Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Doctor Who": The Brits absolutely know how to do it!

I've just completed watching Series 1 of the new "Doctor Who". God, why did it take me SO LONG to get into the new show?!!! I was a fan of the original, most notably from the latter half of Tom Baker's run all through Peter Davidson's and the very beginning of Colin Baker. And even after just watching the first series starring Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor I was wonderfully surprised to find a reboot that couldn't be better. The show is BRILLIANT!!

After so many 're-imaginings' (a word I've learned to loathe) that have either failed miserably or were far from what they needed to be and connect with, here comes a show originally created in England almost forty years ago that has gone on to become something greater than it's classic former self. Perhaps the disappointment of past efforts started with Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes"...continuing on with "Smallville", (I know I'm gonna catch shit for this one) "Battlestar Galactica", "V", "Terminator Salvation", and of course JJ Abrams "Star Trek", nothing came close to being sincerely good or even properly honoring canon from which they came.

Why? Because the American entertainment industry sucks at reboots! Bringing it back to life by breathing freshness into the entire concept, yet never forgetting where it all started and completely honoring the history. That's one of the many beauties of the new "Doctor Who"....THE BRITS GET IT!! The stories are well written, the characters are so engaging, the effects are better than before, plus the heart, soul, and wit of the Doctor has never been better! You can see parts of Tom Baker, Peter Davidson, Patrick Troughton (all favorites of mine) in so many aspects of the way The Doctor tackles each new problem, fighting the Daleks and exchanging just the right quip or two with his companion at the same time.

Example: when the episode "Dalek" was being produced, they could have completely redesigned the Dalek's mechanical shell, upgrading it into something that only hinted at what once was. BUT NO!! They KEPT the original design COMPLETELY INTACT! Only slightly modifying some very small details of the metal outer shell. When The Doctor passes by a Cyberman's head in an alien museum, it's the exact design from years past!...and even the upgrade they did from what I've seen of a later episode is extremely faithful to the original. This is what I'm talking about! Honoring what came before is so very important to this show as it brilliantly expands into this new amazing incarnation!

The new series can be joyfully adventurous and really funny at one turn, then non-wavering in it's drama and incredible emotion at another. There have been at least two episodes just in the first series where I seriously had to reach for the kleenex. Most notably "Father's Day", which saw Rose coming to grips with the fact that altering time to save her father from a fatal car accident when she was a baby has greater consequences if he lives then if he has to die all over again. My mouth literally hung open as I watched this deep and emotionally rich episode come to a conclusion. They never went this far or to this degree in the origjnal show....what a welcome addition.

The final two-parter which ended Christopher Eccleston's series as The Doctor was also filled with emotional finality. Again, taking us to places and events that the original show could only hint at. Eccleston wonderfully evokes Baker's twinkle-in-the-eye galactic explorer and Sherlock Holmes-ian detective skills, while Billie Piper's Rose Tyler perfectly captures the qualities of a wide-eyed 19 year old girl on her first trip across the stars with a man she feels strangely attracted to and protective of.

The regeneration is complete...David Tenant is now The Doctor. I am completely hooked! Thank you, Russell T. Davies, for passionately bringing "Doctor Who" back to the airwaves with all it's flair, adventure, danger, and new found resonance! Of course at the beginning of 2010, Davies turned over the reins to longtime "Who" writer Steven Moffat...but that's still in the future for me as I'm about to dive into Series Two and the three others that follow starring Tenant.

I can't wait to see where they go and what happens next!


At February 10, 2011 at 8:10 AM, Anonymous Allen Pinney said...

I don't know how or why it is, but the Brits have such a reverence for The Doctor that they go out of their way to stay true to the show's roots and legacy. It is very refreshing given all the American failures you listed.

Except for "Star Trek"... I think that one is a winner... Just sayin'. ;)

BTW - Have you watched "Torchwood"? Check it out if you haven't, and check out "Sherlock" on PBS.


At February 10, 2011 at 4:07 PM, Blogger LA Filmcutter said...

I've only seen a snippet here and there from "Torchwood" but I'd definitely like to check it out more. "Sherlock" looks pretty cool, and my anticipation is higher than normal because Steven Moffat, one of the key writers and now overseer of "Doctor Who", is producing.

Thanks for the links!

Bah!..."Star Trek"! ;)


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