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The Doctor Is In: New Version Of Cult Science-Fiction Show Serves Up Sly, Hip Entertainment (1996)

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Coming up with new incarnations of successful cult shows can be a risky business: They must project an overall feel of the original show so fans won't revolt, but they also must entice new fans without making them feel they're not as hip to the subject matter as those who were there from the start.

"Doctor Who" definitely rates the "cult" label. As the longest-running science-fiction series in history, it was an institution for 26 years on the BBC and still has a loyal following even though the BBC ceased production in 1989. In the United States, the show gained its cult status through exposure on several PBS outlets, including WTTW-Ch. 11, which aired it for almost 16 years starting in 1975.

Now the "Doctor" is making a house call in a new made-for-television movie airing at 7 p.m. Tuesday on WFLD-Ch. 32. And fortunately for those who aren't as versed in Who-lore as are diehard fans, this "Doctor Who" serves up a decent couple of hours of sly entertainment while retaining enough charm and spirit of the old series to keep inveterate "Who" watchers happy.

(Trivia alert: When Channel 32 first went on the air in the 1960s, it showed the 1965 British feature film "Dr. Who and the Daleks," starring Peter Cushing, every night for a week.)

For those who need a "Who" primer, the Doctor is a renegade from an alien race known as Time Lords, beings who travel freely through time and space. The Doctor (he's rarely called Doctor Who) flits about the cosmos in his TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space), which looks like a British police call box but is a front for a vast craft.

Time Lords have two hearts and 13 lives. When they lose a life, they transform their bodies with a new life, complete with a different personality (really handy for when an actor's ego gets too big for the role).

It's the body thing that poses a problem for the Master (Eric Roberts, saving his patented scene-chewing for the end), the villainous Time Lord of the TV movie.

Sylvester McCoy played the last Doctor Who in the BBC series and has a cameo in this movie until he morphs, through a set of urban terror-tinged circumstances, into Paul McGann, Doctor Who No. 8. (McGann looks like Tom Baker, the actor who played the Doctor for much of the BBC series.)

McGann does a nice enough job of making us root for the Doctor as he battles the Master, who has used all his bodies and has a plan to steal the Doctor's and extinguish life on our planet in the process, as the two land in San Francisco on Dec. 30, 1999.

"Doctor Who" has a fun, involving story when it gets going, and a good give-and-take between McGann and Daphne Ashbrook as a medical doctor who gets mixed up in the Doctor's plight.

You could do worse than spending some time with this Doctor.

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.: Johnson, Allan (1996-05-14). The Doctor Is In: New Version Of Cult Science-Fiction Show Serves Up Sly, Hip Entertainment. Chicago Tribune p. sec. 5, p. 3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Johnson, Allan. "The Doctor Is In: New Version Of Cult Science-Fiction Show Serves Up Sly, Hip Entertainment." Chicago Tribune [add city] 1996-05-14, sec. 5, p. 3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Johnson, Allan. "The Doctor Is In: New Version Of Cult Science-Fiction Show Serves Up Sly, Hip Entertainment." Chicago Tribune, edition, sec., 1996-05-14
  • Turabian: Johnson, Allan. "The Doctor Is In: New Version Of Cult Science-Fiction Show Serves Up Sly, Hip Entertainment." Chicago Tribune, 1996-05-14, section, sec. 5, p. 3 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The Doctor Is In: New Version Of Cult Science-Fiction Show Serves Up Sly, Hip Entertainment | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/The_Doctor_Is_In:_New_Version_Of_Cult_Science-Fiction_Show_Serves_Up_Sly,_Hip_Entertainment | work=Chicago Tribune | pages=sec. 5, p. 3 | date=1996-05-14 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 November 2017 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=The Doctor Is In: New Version Of Cult Science-Fiction Show Serves Up Sly, Hip Entertainment | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/The_Doctor_Is_In:_New_Version_Of_Cult_Science-Fiction_Show_Serves_Up_Sly,_Hip_Entertainment | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 November 2017}}</ref>