It really only took me seven days to watch 3 seasons of this show. Isn’t funemployment grand?
My sister rented Season 1 of Torchwood and I watched it with her, and found myself intrigued enough not only to watch Season 2 with her, but also to watch all of the new Doctor Who available on Netflix Watch Instantly. (I am waiting for Season 4 in the mail.) More than anything, I avoided this particular franchise of geek-dom because the fans frighten me. They seem to be particularly, um, intense. (That really isn’t a very nice thing to say, but have you read some of those fan-sites? And in all fairness, I am nervous about most of the fans of shows I love. Those Supernatural people are terrifying.)
But I don’t watch that much of anything that doesn’t hold my attention in some way. (Don’t be fooled, I give up on shows that bore me.) I have been immensely entertained this last week. Honestly, I want to be a writer for this show, just so that I would get to write some really ridiculous stuff and make other people say it. It looks like fun. I think I would have the Doctor go meet Michaelangelo.
For those of you who have no idea what this show is about here is my simple summary. Don’t laugh, because before I actually watched, people would try to explain it to me, and I wouldn’t have any idea what they were taking about. The Doctor is the last of the Time Lords, an alien race with two hearts that live exceptionally long lives and can travel in both time and space using biological machines called TARDISes. When mortally injured, instead of dying, the Doctor regenerates into a new physiognomy, but is still the same person (pretty much), hence the seven actors who played the character in the original run of the series, and the two actors (so far) in the current series. He is the last because his race was destroyed in order to end the Time War with the Daleks, who were also entirely destroyed, except that a few survived and show up every so often. Therefore, lonely and just a bit guilty, the Doctor travels around time and space with a human female companion, meeting famous figures of human history and foiling the evil plots of destruction-bent alien races. Okay, that is the best I can do explaining the premise.
In Season One Christopher Eccleston plays the Doctor with a great deal of charm and gusto. The Doctor is regenerated into David Tennant at the very end of Season One, and he plays it just the slightest bit darker; still bright and appealing, but with a more dangerous edge. Billie Piper plays his companion Rose Tyler for Seasons One and Two, before she is trapped on an alternate Earth because a doorway between the parallel realties must be closed. Even though Rose is more sweet and loyal than particularly interesting, Rose’s “death” is actually quite sad, and made me cry. I much prefer Freema Agyeman’s medical student Martha Jones, the companion of Season 3. Rose was just a bit too lost for me. She lacked her own purpose, making her a somewhat flat character. Martha, on the other hand, was more fully developed as a person, more well rounded as a character. I wanted the Doctor to love Martha Jones. Maybe it was just that Rose seemed so much to belong to/with the Christopher Eccleston Doctor and less so the David Tennant Doctor, or maybe that Martha was funny and smart and loved him so much that it felt wrong for her to get hurt. It was so sad in “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood” that while human he fell in love with someone else and Martha had to accept it.
I wonder how I will feel about Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) as the companion in Season 4?
The ultimately redeeming factor of this show is that everyone seems to know just how hokey it is. It doesn’t feel like anyone is trying to pass this show off as deep, tragic, or relevant. The writers and actors seem to so enthusiastically embrace a spirit of light-hearted fun that the show is silly and engaging, rather than self-important or abrasive.
For me, one of the really fun things about this show is that it is kind of parade of “I’ve seen that person before.” In the sense of adjusting to David Tennant, that was kind of difficult for me. (It took a few episodes for me to stop holding my breath for him to be evil.) But otherwise the rotating door of guest stars is great: Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes both appear in very a-typical roles, Ian Holm and John Simm (from the BBC mini-series State of Play, which is much much much better than the American movie) are both fantastic as stages of the Master, Zoë Wanamaker is delightfully devious as Cassandra, and even though the Doctor looses faith in her, I would vote for Penelope Wilton’s Harriet Jones. Almost every episode had someone I recognized, turning the viewing experience into a little bit of a game, without being all ostentatious about it (30 Rock I am talking about you). This show does make me wonder just how many British people are named Jones…
I will say that I am super annoyed that Jack is (or at least maybe is) the Face of Boe. That head is gigantic, how is Jack supposed to turn into that? For some reason, I find this little, possible, detail rather irksome.
If you are looking for some enjoyable science fiction that does not leave you with that horrible damn-the-universe-is-super-depressing feeling, this is your stuff. Want to ponder the mystery of human nature, then watch Battlestar Galactica.
The TV Girl
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- I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.