I didn’t think I’d see the day when the BBC made good science fiction, but it has finally come with the new series of Dr. Who. I was never a big fan of the show when I was a kid; it seemed completely inferior to Star Trek and I can’t remember a single episode. In comparison, the new series has achieved the impossible – it made me plan in advance to sit down in front of a television at a specific time. In fact, it’s done the same for a whole bunch of my friends who don’t otherwise watch TV.
Never mind the decent special effects and excellent stories, the one thing that I noticed is how much effort the writers have put into the show. During the second episode, The End of the World, set 3.5 billion years in the future, Rose points out that the sun expanding into a red giant would have taken place over millions of years and slowly destroyed Earth; she also notes that the continents are incongruously in the same position as they are in the present. The Doctor then goes on to explain that the Earth has been artificially protected and preserved in this state. What kind of show would even bother addressing these points? Most would simply wave the ‘science’ issue away, so I was very impressed Dr. Who made a real effort at it.
Despite watching the show on TV, I’m still downloading it for rewatching (so what? I don’t have a VCR, and that’s legal), in this week’s case to check out the promo for the next episode where an alien spaceship destroys Big Ben and invades London. Take that, America! Looks like your monopoly on alien invasions of New York, Washington DC and occasionally San Francisco has finally ended.
I was intrigued to see in the promo, during the BBC news section, a phone number for an ‘Alien Emergency Helpline – 08081 570980’. Since they did set up a fake website to accompany the first episode, I was hoping that the phone number would also work. Unfortunately it’s not active, but perhaps it’ll work next week. Anyway, that started me thinking on the opportunities for making an alternate reality game to tie into Dr. Who. Clearly the audience demographics are perfect and the writers are up to the job of handing a complex, multimedia story – why not give it a shot, BBC?