The New Doctor Who

March 19, 2006

The new (ok, new to us) Doctor Who series has come to our side of the pond! Well, it came last Friday to the Sci-Fi Channel; I just got around to watching the two episodes of the U.S. premiere, “Rose” and “The End of the World.” “Rose” features an attempted takeover of Earth by plastic objects, and is worth watching if only for the scene involving a murderous trash bin.

Certain things have changed. For some reason, although in the old series the Tardis ventured to alien planets, the dark ages, and the far future, a police box seems much more out of place in contemporary England than it did in anywhere else. The Tardis itself seems to have gotten a significant interior upgrade – it even seems to have a flat screen display now, and the Doctor’s latest regeneration seems to have induced a severe lapse of taste in decor. However it does still sound the same.

As always, Britain is a must-visit for would-be world-destroying aliens. Since the “classic series,” though, the UK has changed quite a bit, and is now a much more multicultural, working-class place, with all those little blue-and-white stickers reminding you to close the fire doors. I’m not sure what the Pertwee doctor would make of the Eccleston doctor, but sure, why not.

The new series seems influenced by more recent British sci-fi (the likes of Douglas Adams and Red Dwarf), and its drama/humor is much more similar to them than to, say, Blake’s 7. I suspect the new format of hour-long episodes make it harder to build the story arcs in the way that five thirty-minute shows did. The new series also spends a lot more time on the Doctor-Companion (Billie Piper) relationship than one is used to; at the end of the first episode, he’s practically begging her to join him…

The special effects bear as much resemblance to those of old as the Airbus A380 does to the Montgolfiers’ balloon, but that’s to be expected.

All in all, very nice. Maybe next year we can look forward to the David Tennant doctor, who I hear prefers geek chic.

“Earth death is scheduled for 1539, followed by drinks in the Manchester suite.” — “The End of the World”

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