Dr Who: Origins and Season Finale

Published 6 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 6:59 am,

doctor who Dr Who: Origins and Season Finale

Do you know what the longest running sci-fi show in television history is? I’m guessing the title of the post gave it away, but yes, it’s Doctor Who.

Doctor Who is an interesting phenomenon with curious staying power, no matter in what era it’s televised. Each rendition brings fans old and new along for the ride while the BBC sticks to what’s tried and true. Much like ‘In and Out Burger‘. Focus on what you do well.

For me, Doctor Who was confounding. When I’d come across it, I’d get sucked in and watch it to the end. What’s that about?

In case you didn’t know, Doctor Who is about a 900-year old Time Lord known as “The Doctor” who saves humanity time and time again, no pun there. His only tools are his trusty sonic screwdriver and sharp wit. And the ship that he travels through space and time in, the Tardis, which looks like a phone booth.

Doctor Who started to germinate in mid 1962, when the BBC’s ‘Head of Drama’, Sidney Newman, wanted to replace a children’s drama show that had a time slot between a sports show and a pop music program and do it with a show that entertained but also dispensed some form of fact. He balanced his desire for a show with what I’d consider a timeless survey that was conducted earlier that year, in March of 1962 that concluded that more people watched sci-fi due to compelling character portrayal and not because it was sci-fi. …Huh. Interesting. What does that remind you of?

These facets, along with the desire to keep the show on a shoestring type of budget is what culminated into the first episode of Doctor Who which played on November 23rd, 1963. The rest is history. In present day, that basic character appeal of the show is so compelling across so many variations of society that as of September 2007, the revived series is telecast in 37 countries.

It has quite the following to say the least, and BBC recognizes this. Thus, this season’s Doctor Who finale from BBC, like last year, has 20 additional minutes of air time. A whopping 65 minutes of time-traveling fun compared to the usual 45 minutes, and that’s pretty neat. Unless your only avenue of watching the show is here in the U.S. on the Sci-Fi Channel.

The Sci-Fi Channel is expected to air the usual 42 minutes of time with the finale episode, “Journey’s End“.

This is expected because they did the same thing with last years Doctor Who season finale, and according to a few fans, some of the best parts of the show were cut out from last year’s show. So while they’re already under the scrutiny of the general public for how they’re handling Battlestar Galactica‘s final season, we’re all looking at this new juggling act they’re doing with the worlds most popular science fiction show by editing out the extra time to keep it packed into the advertising schedule of their hour, which includes things like the same ads for their own shows, repeated over and over again.

I expected more from Sci-Fi at least this once, since their new head of the channel is from the BBC but alas, at least England doesn’t bow to the advertising powers every time.

Sources: Teletronic, Wikipedia, io9

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  1. Bruce, to be honest I can’t think of a single one! Heads of UK channels have never been known for their love of science fiction. The CGI Captain Scarlet a couple of years ago was better than the original I thought, but no sign of any more yet. Hyperdrive starring Simon Pegg’s mate Nick Frost was generally pretty poor. Kind of a Red Dwarf-lite. Bet they wished they could have called it “Spaced” as well. Primeval would never have seen the light of day without the success of Doctor Who, and Life On Mars (present-day cop finds himself back in the early ’70s for no adequately explored reason) wasn’t really SF. All in all a bit rubbish then.

  2. Oh yeah, Torchwood! Good call.

  3. Dentist: Life On Mars. I’ve been seeing ads for that “new” show on ABC… so they’re just remaking an overseas classic… again.

  4. And black Dr Who = Paterson Joseph. He was in Aeon Flux and The Beach; mainly known for TV: PeepShow, Green Wing, the aforementioned Hyperdrive, Jekyll and – funnily enough – the last two episodes of the Ecclestone Doctor Who. He’s got the presence to pull it off.

  5. I never cared for Life On Mars, so they can “reimagine” that one all they want!

  6. We did once had pretty good scifi. I’ve seen episodes of Blake’s Seven but not seen the lot, always wanted to.
    We also had Tripods, the Day of the Triffids, and a show called Star Cops, which didn’t last long but seemed quite good.
    There were pretty good shows done with puppets too, like Captain Scarlet, and I loved Terrahawks as a kid.
    There was also Space 1999, which seems a bit daft in the title alone now!

    Like the Dentist says, english tv seems little interested in scifi at the moment, even with the success of Doctor Who. Too much reality tv to make. Urgh.

