Dr. Who on Sci-Fi Channel

Dr. Who on Sci-Fi Channel.

Good news — the Sci-Fi Channel has licensed the broadcast rights to the new Dr. Who series from the BBC. Goofy announcement and all.

One of the good things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that we get CBC on cable, and CBC shows Dr. Who approximately the same time as the BBC does. So I've already seen the first season, which is where the Sci Fi channel will pick up in March. The first season is complete, and the second season is in production (with a new Doctor, who rocks).

But the first season was a lot of fun, and you should definitely watch it. Lots of tongue-in-cheek humor, though they've significantly improved the special effects since the original.

For those of you unfamiliar with this chapter of science fiction history, Doctor Who was a science fiction television show that started its BBC run in 1963 and ran continuously until 1989. The main character, The Doctor, is a Time Lord who travels through space and time in a device called a TARDIS. It was always low-budget and the special effects, aliens, and robots were comically bad — and yet it had a devoted following throughout its long run and beyond. From time to time, a perilous fate befell the Doctor (e.g. contract didn't get renewed) and he “died” — but Time Lords have a nifty trick whereby they “regenerate” into a new body. This lovely plot device has not only allowed the series to survive across multiple actors over the decades (seven Doctors n the original series, one in a special in the '90s, Christopher Eccleston in the new series one, and David Tennant in season two is now the tenth Doctor) but it's actually a “feature” of the show — whenever it starts to get tired, they can freshen the show by changing Doctors. Originally the Doctor was a typical old, fatherly (or grandfatherly) figure depicting wisdom, but over the years they trended younger and more eccentric. Eccleston made a great, eccentric Doctor, and judging by the Christmas special with Tennant a couple of weeks ago, the tenth Doctor won't disappoint.

There are lots of in-jokes that have run for years. One is the name of the show itself; a lot of folks think that the main character's full name is Doctor Who. It isn't — it's just The Doctor. Occasionally over the years when one of his comrades refers to him as “the Doctor” some poor extra will ask “doctor who?” and the easiest way to alienate yourself at an SF convention is to refer to him as Doctor Who. But we're smarter and know better, right? 🙂

Season one had some fantastic dialogue. One of my favorites deals with a long-running plot device: the Sonic Screwdriver, a handy thing that the Doctor can use to unlock any door, hack any computer, and generally break or fix anything at will. Keeps the story moving. At one point when Captain Jack (a supporting character in season one) and the Doctor are pinned down in a room together, the Doctor pulls out his Sonic Screwdriver, and Jack says Who ever dreamed up this thing? Was someone sitting around one day trying to think of how to make a screwdriver better and suddenly thought “Hey, I know! I'll make it sonic!”

Ok, maybe you had to be there. But now if you live in the US, you can — starting in March. Don't miss it.  [Kevin Schofield's Weblog]

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