Wednesday, June 15, 2005

 
Okay, five things you need to know about Doctor Who:

1. It's Doctor Who, not Dr. Who.

2. To further confuse the issue, the main character is not called "Doctor Who," he's simply "The Doctor." The Doctor is from a civilization known as "The Time Lords" from the technologically advanced planet Gallifrey. Gallifreyans have two hearts, and are able to regenerate at will into entirely new bodies, a plot device introduced when the original star, William Hartnell, was getting too old to continue in the role. The Doctor has always traveled with one or two human companions, usually from earth, usually atttractive females to keep the men's attention. In the 1970s, one of the Doctor's companions was a female Time Lord named Romanadvoratrelundar. The sexual tension between the Doctor and his female companions has always been both highly pronounced, and completely unacknowledged; the sparks between the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith (with fellow companion Harry Sullivan forming a romantic triangle) could have rendered nuclear energy obsolete.

3. The Doctor travels through time and space in a vessel called The Tardis, which is an acronym for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space.

The interior of the Tardis is vast, and able to reconfigure both its archtecture (rooms can move around without warning, or disappear completely) and it's interior appearance, allowing the Tardis interior sets to update every few years. Each Tardis is equipped with a "Chameleon Circuit," which allows it to change its outer appearance to blend in with the time and place it has materialized. But the Chameleon Circuit on the Doctor's Tardis got stuck in the early 1960s, locking it in the shape of a British emergency police call box.

4. The Doctor has had many recurring enemies over the years, but the best-known are, by far, the Daleks.

While the show had originally been conceived as a series of educational historical adventures, writer Terry Nation created the Daleks in the second storyline, leading to a national craze, with British kids going Dalek-mad the way American kids went Star Wars-crazy a decade later. Despite their appearance, the Daleks are not robots; they were from a humanoid civilization that mutated as the result of a thousand-year atomic war, and must live inside the motorized shells. The Daleks consider themselves to have evolved past human concepts like emotion, and with their legendary battle cry of "EXTERMINATE!" they seek to wipe out all other life forms in the universe.


5. Doctor Who is the world's longest-running science fiction franchise, predating even Star Trek. The show premiered in 1963 and ran, with only a few brief gaps, until 1990. Even then, it was not considered cancelled by the BBC, only on extended hiatus. In the intervening years, there have been dozens of spinoff radio plays (featuring the actual TV stars) and novels. There was an attempt at a TV revival in 1996, produced by the BBC and Fox, which was enjoyable but flawed. The series has finally returned to the BBC this year, in a new series starring Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, and pop star Billie Piper as his new companion, Rose. And I'm pleased to report it's amazing.

The show has abandoned the four-part story arcs of the past, in favor of 45-minute episodes that can better be sold into international syndication. The show succeeds because no matter how far-out the science fiction elements get, each story is grounded in the characters, and beautifully anchored by Eccleston, with his slightly manic air of intellectual superiority. Unlike, say, Star Trek, the new series incorporates the novels into its continuity, which means that both Gallifrey and the Daleks were wiped from existence in an apocalyptic time war, leaving the Doctor as the last surviving Time Lord. Unlike previous incarnations, the sexual tension between the 900 year-old Doctor and the 19 year-old Rose is front and center, adding a layer of depth to the stories.

The new series (which you can call season 1, or season 27, depending on your point of view) airs on CBC, which should be available on your cable system, or you can download them via bittorrent at www.demonoid.com or www.uknova.com Start with the first episode, "Rose," and watch the thirteen episodes in order, and see if you can spot the subtle plot elements building up to this weeks season finale.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Comments:
And who, that reads your blog, doesn't already know this? :)

I've got the first 5 episodes on my hard drive (British friend downloaded them as soon as they aired), but I've not watched them yet.

-J
 
I know you know from Doctor Who. Hell, you knew me when that was my BBS handle. But I don't know that Mow has seen any Who other than the Fox movie, and goddammit, the Doctor is NOT half-human. Anyway, the whole point of the thing was to prompt you all to watch the new series. It's amazing how consistent the quality has been. Yes, the episodes have varied, but some are merely excellent, while others are absolutely brilliant. Sadly, Eccleston will be regenerating into David Tennant soon, and Billie Piper's arse will be leaving soon after that, so I'm a bit scared for season 28.

And before you ask, yes, the rest of her will be going too. But the arse is the biggest loss.
 
Yeah. I don't know what Who Mow has seen. Scott or Christian either, for that matter. I was just being snarky. ;)
 
Oh... and Hot chick is going to be in the next season. :)
 
Thanks. You've just prompted me to dig into the show's history. I had been happy to just download the new episode each Sunday.
 
As expected, I had no idea...because Rich was right on the money that the only Who I've seen is the Fox movie. Not exactly a stellar place to start.

Richmond, how come you never sat me down for an extended introduction to Who like you did for Red Dwarf? For those that might be interested (and I'm sure you're not) we started with season one at 8pm and ran through all four seasons that were available by 8am. Way cool.
 
By the time we got to be friends, I wasn't as into Who. I only had one on tape, that I had recorded while in California one summer, since I didn't get the one channel in Washington that showed it. Now, of course, you can get em all on video or bittorrent or usenet. But at the time, the show was no longer in production, it wasn't on video, and it just wasn't on my mind anymore.
 
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