Sunday, January 8, 2017

TV Review: The Science of Doctor Who

Doctor Who's most unique qualities come from the shows initial groundbreaking concepts.

A spacecraft that is bigger inside then out, moves in such a manner that allows it to travel to almost any location in space and time. Much like Star Trek three years after Doctor Who's debut in 1963, early Doctor Who inspired a whole generation of geeks and science nerds.

However in terms of tone and characterization, Doctor Who more closely resembled the ideals, morals and true motivations of a scientific mind. Where Star Trek did champion concepts such as racial diversity it was still slightly tied into an overall military concept.

The idea of a hero who used his mind rather than his fists or a weapon seems an ideal choice of a hero for those masters of the chess club but not sports, those viewers perhaps more invested in the Doctors mastery of any situation without resorting to the usual macho trend.
In many instances, the Doctor champions science or diplomacy over violence, something almost unique in televised speculative fiction.

How many of Doctor Who's fictional scientific concepts can be translated to the real world is up for debate, especially as the show's core is made up of such forward thinking ideas.

The Science of Doctor Who is both a nice tribute to the series and its inspiration to science as well as a very interesting lecture by Brian Cox that does a good example f explaining the real world validity of such concepts as time travel and intelligent alien life on other planets.

It accomplishes this with  a mix of standard yet interesting lecture fare combined with small experiments conducted with audience members from the crowd. The result is a great television special that might be great for those of us who might watch this sort of program anyway, but slightly less so for the Doctor Who fan who wants to see exploding Daleks, not hear about light cones and event horizons.

Those that stick around for the remainder of the hour long special may learn something interesting to make them think. Without giving away the 'meat' of the lecture of the scientific methods used in explaining the ideas, let's just say the Eye of Harmony buried in the Tardis gets some slight validity, we explore how we are all really time travelers on a daily basis and how time travel into the future is already a proven scientific fact.

Of course fans will enjoy the little sequences during the program featuring Brian Cox and Matt Smith in character as the Doctor on the current Tardis set.

The specially recorded scenes are great fun and Matt Smith gives a fine performance worthy of his Doctor.

Science fiction has always and will always have an obvious connection with proper science, Doctor Who included. The fantastical inventions and settings that spring from speculative fiction could very well end up being daily reality in the future.

Which means if I wait long enough I might actually get to see a real working Sonic Screwdriver or Tardis.

I'm not holding my breath however. The Doctor may be over a thousand years old and have thirteen lives but I only have one.

Time will tell.

-Thomas Spychalski 

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