Saturday, February 07, 2009

TV: Doctor Who

I always wondered how people from England who grew up watching "Doctor Who" reacted when they saw the show here. After all, the series was (and is) often relegated to late-night PBS stations in the United States. I have a soft spot for "Doctor Who," becoming a solid fan of the Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy versions of the character when I was in middle school. Despite my fondness for the show, the thing I most remember when I was watching were the PBS pledge drives that tried to convince viewers to donate:

The primetime airings of the revived series on the Sci-Fi Channel in the U.S. have lightened the stigma of being a Whovian, but in many ways, "Doctor Who" is still a niche property here. Show a picture of Darth Vader or the U.S.S. Enterprise to the average Joe, and they might be able to identify it. Show a picture of the Doctor's TARDIS to the average American, and you'll almost certainly be met with blank stares.

It's a shame, really, because the basic premise - a time-travelling alien who has adventures across the Universe - is so open-ended that you can insert almost any type of story. Most of the early Doctor Who serials were pretty basic (standard monster-of-the-week stuff, like "The Seeds of Doom"), but there was always a charm about the whole affair. "Doctor Who" was written with the whole family in mind - that doesn't happen very often in sci-fi.


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