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Doctor Who: The New Series
Reviewed by Matt Cowger, © 2005

Format: TV
Genre:   Science Fiction
Review Date:   October 18, 2005
RevSF Rating:   9/10 (What Is This?)

“Ex-term-in-ate!”

Doctor Who is an ancient staple of British sci-fi, dating back to the early days of BBC black and white. The Doctor is a traveler of time and space, able to be anywhere any time and for the most part able to fix just about anything. According to the canon, the Doctor is bound by a set of laws that dictate what he can and can’t do temporally, and is locked in a huge war in time (which we learn over the decades is with the Daleks, pepper shaker-looking uber-powerful bad guys).

The Doctor is a Timelord, one of a rare breed with strange abilities, among which is the ability to attract hot chicks to follow them through time and space. I’ll get at that later, so settle down. The Doctor is at times dashing, erudite, mad, violent, pacifistic and remote. Everything one would want in a quasi-godlike being. He has two counterparts: his sonic-screwdriver, an omni-device capable of almost everything a tool can do, and the TARDIS. The TARDIS is the Doctor’s semi-sentient space and time ship capable of destroying and recreating reality.

The new season finds a re-invented Doctor Who in the guise of very capable actor Christopher Eccleston (28 Days Later). He has a tremendous sense of fun that is balanced by a profound sense of pathos as the season progress. You realize he is the last of the Timelords, adrift after the last great time war versus the evil (and way cooler now) Daleks. The new Doctor has all the classic traits of invulnerability, love for those around him and a deep sense of hope. At times during the series he is flat-out moving.

Our good doctor is of course balanced by the hottie he gets along the way as his assistant, Rose Tyler (played by the U.K.’s version of Britney Spears, Billie Piper; hopefully she will hook up with less of a deadbeat . . . but I digress). Rose is plucky, adventurous and compassionate, a quality that sometimes escapes the good Doctor.

Being a love interest on Doctor Who is some what like being the first Redshirt down on a planet in Star Trek; a recipe for disaster. In the new Doctor Who it's initially much the same, with the one kid Rose picks up being dumped back on Earth with a hole in his head and the second being the pansexual Captain Jack, who seems to be something of a love interest for both the Doctor and Rose, and who we last see fighting the good fight at the end of season 1-mark infinity times infinity.

Even in this day and age, the special effects of Doctor Who are mixed, and sometimes laughable. But they're always in context, so you forgive them a bit.

It is the plot lines that get you. In one, Rose goes back to meet her father who died when she was young, much to both of their detriment. In another we realize that the Doctor’s meddling with time isn’t as perfect as it seems. All of them are well thought out, sometimes heart -wrenching but always worth watching. There are subtle story arcs, gut-busting humour and sadness worthy of tears. These are twelve episodes of Good TV.

If there are kind and good forces in the universe, this will be available on DVD soon for the U.S. It seems as if the producers avoided any sort of pop music (which killed getting Spaced over here) so it could be fed to the hungry American sci-fi masses. Do yourself a favor and snag or at least rent the set when you see it.

Occasional reviewer Matt Cowger gave himself a review, then another version of himself came back and reviewed that review, then that reviewer got reviewed by a third Matt Cowger then all of them reviewed beer and decided the three of them needed to go out and give it a second pass through.

 
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