  7. Bruce here’s some non-US shows I highly reccomend checking on dvd.

    1_ LEXX, a must see epic dark sci-fi journey aboard the mighty ship LEXX.
    The show was made in Nova Scoatia*spell-check*
    790′s favorite sci-fi tv show of all time beating out all Star Treks.

    2_ Red Dwarf.
    A must see BBC show. Hands down the best sci-fi comedy of all time.

    3_Torchwood.
    Spin-off of Doctor Who, lead character Capt. Jack.
    Quality show when you can’t get Doctor Who.
    ;-)

  8. Steven: HAH!! Space 1999. I “remember” liking that show. Heck I even have diecasts of that oblong little space ship of their’s, it’s pretty cool.

    790: Thanks…

  9. The Gerry Anderson shows give me a warm fuzzy glow. UFO and Space:1999 are still big faves of mine. Until the second series of the latter, which went all horrible. Rubber monsters, cheaper sets, kill off Barry Morse (easily the best actor in it), and add a crappy new theme tune. Has any other show simply dumped its own identity like that from one series to the next? Can’t think of one offhand.

    There was a documentary about British SF on the Sci-Fi Channel a while back. They showed a clip from Star Cops and it just looks embarrassing now. Moonbase 3 did the factual thing better. Loved Blake’s 7 despite the diabolical effects, and it had the best spit-yer-tea-across-the-room finale ever.

    I never watched enough of Farscape to figure out what was going on, but I think that was part-Australian wasn’t it? Filmed there anyway.

    Lexx! That’s another good call.

  10. Man, you guys are talking me back… Space 1999 and UFO… great stuff at the time.

    Anyone watch The Prisoner? I have the entire series on DVD but I only got through a few episodes and set it aside due to lack of time. I’ll have to pick that up again and watch it all the way through.

    Vic

  11. Make sure you strap yourself in for the final episode of that, Vic. McGoohan received death threats when it was first shown, and had to move his family to the US temporarily. There’ve always been periodic rumours of a movie, but a recent one had that man Eccleston again as Number Six – filming to be on location back in Portmeirion, site of the original Village. I’ll believe it when I see him in a piped blazer!

  12. Yeah Big Dentist, UFO was a great show. Its great watching that show on dvd. Everyones smoking like its a heath fad. Stiker was cool, and the movie studio base was very original.
    Space 1999 was awesome for its time. I had at least one or two Eagle spaceship toys. Personally I loved the second season theme more than the first, and being young and stupid I thought Barry Morse died in real life and was written out? ;-)
    He was the Bones of the show. Never liked Dr Russell much. They would allways blur her facial image, “wonder why, lol”. Looking back now those uniforms were awefull. Haha.

    (Farscape) was a show about a NASA test pilot ” John Chricton” that while flying a test spaceship was caught in a wormhole.
    Due to the nature of his flight path and a solar flare, his ship was instantly transported to the other side of the universe smack dab in the middle of a intergalactic space-prison break.
    Upon clearing some debris his ship was struck by a Sabacean Marauder. The pilot of the marauder was killed when his ship struck an asteroid.

    The pilot was the brother of the Captian of the fleet, Captian Crais. Cap Crais was a “human landmine” and upon hearing the news of his brothers death freaks out, kills his XO and goes rogue to find John Chricton. And that’s just the pilot episode for season1.
    John Cricton later in seasons 2 thru 4 was hunted down for his wormhole knowledge. Seems the PeaceKeepers (Sabaceans) and the Scarrens (big lizards) want to develop a wormhole weapon. The scarren makeup and overall look was awesome. The show was produced by the Jim Henson Co.

    The show was amazingly original I reccomend watching it in order.

    After the show was cancelled by Sci-fi because of budget woes, the fans created a viral campaign to get it backon the air. the fans were extremly angry over the last season 4 episode -ironically titled “bad timing”. That episode left off with a MASSIVE cliff hanger.
    Because of the viral campaign (save farscape) a few weathly fans decided to become Angel investers and funded the show. Sci-fi agreed to air a 4 epsiode mini_series (Farscape the Peacekeeper Wars) to the close out the show with some class and boy did they.

    Check out Farscape everyone. Its a great show !!!

  13. Thanks for that 790, that fills in a heap of blanks I had. For a start I couldn’t work out why Crais had it in for Crichton or who was escaping from whom, which is pretty fundamental really. So that Hellraiser-looking guy: what’s his problem?

