a twist. The main character, Sam Tyler, is a police officer who is involved in a car accident and wakes up to find himself in the year 1973. As he tries to figure out what has happened, he must solve crimes using the methods of the time. Not quite battling aliens in the furthest reaches of the universe, but definitely a compelling science fiction tale that has a lot to offer the average Doctor Who fan.
An out and out science fiction comedy, this show is one of the most British that you will ever come across, and in that sense it shares a lot with Doctor Who. Although the show that follows the fortunes of Rimmer, Lister, Kryten and Cat as they are lost in space lacks some of the truly in depth storytelling that Doctor Who serials can deliver, this is a show that has more than its fair share of philosophical questions to be asked and answered between the laughs as the crew battle to find a way home.
Regarded by many as one of the most influential science fiction series of the modern era, if you haven’t already seen Quantum Leap as a Doctor Who fan you are in for a real treat. The premise of the show was that scientist Dr. Sam Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) becomes trapped in a time loop, leaping into the body of someone else in a different time period each week in order to put right whatever wrongs existed in that person’s life. While Dr. Beckett’s adventures took him to all sorts of different time periods and locations, one of the aspects of the show that made it so popular was the way that it dealt with social issues of the day. In particular, episodes dealing with racism, sexism, and homophobia were praised for their handling of these sensitive topics.
Legends of Tomorrrow
Well, if you really want a guarantee of a Doctor Who connection in a show, why not pick one that stars a very well-loved member of the Doctor Who alumni in the shape of Arthur Darvill. Just like Doctor Who, this is a show that heavily features time travelling and it feels as if the writers of the programme are fans of the long running BBC series. But what will happen to the gang as both heroes and villains are brought together to face an even bigger threat than each other?
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
This show was mentioned a lot by Doctor Who fans who were looking for similar shows. The US version on BBC America and Netflix is particularly favoured for its excellent performances from Sam Barnett and Elijah Wood. Of course students of Doctor Who will know that this series is based on a book by Douglas Adams, who they will also know is not only one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time – but was also a writer on Doctor Who back in the day. What’s not to like?
Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction thriller television series that follows the lives of a group of clones who discover they are part of an illegal experiment. It stars Tatiana Maslany as several identical people who are part of the clone club. An intriguing show which has science fiction running through its veins, it, like Doctor Who, asks lots of important questions about ethics and philosophy while continuing to entertain its audience with gripping storylines.
There are a huge number of Doctor Who fans who said that they got into Doctor ho from watching Star Trek. On the flip side, there are also many Star Trek fans who said they were inspired to try Star Trek because they were already hooked on Doctor Who. The series may take different angles into the sci-fi realm but they share a lot in common – not least the sheer length of time they have existed on our screens. Star Trek is a show that is filled with big ideas, philosophical questions and challenges of ethics and morality as its crew go to places that no one has gone before. It is because of many of the shared themes and values that these two shows often seem to share many fans too.
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