Okay, Whovians, your long wait is over.
On Aug. 23, BBC America will broadcast the first episode of the new season of the classic science fiction show, “Doctor Who.” It will introduce Peter Capaldi, 56, as the latest incarnation of the Doctor.
For those “Who” are new to the 50-year-old classic series, the Doctor is an alien, a Time Lord, who travels in a time machine (TARDIS) disguised as a 1960s British police box, sharing his adventures with a number of companions – men, women and others. Those adventures can go forward in time to the death of the universe, or back in time to the days of the dinosaurs.
The new season starts with a T-Rex stalking past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London. You say these can’t exist in the same time period? That’s the magic of “Doctor Who.” The most improbable of events can happen at the same time.
The season premiere will air at 7 p.m. in the United States and also will be shown in some movie theaters in select cities at midnight through a collaboration between Fathom Entertainment and the BBC. The episode will be released on digital platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Xbox video and Sony PSN, the next day.
The show was first broadcast in 1963, starring William Hartnell. When he retired 3 years later, the Doctor was ‘regenerated’ (or replaced) by a new actor, Patrick Troughton, thereby allowing the popular show to continue.
The doctor has regenerated 12 or more times, depending how you count them. Confused? So are many fans. It is part of the “Doctor Who” legend that the character can only regenerate 12 times, which would mean Matt Smith was the final one.
However, in the Christmas 2013 episode, the Doctor was granted extra regenerations (or lives), and a new count was started.
On a purely pragmatic level, this extended the longevity of a series that has exploded in popularity over the last decade.
While the Doctor is the good guy most of the time, the “Doctor Who” universe is riddled with evil villains, such as super soldiers Sontarans, Daleks (tall cylindrical salt-shakers with stalks that shoot energy bursts) whose primary goal is to conquer the universe while screeching “Exterminate!”, and stone statues that can turn into ravenous monsters in the blink of an eye.
Last season ended in burst of glory (and exploding Daleks) when Smith, the youngest actor to play the Doctor when he took over at 26, handed the character over to Capaldi. When selected for the part, Capaldi was the same age as Hartnell, who originated the character at age 55.
Show runner, and writer of the first episode, Steven Moffat addresses all this in an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek impish introduction at the start of the new episode so new viewers can catch up (or be sucked into) the show.
Stick with it. “Doctor Who” can be a sneak treat to watch even if you don’t know the back story or haven’t seen any of the other episodes.
Or, as one of the characters says, “Well, then. Here we go again.”