Respectful Insolence

Doctor Who on the SciFi Channel

Woo-hoo!

The new Doctor Who is appearing on the SciFi Channel tonight, with a two-hour, two episode premiere.

I’ve already seen all the episodes, thanks to my mother’s proximity to the Canadian border and her willingness to send me videotapes from Canadian TV, but those of you who are (or were) Doctor Who fans and haven’t seen the new Doctor yet, are in for a real treat. It’ll also give me a chance to check the best episodes out again.

Comments

  1. #1 BronzeDog
    March 17, 2006

    DVR. BAM! Never got to see much Dr. Who, but I’d love to see the new series. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. #2 Walter
    March 17, 2006

    Hope it lives up to the old series. I have fond memories of watching many a PBS marathon with back-to-back Dr. Who episodes, before PBS stopped airing the show. I even attempted to make a Dalek Halloween costume in third grade (plunger, trash can, pair of pliers — it was a disaster). I’m going to throw the gauntlet down and say Who, during its best seasons, was way, way better than Star Trek. Better written, a quirkier sense of humor, interesting (if absurd) ideas… sorry trekkers. What do they call Dr. Who fans anyway? “Whoosiers”?

  3. #3 Alice H
    March 17, 2006

    How dare you pirate television shows! (Yeah, whatever.)

    Just be sure to tune in to the regular show, even if you’re just turning on the TV and walking away, so that whatever is monitoring your television (whether it’s your DirecTV receiver or your cable box) records and reports that you’re watching the show so it doesn’t get cancelled in the US.

  4. #4 Scott Simmons
    March 17, 2006

    Huh. I have to say, I was underwhelmed by the premiere, and quit watching about ten minutes into the second hour … Not to say I won’t be tuning back in next week, of course. Hope springs eternal …

  5. #5 Ick of the East
    March 17, 2006

    The first episode of the Eccleston Doctor is kind of silly, but after that it becomes way cool.

    Thank Koresh for Bittorrent because it’s unlikely they would ever show Dr. Who in Thailand. The new series (newer than the one you are discussing) is supposed to be starting this month I believe.

    There was one special show at Christmas with the newest Doctor, who did quite well. Rose is reprising here role, so there is continuity.

  6. #6 EoR
    March 17, 2006

    Very glossy. Very flashy. Very fast. Bring back Patrick Troughton (“When I say run, run!”).

  7. #7 BronzeDog
    March 17, 2006

    I liked it. It’s got a bit of the Star Trek Original Series / Twilight Zone silliness, but generally only in the good way.

    Liked the iPod joke.

  8. #8 Prup aka Jim Benton
    March 18, 2006

    I’ll certainly keep watching it, and it has a number of strengths. Eccleston’s 9th Doctor is a unique rendering of the character like all the good ones before him. Yes there are echoes of the others, McCoy’s darker depth, Davidson’s dignity, and a clownishness and eccentricty between Troughton and Tom Baker.
    Rose is a great companion, certainly not a ‘screamer.’ The old humor and even physical comedy is there. And, unlike the old, the new show is authentically beautiful, with a richness of color that is striking even in today’s SF shows.

    What is lacking is the stories. The old show didn’t ever just tell ‘Dr. Who stops the villains’ stories. There was a richness in them, a complexity, frequently an ambiguity, with there being two or more sides in conflict, neither one of which was fully black or white. The fact that the famous ‘cheesiness’ could be used to tell stories this good was one of the major charms in the show.

    And the villains rarely simply acted out their villainy. They almost always used human dupes, Faustian types who were manipulated, who had ‘sold their soul to the devil’ (whether the devil was The Master, the Daleks — even the Autons and the Nestene Consciousness, in the two shows (3rd Doctor) and one book (6th) used humans to accomplish their ends). Sometimes the motive was greed or power, but it could be knowledge or even idealism — remember the story with Mike Yates?

    There’s none of this so far in the New Series. Partially it is the time, of course. The old show had twice as much time, and could build deeper stories. Even the use of the serialization worked in its favor, because each twenty-minute segment had to have had enough complexity to build the suspense needed for the cliff hanger.

    So far, though, the new show has had simple stories, with no complexity in the secondary characters, except for the one ‘tree lady’ in the second, no manipulation or ambiguity. If the stories remain as weak, I’ll still enjoy every episode for the other factors, but I hope they work on this.

  9. #9 Orac
    March 18, 2006

    Patience. I agree that the first couple of episodes were uneven, and I realize that I have the benefit of hindsight. It’s also a bit hard at first to get used to the new format of one hour episodes (although there are a few two-part stories throughout the season). Also, remember that it always takes at least a couple of episodes for a new Doctor to settle in. I would point out that the first couple of stories with Tom Baker weren’t exactly classics. Robot and The Ark in Space were pretty uneven, and The Sontaran Experiment was only somewhat better. It wasn’t until Genesis of the Daleks (perhaps my favorite Who story of all time, which I rewatched a couple of weeks ago) before Tom Baker came into his own playing the Doctor.

    Over the course of the 13 episodes, I came to view Eccleston as being in a tie for my second favorite Doctor after Tom Baker.

    Episodes to look out for:

    Dalek (a new and different take on an old enemy)
    The Unquiet Undead (classic Doctor Who in Victorian London episode)
    The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (two-parter, in which another Doctor companion, Captain Jack, is introduced)

    And, in particular, the two-part season finale:

    Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways

    One thing that’s cool about this series is that there are recurring themes throughout the series, and actions the Doctor takes have repercussions that we don’t find out about until several episodes later. This is a series that grows on you.

    Oh, and I also think Rose’s mother and boyfriend are both a hoot.

  10. #10 Prup aka Jim Benton
    March 18, 2006

    Agreed on the two minor characters. I look forward to seeing what you tell me I will. (I’d watch it anyway.) But, sir, THE SONTARRAN EXPERIMENT was one of my favorite ones.
    I wonder if the death of the Time Lords follows the ideas set out in the book THE GALLIFREY CHRONICLES?

  11. #11 Scott Simmons
    March 18, 2006

    “Patience. I agree that the first couple of episodes were uneven, and I realize that I have the benefit of hindsight.”

    No worries, mate. As I said, I’ll be tuning in next week. And the week after. I imagine it would take about ten or twelve really bad episodes in a row to get me to give up on the Doctor. :-) I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where they take this.

  12. #12 Dave H
    March 18, 2006

    As a big fan of this excellent series, and of Eccleston in particular, I will admit that it is a little uneven, with plenty of highs but a few low points. The absolute highlight of this series for me was the Empty Child/The Doctor Dances two-parter. A perfect balance of light and humour with plenty of darkness and some genuinely scary moments. Thankfully the writer (Steven Moffat) is back for more in the next series.

    The thing I found most annoying was Rose and the Doctor constantly referring to the amazing spectacles they’d seen while travelling throughout the universe in the Tardis, and yet all of the episodes were set on or around Earth, and nearly always in Cardiff. At least in the old series they would pretend a gravel pit in Cornwall was an alien planet every now and then… ;)

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