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What do you think of the New Doctor Who?

Well, I’m all caught up on the U.S. airings of Doctor Who on the SciFi Channel. It’s…interesting. I was surprised to see that camp factor remained as I always thought (having seen only glimpses years ago of the Tom Baker version) that it was just the result of a low budget. Am I to understand that the camp is part of the charm? I haven’t made up my mind on that score yet. It’s sometimes funny and sometimes painful. I mean, come on, what’s with the guys in the rubber suits? Bah!

Still, I plan to keep watching, at least for another couple of shows. I’ve always liked the idea of space/time travel. I’ve intentionally stayed away from most reviews of the SciFi UK airings, mostly because I want to keep a spoiler-free open mind. I’m trying to give it a chance. Still, I fear it’s one of those shows that will lose my attention before season’s end. (Can you say Stargate: Atlantis?)

Has anyone else seen it? If not, why not? If so, what do you think of Doctor Who?

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

22 Comments on What do you think of the New Doctor Who?

  1. I missed the first two episodes (both shown the first night) but saw the third (“The Unquiet Dead”). I enjoyed the introduction of Charles Dickens.

    Yes, the camp factor is high and always has been. But, have you seen an episode of ST:TOS recently? A bit of camp there. Most of the British SF shows that I’ve seen have been campier than US shows. It adds to their charm.

    I’ll probably buy the new Doctor on DVD to see the episodes that I missed and to avoid the seemingly endless commercials. Wish that the earlier Doctors were more readily available on DVD in the US! I’d buy them before I’d buy any episodes of “Atlantis”!


  2. I’m stuck in Iraq so I haven’t seen the new Dr. Who yet. I have to agree about SG Atlantis though. At the start of season two I realized it wasn’t worth my time even though it aired between two shows I did watch at the time – SG1 and BSG. (SG1 is out now too, but at least it lasted 9 season.) Atlantis not bad, just kind of pointless and uninteresting.

  3. Not sure about camp. I just thought it was funny.

    I’d recommend you stick around, it gets better. The worst episodes are the ones with the Slytene in (those rubbish green aliens).

  4. I’m a fan of Dr. Who for one primary reason: It tells science fiction stories. It doesn’t turn every tale into a painfully obtuse allegory, it doesn’t end every tale with things ‘sploding, and it doesn’t require constantly-stoked interpersonal dynamics to keep it interesting. Yes, the above three do occur, but they are not the lynchpins of the series. The last show that true SF stories was Farscape, mostly the middle seasons. Galactica and Firefly, while extremely enjoyable, tend to tell stories that would work in most genres. (this is especially true of Firefly, where the only SF element in many episodes was that they arrived in a spaceship).

    It’s also the first show since Farscape to try to feature aliens that look alien. And Cassandra from End of the World is my favorite villain of the season (and she’s coming back in season two).

    The fact that SciFi Channel does good numbers on crap like Stargate, while hate mail pours in on Dr. Who, is quite telling about the viewing audience.

    This past weekend I watched several episodes of Land of the Lost, a show with primative blue screen FX and a lot of jerky stop animation. It reeks of cheesiness, but with episodes written by David Gerrold and Larry Niven (not to mention Walter Koenig) it managed to knock out some highly original SF stories. Camp factor does not take away from quality or originality. Look at the original Outer Limits, which maintained a true Sense of Wonder on a shoestring budget, as opposed to the new Outer Limits which beats home the message “Man is Bad” with every effect-ridden episode.

    I do need my Sf TV to be a regular excursion in to what it means to “be human.” I’ve been human for 40+ years, now, and seem to have a decent grasp of it.

  5. That last paragraph should open with “I do not need…”

  6. I’ve been a Dr Who fan for 20 plus years now.

    Let me say this: the new series is fantastic. The first five eps are solid, though not quite as brilliant as what you’ll see this week. Best Dr Who story since Curse of Fenric.

    Also, the classic eps are available as single disc per story releases. There are quite a few out there, a good sampling of what made Dr Who great in its original run. I don’t know why someone is complaining about finding them as they’re on Amazon and you can easily order them. Could be the cost but with the extras, it’s definitely more than extras than you get from a Star Trek DVD release.

    And Dr Who kicks both Stargate’s butts in terms of beign must see. Sorry, but both segments of that franchise are limping.

  7. Yes, I think the camp is is pretty-much by design. It’s likely they started with it due to budgetary concerns (and it’s the reason I took a long time to warm up to the original), but after such a long time running it became a part of the Dr. Who “feel” in way.

    They could have made the new series much more slick and elegant, but then anyone who was familiar with the old show would have probably felt that it may have a character called Dr. Who, but isn’t *really* Dr. Who at all.

    I know that I personally was pleasantly surprised to see that they preserved the old atmosphere rather well. On occasions it gets slightly annoying, but it’s a large part of the show’s charm.

    As for Atlantis, I can only agree. I stopped watching myself after the first season, and don’t wonder at all what I may be missing.

    SG-1, while also having quite a few unexciting episodes, also has pretty good episodes in addition.

  8. This new Doctor Who reminds me of the charming episodes (back when Tom Baker was the Doctor) I saw as a youth: for me the pleasure is one of returning to an old haunt.

    The writing is superior to the old shows, the special effects markedly better, but the show as a whole does not take itself too seriously. Simple plot twists based on thinking through the concept (such as having the Doctor land a year later than he wanted, so that the family of his current Companion thinks she’s been dead for a year) show the writers are science fiction writers.

    The show is an acquired taste; but, if you have acquired it, this is as good as the remembered vintages of yesteryear.

  9. It needs stating that Dr. Who is marketed as a family/kid friendly show in England.

    Living in a country where so much of our adult SF feels like Power Rangers, this fact makes me sad.

