The latest season of Doctor Who premieres tonight on BBC America, and even if you know nothing about the show, I’d encourage you to give it a shot. You don’t have to know anything about it or even be a fan of science fiction to enjoy this delightfully unique adventure.
Doctor Who chronicles the ongoing adventures of an alien “Time Lord” from the planet Gallifrey known only as the Doctor, as he roams the universe, travels through time, and explores other dimensions, righting wrongs. He travels in his signature vehicle, the TARDIS, which on the outside resembles a British police box, but on the inside is a vast chamber that serves as both his universe-traversing command center and his home. He’s a mysterious figure, nearly 1,000 years old, and little about him is known or understood, and I suppose that’s part of what makes him so enduring a character.
Doctor Who a show where literally anything is possible, because the Doctor can go absolutely anywhere, anytime. It combines the best of an anthology show and a serial, tackling a new challenge every week, though the Doctor and his various traveling companions have ongoing story arcs as the series unfolds. It’s the longest-running television show in history, entering its 31st season with the eleventh incarnation of the title character. And it’s easy for newcomers to enjoy because it never gets mired in its own mythology, focusing primarily on the problem to be solved in whatever time and place the Doctor finds himself each week.
A primary conceit of the show is that if the Doctor is fatally wounded, he automatically regenerates in a new body that has a different physical appearance and personality. This clever plot point is what has allowed the show to live for as long as it has; whenever an actor playing the Doctor decides to move on, the show’s producers can simply replace him with a new star.
The eleventh Doctor is played by newcomer Matt Smith, who at 26 years old is the youngest actor to ever portray the character. Smith follows the mega-popular three-season run of actor David Tennant in the title role; as such, he has very big shoes to fill, particularly for such an untested thespian.
But early reviews indicate that Smith’s take on the character is refreshingly original and worthy of the Doctor Who legacy. Decide for yourself tonight on BBC America when a new day begins for the eleventh Doctor Who.