Originally Posted by Adrienne78
I think that starting at either the begining of the Smith era (series 5) or the beginning of NewWho (Eccelston series 1) is a good starting place, but I would still advocate that there is great value to starting with Eccelston to get into the series.
1. The ideas of regeneration, the importance of the TARDIS, and the Daleks, and the overall themes of the entire series are easier to understand in their full nature by taking in (at least) the entire new series.
2. Comparing Doctors and seeing the differences and similarities adds an especially important element.
3. You never know when something that has come up before will pop back up and play a continued role (though this is also true for the Classic series in relation to the new.)
4. There are just some exceptionally good episodes in the Eccelston and Tennant eras that a budding Who fan should not miss.
I agree with the idea that Classic Who can be more daunting, and the stories are a very different experience, though I find them increasingly rewarding.
What I have done is watched them in "time shifting" order, instead of just watching straight through I having been picking a story from each doctor and watching them in order. So I only see one story from each doctor at a time, but I get a lot of the subtleties and distinctions.
I agree that there is plenty of great stuff in the first four seasons of NewWho (I'm a big Donna Noble fan, personally). But I came in with the Smith/Moffatt era and had no trouble understanding the TARDIS, Daleks, Cybermen, Sonic Screwdriver, regeneration, or any of the other trappings of the "Whoniverse." In fact, I think the first episode of the Matt Smith tenure was designed to be a reintroduction of the character for new fans.
I get why starting with Eccleston is a good idea, but I think the hit to miss ratio of episodes was at its worst in that season, especially compared to the Moffatt seasons.
I absolutely think that, if you start with season five, you should catch up to where we are at now and then go back and see the first four seasons.
Like you, I cherry picked some stories from the earlier Doctors to check out (The AV Club's TV Club has been doing a new serial every week or so, and I was following their viewing schedule for the first 15 or so), and while I respected the craftsmanship of the earlier era, it didn't feel like the Who I knew. Part of that is the running time and production values, but in general I just didn't find the stories as entertaining. It could be because the combined serials on Netflix still had the full credits sequences throughout, but I get a lot more from a 50 minute episode of NewWho than I do from two hours of Classic Who.