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Doctor Operates As Charming Version Of Campy Time Traveler

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TAMPA — Doctor Who hits the ground running tonight.

The time-traveling space alien Lands in London in pursuit of a big glob of energy that thrives on plastic. Earth is in danger when this blob turns department-store mannequins into killers.

It's up to the good Doctor and a 19-year-old shopgirl named Rose to save the planet.

Things get even more bizarre next week, when the Whomeister and Rose travel 5 billion years into the future to attend a watching party for the end of Earth.

In the coming weeks, they will battle zombies in Victorian England with Charles Dickens and play a deadly alien game show (a parody of "The Weakest Link").

"Doctor Who," the long-running BBC series, is back and updated for modem consumption.

Thirteen episodes made last year in Britain will air on the Sci-Fi Channel on Fridays beginning at 9 tonight. The new incarnation of this classic character captures the charm of the original.

The series has decent special effects while maintaining the campy, slightly cheesy appeal that made the original a hit in the 1960s and '70s.

Brit Stars As Ninth Doctor

Stepping into the large pop culture icon shoes of Doctor Who is respected British actor Christopher Eccleston. He may be best known to American audiences for films such as "28 Days Later," "The Others" and "Elizabeth."

He is the ninth incarnation of the TV Doctor. Those familiar with the series may find Eccleston an unsettling choice at first.

He's a tall, lanky fellow with big ears and a thin, sort of geeky face. But viewers will soon warm to this cheeky, cheerful blue-collar bloke dressed in leather jacket and jeans.

Actress Billie Piper, who plays his new traveling companion, Rose, is a scene stealer and tougher than previous helpers who had to be rescued by the Doctor. This time around, she has to rescue him.

"Doctor Who" began as a cheaply made children's serial in 1963 and quickly gained a cult following that included many adults. It ran for 26 years, the longest run in the history of science fiction television.

The most popular of the Doctor Who actors was Tom Baker, now 72, who had the role from 1972 to '81.

He played the Doctor as an amusing, eccentric curly-haired alien (think Harpo Marx) in a floppy hat and a 14-foot-long scarf.

American audiences discovered the series when it aired on PBS stations in the early 1980s:

The last regularly scheduled weekly episode of "Doctor Who" aired in 1989. In 1997, a lame UK-USA-produced TV movie killed a comeback attempt.

Last year, another comeback was more successful. It was an instant hit in Europe. Eccleston, not wanting to be typecast, left the role after one season.

However, a new batch of episodes, starring David Tennant, were made and will debut soon in Britain.

Have Spaceship, Will Travel

For those who are not "Whovians" (think Trekkies), the back story remains the same: The character is called Doctor Who because we don't know his name.

He is a cosmic adventurer, the last of a race of Time Lords. He travels in the TARDIS, a spaceship that is disguised as a 1950s blue British police box. He meddles in alien affairs and usually trips up bad guys.

Most adventures involve cliffhanger moments with last-minute escapes. The Doctor has no superpowers or amazing futuristic weapons, so he relies on his wits to get out of trouble.

The first Doctor was a cranky old grandfather (William Hartnell) who traveled with his granddaughter, Susan (Carole Ann Ford).

When Hartnell left the role, the producers came up with the "regeneration" process:

When near death, a Time Lord renews his entire body and emerges as a totally different man.

Many British critics found that the first episode of the new series was the weakest because it had so much to set up. The following 12 improve with each episode.

David Tennant stars as adventurer Doctor Who in an updated version of the popular British series. The Sci-Fi Channel airs 13 episodes beginning tonight.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Belcher, Walt (2006-03-17). Doctor Operates As Charming Version Of Campy Time Traveler. The Tampa Tribune p. Baylife, p. 4.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Belcher, Walt. "Doctor Operates As Charming Version Of Campy Time Traveler." The Tampa Tribune [add city] 2006-03-17, Baylife, p. 4. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Belcher, Walt. "Doctor Operates As Charming Version Of Campy Time Traveler." The Tampa Tribune, edition, sec., 2006-03-17
  • Turabian: Belcher, Walt. "Doctor Operates As Charming Version Of Campy Time Traveler." The Tampa Tribune, 2006-03-17, section, Baylife, p. 4 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Doctor Operates As Charming Version Of Campy Time Traveler | url= | work=The Tampa Tribune | pages=Baylife, p. 4 | date=2006-03-17 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=24 May 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Doctor Operates As Charming Version Of Campy Time Traveler | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=24 May 2024}}</ref>