Last night, I didn't get to sleep on time because I was up watching "Doctor Who".
For those uninitiated and those who are currently looking down their nose and sniffing, allow me to elucidate. Doctor Who is the longest running (starting the weekend Kennedy got shot), perhaps the most successful, science-fiction television program.
It has accomplished this by readily changing with the times. When it began, it was seen as a children's TV program, sort of "You are there" with some fantasy elements (it could hardly be called science fiction). Then when the actor either died or left, I'm not sure which, some genius decided to continue with a different actor - a WAY different actor.
With the explanation that a Time Lord regenerates, this unleashed a terrific wave of Doctors. From Jon Pertwee's elegant Earth-bound Doctor to Tom Baker - yes, "the guy with scarf", to the cricket-jacketed Peter Davison, all the Doctors brought their own very different takes and attitudes to the series.
For awhile, the Doctor went away. He had been cancelled, because, even though the special effects on the show were pretty laughable, it was too expensive to produce.
The show returned a few years ago, and has really taken off, with David Tennant the umpteenth Doctor providing the right blend of heroics, flappability and humor.
Last night's episode was the beginning of his third season (he did four), and I thought I'd tune in just to hear the theme music again - oh, the memories that brought back! Memories of myself, alone in my room with a tiny black and white tv, watching Dave Allen At Large and then Doctor Who for who knew how long. See, the Doctor back then starred in as many half-hour episodes as needed to tell a particular story - some were l-o-n-g. Of course, then they strted showing the edited episodes, to make them movie-lenghth - but again, they could run just an hour, or three or four, you never knew.
More than once did I watch Doctor Who, saw the end credits, and went to bed. When I came back the next week, however, they had on an entirely different show! It seemed they ran the programs one after the other, end-credit-PBS blurb-startng credit. All night.
This trick was pointed out to me by one of my friends down at the station. You see, during pledge breaks a BIG contingent of Dr. Who fans would make our way out on the levee to the PBS station, and do pledge breaks. We had a full-sized TARDIS replica that we would all walk out from (the gag being it's bigger inside than outside) to take our seats, a real working robotic K-9 (Tom Baker's Doctor's robotic dog), great costumes for virtually everyone, and most importantly a whole helluva lot of fun.
We'd have Doctor Who quizzes on the air, see upcoming episodes, raise reading awareness, and just have a wonderful time! Ahh, good times.
Anyway, last night.
The Doctor is surprised when a bride teleports aboard the TARDIS in midflight - and she doesn't know how. Add to that robotic Santa Clauses (a vaguely Christmas-themed episodes) with weapons disguised as trumpets and trombones, a wicked spider-lady (body of a huge frickin' spider with a devilish woman's torso stuck on) villain, her husband to be in cahoots with said villain, the resurrection of spider-lady's brood, the destruction of spider-lady's brood by the Doctor, the destruction of spider-lady by the British Army (who evidently is a good deal mroe reliable than the Japanese army fighting Rodan), the Doctor chasing down the kidnapped bride's cab by FLYING the TARDIS down the highway, finding Torchwood's HQ, using the Sonic Screwdriver in several interesting ways, the Doctor ducking out on Christmas dinner...
And everything gets resolved, in an hour!
What a GREAT ride! MAG-nificent.
And boy, did that bring back great memories!
Er, of the show, not of giant spider-ladies in British secret agency HQ armed with Robots disquised as Santa.
I don't think.