Saturday, November 23, 2013

Doctor Who Turns Fifty

Google Search, in its thematic today, informs me that Doctor Who, the BBC science fiction series, turns fifty on this day. To say that Brigitte and I are great fans of Doctor Who would not be altogether accurate. To say that we are great fans of the fourth Doctor Who, played by Tom Baker, is certainly true. We watched that series with unmixed pleasure in the 1970s with our children. And for a while we also followed, but with decreasing attention, the continuing exploits of the fifth, Peter Davison. That transition also marked our own move from Minneapolis to Detroit. Thereafter? Well, it seemed to us that the Doctor Whos who’d followed had in a way left us behind.

Such series are a popular art form not as yet deeply studied (or so it seems to me), but some early terminology has emerged which literary criticism will in the future use to shape its scholarly development. One such phrase is “it jumped the shark,” signifying that what at first was a very fine effort eventually decayed. Brigitte and I are active amateur scholars of this sort of criticism in that retirement gives us the time and the easy availability of series on DVD gives us the means for concentrated study. Our view of many other series is similar: we much approve of parts of them, but the time always comes when multiple disks are returned to the library unwatched because the series has suddenly lost its—should we call it charisma?

The image of Tom Baker is from Wikipedia (link).

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