Doctor Who, Rebooted

James Parker recites an impassioned love letter (that I could have written myself) to the 47 year-old Doctor Who franchise and this season's latest incarnation:

I find I must lapse into nostalgia. When I was a short-trousered schoolboy in the 1970s, my own Doctor was Tom Baker, and Doctor Who was more or less an out-of-body experience. Wedged into BBC1’s Saturday-evening schedule at fish-sticks-and-ketchup time, it gave off dizzy wafts of the uncanny. Before it, The Basil Brush Show, starring a glove-puppet fox in a cravat. After it, The Generation Game, hosted by Bruce Forsyth, an extraordinary old whippet of a song-and-dance man whose catchphrase was “Nice to see you, to see you … nice!” In between, the thrumming, tunneling synth-beams of the Grainer/Derbyshire music, and the zappings, the disintegrations, the alien pomp … It was English, so English. It reeked of old Albion. No wonder it faded away.

But then, in 2005, comes the Great Reboot, a mighty regenerative act by which Doctor Who is heaved into line with American standards. No more sets made out of cereal boxes and aluminum foil, no more waffling monologues and congealed fancies. Now it’s CGI, backchat, irony, long narrative arcs, and tighter-than-tight writing: a post–Buffy the Vampire Slayer world.