  10. I will agree with John C. Wright on his statements about the new Dr. Who. I remember watching Tom Baker on PBS when I was younger and really enjoying the show. It was funny that the camp factor really did not matter and it was the story that sold it for me. I will be watching more of the episodes, and yes it is a statement about some of the stuff that goes under the umbrella of SF on SciFi. I could do without the crap of psychics and ghosthunters and have them re-run older episodes of better shows…

  11. Greg Lindenberg // April 11, 2006 at 12:02 pm //

    You can’t go home again. At least, I can’t. I dislike the new show. The Doctor is good, but the camp factor seems too forced to me. You can’t manufacture serendipity.

    Trek managed to break the rule and succeed more than once, but eventually ran out of steam. I think the same has happened with Who. Nine, ten times is NOT the charm.

    Give me Tom Baker, Patrick Troughton any day. There were giants in the world once.

  12. Ooh, Jeff reminded me! I watched the latest aired episode with my young daughter, who was pleased to be watching a “grown-up” show, which is to say, something different from anything she’s ever seen before. Bonding time with her, if she keeps on liking it, will be something in the show’s favor.

  13. Camp is part of the Doctor Who experience, and the new show gets it right. I stopped watching the series after Tom Baker, and Eccleston may not look the part, but he has the attitude right… and that’s what matters most. Can’t wait for more!

  14. Richard Novak // April 11, 2006 at 5:15 pm //

    The camp has always been part of the show. It’s great to have the Doctor back on television. An alien who can travel anywhen/where, always alien to the time and place. Which is why he fits in. What’s not to love?

  15. Greg Lindenberg // April 12, 2006 at 10:35 am //

    So ANY crap they shovel is OK with you as long as it’s in a blue call box? You probably liked Enterprise and Phantom Menace, too.

  16. Let’s see Greg, yeah I like the crap in a blue call box. I just saw the episode with the Dalek and I really really enjoyed it. I am sorry that the show doesn’t work for you, but that’s how things are. The new BSG suffered from the same group of folks who preferred the old show, but you know many of us like that too. I grew up watching Tom Baker on PBS and I think this version does a fine job. From my perspective the last Doctor I saw was Tom…

    As for Enterprise, I didn’t like that show, but the Phantom Menace has some great bits in it. The podracing portion was worth the price of admission for me.

    Thanks for stopping by and slinging mud. Have a nice day…:-@

  17. Greg Lindenberg // April 17, 2006 at 1:06 pm //

    The Who producers should be glad to hear it. To give you what you want, they don’t have to work so hard or care about quality.

  18. I am not sure if you are trying to provoke a response, but last time I checked my opinion is just as valid as yours. Since you don’t like the show, we should all be Lemmings and share a common opinion about stuff. See I forgot that we are not allowed to have a different opinion.

    I hope the “The Who producers” continue to make the show since I do enjoy it. You must have access to some better programming or you just don’t need any SF on TV. Better yet, why don’t you step up and tell me what is wrong with the new Dr. Who. I want specifics and what you would do to change it. I throw the guantlet at you (emphasis on at and you :-@). It is very easy to be critical and I am currently lumping you in with fanboys who didn’t get what they wanted out of a given production.

  19. I have been a Dr Who fan for over 30 years… I mourned the long ‘hiatus’ and rejoyce in its retun. I like the new series very much and think the added budget only enhances the show!

  20. Greg Lindenberg // April 24, 2006 at 9:42 am //

    Whoa, Timmy! Here’s your gauntlet.

    Since most people seem to like the new Doctor Who, who’s the lemming? I was just registering MY opinion. You can believe whatever you want and watch whatever you want.

    All I’m saying is that viewers shouldn’t accept anything in a DW package as “good” just because it’s there. I’d rather watch and remember the old incarnations (show and Doctor) than accept anything new that is substandard.

    I’m sorry, but the new show just didn’t grab me, or measure up to the old. It seemed like it was trying too hard to BE the old DW. Maybe the later episodes got better, but the first couple shows suffered from bad writing and bad–vs. campy or quaint–effects. Power Rangers bad, I’d say. The guy getting sucked into the garbage can, and then running amok in the restaurant, was embarrassing. The second episode was too much like the greatly overrated Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in my opinion. The Dickens episode wasn’t too bad, but short-changed us on the zombie action. And I will say Chris Eccleston isn’t bad–he’s better than Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy or Paul McGann.

    Anyway, you just go ahead and like your new, inferior Doctor Who. More power to you, viva le difference and all that jazz. I think the show has run its course, like Trek. We’re in a different age of sci-fi now, and in a Renaissance of storytelling (Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Carnivale, Farscape, Firefly). What I’ve seen of DW just doesn’t compare. I may catch it in reruns if I don’t have something better to do like clip my toenails. If it ever succeeds in winning me over, I’ll let you know. Don’t hold your breath.

    Doctor Who rules! (Classic Doctor Who, that is!)

  21. And that’s Mr. Timmy thank you very much…:-P Hmm, since you gave my gauntlet back, I will be forced to toss it at somebody else. Maybe JP or John…

  22. It wouldn’t be Doctor Who if it didn’t have that low budget appeal.

    The first of the new DW was a little off to me but after that it was spot on. Have to say I’m not too excited about the dark look of the interior of the TARDIS

    I also liked DW9 and thought he did remind me a lot of Tom Baker in his portrail (no scarf though). I’m really not as keen on DW10. I think he’s over the top way too much. The great thing about Baker and what I saw in DW9 is he was more serious most of the time but then at just the right moment took a left turn. This new DW tries to show the DW flare way too much and it gets a little old.

    I am going to miss Rose. The romance between her and the Doctor was odd but I did like her character.

    I also miss Jelly Babies. They always seem to make things better didn’t they?

    Well those are just my thoughts for what they are.

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