We are living in unprecedented times. Most of us are stuck at home, frustrated by the state of the world, stymied by boredom, anger, despair, or some combination of the three. At a moment like this, all of us could use a little escape, a little kindness, and a reminder that even though it’s a big old universe out there, it’s possible to change it for the better.  

One sea of sci-fi tranquility to escape to coming up.

The recently launched HBO Max is the new home of “Doctor Who,” the long-running BBC series about the exploits of a time-traveling alien in a big blue box. And we don’t say “long-running” lightly — the first episode aired on November 23, 1963. You won’t find every episode on HBO Max (because, geez, that’s a lot), but you will find 11 seasons of the rebooted series, which launched in 2005 and is still going strong 15 years later.

Chock-full of exploits across time and space, from Ancient Rome to the final days of the universe, “Doctor Who” is first and foremost a rip-roaring adventure show. You may be stuck on your couch, but the Doctor can go anywhere, and anywhen, with the pull of a few levers. It’s also a show about hope, looking out for the little guy, and unlikely heroes facing impossible odds. And, like the Doctor, the series always comes back for more.

If you’re a newcomer who wants to dive in but is daunted by the prospect of more than half a century of lore, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know before you take your first spin in the TARDIS.

The Doctor