    Yeah, blurring Dr Russell just looks bizarre now. They used to do the same thing with practically every female character close-up in Star Trek as well, the weirdos. You’re spot-on about everyone smoking like chimneys in UFO. And drinking. Straker’s got a minibar in his office, f’God’s sake. That’s just what you need, isn’t it? A whiskeyed-up coughing man with blue eyeliner in charge of countering the alien threat to civilisation. No wonder that General hated his guts…

  14. One British show that sneaks into the scifi bracket that I dearly loved was Ultraviolet. It was about vampires and an organisation that hunted them, but there was a hitech element to it, with guns with cameras attached (the undead didn’t show up) and even fancy coffins that only opened on a timer.
    Very short series, about 6 episodes I think, and probably cancelled due to the usual dumb reasons. Was an excellent show and could really have gone on to more.

    A number of the older shows, like Prisoner and UFO, are being shown again, if on obscure digital channels (ITV4).

  15. I got a diecast from the UFO show too! That tri-legged interceptor. Egads, the memories flood back and I realize that one box in storage has some really cool things in it.

  16. Never saw that one, steven. Is that recent?

    You’ll get people beating each other to death with clubs on ebay for an Interceptor, Bruce. Dig that sucker out! I had one and painted it white. Because it was white in the show. Like a fool.

  17. No, about ten years ago.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolet_(TV_serial)

    Pretty sure it is on dvd too, somewhere.

  18. we’ve all had our “moments”
    I used a fully posable spiderman action figure for target practice when I was in high school.
    I cut up a superman comic book that my dad gave me.. that cool pic with him holding the car begged to be cut out…
    Etc., etc…

    On the other hand, I still have my all metal diecast thunderbird #2! The flying sub from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the Land of the Giants ship… yea.. I got one really coooool box…

  19. Yeah I loved that office Straker had and that Mini-bar!
    The General (if I remember correctly)was a lame duck and Straker knew it. He also felt theGeneral was a risk to have in power.
    ^
    ^
    Haha, The hellraiser looking guy is called Scorpius.
    He’s a hybrid, half Sabacean and half Scarren. He’s the Peacekeeper version of Darth Vader/Boba Fett.
    He looks like that because his outfit is a special cooling suit. He’s very smart, strong and can tell if your lying by looking at your aura.
    He keeps this a secret so as to allways be one step ahead of others.

    On the rest:
    (I’ll try not to spoil too much). Scorpius comes in at the end of season 1. Crais’s pursuit of Cricton ends because of Scorpius.

    Scorpius dosnt care about Crais dead brother he finds out by capturing Chricton that he’s a human not a Sabacean and also stumbles upon wormhole information that was implanted by dimensional-time-aliens earlier in season 1.
    Scorpius wants to use the wormhole information to build a weapon to destory the Scarrens.
    Chricton actually does make a wormhole weapon near the end of season 3.
    After that he’s the Galaxys most wanted, Scorpius and the Scarrens both want the weapon and hunt him down to get it. Chricton has to eventually pick a side and that’s covered in the 4 part mini series “the Peacekeeper Wars”…
    Is a real good show!

  20. Right, that’s it! I’m looking for those DVDs as soon as I scrape some shekels together.

  21. Haha yeah, season 1 and 2 are good, great even but season 3 is real complex in a good way and season 4 is just all out Scarrens.

    (Cool thing about the Scarren story arc, is they find out that not only does Chricton have wormhole weapon secrets, he is also from Earth, and the Scarrens need something “else” that can only be found there).

    Wormholes arnt just for killen, if ya get my drift. ;-)

    The dvds are pretty cheap last time I looked. The PeaceKeeper War miniseries can be found at bestbuy for like 10 bucks. They condensed all 4 hours into one huge movie… Its so worth 10 bucks.

  22. Bruce, another cool Uk import is a little show called, “Urban Gothic”. Its a twilight zone-ish show with a horror edge to it.
    Kinda tough to find but Frys carries it.

    Also if you love British humor you’ll love the Original “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy BBC movie”.
    Douglas Adams real extended version of his book. Not the new movie version.

  23. I’ve just put my money where my mouth is and got hold of series 1 (surprised how easily available it is as well). Looking forward to it.

  24. I can’t wait to get the series 3 of doctor who.I love to wach doctor who. I wach doctor who on scifi.

  25. I,m pleased that Dr who is as entertaining for you as it is for us in the UK. My views are that Seasons 1-2 were terrific but 3&4 lost their way. The end of season 4 was brilliant.My only criticism is why did the Supreme Dalek have such a bad paint job and what was those bits around its head?.The Scottish Doc is one of the best to date, pl bring back the Draconians and the Chronovores!

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