Doctor Who Explosion 2007

Ever since Russel T. Davies and crew brought back the show to BBC One in 2005, response has been enormous, and things have started moving very fast for the UK’s hottest new producer. 2006 saw a second season of the “regenerated” Who, as well as its first (successful) spinoff, Torchwood. New Year’s Day 2007 saw both the Torchwood finale and a special for The Sarah Jane Adventures, based on a former Who companion from the seventies — Sarah Jane also made an appearance in this year’s Doctor Who. Still coming is a fourth series, based on K-9, “the daft metal dog”.

Ten DoctorsFirst, there’s the smashing success of Doctor Who both abroad and in North America. The Sci Fi Channel aqcuired rights to show the new seasons back in 2005, and just wrapped up the second season the Friday before Christmas — just in time for the BBC’s broadcast of the new Christmas Special, Runaway Bride, which takes place immediately following. I’ve also heard that cable channel BBC America is now airing the new Who episodes from the beginning.

TorchwoodSecond is Torchwood, a title that is not coincidentally an anagram of “Doctor Who”. “Torchwood” was originally used as the new Who’s codename in the early stages to prevent leaks. Before that, it was an X-Files/Buffy-like concept that Davies had developed for his own use, but apparently morphed into the Doctor Who spinoff it’s become. Ideas for this show were obviously in the works ever since Doctor Who started up again, as it was even mentioned by name in one of the last episodes of the first season. The entire second season of Doctor Who sets up the creation of the Torchwood Institute, culminating in what appears to be their particular penchant for finding and abusing space-time (and/or interdimensional) rifts.

Torchwood follows the adventures of the Torchwood Three team, lead by Captain Jack Harkness. The character was originally introduced in the first season of the new Who, although how he ended up in the 21st century is unclear — unless he’s one of the flotsam and jestom that the team habitually “cleans up” from the space-time rift in Cardiff (also introduced, and revisited, in the same Who season). Even for the skeptical, what followed was the highest-rated show ever on BBC Three. It’s no surprise that the show has been renewed for a second season, but it is moving to BBC Two for its return.

In North America, Canada’s CBC currently has exclusive rights to air Torchwood, but since we don’t get that channel in the US, that probably just means we won’t see here it until after it’s aired there first. Sci Fi Channel LOVES spinoffs and anything they don’t have to pay for outright, so I fully expect (and edited version of) the show to make its way to the network. It’s a lot raunchier than even standard cable TV fare, with unbleeped expletives and lots of homosexual, bisexual, omnisexual, pansexual themes running throughout each episode — especially the last two, oh boy!

The Sarah Jane AdventuresThird is The Sarah Jane Adventures, produced for the CBBC. I wasn’t sure what to make of this, other than its obviously a children’s program, but clearly based on the Whoniverse. Sarah Jane makes use of “sonic lipstick”, sees an alien of a species first featured in Torchwood, and has various Doctor Who paraphernalia in her attic. She also makes explicit reference of her encounter with the Doctor in the second season of the new series as being the impetus for her getting back into other-worldly matters. Of course, the story of the show’s production is far more interesting, and can be found on the show’s Wiki. I’m just glad we didn’t have a show instead about a young Doctor on Gallifrey “inventing sonic screwdrivers”.

Jetix K-9The fourth and most bizarre installment is the K-9 Adventures. K-9 was last seen with Sarah Jane in the aformentioned Doctor Who appearance, and even makes a brief stop in the new Sarah Jane Adventures. His absense in that show can probably be attributed to a number of practical storytelling factors (wouldn’t a metal dog be great for a children’s show? I think so…), but more because of this new series being produced by Jetix Europe. The BBC and Davies are not involved, but rather the show is being “overseen” by original K-9 creator Bob Baker; much like the Daleks, it would appear that K-9 is not actually owned by the BBC. Even though Davies is not directly involved, you can bet that this show wouldn’t have gained any steam without the success of two Who-centric shows and a third one about to make waves in 2007. What I think will result from this is a show not unlike the current Krypto the Superdog cartoon, something fun for kids (supposedly), but without ramifications for its parent media. Even so, look at that Jetix-inspired design and try to tell me don’t want your own daft plastic dog…

Doctor Who returns for its third turn this spring to BBC One. 2006 proved that fans can handle two, but will there be enough interest for four shows? Even the likes of Stargate have yet to reach such heights of spin-off mania. Torchwood and Doctor Who maintain their interconnectedness while only referring to each other vaguely and through visual props and effects. So far Sarah Jane seems to be on the same track. Fortunately, you don’t need to be following them all to understand just one, but seeing the thought put into this new Whoniverse is certainly a treat for this fan of the Doctor.

Powet.TV will keep you updated with new info about these shows, as well as where you can watch Torchwood once it’s available Stateside (and I fully expect it will be). In the meantime, if you’ve missed any of it, you can catch up on the new Doctor Who on DVD; the first season’s already out, and the second is hitting stores January 16th. As mentioned before, you can also watch Doctor Who on BBC America.