Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Who cares about bad knockoffs?

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1996-05-14 Globe and Mail.jpg


MY dear friend Dr. K., a man of otherwise irreproachable character, has been a devotee of Doctor Who (Fox/CHCH at 8 p.m.) for many years but I'm not sure he would approve of this U.S.-Canadian TV movie spinoff. Dressed up in his Doctor Who suspenders, the sixtysomething Dr. K. has passed many a Sunday afternoon in front of his TV set enjoying reruns of the ancient (1963) BBC serial that was an inventive amalgam of H. G. Wells (The Time Machine ) and any number of the low-rent sci-fi programs cranked out by Hollywood in the fifties. A precursor to Star Trek (1966), Doctor Who was one of the first TV cult serials and it featured impeccably hammy British actors cavorting on wonderfully tacky, low-budget "futuristic" sets, time travelling and doing battle with evil Daleks.

Tonight's version of Doctor Who, however, seems to be the prototype for yet another Canadian-based knockoff of an earlier but long-defunct offshore TV series. Think of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Outer Limits, two series that have been successfully revived by Canadian companies for U.S. cable networks (and CanWest Global), and you get the idea.

Shot in Vancouver, this very contemporary Doctor Who features Paul McGann (Withnail & I, The Hanging Gale) as the hero, pitted against an awesomely nasty villain played by Eric Roberts. The special effects may be more sophisticated than the kitchen-sink improvisations of the original series but I'm not sure the new movie has been able to replicate the serial's eccentric charms, such as they were. While McGann is an excellent choice and Roberts a worthy opponent, Doctor Who's new Asian sidekick and pretty, dim-bulb love interest add nothing but an obvious appeal to Fox's youthful audience.

For all its dazzling computer effects and slam-bang action, the resurrected Doctor Who seemed rather predictable, self-consciously corny and unlikely to please devotees of the original. While the movie has the august imprimatur of the BBC, it smacks loudly of a quick sale (there's gold in them there archives) to the Yanks and I doubt this particular revival will prove successful.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Cuff, John Haslett (1996-05-14). Who cares about bad knockoffs?. The Globe and Mail p. C1.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Cuff, John Haslett. "Who cares about bad knockoffs?." The Globe and Mail [add city] 1996-05-14, C1. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Cuff, John Haslett. "Who cares about bad knockoffs?." The Globe and Mail, edition, sec., 1996-05-14
  • Turabian: Cuff, John Haslett. "Who cares about bad knockoffs?." The Globe and Mail, 1996-05-14, section, C1 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Who cares about bad knockoffs? | url= | work=The Globe and Mail | pages=C1 | date=1996-05-14 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 June 2022 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Who cares about bad knockoffs? | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 June 2022}}</ref>