Now's the time to jump into the universe of "Doctor Who," since a new Doctor is about to take over the TARDIS. As Peter Capaldi becomes the star of the show and the 12th version of the Doctor, here are five episodes that serve as the perfect primer for noobs.
"The Christmas Invasion"
First modern companion Rose Tyler was just starting to feel like she really knew the Doctor when he was mortally wounded and forced to regenerate. Actor Christopher Eccleston morphed into David Tennant in this Christmas special, beginning one of the most celebrated runs of any Doctor in the show's 50-year history. Tennant's doctor was jovial, dashing, heroic, and dangerous — a combination the actor pulled off effortlessly.
Why it's required viewing: It includes the first proper Time Lord regeneration of the modern series, introducing and explaining the regeneration concept. It's also a rip-roaring good ride of a self-contained episode.
"The Eleventh Hour"
Matt Smith's Doctor and his first companion, Amy Pond, are introduced in this fast paced roller-coaster, which is also the first episode of Steven Moffatt's tenure as the man in charge of "Doctor Who." Moffatt still serves as showrunner today, so there's no better way to get a taste for his work than this episode.
Why it's required viewing: It sets up story points that are still in play going into the show's 8th season, and it establishes Smith's brilliantly eccentric performance as an eternally optimistic Doctor. You'll need to be familiar with his point of view to properly contrast it with Peter Capaldi's new take on the character.
"The Doctor's Wife"
This instant classic written by Neil Gaiman is the first and only time the Doctor got to interact verbally with his sentient time machine, the TARDIS. The episode finds a wicked entity called House downloading the TARDIS' consciousness into a human female. For the first time, after hundreds of years together, these two oldest of friends get to meet face-to-face, and the results are priceless.
Why it's required viewing: It perfectly sums up the relationship the Doctor has with his first, and most important, companion.
"The Bells of Saint John"
There are better, more virtuoso episodes that could have been included, but this is the introduction of companion Clara Oswald. If you really want the full experience, you should go back a little further and watch "Asylum of the Daleks" and "The Snowmen." To say why would be telling. (The explanation for the whole mystery comes in "The Name of the Doctor.")
Why it's required viewing: Clara is the Doctor's current companion, and will be with Peter Capaldi's version at least through his first season.
"The Day of the Doctor"
The extra-long, terrific 50th Anniversary Special unites Smith's Doctor with Tennant's, who returns to his role for the first time in three years. A third Doctor is included as well, but this one isn't one you've ever heard of. He's known as the "War Doctor," and isn't considered one of the Doctor's true incarnations because he never used the proper name. While a mystery involving an old enemy unfolds in the present, the War Doctor must face his destiny to destroy both the Time Lords and the Daleks to end a war that was tearing the universe apart.
Why it's required viewing: Aside from being one of the best episodes of "Who" ever, it sets the Doctor on a brand new course that should inform the future of the series going forward. It's also the middle part of a trilogy of sorts, which began with "The Name of the Doctor" and ends with "The Time of the Doctor," Matt Smith's final episode, where he regenerates into Capaldi.
Every episode of modern "Doctor Who" — and many seasons of the original series — are available to watch on Netflix right now. So get to it!
Season 8 premieres Saturday night, August 22, 2014 at 9:00 PM EST on BBC America.