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Author Topic: The New DOCTOR WHO series  (Read 5857 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: October 18, 2006, 08:56:38 AM »

I've been watching the new DOCTOR WHO on the Sci-Fi Channel - the season premiere was three weeks ago, and just last Friday we got the episode with K-9 coming back.

Short review: I'm having a great time.

The series combines the goofiness and cheesiness that made it unintentionally funny to Americans (the first episode had a killer Christmas tree and evil plastic Santas, and last week's had giant bat aliens disguised as teachers), with the space opera "big" stories that defined the 1970s for the character: the recurring thread in 5 Billion AD about Cassandra the last pure human in the universe and the Head of Po are Heinlein-esque, and reminscent of the "Peladon" stories, with the Head of Po instead of Alpha Centauri.

This "new" Doctor Who is a sort of "Will Smith" type, a goofy/sexy combination that goes between dead seriousness and clownishness. For my money, he's better when he's got this steely, dead-certain look in his eye: the actor's really not that funny, and his clowning around hardly hilarious.

He clearly has one of the definitive aspects of the character - his "cosmic" contempt for human unenlightenedness and love of violence - down pat when he excoriated the Prime Minister for destroying a surrendering alien spacecraft.

Amusingly, the premiere episode featured the head of space command with a Welsh last name. The Prime Minister's last name was "Jones." I tried to make a few Welsh jokes to my buddy, but I discovered I didn't know any Welsh jokes except the common definition that they are what the Irish would be without the sense of humor and what the Scottish would be without the sex appeal.  Grin

Then there was the Sarah Jane and K-9 episode.

This was loads of fun for me, because my first exposure to DOCTOR WHO was, like most Americans, PBS. You've got to remember, this was in the early to mid nineties when there was no "Sci-Fi Channel original programming" and the only science fiction on the tube was STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and DS9 and maaaaybe SLIDERS. Pertwee was my guy: he was one part Sean Connery, another part Batman; my first WHO serial was the Pertwee "Planet of the Spiders" with plucky Sarah.

So, it was great to see Lizzie Sladen as Sarah again. It was interesting to see they took into account the fact she had aged and used that to tell a very emotional story (Elizabeth Sladen will always be young and beautiful to me, but I'm sentimental like that). It's really embarassing when they don't take into account age: Roger Moore aged considerably from the start of his time as Bond to the end and everybody tiptoed around it like the 800 pound gorilla in the middle of the room. The Sarah Jane story was all about Doctor Who's inherent loneliness: he never ages, but he watches others age and die. Suddenly, the reason he has human companions - and why he sometimes callously abandons them as he did with Sarah - makes SENSE.

The hints in this story that Sarah Jane might have been in love with the Doctor, are as intriguing as they are disturbing. We've got to remember, John Pertwee was no spring chicken when he played the Good Doctor; he quite clearly saw Sarah Jane more like a daughter.

The idea of a companion having a crush on Doctor Who, as Billie Piper has on the new guy, is a very intriguing one because it's so TRAGIC. It's like being desperately in love with a teacher...they can never really reciprocate.

The Sarah Jane episode also featured what may be the single most successful and persuasive "join us" speech by a villain to a hero ever made: the villains point out to the Doctor that if he helps them solve the theorem, he can use the power to make his companions immortal and not have to suffer watching them age and die.

The Sarah Jane episode skyrocketed to greatness because of the last scene where the camera is kept on Sarah Jane, while the TARDIS dematerializes without her...and you can spot the exact moment her heart just BREAKS.  Cry

And I love how they've kept the sound effects of the series no matter how hokey they might be; the TARDIS dematerializing noise, and so on. It's hard not to love the new TARDIS control room, but then again anything was an improvement after the laughably cheap set.

All my objections to it are really, really little nitpicky fanboy things: for instance, the idea in the premiere that this is the first publicly known contact with alien life. Now, I'm going to call shenanigans on that...true, the Pertwee years were filled with UFO after UFO, but it's not unreasonable something like the Axos or the Invasion of the Spiders could be covered up. Fine, I can accept that.

But off the top of my head here, there have been several things that can't just be swept under the rug. I mean, this is the Doctor Who earth, where Yeti invaded London under the command of the Great Intelligence, where an evil supercomputer on tank treads named WOTAN threatened to destroy everyone, and where Operation: Golden Age time-beamed dinosaurs into Trafalgar.

I can't accept that only NOW have people figured out they're not alone after all the things that by now have made headlines on Who-Earth.

This is symptomatic of something of a bigger problem: a confused timeline for the stories set in modern day. The Pertwee "Exiled to Earth" years solved this problem by being all set in 1980 (then some years off). Sarah Jane herself identified herself as being from 1980 (notably in "Pyramids of Mars").

And when they mention the Doctor is the last Time Lord...wait, what about Romana, still in E-Space? Or the Doctor's Granddaughter Susan? The Master? The Monk? K'anpo Rimpoche?
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Great Rao
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2006, 08:18:40 PM »

The Sarah K-9 stuff was a blast, and seemed to be a direct sequel to the unaired Sarah/K-9 pilot episode from the 1980s.  In it, Sarah begins her post-Doctor life on Earth, and receives a large crate from the Doctor - containing K-9.  Prior to that pilot, the two characters had never met.

But off the top of my head here, there have been several things that can't just be swept under the rug. I mean, this is the Doctor Who earth, where Yeti invaded London under the command of the Great Intelligence, where an evil supercomputer on tank treads named WOTAN threatened to destroy everyone, and where Operation: Golden Age time-beamed dinosaurs into Trafalgar.

