Saturday, May 20, 2006

Doctor, Doctor

I am now prepared to share my absolute fascination with and obsession for the new Doctor Who series on the SciFi Channel. I was an occasional viewer of the series back in high school when our local PBS station was showing the Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, and Peter Davison versions of the Doctor, and I wasn't obsessed with it or anything because the FX were fairly crap, and on occasion the storyline was of no interest to me. But it stuck with me, and one of my favorite trips when I was in London back in my 20s was when I visited the Museum of the Moving Image and saw the Doctor Who exhibit.

Rather, my favorite souvenir. I brought back a t-shirt and a mug with a text version of the theme music that I still find hilarious - "Dum de dum, dum de dum, dum de dum, diddly-dum" repeated 3 times... which is only amusing if you are familiar with the cheesy theme music and can recognize it. But it had the Tardis on it, which is what I loved most. That comforting old blue police box that the Doctor travels in through time and space...

I always wanted to time-travel, but in relative comfort and convenience. I didn't particularly want to travel like the Doctor and his companions did because it always seemed quite Fraught with Peril, and I'm not big on Peril. But sometimes their adventures were lovely and romantic and those stuck with me.

The new series is rather much improved, to my mind. They've really upped the budget significantly - gone are the days where you'd see a space slug slither by, and say to yourself, "That's bubble-wrap they've spray painted green!" Now they have respectable FX and, to my mind, phenomenal casting and writing. Christopher Eccleston is playing the Doctor, with Billie Piper playing his companion du jour, Rose. Their chemistry is delightful and significant; whereas before the Doctors and their companions were asexual and positively detached. This Doctor cares about Rose a great deal, and it shows. I adore Mr. Eccleston, and am only sorry he's only doing the first season, to be replaced by David Tennant for the next.

I was surprised to find out that apparently the show is known for it's scariness; I never was scared by it, else I would have avoided it like the plague - horror and scary stuff is anathema to me. But in England it was well established that certain recurring villains such as the Daleks and Cybermen were enough to send you racing to hide behind the couch, and the show was initially designed for children. But after 40 years, the viewership is all over the demographic map, and there's a new comedic sophistication and nuance to the series, reminiscent of Joss Whedon's shows. Witty banter is all over the place, and a healthy dose of flirting.

I find it irresistable, and am only sorry that there are only 13 episodes in the first new season (it was cancelled for about 15 years, but with recurring audiobooks and other media still being produced). They're in the midst of the second series in England now, and since it's steadily winning awards and having high ratings, it should remain on the air for a good long time. I highly recommend it, although the last 2 episodes of the season are airing in the next month, and it might be better to wait for the reruns so you can start at the beginning. There's a definite story arc, although some of the episodes can stand on their own. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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