Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy Dr. Who Anniversary

Happy 10th Anniversary to the new incarnation Dr. Who.  For the longest time, and I guess it still holds the title, Dr. Who was the longest running SF TV series.  There's a difference in the old Who and the newer updated Dr. Who, which this 10th Anniversary celebrates.  The older Dr. Who episodes had longer stories, usually around 4 or 6 episodes with around 25 minutes per episode.  Of course the original, Dr. Who started on Nov. 1963, cantankerously played by actor, William Hartnell, still one of my favorites--although I like many of the actors.  All those different actors have had their own spin on the doctor too, which might be the reason it has kept such a fan base.  The changing of the actors and the way the doctor behaves brings something fresh and new to the series.  You may not always like the current actor's portrayal as much as another, but it does keep it adding something new to the mix, which has a building effect and also adds to the mythos.

 I can't say I'm a diehard fan of the show.  That's not to say I don't like and enjoy watching it, I do.  But what I mean is I'm not so diehard a fan that I can name off all the episodes or what mistakes go against cannon, and that sort of thing.  I'm a casual fan, one that became aware of the program late one night, while staying up on the weekend, and ran into one of the Tom Baker episodes on a cable network program, I believe called Night Flight, (although it may have been some other late night programming). Night Flight was a cool program back in the day, which showed older B-movies, horror films, concert videos, a little animation, and any manner of things.


 I just remember the first Dr. Who I ever saw was a Tom Baker and Leela episode called The Robots of Death, and it was strange and unlike anything I'd ever seen before.  The effects were old-school, yet drew me into the program taking place on some mining expedition of a desert world.  The crew members are running this giant landship harvesting minerals and have robot operators, ranging from simple robot operators to more capable SV7 (super-Voc) Coordinator.   About the time the TARDIS shows up, one of the crew members gets murdered.  Suspicious of whodunit run amuck, and of course, they blame the Doctor and Leela.  But of course, none of them dares to think it could be one of their own robots as that might spell the end for that civilization. 

The episode is also noted, as this story saw the last appearance of the wooden walled control room aboard the TARDIS.  It had its debut in The Masque of Mandragora as a replacement for the more familiar room seen since 1963.  However, while it was felt to be very atmospheric, the set suffered from being too static, not much going on visually, and too reliant on wood which warped when the walls were put into storage for a few months, ha.

That episode was followed by one of my all-time favorite Dr. Who features, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, and from there I more or less became a fan of the show.  It wasn't much later that I was over in Midland at a comic store and talking to one of the proprietors of the shop about any sort of pop culture stuff, but I think somewhere in the conversation Pink Floyd was mentioned and a guy behind me said, "Pink Floyd? I love Pink Floyd." and introduced himself as Allon.  I remember saying, that's a Jewish name, if I ever heard one, and we quickly became friends.

He was a friends with some other people that were the remnants of a Dr. Who fan club in that town, known as The West Texas Timelords, and he invited me to come over and we'd eat pizza, and then we adjourn and we met up at an apartment complex where one of the friends lived.  The apartments had a central meeting room, with a pool table, TV set and VCR, and we could use it to watch a Dr. Who program.  Eventually the guy moved from that apartment complex, as I remember, and we had to shift things to meet at his apartment.  I have to say he was very accommodating to put up with us, ha.   From what I understand, the gal that originally had started the club there, moved on, but left her VHS tapes with one of the members, and he had a whole cache of Dr. Who tapes.  So we'd meet on weekend, eat pizza, chat, and then go watch a tape.  It was a lot of fun, met some good people, and my knowledge of SF grew as well in the process.

So the above concerns the "classic" Dr. Who programming.  At some point in time, they stopped making Dr. Who programs around 1989 with the classic team-up of Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred.   A lot of those episodes I still have not seen, and should make a point of watching them.  But there was 16 year absence, with the exception of a made-for-TV movie, which starred Paul McGann, that the BBC started up the newer series, starring Christopher Eccleston as the doctor with Billie Piper as Rose Tyler as the companion.   The rest is more or less history.

Here recently our cable has just picked up the BBC America network, and I've enjoy seeing some of these rebroadcast of the newer Dr. Who series.  Last week, they showed a couple of David Tennant episodes, as well as a couple of Matt Smith.  I hope they continue to do so.  Radio Times has an acknowledgement from some of the actors and associates of the new series here.   It's where I got the above picture of the newest incarnation of the doctor played by Peter Capaldi.


Yeah, final notes:  I was trying to find a cool classic podcast of Dr. Who programs.  If you know of one leave a link in the comments.  The one I ran across today looks somewhat promising, but I'm still looking for more.  Here's one I found:  Who Back When. 

2 Comments:

At 7:36 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

I started watching regularly during the '70s Tom Baker days too. This was simply because it was available in a consistent place and time. The show had aired previously in the US, but by fits and starts and in changing time slots, so it hadn't built an audience previously.

The proliferation of channels and video sources in the past couple decades means that almost anything can be found somewhere.

 
At 11:48 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Tom Baker seems to be one of the favorite "classic" doctors, and it's pretty easy to see why. The odd thing about Dr. Who is that the classic epi. seem to long and drawn out most of the time (due to their weekly episodic showing on the BBC).

Yes, I had a friend while talking about movies and such remark: They're everywhere. :P As long as you aren't looking for something specific, you can find something to watch, given the mood.

 

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