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Doctor Who tale a living time capsule (2013)

2013-11-22 Regina Leader-Post.jpg

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Times were different then, and TV was different, too. Watching An Adventure in Space and Time, BBC's luminous, nostalgia-steeped dramatization of the origins of Doctor Who, is like stepping into a time capsule. It's hard not to feel weepy-eyed for a time when grown men and women donned silly costumes and pretended to be aliens from another planet, all for the benefit of a mass audience, but there it is.

A half-century later — Doctor Who celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend with a dramatized reunion special, The Day of the Doctor — a silly children's fantasy that was initially belittled, demeaned and dismissed by BBC executives has morphed into a worldwide cultural phenomenon.

As An Adventure in Space and Time shows, those were harrowing days, too. In one of those coincidences in timing that seems impossible to believe today, Doctor Who debuted on Nov. 23, 1963 — the day after the assassination of U.S. president John F Kennedy.

An Adventure in Space and Time is a fictionalized dramatization, not a documentary, so it must walk a fine line between history and entertainment. TV and movies have had mixed success at peering behind their own curtain: For every NewsRadio and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, there's a Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip that confuses self-absorption with the need to entertain. It's not enough to simply pull back the curtain and reveal the wizard at TV's control console: Audiences need someone to root for.

With Jessica Raine as the late, great TV producer Verity Lambert OBE, An Adventure in Space and Time has one of the most compelling characters imaginable on the small screen. Very few women made it as TV producers in Britain in the early 1960s — few even tried — and Lambert, who earned a reputation among her BBC colleagues early in her career as someone who could create an entire universe based on wafer-thin script material, had it doubly difficult.

Other BBC executives were appalled at the idea of a silly sci-fi costume drama sullying their august programming lineup of Shakespearean stage plays and documentaries based on civilization and the origins of humankind. Lambert was the sacrificial lamb, and they assigned her the task of producing Doctor Who knowing it would fall, taking her with it. Or so they assumed at the time.

An Adventure in Space and Time is gorgeous, warm-hearted and spiritually uplifting — arguably one of the finer accounts of television-making ever crafted for the small screen. It's must-see TV for a generation too young to remember the age of black and white TV, when a gentle children's fantasy could take the mind away from a world where a much admired U.S. president could be suddenly cut down in the prime of life, as witnessed on the same TV. (Space)

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  • APA 6th ed.: Strachan, Alex (2013-11-22). Doctor Who tale a living time capsule. Regina Leader-Post p. D4.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Strachan, Alex. "Doctor Who tale a living time capsule." Regina Leader-Post [add city] 2013-11-22, D4. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Strachan, Alex. "Doctor Who tale a living time capsule." Regina Leader-Post, edition, sec., 2013-11-22
  • Turabian: Strachan, Alex. "Doctor Who tale a living time capsule." Regina Leader-Post, 2013-11-22, section, D4 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Doctor Who tale a living time capsule | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Doctor_Who_tale_a_living_time_capsule | work=Regina Leader-Post | pages=D4 | date=2013-11-22 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=18 June 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Doctor Who tale a living time capsule | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Doctor_Who_tale_a_living_time_capsule | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=18 June 2019}}</ref>