The new Doctor Who series (new here, last year in the UK) is absolutely brilliant. For those of you who are fans of the old series, the new one deftly mixes more high tech effects without being too slick with the irreverent humor that fans of the old series will love. Christopher Eccleston plays The Doctor in the 2005 series that’s airing starting tonight on the Sci Fi Channel and Billie Piper plays his companion, Rose. For all you old school Dr. Who fans, don’t worry, the Tardis (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is still here, The Doctor is still gleefully irreverent, sometimes infuriatingly so (to Rose, upon entering the Tardis under pursuit: “Don’t worry, the assembled hoards of Genghis Kahn couldn’t get through that door…and believe me, they’ve tried. Now shut up a minute.”) and there are still hops through time and strange new life forms to meet.
The difference? Well, not much, really. All the good parts of Doctor Who have been carried forward to the modern series and some of the effects have been updated. Not only that, but the humor is much sharper and acting….well…Eccleston is brilliant, as anyone who has seen his work before will agree, but the real revelation here is Piper. Basically seen as a pop tart when cast as The Doctor’s companion, Piper quickly establishes herself as the heart of the operation and is often on the genius time lord’s equal when it comes to the brains department as well. Piper’s Rose may not know much about the universe she’s exploring, but she quickly picks up on how things are done and shows that she is made of stronger stuff than sugar and spice and everything nice. Piper’s range is wide and her strong working class accent is an asset as she proves herself a valuable companion and dare I hint, a possible romantic foil for our Doctor. Over the course of the 13 episodes that constitute a standard British season Rose and The Doctor manage to establish a rapport and level of banter that comes close to equaling that of Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man movies. No, I’m not kidding.
In addition to the standard banter expected from the series leads, this new incarnation of the British classic (it launched on the BBC in 1963) addresses such issues as modern warfare (episode 6 is a brilliant allegory of the current situation in Guantanamo, Cuba and the various stories regarding the “rendering” of suspects for “interrogation”) environmental collapse, Charles Dickens, nuclear proliferation, viral warfare, class relations and illegal immigration, among others.
Doctor Who airs on Fridays at 9pm, EST, repeating at 12am that night and also on Saturday nights at 12:30am. The special 2-hour premiere of the first two episodes (“Rose” & “The End of the World”) repeats on Sunday night, March 19th at 11:30pm and again on Monday, March 20th at 10am.
Oh by the way, the Daleks are back…..
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