Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The BBC - Part I (Doctor Who)

Ok, so when I first moved over to London there was a lot of things I had to adjust to, and not only because I was living on my own without the safety net of my parents for the first time. I also had to adjust to these odd UK only things, like 'Stand On The Right' on tube escelators and (at the time) last call at 11 pm down at the pubs.

The oddest thing however is the TV License, which is basically a tax for having a tv in your home that from what I understand many people avoid paying. The money from paying this tax goes to fund the commercial-free BBC channels (something else to get used to, no commercials during shows, so no bathroom breaks). There has been a lot of talk about scrapping the TV License lately, which is understandable during the digital age. Why pay for a public service channel when most people are already paying for digital/ satellite services?

I for one am happy to pay for my license, because I think the nature of the programmes on the BBC are enhanced by this. When profits and ratings do not become the sole way to measure the success of a show it gives it much more freedom to be creative and innovative. Of course, ratings are still a major factor for BBC programmes but it is not the only one and I think that's the key. There are some missteps and not everything on the Beeb is worth tuning into, but for the most part it works. Can you imagine a show like The Office being green-lit by any other channel at the time that it aired, I can't imagine it myself. This week I will be looking at some recent shows aired on the BBC. First of all is the grand-daddy of science fiction shows.

- Doctor Who (BBC1) : I remember seeing some Doctor Who episodes on tv in Canada, but to be honest I was never really into it. I just thought it looked really cheesy and cheap. The show made a triumphant return last year with a bigger budget and a much more polished look, written by Russell T. Davies (Queer As Folk) with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as his assistant Rose and I soon became a big fan. The finale of the last series was some of the best written television that I have seen in a very long time. Sadly, Eccleston is gone and has been replaced by David Tennant, and I guess its true that you do get attached to your first Doctor as I have yet to completely warm to Tennant. His Doctor is a bit too manic for my taste, and he seems to go through extreme emotions very quickly, losing much of the subtlety that Eccleston gave his Doctor. The true star of the show has emerged in the form of Billie Piper, whose Rose provides the heart and soul that anchors the entire show. If rumors of Piper's departure at the end of this series then I am not sure how I will handle it.

(I wrote this before seeing this week's episode School Reunion which redeemed Tennant somewhat in my eyes. His line of 'I used to have so much mercy' indicates a very dark side to the Doctor).


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