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Dr. Who in the USA

John on October 21, 2007 at 3:37 pm

Back in the early 80′s I would occasionally catch an episode of Dr. Who on PBS. The shows were creative but incredibly cheap. Few sets, few actors, and poor special effects — all of which presented a problem for a time-traveling science fiction epic. One can only get so engaged in saving the inhabitants of a Styrofoam planet.

At some point recently, I noticed that BBC America was airing hour long episodes of the latest incarnation of Dr. Who. I enjoy a good science fiction show, but honestly I wasn’t expecting much. I figured I’d watch it once and tune out, probably for good.

To my surprise, the new Dr. Who is probably my favorite show this season. It’s lively and exciting, often tense and sometimes a little chilling — sort of like a good X-Files episode. The difference is that instead of somber, earnest Fox Mulder as the lead, we have the spritely, somewhat elfin Dr. Who played by newcomer David Tennant. Even when he’s serious, Dr. Who often comes across as mildly comic. It makes for a fun show.

The BBC has a long history of giving its viewers female characters that are, shall we say, appealing. This goes all the way back to Emma Peel [a pun on M-appeal or man-appeal] in the 1960′s. In that regard, the Dr.’s “companion” on the show, Rose Tyler aka Billie Piper, is a winner. Not only is she easy on the eyes, she’s a surprisingly good actress who grounds the episodes with a warmth that seems unaffected and natural.

Dr. Who airs on Saturday with repeats on Sunday. If you have an hour and enjoy this type of thing, I recommend it highly. It’s the one show I actually look forward to watching each week. In fact, I’m actually thinking about purchasing the DVD set, something I rarely do in the case of television.

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