08 September 2009

Visiting the Doctor

When we first got cable back home, 'round about 1980, we got WTTW, the PBS affiliate from Chicago. On Sunday nights, they showed exotic TV, from way, way far away-the UK. I remember occasionally staying up to watch Dave Allen at Large (must check if those are available in my Region's DVD format) and Doctor Who. I cut my teeth on the Tom Baker episodes, with his quirky wardrobe and the slightly subpar special effects that marked productions by the tight-fisted Beeb.

I sort of drifted away from the show (it was on at 11pm on Sunday-school beckoned the next day) and forgot about it, though I knew the good Doctor went through several incarnations since Baker the First. I remember seeing my first episode of Red Dwarf, thinking it was an episode of Doctor Who. Then I thought 'Wait a minute! There's no laugh track in Doctor Who!'

Last Saturday, I stayed up late to catch the hour of The Red Green Show (the show that's just like home), and after that I heard the familiar theme. It's the Doctor! With computer generated special effects and a funky-looking interior in the ol' TARDIS! Since it had been a while since I tuned in, I hung around to watch. The episode was Gridlock, and it looked like it was made within the last year or so. The actor playing the Doctor (David Tennant) didn't seem too bad in the role, and his companion, Martha (Freema Agyeman) was, well, the typical Companion. The story was similar to all those I remember in the older episodes-somewhat quirky and a bit cerebral (though I'd not have minded had some of the Who writers had worked on any of the Star Trek spinoffs-they'd have been more watchable).

For all that, there was something missing for me in these new series, and I can't place it. Perhaps I'm just getting old and can't change-but these didn't seem very rewatchable to me. As I recall, the old Whos might have had a story arc stretching out over several episodes. This episode was only an hour long-not much time to set up a good plot for the man from Gallifrey to set right. Maybe that was a lot of the problem I had. Perhaps it was no clunky K9 on board. No, not that.

Any veteran fans of the Doctor out there? Is it just me that sees something a bit amiss compared to the older series?


yankeedog out.


  1. DMDY is a long-term Dr Who fan (since Tom Baker and the cricket-vest bloke) but likes the new stuff just as much as the old stuff. I think it's horses for courses. Red Dwarf's a good analogy actually - I like the ancient, wheezing, shaking-sets early series as much as I like the last series from about 10 years ago with the CGI and decent cinematography.

  2. I didn't know you you didn't know about the reboot. Ol "Jug Ears" (Christopher Eccleston) played the first new Doctor with Billie Piper as the companion. I think the Ep you caught was second season. They do have split eps and also an overall arc (which you wont pick up from one ep), I still like my Dr Who.

  3. Doc-You're probably right about the different episodes and Doctors.

    And personally I didn't care as much for Red Dwarf once they had Kochanski aboard (Chloe Arnett did a good job in the part but there was something about Clare Grogan I liked). The last couple of series of RD-meh.

    Bangar-I knew there was a 'reboot', but I didn't follow the show (it's on very late here) for a while. There's something about Dr Who that does get one hooked-perhaps the 'unconventionalness' of a time/space traveling, regenerating main character. It does give the scriptwriters a lot of latitude for story creation.

  4. The biggest problem I have with the recent Doctor Who series is that they have tried to "sex" them up a bit.

    There is more emphasis placed on romantic tensions between the Doctor and his companions than in the older series.

    Gridlock is the 3rd show of the 3rd new series.

    I also like the spin-off show Torchwood which I think you Yanks can also get (although they do push a very heavy "gay" pride agenda).

  5. Aus-That might be part of it-the romance aspect between the Doctor and his Companion is emphasized a lot in the new series.

    Some channel here is showing Torchwood, I'm sure-possibly SyFy-but I've never watched it. I've heard there was a fair amount of same-sex stuff-hey, whatever-in the program.