Glen Oliver (@GlenOliverAICN), a.k.a. “Merrick,” is one of the resident Whovians over at Ain’t It Cool News, one of the web’s pioneering sci-fi/geek sites. Like many of us, he was introduced to Doctor Who during the modern, Russell T. Davies/Steven Moffat era, and he was “hooked” after 15 minutes. But the series has had an impact on him that even he didn’t anticipate. We chatted with Oliver for our #newtoWHO series.
1. Who introduced you to the show?
I had two friends pushing me to watch Doctor Who (then Tennant-era) for several years – @KenPlume and @Robogeek. I resisted, hemmed and hawed, and made numerous excuses why I shouldn’t give “that show” a try. They finally wore me down – and from about 15 minutes in, I was utterly hooked. I can’t thank Ken and Paul enough for guiding me toward Doctor Who - the show has changed my life.
As a commentator/reviewer of film and television — and as a script writer — I’d found myself growing increasingly cynical and jaded about a decided lack of imagination evident in many titles these days. So much so that I was seriously considering other career paths. Seriously considering abandoning any kind of writing at all. Doctor Who was instrumental in restoring my faith in the power and flexibility of well-considered narrative, and proved there is still wonder, cleverness, and ‘truth’ to be found (and created!) if one looks hard enough – and sees through the right eyes.
I’m not sure where I’d be…or what I’d be doing…today without Doctor Who, but it awakened me and spoke to me at just the right time, and in just the way I needed. I’m very happy with where I now am professionally, and owe much of this to my discovery of the vast, magical, funny, terrifying, poignant, varied, and meaningful Whoniverse.
2. What was your first episode (and Doctor/Companion), and what about the show grabbed you?
I started with “Blink,” “Silence in the Library,” and “Forest of the Dead” – all Steven Moffat episodes, I’d later realize. I loved the huge ideas of these stories, conveyed elegantly and accessibly – and I felt these episodes had a certain “truth” about them. People seemed to act like believable people – even when confronted by wildly unusual challenges and circumstances.
3. If a curious viewer wanted an introduction to Doctor Who, which episode would you suggest they start with and why?
“Blink,” “Silence in the Library,” and “Forest of the Dead” I think were inspired recommendations when I started watching. I think they do a lovely job at encapsulating what the show is, and point towards a bigger sense of what the show can be. I’d also suggest “The Runaway Bride” for its charm and energy, “Vincent and the Doctor” for its poignant soul, “The Eleventh Hour” for its brilliant reveal of Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, and “The Pandorica Opens” / “The Big Bang” for their heart and sheer audacity.