Culture > Television

Doctor Who

Television | Worldviews are scrambled, but there is no sex, bad llanguage, or gore

Issue: "Who's laughing now?," April 8, 2006

From 1963 to 1989, Doctor Who was among the most popular exports of British television. During those 26 years, the eccentric Timelord, traversing time and space in his police call box, kept saving the earth in intricate science fiction plots that sent viewers' imaginations soaring. Now the Doctor is back, as good as new.

The 2005 series from BBC is now being shown on the SciFi channel (Fridays, 9:00 ET). Christopher Eccleston plays the ninth Doctor with the wit and manic energy of the 1970s' Tom Baker, though with shorter hair and a more restrained wardrobe than the other Doctors. (In the series, the Doctor "regenerates" whenever the character is killed or a new actor is hired.)

The old series was beloved for its low-budget special effects. In the new episodes, the production values are much higher, but with some cheesiness for old time's sake. When a mysterious entity brings the world's plastic to life, the characters fight department store mannequins. When they pull an arm off of the plastic dummy, they then wrestle the arm. The Doctor defeats the menace with a vial of "Anti-Plastic."

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The show is simultaneously humorous and serious. One episode has the Doctor and his companion Rose go 5 billion years into the future to witness the explosion of the sun. Here they meet the last human being, evolved into a square of skin with eyes and a mouth stretched out on a frame, hooked to a brain in a jar.

Worldviews are rather scrambled in Doctor Who, but there is no sex, bad language, or gore-just weird stuff that might scare or confuse a young viewer. Like Narnia's wardrobe, the Doctor's vehicle has an inside bigger than the outside. Just like the human mind.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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