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Fox Revives Doctor Who Tonight (1996)

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WHICH DO YOU want first, science-fiction fans? The good news or the bad? Let's start with the good.

Fox tonight at 8 revives the misadventures of Doctor Who, the hero of a British-made sci-fi series that began on Nov. 23, 1963 on the BBC and soon afterward caught on in the U.S., where it was carried by public broadcasting.

Now for the bad news in the sci-fi universe. The cool "Mystery Science Theater 3000" on Comedy Central reels off its last new episode Saturday at 5 p.m., and by year's end will be just a memory on that cable channel.

Mike and the robots sit through one last Hollywood bomb - "Laserblast" with Roddy McDowall evolving from wimp to villain with the help of aliens.

Some Comedy Central viewers grew up with "MST3K" these past seven years. A lot of kids in the U.S. in the 1960s got through puberity watching Colin Baker as Doctor Who rattle through time and space in a battered old blue London police call box with a long scarf flowing in his wake.

In my house, he was just as popular as Capt. James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.

It was darn near as hip to watch Doctor Who back then as it is now to catch Mike, Crow and Tom Servo on "MST3K," eyeballing and commenting on Hollywood's cheesiest movies. The irony is that "MST3K" is ending its cable run just as it found a new audience with the recent release of "Mystery Science Theater 3000."

I see the "MST3K" franchise enduring as long as ... Doctor Who.

From the London stage comes Paul McGann in "The Fox Tuesday Night Movie" to be the eighth incarnation of Doctor Who. "Who ever thought it would happen to me?" asked McGann in a recent interview. Who, indeed?

He grew up in the 1960s watching Doctor Who on the telly, never imagining that he would one day play the Time Lord expatriate from the planet Gallifrey who passes out Jelly Babies to friend and foe. The doctor is 953 years old.

"Growing up in Liverpool, I never missed the series. How could I? We only had two channels then."

If tonight's movie captures the fancy of Fox's young audience, look for McGann to return as Doctor Who in a weekly series next fall as the search for a worthy companion piece to "The X-Files" goes on.

"We'll be wooing the audience into liking us tonight," said McGann, who admits to some misgivings about taking on a TV series for five years.

It will mean moving his wife and two children to Vancouver, where the BBC and Universal filmed tonight's two-hour pilot. Should McGann ask to be replaced as Doctor Who, it will no problem to replace him. It never is.

Doctor Who, in addition to having two hearts and a body temperature of 60 degress, also has the ability to renegerate into a new body. New face. In tonight's film, he starts out in the body of actor Sylvester McCoy.

That body comes to a sorry end at which time Doctor Who morphs into McGann.

"With a dash of amnesia," said McGann. But no long scarf. There's a scene in tonight's movie where McGann considers wearing the Whovian muffler, but then tosses it aside. "I hope that doesn't throw the noses of the Doctor Who fandom out of joint."

No problem. With or without a scarf, McGann is smashing as Doctor Who, going up against Eric Roberts as The Master, a formidable enemy who has used up all his lives and now wants to draw on the lives which Doctor Who still has in the bank. He started with 13. Eight have been used up.

There are loads of special effects and action sequences. "We worked up a real sweat filming on a tight schedule," said McGann. Minor criticism: The film is padded by 30 minutes.

To get back to "MST3K" for a moment, Comedy Central on Saturday night after the last new "Mystery Science Theater 3000" will premiere "The TV Wheel" at 7 p.m. It's a comedy-variety hour.

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to whovian@cuttingsarchive.org

  • APA 6th ed.: Bonko, Larry (1996-05-14). Fox Revives Doctor Who Tonight. The Virginian-Pilot p. E2.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Bonko, Larry. "Fox Revives Doctor Who Tonight." The Virginian-Pilot [add city] 1996-05-14, E2. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Bonko, Larry. "Fox Revives Doctor Who Tonight." The Virginian-Pilot, edition, sec., 1996-05-14
  • Turabian: Bonko, Larry. "Fox Revives Doctor Who Tonight." The Virginian-Pilot, 1996-05-14, section, E2 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Fox Revives Doctor Who Tonight | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Fox_Revives_Doctor_Who_Tonight | work=The Virginian-Pilot | pages=E2 | date=1996-05-14 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=19 November 2017 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Fox Revives Doctor Who Tonight | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Fox_Revives_Doctor_Who_Tonight | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=19 November 2017}}</ref>