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Doctor Who - "Rose"

Yes, many a sci-fi nerd may be face down in a pool of their own happy drool right now. I'll try not to drown.
Some days, I cannot think of the words to express my deep love for the wonder that is BitTorrent. A show airs in Britain on Saturday, and I watch it in Chicago on Monday (and could have watched it Sunday night if I hadn't decided to sleep instead). That's quite a short wait after 15 YEARS since the last season of the BBC's classic sci-fi series, Doctor Who. Yes, we're going to pretend that the 1996 Fox movie never happened; their hearts may have been in the right place, but their heads were in a very DARK place indeed. As, apparently, are the heads of programming executives Stateside, since as of now they have ALL passed on the new season. The Sci-Fi Channel, in what must have been one of the most ironic moments in SF history, supposedly screened the first few episodes and found the quality "lacking". This from the people who quite recently brought us "Mansquito" (don't even get me started on the very existence of the "Tremors" TV series or the cancellation of "Farscape").

I am not going to post a detailed review here; Who fans should watch and may well already have, and non-fans will be hard to sway through a reiteration of the plot. Doctor Who has always been a series that suffers in reduction to a plot summary anyway; a "Doctor" (THE Doctor) who travels through space and time in a police box and has fierce battles with plunger-wielding robots and assorted rubber aliens? That sh*t ran for THIRTY YEARS?

Suffice to say, the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) is still his offbeat, vaguely annoying self, though he is much more stylishly dressed than previously (if stylish = normal) in a nondescript black ensemble with leather jacket. Personally, I hope to see some celery boutonnieres or overly long scarves in future. His fashion sense may be a bit bland, but the acting makes up for it - minimal dialogue with maximum effect. The effects are considerably less cheesy than formerly, but not polished to the point where they seem distracting (honestly, this is a good thing). Except for the new T.A.R.D.I.S. interior, which is BADASS and I never thought I could say that about anything on Doctor Who. New Companion Rose (Billie Piper) already seems to have the qualities that made the best of the old crops of Companions more than just sidekicks; truly strong-willed women are still a rarity in sci-fi so here's hoping she keeps it up.

This is a first episode - so expect nothing too earth-shatteringly amazing. There are some establishing things that have to get done before they can start to have fun, from a practical storytelling standpoint, and I think that's what we're seeing here. I DO think that it offers a taste of good things to come, and am inclined to agree with the net consensus of something around 7/10 stars. It's not perfect but it's sure as heck on the right track. The humor is there, the depth is there, and the pacing is blessedly snappy (for anyone who remembers how some of the older episodes could plod along).

Basically, if you've never seen Doctor Who, jump in with both feet; there is nothing here that will require you to have seen umpteen episodes. If you are already a fan and just the very idea of a new season isn't enough to get you to watch, consider this a recommendation from a fellow fan; sit back, relax, and prepare to have your expectations met (!). (You will find the preview for this week's episode to be quite exciting.) Yes, I am quite biased; I started watching the series when I was about 8. That also means I should be pretty hard to sell on a new season. Consider me sold.

For the record, I could have watched the new episode even sooner if I had chosen to - an employee traced to a third-party company in Canada leaked the episode to the net three weeks before its air date. (They were subsequently sacked.)

See also: the BBC official site.

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