I can't accept that only NOW have people figured out they're not alone after all the things that by now have made headlines on Who-Earth.

This is symptomatic of something of a bigger problem: a confused timeline for the stories set in modern day. The Pertwee "Exiled to Earth" years solved this problem by being all set in 1980 (then some years off). Sarah Jane herself identified herself as being from 1980 (notably in "Pyramids of Mars").

And when they mention the Doctor is the last Time Lord...wait, what about Romana, still in E-Space? Or the Doctor's Granddaughter Susan? The Master? The Monk? K'anpo Rimpoche?

None of those other Time Lords are still around; nor were they ever around.  Part of the "New Doctor"'s tragic back story, obliquely referred to in many of the 1st season episodes, is that there was some huge war in which all the Time Lords were killed - but retroactively killed; such that they never existed.   The Doctor is the only one who made it through, and was probably involved in their destruction (and was also killed, at which point Paul McGann regenerated into Christopher Eccleston), which is why he had so many hang-ups in the first season.  It's not that he's the "last" one, it's that he's the only one and there has never been another.

Although I haven't read them, I've heard that this was all explained in the Who novels.

And keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming K-9 cartoon series.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2006, 05:28:51 AM »

Quote from: Great Rao
None of those other Time Lords are still around; nor were they ever around.  Part of the "New Doctor"'s tragic back story, obliquely referred to in many of the 1st season episodes, is that there was some huge war in which all the Time Lords were killed - but retroactively killed; such that they never existed.   The Doctor is the only one who made it through, and was probably involved in their destruction (and was also killed, at which point Paul McGann regenerated into Christopher Eccleston), which is why he had so many hang-ups in the first season.  It's not that he's the "last" one, it's that he's the only one and there has never been another.

Although I haven't read them, I've heard that this was all explained in the Who novels.

And keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming K-9 cartoon series.

Hmmm, interesting. I haven't seen the first season. Though it is a shame, I have to say; I've been holding out for Susan to return in some capacity, because the idea that Doctor Who has an honest-to-God relative somewhere is fascinating, and also because she was a part of the show before the Doctor's background became known.

Let me explain: in the early days of DOCTOR WHO, the Doctor's backstory was iffy, which was one of the most interesting things about him: he was a mystery man. Some early versions of the show in the Verity Lambert years say he was perfectly human and fleeing from atomic war in the 57th Century. The first series to make it explicitly clear that Doctor Who and Susan were aliens was "The Sensorites," where it was explained they were both partially telepathic. Since then, we know so much more about where the Doctor came from, and how he fit in with the world that produced him (or rather, how he didn't fit in).

It was a thrill when Susan came back in "The Five Doctors" because there, she was explicitly a "Time Lady." Susan immediately identified where she was: "The Tower of Rassilon? We're on Galifrey!" We've seen the Doctor in his graduation robes; we've seen the Doctor called a Renegade; where's Susan, though? What did she do on Gallifrey? Does she have parents? I strongly suspect that Doctor Who

By the way, when I heard that Elizabeth Sladen was going to be returning to DOCTOR WHO...right around the time after the tenth Doctor was going to show up...my first reaction was, "Oh, she's going to be playing Doctor Who."

One piece of news that really nobody remembers today, is that when Jon Pertwee was leaving, there was rampant speculation that the Doctor Who that would replace him would be a woman. One of the producers said something like "...and we will look hard to find a replacement, no matter who he or she might be." And the press went crazy with that last bit.

Hmmm! Actually, Helena Bonham Carter might make an interesting Doctor, now that I think about it.

Though I do like the new guy, "Doctor Will Smith." He has a classic, snappy dress sense. I do very much like the Doctor having a kind of contempt for the human race, as Jon Pertwee had in his first couple of years, and as Tom Baker did later on...there's something "cosmic" and B-Movie esque about that.
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2006, 01:20:52 AM »

It's about time the mixed up the genders and races a bit on that show. 
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2006, 02:24:37 AM »

There was a comedy special where the Doctor regenerated many times.  He was Rowan Atkinson at one point, Hugh Grant at another, but ultimately ended up as some British female actress.
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"The bottom line involves choices.  Neither gods nor humans have ever stood calmly in a minefield forever.  Good or evil, they are bound to choose.  And when they do, you will see the truth of all that motivates us.  As a thinking being, you have the obligation to choose.  If the fate of all mankind were in your hands, what would your decision be?  As a writer and an artist, I've drawn my answer."   - Jack Kirby
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2006, 03:16:44 AM »

Sigh... what I miss not having satellite or cable...

I did download a couple of the new episodes, the premiere 9th doctor and the Sarah Jane story... I was impressed (long time Doctor Who fan since early '80's)
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2006, 06:09:08 AM »

I've watched Doctor Who since the Jon Pertwee days.  As far as I'm concerned, the first ninth doctor episode (the first season pilot of the new series) was the single greatest Who episode of all time.  In those 50 minutes, Christopher Eccleston quickly managed to become my favorite Doctor.
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"The bottom line involves choices.  Neither gods nor humans have ever stood calmly in a minefield forever.  Good or evil, they are bound to choose.  And when they do, you will see the truth of all that motivates us.  As a thinking being, you have the obligation to choose.  If the fate of all mankind were in your hands, what would your decision be?  As a writer and an artist, I've drawn my answer."   - Jack Kirby
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2006, 09:10:31 AM »

I have to admit I'm a Tom Baker man myself, not least because he's nuts in real life.
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