In preparation for Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, I’ve been discussing various aspects of Classic and New Who. However, if you subscribe to BBCAmerica, you can also catch Doctor Who Revisited, which combines a retrospective about one of the Doctors with a classic episode from the same. They’re airing one a month, in order, so this month features Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor. And having seen the first two, all I can say is that I’m waiting for more.
In general I’d been rather disappointed in BBCAmerica’s little Who specials, like The Women of Doctor Who. Instead of the first-season Doctor Who Confidential-style I’d been expecting (maybe search those out on youtube if you’re interested), the show took a VH1 I Love the 80s approach – not bad in and of itself, but I didn’t much care about most of the commentators (I can hear other fans talk about the last few years of Doctor Who by turning to my mom, not turning on the TV, you know?). The treatment itself was also rather shallow, mostly dealing with the New Who years – even when topics like “The women of Doctor Who” are fairly begging for something more in-depth.
I understand the reason why they might focus on the New Who years exclusively: BBCAmerica had only aired New Who episodes, and the real popularity of Doctor Who in America is fairly recent. Still, geeks tend to be completist, and I’ve heard more than one recently converted friend talk about seeking out Classic episodes in the fast few months. Now with the 50th Anniversary approaching, the time has come to take a more comprehensive approach, and I think they’re handling it splendidly.
Doctor Who Revisited is essentially comprised of two parts. The first is a special that gives a bit of a crash course in history on a given Doctor. It’s not too stylistically different from the previous BBCA specials in that it is mostly commentary from fans, but those fans are familiar faces – David Tennant, John Barrowman and Steven Moffat, for example. Even better, there’s commentary from relevant Classic Who cast – companions, crew and more. Pretty much everyone interviewed is full of passion or fondness for the subject matter, so even if you didn’t know anything about, say, the Second Doctor, you’re wanting to see more than the short clips they’ve sprinkled throughout the special, simply because they’re all so into it. Luckily, you don’t have to wait long.
Immediately following the special is a serial of Doctor Who featuring the Doctor of the month. With the First Doctor, they showed “The Aztecs,” and the Second Doctor was featured in favorite “The Tomb of the Cybermen.” Personally, I’d already seen those stories, but anecdotally, everyone I’ve spoken to who was newly introduced quite enjoyed them, and was left wanting to see more from the same era!
So if BBCAmerica is listening, I say, “Why not?” Sure, the new season of Doctor Who is about to begin, but it’s only half a season, and it’ll be a long time before November – why not show a little more Classic Who from the Doctors you’ve already introduced to America?
The Third Doctor – Jon Pertwee – will be featured on Sunday, March 31st, with a special and the serial “Spearhead from Space,” the first story to feature the Third Doctor. Pertwee might be considered the first “modern Doctor” for many because he’s the first to inject a little more action, the first to have color episodes, and for many Americans, the first one to be broadcast on PBS (so for many he truly is their first Doctor). If you’re a fan of Doctor Who, set your DVRs or find someone who will, because it’s one you won’t want to miss!
Have you been watching The Doctors Revisited? If so, what have you thought of it thus far? Would you be interested in seeing more Classic Who broadcast on BBCA, or do you already possess all the classic episodes already? What Doctor are you looking forward to seeing featured?