Sunday, April 01, 2007

WHO is that guy anyway?


DOCTOR WHO was a show that didn’t really capture my attention when I first saw it. If I recall correctly, it was back in the mid-1970s, while stationed out here in San Diego. These were the shows with Jon Pertwee, as the Third Doctor. From Pertwee’s costume, gadgets and flashy automobile it struck me more as a strange James Bond-ish thing with monsters. Hardly something that caught my interest and only seeing an occasional episode didn’t make it any easier to understand.

As a kid I had seen the two DW movies with Peter Cushing, probably either at the local drive-in or on a Saturday afternoon matinee, but neither really did much for me. I remember them being rather confusing, perhaps because DW was totally unknown here in the states. At least he was to me, although it’s possible I may have read of him in an article in FAMOUS MONTERS OF FILMLAND or one of many similar magazines I read ‘religiously’ growing up. It was only years later, while living in Westport that I began seeing the Tom Baker episodes, which turned me into a fan of the character. During fund-raising marathons the various PBS stations would sometimes show older programs featuring the earlier regenerations. It was then that I began to have an appreciation of what each actor had brought to the role.

I’ve rediscovered DOCTOR WHO, or rather discovered the Ninth Doctor. Christopher Eccleston was a nice surprise when I first happened upon a recent DW marathon on BBC-America. I haven’t regularly watched the series for several years, only dimly remembering the attempt to bring the show here to the U.S. with Paul McGann back in ’96. Ill received as I recall by fans and non-fans it seemed to be the sad end of a wonderful series. Several friends had mentioned the new show, but I hadn’t had a chance to see it until Donna was away and BBC-America ran a mini-marathon of Eccleston’s last few story arcs. I think the thing that got me hooked was Eccleston’s similar approach to the character that Tom Baker had brought. He seemed to be enjoying himself and had a sense of humor no matter the chaos happening around him. I also found that after the first few episodes I began to grow fond of Billie Piper as the Doctor’s companion Rose Tyler.

This weekend I caught the initial outing of the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant. I think I’ll have to catch a few more with this ‘new’ Doctor before I can judge how much I like him. While I do miss Eccleston I’m willing to give the new guy a chance.
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