Does the Doctor belong on Space?

(A follow-up to “Journey’s End” for Doctor Who on CBC)


Tonight, Doctor Who shifts from the CBC to Space for the Canadian premiere of “The Next Doctor”. In the run-up to this airing, Space has probably given it more promotion than the CBC did for all of series 4, with the tagline “back where he belongs”. And it’s technically correct.

When the Space channel launched, one of its initial offerings was Doctor Who. The thing is, Space aired the black-and-white of Hartnell and Troughton (complete stories only), with Pertwee’s first three serials and Sontaran Experiment. It must be remembered that this is the late 1990s, one of the low points in the Doctor Who franchise: years removed from the TV movie, with little hope for a resurrection, apart from continuing lines of original novels. Despite several repeated runs, sometimes multiple times a day, the audience was never there and Space removed it from its lineup. (Disclosure: count me as one who first saw Doctor Who on Space, so I’m grateful for that.)

Now back to my original question: does the Doctor belong on Space? The main reason it does is that it brings back some enthusiasm that is surely needed, especially in the lead-up to the 10th Doctor’s regeneration to the 11th. While it’s not yet confirmed if Space is taking on the remaining gap-year specials, their adverts, as well as their acquisition of Torchwood series 2 and the Children of Earth mini-series, can indicate something new. And Doctor Who does fit very well with the likes of BSG, Stargate, and Sarah Connor.

However, as Space is not as widely available as the CBC, that could limit its potential audience. The fact that future episodes, starting with “Planet of the Dead”, will be shot and aired in high definition, gives Space another disadvantage. (It’s a disadvantage to me just because I’m too used to HD programming now.)

So it’s probably a good time for the change of scenery for Doctor Who. Regardless of whether you’ve watched it or not (I have), show the support by watching “The Next Doctor” tonight at 18:00 PDT (or tomorrow at 12:30 PDT).


2 Comments on “Does the Doctor belong on Space?”

  1. Alex says:

    I think Space is a great fit for Doctor Who because that network will give it far more respect than the CBC did. And just because the CBC has an HD version doesn’t mean they’d air Doctor Who, anyway. I personally couldn’t care less about HD – it’s overrated unless you’re watching nature programs or sports, anyway, unless in this recession you can afford to buy a plasma. I’m fine with it being on standard def on Space (it’ll look great regardless) and if I really need to see it on high-def, I can always buy the Blu-Ray release later.

    Another fallacy I find is this idea that just because it’s on CBC that “more people” will see it. No they won’t. The people watching Doctor Who will watch it anywhere, and if folks who are more in tune with stuff like Little Mosque wouldn’t bother. And anyway, I know a lot of people and I don’t know a single one who doesn’t have Space in their cable package. It’s a non-issue as far as I’m concerned. I’d be more concerned if I were in the US where Sci-Fi Channel is harder to find.

  2. Graeme Burk says:

    Another fallacy I find is this idea that just because it’s on CBC that “more people” will see it. No they won’t. The people watching Doctor Who will watch it anywhere

    Simple math doesn’t support your premise. CBC is a terrestrial station transmitted across the country. Space is a first tier cable station depending on where you live. Doctor Who had highs of 900,000 back in days of good promotion and got numbers averaging around 700,000 viewers during Series 4. Space’s ‘good’ numbers barely crack a quarter of that.

    The big losers here are CBC viewers, who watched the series no matter the timeslot, got better ratings (and possible ad revenue) for the CBC than most of their domestic programming and it still got canned. It’s the stupidest thing the CBC has ever done and they’re perpetually stupid.

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