Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dr. Who

Dr. Who
2005 edition
starring Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith
5 stars - way cool awesome
ALR Blue - an episode or two with an animal in a minor role, but mostly birds, dogs, cows, etc. are just background

Dr. Who premiered in 1963 in beautiful black and white. During my life, I'd heard people speak of the series in near worshipful terms. I sampled the odd episode here and there and was, honestly, underwhelmed.

But after relentless "suggestions" from my sister, I finally agreed to sample the new, 2005, version. 

Wowee! I am totally hooked.

So what is "Dr. Who" and why is it so popular? Dr. Who is the last of the Time Lords. He zooms around the universe in his Tardis. That's a time travel machine which allows the Doctor to pop in and out of time and also move between planets and galaxies. He usually travels with a human companion because, let's face it, things can get lonely in outer space.

I've been struggling to articulate the appeal and I'm not sure how good a job I'll do. Without getting too heavy, a big part is the Doctor and his attitude about life. He always seeks adventure and marvels in biological and technological creation. He can appreciate the beauty even in things that are not altogether good. He always wants to solve problems without violence and would rather send evil aliens packing than destroy them. Plus, he values intelligence and the ability to reason and figure out creative ways out of problems. 

But the show isn't smarmy. Quite the contrary. There are plenty of aliens and humans who are nasty and often the ending isn't happy. Somehow, even though I know the Doctor will survive, I get anxious when he finds himself in serious danger (frequently).

I also enjoy that the story doesn't try and explain things too much. When the Doctor is solving a problem, he'll tell the audience his reasoning briskly, and only once (subtitles are strongly recommended for those of you who don't speak "British"). You either keep up or you don't. And not everything is explained either. Heck, when you are bouncing around between time and place, it's easy for things to get a bit "wibbly wobbly timey wimey." You just have to go with it.

It's also a very clever show. Odd bits of humor that come and go so quickly that you might not even know they happened. Not in your face, laugh track, humor, just a few seconds. For example, when Buckingham palace is being evacuated, we get a quick scene of the Queen and her escorts running down the hallway. Off on the side, one guy is carrying a corgi. That's funny. 

It took me a few seasons to figure out that London is invaded by aliens every Christmas. That's funny too. Additionally, if somebody has an American accent, well, watch out, there be trouble. Nasty Americans. Hehehe.

The whole regeneration thing. Brilliant. Time for a new Doctor? Just let the old one regenerate into a different actor and there you go. 

I watch a reasonably large number of movies and TV series in any given year. Mostly I'm just left with impressions as in "I liked this" or "I didn't like that" but specifics just don't stick with me. Oddly, episodes of Dr. Who *do* stick in my mind. Don't know what to make of that given the stories are complicated and diverse, but there you go.

So, if you've never tried Dr. Who, or have tried it and been disappointed, do give the 2005 edition a whirl. It's available on Netflix streaming. Stick with it for a few episodes and see what you think. I'm nearing the end of what's available. Too bad. Nothing like an episode of The Doctor to look forward to at the end of the day.

One more thing. Small nit. I do so wish they hadn't mucked about with the spinning logo in the opening credits. Sigh. 


  1. hello mango momma its dennis the vizsla dog hay now yoo ar tawking dadas langwidj he has ben watching the faymus doctor who sinse he wuz a teenaydjer in the ateteen seventeez!!! he missd the noo seereez wen it started but got kawt up by bindj watching on netflix mmmm bingeing ennyway i no he is reely lukking forward to the noo doctor so we wil see how it goze!!! and of korse i am klose persunal frends with the doctor after all he supplied me with the teknolodjee for the doghowse of justiss!!! ok bye

  2. I watched Dr Who as a kid. I liked it. When the new series started in 2005 the whole family watched and were hooked. Loved it all. Hell I'll admit it. We had a 50th Anniversary party. Nerds?? Yep and proud of it. Dr Who memorabilia? Yep. It's one of the few shows we watch and enjoy together as a family. So like I've said before, you either love Dr Who, or you haven't watched it!