There was always something a little risky in attempting to continue that venerable British sci-fi franchise, Doctor Who. Reviving a show that has run since the early sixties and gathered millions upon millions of loyal followers can be a dangerous business. Done correctly, though, it can be very profitable.
So, when BBC Wales announced in 2003 that they intended to revive Doctor Who, fans met the news with concern and excitement in equal measures. The Doctor had enjoyed only one full-length screen outing since the show was cancelled in 1989 - the Fox Network's TV movie starring Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor - and poor ratings left little doubt that the franchise was truly dead and buried.
So, it was with a sense of trepidation that the BBC aired the premiere of the first new TV series in 16 years. Salford-born actor Christopher Eccleston (Gone in Sixty Seconds, 28 Days Later) was the unlikely choice for the part of the ninth Doctor, along with the even more unlikely choice of 90s songstress Billie Piper to play his spunky sidekick, Rose Tyler.
While reviews of the new show were generally positive, some hardcore Doctor Who followers were opposed to several changes. A new logo and a few minor changes to the TARDIS were enough to generate hate mail and death threats to members of the production team - but, then, cult sci-fi shows have always acted as lightning rods for those slightly less balanced elements of society.
In general, however, fans approved of the new show. Ratings for the first episode, titled "Rose", hit over ten million in the UK - the per capita equivalent of almost 50 million in the US. These ratings were high enough to spur the BBC to announce that a second season would be produced - season 27 overall.
Unfortunately, just hours after this announcement came news that Eccleston would not return for a second spell as Doctor Who for fear of becoming typecast. His departure had apparently been planned before filming ended on the first season, but was not meant to be made public until after the shows had aired. Following much speculation it was announced in April 2005 that Scottish stage actor David Tennant would fill Eccleston's shoes for the second season.
A year after its transmission in the UK, the Sci-Fi channel began airing season one - with the second season beginning at the end of September 2006.
So what developments can we expect with the second season? The first episode, a 60-minute special titled "The Christmas Invasion", was originally aired in the UK as a Christmas special in 2005. Though not technically part of the official second season it will air on the Sci-Fi Channel as the first episode. "The Christmas Invasion" will contain a sub-plot focussed on introducing us to the new Doctor.
The main story will focus on an invasion of the Earth by a violent alien race, the Sycorax. But will the Doctor, weakened by his regeneration, be strong enough to save the world?
The new season will show us a different side to Doctor Who. While Eccleston's Doctor was dark and melancholic - often displaying disdain for the human race - Tennant's incarnation has a much more upbeat personality. Speaking with distinctive Estuary English, the tenth Doctor is a cheeky scoundrel of the highest degree. Usually light-hearted and witty, Tennants' character will become much closer to the human characters in the show - especially his companion Rose.
We can, however, expect fireworks during the second season of Doctor Who. Emotions run high as The Doctor becomes ever closer to his companion Rose, and he must face up to the fact that the near immortality of a Time Lord can be a curse as well as a blessing. Can he bring himself to love a mere mortal?
Meanwhile, The Doctor must face his eternal foes the Daleks - along with another ancient enemies, the Cybermen. During these battles he'll also find help in the form of a face from the past - as well as his trusty robot dog, K-9.
The second season of Doctor Who promises all the excitement of the first and more. Travelling through time - and even between dimensions - The Doctor will continue to fight the good fight against the enemies of the universe. Whether he'll be up to the challenge we'll have to wait and see.
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