05 December 2011

Doctor Who, season 1 (starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper)

As one who watched Doctor Who from behind the sofa as a child in the 1960s, the 'real' Doctor has to be Patrick Troughton. I accepted Jon Pertwee as his replacement in the early 1970s, and quite liked the long-scarfed Tom Baker in the late '70s. Not that I was a devotee by an means, but I watched now and again, and kept up with the series. However, when Peter Davison became the fifth Doctor Who in 1981, I gave up entirely. I could not think of him as anyone other than Tristan Farnon, in the 'All Creatures Great and Small' series. Besides, I found it altogether too traumatic watching episode with cybermen and daleks (shudder) and felt nothing but relief when I gave up on Doctor Who.

I gather that the series gradually petered out... and was then re-established in 2005 with a 'new' series, taking advantage of modern computer technology for special effects, and, I was told, much more interesting storylines. But we don't live in the UK, and no matter how much my friends raved about Doctor Who, I was Not Interested.

However, my adult sons both, independently, became fans of the new series. And somehow they managed to convince us to buy the first 'new' series on DVD, assuring us that the modern Doctor Who was more in the vein of 'Quantum Leap' than the old alien-defeating superman kind of theme.

It was with much trepidation that I started watching the series, but I have to admit that they were right. The plots have much more of a human touch than I can remember from the previous series. Christopher Eccleston makes an excellent Doctor, and while Billie Piper as his assistant Rose is a bit irritating at times, we got used to her, and quite liked her by the end. We definitely felt for her frustrated well-meaning boyfriend, so often given second place to time travel.

I wasn't happy when Daleks made their appearance - they can still incite terror in my heart, and my relief at, apparently, the last one being wiped out forever was short-lived - but I loved the episode with Charles Dickens. There's a fascinating one which theorises on the terrible consequences of making changes in time travel - rather different from the happy endings of Quantum Leap - which was very thought-provoking.

It took us about six months to watch all thirteen episodes, as life was busy, but we enjoyed them all. They are not as directly frightening as some of the earlier series seemed to me as a child, even if I did hide my face a few times. There's a little humour, some pathos, and some excellent storylines.

The final episode was slightly disappointing; the Doctor seemed to be at his wits' end, and the climax was rather too much 'deus ex machina' for my liking. Perhaps it had to be like that to pave the way for the re-generation of the Doctor into his tenth incarnation...

All in all, well worth watching. We look forward to beginning Series 2 in the new year.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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