28 March 2005
Doctor Yes

Last week I was half thinking of writing a piece about the then-forthcoming new series of Dr Who.  I was going to call it: “Dr Who: it’s not looking good”.  My argument was going to be that it was going to be awful, it would flop, that this would be the excuse to consign it to the dustbin of history and that all of this was entirely intentional - science fiction in some way not fitting in with the BBC’s Weltanschauung.

In defence of my argument I was going to mention that the Doctor was to be played by Christopher Eccleston, his assistant by Billie Piper (former pop star and the former(?) Mrs Chris Evans), that it had been written by Russell (Queer as Folk) Davies and that it had a large budget.  To assemble such a bunch of talentless (though respected) clowns in the same place at the same time and to deny them the excuse of no money could only be the consequence of pure malevolence.  It was if the Master had become science fact and found work as a BBC producer.

Well, I was wrong.

This morning I sat down to watch Rose, the first episode of the new series.  To say it was good doesn’t do it justice.  It was superb.  It was better than I could ever have imagined it to have been.

It was: fast-paced, funny, well-filmed, well-acted, observant, unpredictable, realistic (yes!), self-deprecating.  It brought the programme bang up to date (if not beyond) while retaining all its traditions: the Tardis, the music, the sonic screwdriver, regeneration.  The special effects were superb.

They’ve clearly spent a lot of money on it.  Usually, this is bad news.  Team America: World Police (although a good movie) clearly suffered from too many dollar bills chasing too little plot.  Dr Who didn’t.  Nothing seemed wasted.  Every penny seemed to propel the story forward.

I’ve been trying to puzzle out how it was they got this so right.  I imagine that the long break since the last series went out in 1989 was a factor.  It gave a new generation the chance to re-invent it, to question every aspect of it and to give it a new feel.  I also got the impression that after the (ahem) 1996 Dr Who movie there was an element of “we must not fail”. (Indeed, it’s funny to think how similar in many ways the two were - the difference between success and failure is slight indeed.)  And I think there was also a deep desire to keep the tradition alive.  To a large proportion of the people involved in producing, writing and directing the new series, Dr Who was something that they were brought up with, like Wimbledon and England World Cup exits.  The ball was being thrown to them and they had to make damn sure they caught it.  Fortunately, they did.

PS James Hammerton also seems to have liked it.

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  1. Russell’s a friend of mine and I had no doubt he’d get it spot-on. (Though I have to wait for the DV-effing-D to see the fruits of his labour!) BTW, Rose’s mother was named after me (he named a character in every series of his after me, the sweetie). I’m so proud of him, I could…smile or something. Check out Queer as Folk on DVD if you want to see some genius drama with real comedy moments.

    Posted by Jackie D on 28 March 2005 at 01:28pm

  2. I have it on video if you’re interested.
    cool smile

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on 29 March 2005 at 06:02am

  3. I’m VERY interested! Let me know what you want from LA in exchange for letting me watch it.

    Posted by Jackie D on 29 March 2005 at 06:09am

  4. I really liked it as well. More <a href=“http://nataliesolent.blogspot.com/2005_03_27_nataliesolent_archive.html#111210567627792859”>here.</a.

    Posted by Natalie Solent on 29 March 2005 at 09:33pm

  5. Sorry about that un-closed tag.

    I meant here.

    Posted by Natalie Solent on 29 March 2005 at 09:35pm

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