Doctor Who Returns to Sci Fi Tonight

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. Doctor Who is back on the Sci Fi Channel starting tonight. I could not possibly be a bigger dork for this show, which I've been hooked on since I was about 13. And I've been in love with the Doctor -- all of him -- since about then, too. I can't be objective about this show: even when it's bad or silly or riddled with plot holes, I love it. And you can't stop me.

"Voyage of the Damned," the 90-minute season premiere airing tonight at 8:30pm (ET), is pretty good, though. Okay: it's goofy in a lot of ways -- it's pretty much The Poseidon Adventure done up sci-fi style. See, the starship Titanic is visiting Earth from a distant planet, giving the passengers a sense of what it would be like to live on such a primitive backwater rock as Sol III, and, well, the ship doesn't quite hit an iceberg while in orbit, but almost...

And it's all pretty grim, too, in other ways: The Doctor (the totally delicious David Tennant) loses the TARDIS off the sinking ship almost immediately, watches it float off toward Earth, leaving him stranded. How will he get the TARDIS back? And then, well, you know what happens, in traditional Poseidon Adventure-style, to the small but hearty band of survivors he leads through the ship to (hoped-for) safety, don't you? (Remember Gene Hackman hanging from the big valve? Shelley Winters' swim through the underwater compartments? Uh huh.) But the Doctor has a new friend -- a pretty cocktail waitress played by singer Kylie Minogue; boy, he's a sucker for a pretty face, ain't he? (Like I've always suspected, he may be a Time Lord, but he's still a man.) Surely she'll make it through, right?

Goofy/grim is an interesting combination for this episode, which isn't really a season premiere at all -- it's the Doctor Who special that aired on Christmas night in England. (This is what people want after their turkey and Christmas crackers? Wacky Brits...) Some of us very impatient Whovians could not possibly have waited months to watch this episode, and so we found, ahem, alternative ways of seeing it. But clearly the entertainment powers that be on both sides of the Atlantic know how desperately geeky some of us are, because when regular-season hour-long episodes begin on Sci Fi at 9pm next Friday, we will only be three weeks behind the first-runs in England. Last year it was more like three months... the year before that, it was six months. And for that first season of the new Doctor Who, we had to wait a year.

Not that I'm capable of waiting even three weeks when there's new Doctor Who to be had. And lemme tell ya, if you like "Voyage of the Damned," just wait, cuz it gets even better.

(After you watch "Voyage of the Damned," join my spoiler-laden discussion here.)


MaryAnn Johanson (email me)

reviews, reviews, reviews! at