In this week’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday, Tiffany and I get a little out there with reviews of the new ABC mini-series, The River, and the long time BBC favorite, Doctor Who.
::puts on geek glasses::
Doctor Who, for those of you who have spent your entire existence living in some remote desert locale, is the longest running sci-fi series ever. The series initially ran from 1963-1989, then was revived in 2005. There have been six seasons since that time, with the seventh season due to arrive sometime this fall.
I know what some of you are thinking. That doesn’t count as the full run of the series. They remade it, right?
Unlike other sci-fi favorites that have been retooled, recreated, or turned into new spin offs (see Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: TNG), Doctor Who is an actual continuation of the original series.
So what’s the story?
The titular character goes by simply “The Doctor” (often eliciting the response, “Doctor Who?”). While he looks human, he is actually an alien, the last of a species known as a Time Lord. He spends his days traveling through both space and time in the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), which from the outside looks like an old style, blue police call box, a choice that blended in when the series began, but has remain unchanged even in the new seasons.
In his travels, he spends a lot of time saving others, and rather than resort to killing everything that poses a threat, gives alien and human threats a chance to make the right choices.
Oh, and The Doctor generally doesn’t travel alone. He picks up human companions* along the way, who he grows to care for, and often has to save from the trouble his travels bring them. No matter how much he cares for them, though, he tries not to get too close, since Time Lords live “practically forever”. While they don’t grow old, Time Lords do regenerate, which has left the way open for several actors to play the lead role.
For the non-nerds reading this, I know. This may sound a little cheesy.
Somehow, though, this series (particularly focusing on the series “regeneration” since 2005) will suck you in, even if you are not a fan of sci-fi.
It may be idea of escaping from a boring life to run off and save the world that may appeal. Or the idea that with power comes the pain of having to use it. Or maybe it’s the the whole “good conquering evil” element that runs through so many of our favorite stories.
Whatever reason draws you in, now is the time to watch. Since the series will return again in the fall, it’s a great time to get caught up on the recent six seasons (available on Netflix).
So, here are some basics. Across the six seasons you will see three different regenerations of The Doctor played by Chris Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith, simply known to most as Nine, Ten, and Eleven. When The Doctor regenerates, aspects of his personality can change, even his taste in food, so each regeneration means a little something new about the character.
You’ll meet several companions including Rose (Billie Piper), Martha (Freema Ageyman), Donna (Catherine Tate), Amy (Karen Gilian) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), who all bring their own strength and talents in the various catastrophic situations they encounter. One of the great things about The Doctor is his ability to see the good in humans that they don’t always see in themselves.
And of course, there are the bad guys. Aliens of all kinds make appearances, sometimes disguised as humans. Watch out for the Daleks, Cybermen, The Silence, and The Master.
Despite all this saving the world, the show is full of humor, and is lighter in many ways than most sci-fi shows (i.e. I am comfortable watching this with my toddler sitting next to me). If you are afraid of the technical explanations for time travel and the like, have no fear, as it often boils down to “weebly, wobbly, timey, wimey”.
The writing in the series is especially good in the Stephen Moffat (writer, now executive producer) episodes, whose name you may recognize from an earlier watchwed recommendation, Sherlock. With all this time traveling, be assured that there are definitely twists and turns and lots of the unexpected.
While I haven’t mentioned continuous plot or story running through the series, there are some great plot lines and reveals. But you’ll have to learn about that for yourself. Spoilers.
This is most definitely GMacTV for me. There are the occasional episodes that could have been written better, but I still watch every one. I even re-watch them.
Are you a sci-fi fan who hasn’t watched Dr. Who? Any other Whovians out there? Who is your favorite Doctor? (I’m a TEN girl myself.)
Now head over to Tiffany’s and find out more about The River.
Come back next week when we review two new (or maybe old) TV shows. We like to keep everyone on their toes.
Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.
*not to be confused with a “companion” from Firefly…Dr. Who is very kid friendly
A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:
GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech