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Doctor Who, on BBC One (UK) / BBC America (USA)
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Caution: spoilers!

The original Doctor Who TV series ran from 1963 to 1989. The new series 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 seasons, before American rights were picked up by BBC America, which had already been airing reruns of seasons 1-4, and then became the primary American distributor of the series from season five onward.) So... Quick recap of the old series: 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 this new series begins with the ninth Doctor (played by Christopher Eccleston). (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.)


Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker)
Series Eleven (2018)
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Jodie Whittaker was announced as the thirteenth Doctor in July 2017 (at which point I still hadn't seen any of the show since the middle of series 6, back in 2011). This would be the first time the Doctor was played by a woman (at least canonically). Predictably, a lot of misogynistic fans were angry about this, while many other fans (I hope it would be accurate to say "most fans") were happy about it. Also this season, Chris Chibnall replaces Steven Moffat as showrunner.

In the first episode, the Doctor meets the people who would soon become her Companions. They include a young man from Sheffield named Ryan Sinclair (who has dyspraxia, though that fact hardly ever comes up or makes any sort of difference to the stories), and an old friend of his named Yasmin "Yaz" Khan (who has recently become a police officer), and Ryan's step-grandfather, Graham O'Brien. Graham is married to Ryan's grandmother (or "Nan"), Grace, who dies in the first episode, because of an alien enemy the group encounters, a Stenza named Tzim-Sha. This, of course, leaves both Ryan and Graham devastated. Meanwhile, the Doctor has lost her TARDIS, and teleports herself to another planet to look for it (or actually to a spaceship, which soon lands on another planet). But she accidentally teleports Ryan, Yaz, and Graham with her. And of course, once the Doctor finds the TARDIS, the three of them begin traveling and having adventures with her.

Let's see, what else can I say about the season? There's an episode where they meet Rosa Parks, that was pretty good. And one with giant spiders, boo! And one where Yaz meets her grandmother as a young woman, before she married Yaz's grandfather (whom Yaz never knew). That episode has some major political stuff going on, in the Punjab. There's an episode about a futuristic online shopping service (very reminiscent of Amazon). There's one about witchfinders (which reminded me of Good Omens), in which King James I is played by Alan Cumming, so that was fun. There was an episode that was kind of like a folk horror movie, which maybe vaguely put me in mind of something else (though I won't say what). And um, in the season finale, the group once again encounters Tzim-Sha, whom Graham wants to kill as revenge for Grace's death, but of course the Doctor doesn't want him to. I won't spoil how that turns out.

Other than that... I'm not sure what to say. I liked the new Doctor and Companions well enough, but on the whole none of them were ever quite developed enough as characters for me to love them as much as I did previous Doctors and Companions. (Nor did any of the stories stand out, for me, as particularly amazing, as some past episodes have.) Probably the best Companion in this season is Graham, who I'd say has a rather dry, sardonic yet subtle wit, and seems to take the fantastic adventures with the Doctor more in stride than... well, than most Companions ever have. Also, there's a theme running throughout the season of his wanting Ryan to call him "Granddad" instead of "Graham," which Ryan isn't ready to do, yet. So... that's a kind of touching personal arc. As for the Doctor herself, she mostly seems to be trying to figure out exactly what her new personality is going to be, beyond clever and adventurous (as always). She's definitely always eager to... I dunno, do whatever needs doing, whether or not she really has much of any idea what she's doing or whether it will work (or if she'll even survive it). Yes, "eager" is probably the best word I can think of to describe her, for now. (Though I might say she almost seems to have a touch of ADHD, but in a fun way. And yes, it really is saying something, that it would occur to me to say that in comparison to some of the other modern Doctors.) Anyway, I liked her, and I look forward to seeing more of her and her Companions, and hopefully getting to know them all better. And of course I also hope there'll be some truly brilliant, standout stories.

The season is followed by a New Year's special (rather than the usual Christmas special) called "Resolution", which I'm not sure when I'll get around to watching. But obviously it will have to be before I watch series 12....


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