Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Fox's 'Dr. Who' Leaves Its Viewers Yearning for More of The Doctor

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I admit it, I'm new to "Who."

That's "Dr. Who," the time-traveling, Jelly Baby-eating do-gooder from the planet Gallifrey, who must always stay one step ahead of The Master.

Up until now, the only Who I knew was the one that Horton of Dr. Seuss fame heard.

But, see, after previewing one two-hour movie, I'm an expert. So you shouldn't let the fact that you have up until now sat out the entire 32 -year-old phenomenon frighten you from watching "Dr. Who," a made-for-TV movie that will appear on at 8 p.m. Tuesday on WXXA (Channel 23).

The science-fiction tale has been around since 1963, and the British Broadcasting Corp. hit aired on PBS stations in the United States until 1989. It has also shown up on syndication since.

You may want to bone up on "Who" as there is a good chance that the Fox network will spin this into a series for next fall. Fox has been known to try out a series as a made-for-TV movie in the past. An example of this was "Sliders."

So, here's some what about Who.

Dr. Who has no name. He is simply The Doctor. The moniker dates back to the first episode of the long-running series when someone called him "Dr. Foreman," to which he answered, "Dr. Who?"

He is an alien with two hearts, two hearts that beat as one, a body temperature of 60 Fahrenheit and he's been alive almost 953 years. He is a Time Lord, which means he outdoes a cat with up to 13 lives. He has four remaining -- at the start of Tuesday's show.

He travels through time in a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions in Space), which on the outside looks like a blue British Police Call Box. On the inside it kind of looks like a creepy castle.

There have been seven other actors who have portrayed The Doctor including Sylvester McCoy, who reprises the role at the beginning of this movie before Paul McGann takes over.

Eric Roberts is deliciously fey in the role of The Master, who is The Doctor's nemesis. The Master, with his jello-colored green eyes and mouth full of slime, it seems, is out of lives, and he wants all of The Doctor's.

With no comparison to any other cast or incarnation of the sci-fi thriller, the made-for-TV movie, set in San Francisco in 1999, stands up well on its own.

There is one oddity. For a story set in the future, the writers seem to go for some archaic pop-culture references.

Three lines popularized by Wayne's World -- "as if," "party on," and "No Way. Yes way" -- are all used in the film. The cars also look like they are circa 1989.

But nit-picking notwithstanding, this dark and dank tale works on many levels. I've heard a report of a "Who " fan who previewed the tape and said there were even a couple of inside jokes for the junkies out there. (When The Doctor regenerates, he needs to find a suit of clothes. He finds an outfit that is intended for a masquerade ball. While getting dressed, Doc tries on a scarf, but throws it aside. Apparently a previous Doctor, I believe the fourth one, wore a scarf.)

The story is a race against time, and if The Doctor fails, the world will not be around to see the next millenium.

The subtle jokes, such as the book that The Doctor is reading ("Time Machine," By H.G. Wells) and the 900-year diary placed on a table, are evidence not only of the care that was taken in this project, but also of the puckish British wit that is employed with the right amount of restraint.

The first hour of the movie is stellar, with fine acting and cool special effects, such as The Doctor and The Master taking on new bodies. The second hour, although it flexes special-effects muscles when necessary, doesn't quite compare, but it still wraps up the story nicely.

It should leave both those who have never before seen The Doctor, as well as longtime followers, yearning for more, and rooting for a place for "Who" on Fox's fall lineup.

Keith Marder's column usually appears on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. To reach him call 454-5489 or send e-mail messages to kmarder@hearst.com

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.: Marder, Keith (1996-05-13). Fox's 'Dr. Who' Leaves Its Viewers Yearning for More of The Doctor. Times Union p. C4.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Marder, Keith. "Fox's 'Dr. Who' Leaves Its Viewers Yearning for More of The Doctor." Times Union [add city] 1996-05-13, C4. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Marder, Keith. "Fox's 'Dr. Who' Leaves Its Viewers Yearning for More of The Doctor." Times Union, edition, sec., 1996-05-13
  • Turabian: Marder, Keith. "Fox's 'Dr. Who' Leaves Its Viewers Yearning for More of The Doctor." Times Union, 1996-05-13, section, C4 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Fox's 'Dr. Who' Leaves Its Viewers Yearning for More of The Doctor | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Fox%27s_%27Dr._Who%27_Leaves_Its_Viewers_Yearning_for_More_of_The_Doctor | work=Times Union | pages=C4 | date=1996-05-13 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=11 December 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Fox's 'Dr. Who' Leaves Its Viewers Yearning for More of The Doctor | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Fox%27s_%27Dr._Who%27_Leaves_Its_Viewers_Yearning_for_More_of_The_Doctor | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=11 December 2019}}</ref>