Doctor Who?

Normally I try to answer most blog comments, but yesterday involved a broken car, broken garage door, and other assorted chaos that kept me offline for most of the day.  My thanks to everyone who commented and shared their own stories on yesterday’s post, and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to respond to them all.


I have a confession to make. Despite ranking at the very top of the geek hierarchy, there has always been an unforgivable gap in my geekness.  I’ve never watched Doctor Who.

I remember as a kid, getting a few glimpses of this weird guy in a scarf who apparently flew around in a blue phone booth, but it looked way too cheesy.  Then there was that robot dog thing…

These days, it seems like half the people in my SF/F circle are Doctor Who fanatics.  Not to mention that Torchwood thing, which apparently raced to cult status in its own right.  So one day I was crashed out in my hotel room at a con, and I spotted an episode with David Tennant and something about quantum statues that only move when nobody’s looking.

Cheesy, but intriguing.  I ended up watching and liking the second half of “Blink,” the episode that won the Hugo Award.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  I saw that BBC America was showing Doctor Who, and programmed the DVR to start recording ’em.  I figured it was time to see what the fuss was about.

I’ve now watched a half-dozen episodes, all with Tennant as the Doctor.  It’s interesting.  I keep mentally contrasting the show with Star Trek.  Doctor Who is much lower budget, sometimes over-the-top, and yet … more often than not, it works.

Take the opening scene of “The Girl in the Fireplace,” when The Doctor says how disturbing the ticking of the clock is … since the clock on the mantel is broken.  Star Trek would have used louder, more dramatic music and lots of special effects and not done half as good a job creating a foreboding atmosphere.

And Tennant is just fun.  “I’m the Doctor, and I just snogged Madame de Pompadour!”  He’s so damn full of himself, and generally having such a good time … I don’t know if that’s a part of the character or just this incarnation, but I love it.

It doesn’t always work.  In Fireplace, I rolled my eyes at the random spaceship horse.  And given that the Doctor knows time passes more quickly on the other side, Narnia-style, how did he not see that ending coming?

Then there’s The Doctor’s meeting with Satan.  “What does the devil need with a starship?”  So much better than Star Trek V’s take.  (But I know that’s not saying much.)

Overall, I like it.  Even if the Cybermen are a blatant ripoff of the Borg.  (No, wait … strike that.  Reverse it.)  Even the ridiculously over-the-top moments, like The Doctor lighting the Olympic torch.  I like how they do so much with so little — a child’s drawing, or a simple statue — concentrating more on ideas and story than flashy effects.  Heck, the episodes with better effects seem weaker to me, overall.

I’m still ignorant about a lot of things, and we’ll see what happens when we move into other series with other doctors, but I think it’s safe to say my assimilation has begun.