(on) the trip of a lifetime

"I once spent centuries, faithfully cataloguing every species there, every organism from the smallest bacterium to the largest ichthyosaur. But as soon as I'd finished, the whole world started changing."

"That's life."

And, so it is. I'm a bit too tired from a weekend spent avoiding people, being sick and watching Leo and Co. run around in Blood Diamond* to do this one of my favourites, Doctor Who, much justice but, since I'm days late, I'll give it a shot.

The gist: A time-travelling alien and his (its?) various companions wander through space and time, helping out (and sometimes messing up) as they go.

Things to watch for: Each Doctor reflects his time--the paternal first one, the Beatle-haired Hartnell, the slightly foppish Tom Baker, someone I can't remember right now and am too lazy to Google, the very foppish Colin, Peter Davison**, the Byronic Mr. McGann and, of course Nine and Ten. Both very 00's in their own way.

The TARDIS--Who could not like a telephone box as a high-tech time travelling machine, which has gotten cocked up and can't actually work properly? And the fact that, unlike almost all famous sci-fi/fantasy shows*** on TV, there is no actual ship involved. I have decided this translate to a lot less angst (Farscape, anyone? Or, Andromeda? and the leader of it all--the one which does "angst" and signposts it with blaring music of the "here comes serious angst" sort--BSG). Instead, there's the Doctor and his companions wandering around various dodgy sets and getting into mischief.

The message: Being a BBC children's show, the Doctor has always had some sort of public service message. Usually, it's of the "technology can be scary and bad" sort (cybermen, anyone?). Or, the "ensure you protect the environment" sort (Green Death, for one). Oh, and like E's Torchwood rec, Doctor Who never (and still doesn't--can I mention "bananas"?) took itself seriously.

The villains: A motley crew, this: The Master, Daleks, Cybermen, and even (more than once, from what I can remember) the Yeti. There are also mad priests, wicked Chinamen, evil monks and various hastily-cobbled-together in the Beeb's makeup department alien baddies. Marvellous.

The jokes (and, yes, E, there were some in the older versions!). I'll give a few examples:

Ace: "Master? Who's he?"
Doctor: "An evil genius. My oldest, deadliest of enemies."
Ace: "Do you know any nice people? You know, ordinary people? Not power- crazed nutters trying to take over the galaxy?"

Some bloke: "You're so smug and self-satisfied, Doctor."
Doctor: "I try."

Coppers: "His scarf killed Stimson!"
Doctor: "Arrest the scarf, then."

Shaun (from SotD, another favourite): Well, now you raise an interesting point. Is a slave a slave if they don't know they've been enslaved?
Doctor: Yes.
Shaun: Oh. I was hoping for a philosophical debate; is that all I'm gonna get? Yes?
Doctor: Yes.
Shaun: You're no fun.

But, he was. And he is. So, go watch it as soon as you can. It's on Sci-fi on Friday nights and also on various online sources, any time of the day.

Things to avoid: Umm...nothing, as far as I'm concerned. Well, the older series might be rather boring for some of yous (but, if you stick and watch it you'll realise they are actually much better than loads of tosh on the television these days). Nine and Ten are clearly enjoying themselves while sorting out the human race, the new series is filmed in one of my favourite cities in the world (Cardiff) and there's a new season coming up soon.

If you've not seen any of the Doctor yet, you should. As another of my (and E's I think) favourites wrote:

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.

And that's what the Doctor would say, as he got on with doing whatever it is that he's up to.

* Not half bad by the way, especially if you ignore the stupidly "Hollywood" last half hour. It's also beautifully filmed and, surprisingly, Sierra Leone looks just like back home. Somehow. It's probably XMas-related delusion creeping into my head.

** I always suspected Tristan was an alien and the Doctor proved me right.

*** My other favourite--Monkey Magic--doesn't have a ship either. It's still a tale of a bunch of misfits and a quest but there's no spaceship. There is, however, a magic staff. And a cannibal as one of our intrepid heroes. I avoided talking about it since it's not widely available to buy (or watch) . Wait--that's what I thought and then I found this. As the Doctor would say: Fantastic!


At 12/11/2006 9:39 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I never said there weren't jokes.

I said there weren't any *good* jokes.

At 12/11/2006 10:24 AM, Blogger Priya said...

Oh, that was good! And, you're wrong--there were always good jokes. And not taking themselves seriously.

It's your turn now :-)


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