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Doctor Who, on BBC One (UK) / Disney+ (USA)
BBC; Council of Geeks; IMDb; official website; On Disney+; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
For more links see Doctor Who & Torchwood links.

Caution: spoilers!

The original Doctor Who TV show ran from 1963 to 1989, for 26 seasons. It was followed by a new show that began in 2005, in the U.K., but I didn't see it until 2006, when it aired in the U.S., on Sci-Fi Channel. That network would air the first four series, before American rights were picked up by BBC America, which had already been airing reruns of series 1-4, and then became the primary American distributor of the show from series five through thirteen. After that, the American rights were picked up by Disney+, and the show started over at season one (at least in the US; I'm not sure if that's the case in the UK), though many people even in the US still think of it as series 14. I think of it as the start of a new show, which I consider "Doctor Who mark III". However, from the classic series through the present, it's all part of a single continuity, and the new season one starts with the fifteenth Doctor.

So... Quick recap of the old show: there's this human-looking alien called "the Doctor," who is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He has a time machine/spaceship called the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension In Space). The tardis is disguised as a 1950s British police box (which is like a phone booth), but it's bigger on the inside. He uses it to travel throughout time and space, and has lots of strange and exciting adventures, sometimes even on Earth. Sometimes he travels alone, and sometimes with one or more Companions. The Doctor is centuries old, and occasionally regenerates a new body, so he can be played by different actors. But it's not just his appearance that changes, he also gets a new personality when he regenerates... but the one constant is that he's always a hero (and kind of a rebel). But Time Lords can only regenerate twelve times (under normal circumstances), for a total of thirteen lives. And the second show began with the ninth Doctor. (Well, we'll call him the ninth Doctor, anyway. He might technically be the tenth, but that's a story for another time. Same rule applies to all subsequent regenerations in the current revival of the franchise.) And as I said before, the third series starts with the fifteenth Doctor.

Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa)
Season One / Series 14 (2024)
BBC; IMDb; Wikia; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Disney+

The fifteenth Doctor was introduced at the end of a 2023 special called The Giggle. His first full adventure was in the Christmas movie The Church on Ruby Road, in which he met his new Companion, Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson). Russell T Davies, who was showrunner for the first four revival series, returns to that position for season one. I must say, this season was too short, with only eight episodes, which wasn't enough time for me to love this Doctor (as I have to one degree or another with all the previous Doctors of the revival). But I did still like him, and Ruby, and the season as a whole, quite a bit. And I expect when I've seen more seasons, I'll raise my rating of the Gatwa era from four smileys to at least one heart.

Well, this Doctor is more in touch with his emotions than previous Doctors, which I think is a good thing. He and Ruby both seem pretty adventurous and fun-loving, and of course always quick to help people in any sort of problem they come across. I'm not sure how much I want to say about specific episodes, but the Doctor and Ruby face some pretty formidable foes, some of them more supernatural than sci-fi. Like, actual gods. One of the best episodes was "73 Yards", in which the Doctor disappears and Ruby is left living out her life, with a mysterious woman constantly standing 73 yards away from her, who causes anyone who talks to her to abandon Ruby and go a little mad, or something. Ruby manages to use this to her advantage against one very human villain, a politician who could start a nuclear war. But ultimately, the story comes full circle and apparently none of it happens, after all, so she doesn't remember any of it. The next story is another really good one, "Dot and Bubble", in which people on another planet are completely dependent upon social media to run their lives. But it's ultimately a condemnation of white supremacy. (Which I think was specifically directed at racist fans of the show who are upset that the new Doctor is played by a Black man.) Then there's a story where the Doctor meets a bounty hunter called Rogue, who at first thinks the Doctor is a certain alien menace he'd been hired to capture. But the Doctor proves he's not, and they work together to stop the real aliens. (The episode is also a nod to the series "Bridgerton", which I've never seen.) Rogue was rather charming, in a way that kind of reminded me of Jack Harkness (a character seen in several earlier Doctor Who episodes, as well as the spinoff series Torchwood). He's not quite as charismatic as Jack, but I liked him, and so did the Doctor. They engage in some flirtation and a kiss (which I'm sure was at least partly intended to annoy homophobic fans, but is mostly just about normalizing gay representation in media, which is a good thing). Unfortunately, Rogue gets exiled to another dimension. He hopes the Doctor will find him, but for now the Doctor seems to consider it hopeless, because there are practically infinite dimensions. But I seriously doubt we've seen the last of Rogue. I do hope he'll return in another season. The season finale consists of two episodes, in which the Doctor and UNIT try to learn who Ruby's birth mother was, while also investigating he fact that a certain mysterious woman has been appearing wherever the Doctor and Ruby go, throughout the season, in vastly different times and places. I don't want to spoil how that turns out, but it leads to the (temporary) destruction of almost all life in the universe. So that was pretty thrilling. In the end, the Doctor manages to restore all the lives that had been taken by an ancient enemy (whom the Fourth Doctor had once faced in the classic series). I had kind of hoped it would be said that not only those lives, but all the ones that had been taken by The Flux, would be restored, but there's no indication that that happened, alas.

Wow, I ended up saying more than I expected to. But I did leave some things out. However, I do need to mention a neighbor of Ruby's named Mrs. Flood, who is pretty mysterious, herself, and will surely be a major threat to the Doctor sometime later on. Meanwhile, Ruby finally meets her birth mother. Also, we see the return of UNIT director Kate Stewart, and other people working for UNIT include Rose Noble (first seen in the 2023 specials), Mel Bush (who was previously a companion of the Sixth and Seventh Doctors), and a scientific advisor named Morris Gibbons. And... I guess I don't know what else to say. I just think the season was reasonably fun, and I look forward to seeing whatever comes next, and getting to know this Doctor better.

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