Monday, January 4, 2010

Science Fiction, Double Feature

Here is some major television fandom babbling. You have been warned.

So this week, two science fiction television shows that I have been watching faithfully finished for me: one because the lead actor has left the show and his part has been recast and the other because the show came to a conclusion. These two shows are "Doctor Who" and "Battlestar Gallactica". It feels funny knowing that I won't have either of these to look forward to any more. (Although that is not completely true with "Doctor Who", the show will continue, just with a new cast and production team.)

I wasn't initially interested in watching "Doctor Who". Being an Anglophile, I was familiar with the premise of the show, but I never saw it growing up. I had been talking to Henry Jenkins at a work event, and "Doctor Who" came up in the course of conversation. I asked him at that time about the recasting of the Doctor because I was disappointed that Christopher Eccleston wasn't staying on and that actually made me concerned that the show was crap. (The 1st series had just completed in the UK, and HJ had seen it.) He told me the show was really good, but he didn't know much about the new person playing the Doctor. And after I went home, I forgot about it. (I was tired.)

A year or so later, I was home, killing time waiting to go to an appointment, when I happened to catch a SciFi Channel "Doctor Who" marathon. I turned it on in the middle of "Bad Wolf" and, by the time I had to leave after the start of "School Reunion", I knew that I needed to rent this show from Netflix. (When I got back home it was in time to see the second half of "Doomsday" and, even though I had barely met these characters, I cried.) They had just started to run series 3 on Sci Fi, and I was starting over at the beginning, but I caught up enough in time to be current in time for series 4, which was awesome/heartbreaking/wonderful/frustrating.

Even though I started watching Doctor Who during the Ninth Doctor's tenure, Ten was the one who really got me hooked. David Tennant's final episode as the Tenth Doctor aired in Britain on Friday and in the US on Saturday. While I will continue to watch the show with the Eleventh and subsequent Doctors, I think that it will be really hard to recapture the same affection that I have for the character as played by David Tennant. (But I am open to trying.)

It is really because of "Doctor Who" that I started watching "Battlestar Gallactica", which was in a time slot shortly after DW Fridays on SciFi. I had watched the original show as a kid and loved it and was not happy when I heard about the show's reboot. Because of the scheduling, I ended up catching some of the episodes of the final season of the new show and got hooked in two episodes. So, yet again, I filled my Netflix queue with BSG from the beginning and have gone from a naysayer to a huge fan.

BSG is the show I tell my friends who are not interested in science fiction to watch because it really is about people dealing with a world at war that just so happens to be set in space. (Aliens need not apply.) Ethics, love, religion, and politics are all issues the show touches upon in a thoughtful manner. Plus, it has some really strong women characters, which is a welcome change from the original show. (I love Starbuck; I can't believe I ever was against the character being played by a woman.) On Saturday night, I saw the final episode of the show, "The Plan", which was released first on dvd and is going to air sometime in the near future. A prequel caled "Caprica" is going to air too, but, like with Doctor Who, without the actors and characters that I love, it isn't going to be the same sort of experience.

In the end, I guess that I am just glad that I found these shows; with so much crap on television, I could have easily overlooked them. It gives me hope that there will continue to be great shows on television, even if you do have to do a little bit of hunting, or have really good luck, to find them.


  1. Did you like Billie Piper when she was on Doctor Who? I am kind of sad she isn't on it anymore, cause I like her so much in Secret Diary of a Call Girl!

  2. @Brit Fancy: I love Billie Piper (so much so that I bought her autobiography - she has lead an interesting life).

    Yes, I loved her on Doctor Who, and I really like her in Secret Diary of a Call Girl (although I have mixed feelings about Belle). I didn't care for her in Mansfield Park, but it wasn't her fault. It just wasn't my favorite adaptation of a great book. But I liked her a lot in the Sally Lockhart mysteries, which are also great books.



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