Who? After 50 years it’s time to see the ‘Doctor’

  • Hank Stuever The Washington Post
  • Friday, November 15, 2013 3:51pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

In television’s vast universe, there is perhaps no acquired taste that is more difficult to acquire than the taste for “Doctor Who,” BBC’s long-running sci-fi series about an alien dandy who navigates the time-space continuum in a phone-booth-style British police box.

It’s been on (and off, and then on again) for five decades, but despite its increased popularity, “Doctor Who” remains steadfastly niche.

The show’s remoteness — and the way it has skirted the edge of mainstream success for so long — remains its strongest asset.

From its earliest episodes, “Doctor Who” has rewarded a certain stripe of viewer who can pay close attention while cerebrally forgiving the show for its low-budget, slapdash, resolutely episodic qualities.

It’s melodrama for Mensa. One of the main reasons “Doctor Who” thrived, in fact, was because its fans came to love it as much for its shabbiness as its exuberance and manic intelligence.

The CGI era has caught up to “Doctor Who” and made it infinitely cooler to watch since 2005, yet it’s still appreciably outre.

And so, to a growing list of 50th anniversaries, we must add the Nov. 23, 1963, premiere of “Doctor Who.”

Even if you’ve never seen the show or long since concluded that it’s not your cup of tea, BBC America has several specials and retrospectives scheduled this week.

It all leads up to a much-anticipated special episode of the current “Doctor Who” saga that will be globally simulcast on Saturday.

I’m most inclined to steer you to “An Adventure in Space and Time,” an enjoyable dramatic movie about how the show was first made.

“An Adventure in Space and Time” is set in the BBC’s “Mad Men” era as the network executive cooks up a concept for a kiddie science-fiction series about a “doctor” from another planet who has the power to travel across time, past, present and future.

But in the same excitable breath, Newman adamantly forbids the show from having robots or bug-eyed monsters. He wants it to be smart but silly, educational but goofy.

Marathons will feature each of the 11 incarnations of the Doctor; airing Monday through Saturday. Visit www.bbcamerica.com/doctorwho for complete schedules.

More in Life

Heavy Hollywood headlines: Robert Horton’s movies preview

In the midst of all the sexual-misconduct allegations, the holiday film season offers some relief.

‘Love, Chaos and Dinner’ an Teatro ZinZanni’s original show

The “Parsian cabaret” is a superb circus dinner theater operation in Marymoor Park through April 29.

Denzel Washington’s remarkable performance isn’t helped by plot

The actor is convincing as an awkward, eccentric lawyer, but unconvincing contrivances pile up.

‘The Breadwinner’ animation is strong, but its story is stilted

The Cartoon Saloon film never lets you forget that you’re here to learn an important lesson.

Pianist Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major on Nov. 26 with the Everett Philharmonic Orchestra.
Young pianist to perform Mozart with Everett Philharmonic

Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will play the piano at the Music for the Imagination concert.

Liz Oyama as Belle, Jimmi Cook as Gaston and John Han as Lefou star in the Edmonds Driftwood Players production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” opening Nov. 24. Magic Photo
In Driftwood’s ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ Belle has girl-power bend

Edmonds Driftwood Players presents Disney’s adaptation of the fair tale Nov. 24 through Dec. 17.

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with reads, listens

Pay tribute to the contributions of indigenous people to national history and culture.

Beer of the Week: Scuttlebutt’s Barrel-aged Belgian Winter

Made in 2013, the dark strong ale was stowed away in barrels. The brewery tests one each year.

Franken’s rising political star obscured by accusations

He faces an ethics investigation after allegations he had unwanted physical contact with four women.

Most Read