Our rating: 4 out of 5
reviewed by Charity Bishop
The infamous Doctor Who has been around longer than I have been alive, but it was only recently that I was introduced to his space travel antics through the enthusiasm of friends and a chance viewing late one night on the Sci-Fi Channel. In a word, the series got me hooked.
Spiraling through the air and appearing in a flash of light, the Tardis, a space-travel machine belonging to the last remaining time lord, merely called the Doctor (David Tennant), lands in a narrow London street, not far from the home of its second passenger, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). The Doctor is unconscious and she has fears of him never waking up, but nevertheless transports him to her family home, where her mother Jackie (Camille Coduri) insists on looking after them both. The Doctor's return is just in time for earth, for it has been targeted by an alien race seeking to enslave mankind for their own evil purposes. A massive space craft looms overhead and throughout the world, one third of the humans are seeking high places from which to leap unless the Prime Minister surrenders earth to the invaders.
The Doctor awakens in time to save his favorite race from disaster, and continues to take Rose through the labyrinth of time as they visit the future and the past, distant empires and the far reaches of space, encountering all manner of strange, hideous, and furry creatures in their exploration of time and space. Rose in the meantime must contend with the Doctor's new persona, since once in awhile he regenerates into a completely different appearance, and wage battle with her emotional attachment for him, while he searches for the unknown in order to escape a lonely and often sad past. The result is a slightly campy but fantastic sci-fi series the entire family will love. I have not seen any other interpretations of the Doctor and after being spoiled with Tennant's enormous eyes and fabulous expressions, I'm not sure I want to. He has amazing chemistry and energy on screen, bounding between moods with a kind of deranged passion that the audience finds catching, while his co-stars consist of some of the best English actors the BBC has to offer.
The plots bound about a lot, ranging from black holes in space to Victorian England, but all of them are funny, quirky, and memorable. My two favorites are "The Girl in the Fireplace," which guest-stars Sophia Myles as Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis the Fifteenth of France; and "Tooth & Claw," in which the duo team up to save Queen Victoria from a terrible fate. The series is almost completely clean but contains aspects that might not appeal to non-fans of the genre. There are a lot of grotesque aliens and attempted invasions. Robot men, giant bugs, and all kinds of creepy things that prowl in the far reaches of space. As a result, there is some violence as these enemies are fought off (it's implied that some of them consume humans as food sources; shrunken skeletons are occasionally found) or destroyed.
There's no sensuality apart from a spirit body-jumping back and forth between two hosts; once, in Rose's body, she sensuously kisses the Doctor. Jackie is a bit flirtatious with a man in "Love & Monsters." Spiritual elements are present on rare occasion, particularly in "The Satan Pit" when the Tardis becomes stranded on a space station that is unknowingly drilling deep into a planet where Satan has been imprisoned since before the beginning of time. The Doctor is uncertain if he believes in one devil, as in THE devil, but does encounter a creature modeled after Satan in popular culture. Ghosts walk the earth in the second to last episode. There are some surprisingly sad moments in the series, and more than a handful of laughs, since the wit is almost as amusing as the expressions. If you're a fan of off-kilter sci-fi with a hint of sarcasm in its exploration of time, take the time to be introduced to Doctor Who. You'll love it.