“Doctor Who” (tonight on Sci Fi) is difficult to describe. It’s not like the time-travel stories many Americans have been exposed to – lacking fast pace, sex appeal and anything remotely resembling a sense of humor. This British import, which has been around more than 40 years, is always reinventing itself, with a loyal fan base lurking here in the States watching however they can, be it on public television, home video or YouTube.
Once known for its bargain-basement special effects and costumes, “Doctor Who” was revived in 2005 after more than 15 years in stasis, and the new season airs Friday nights on the Sci Fi Channel. The FX are now state-of-the-art, and the writing is among the best in the genre. Tonight’s episode is a good place to start as it’s the first half of a two-parter. If you don’t have Sci Fi, you can catch up on DVD Nov. 6. (The first two seasons of the revival are already available, and many of the classic stories are on DVD and VHS.)And starting Sept. 8, BBC America will pick up season 2 along with the U.S. premiere of its spinoff series, “Torchwood” (an anagram of “Doctor Who”). “Torchwood” will feel familiar to fans of “The X-Files” and “Angel,” as a covert group works to counter the plans of alien infiltrators – and steal their toys. It’s all part of BBC America’s “Supernatural Saturdays” programming block, which has also included “Jekyll” (an adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson tale), “Hex” (which owes a lot to our own “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and “Robin Hood.”But if you still have no idea what I’m talking about, fear not: The first two readers to shoot me an e-mail me with the subject line “FREE DVD” will each receive a free BBC America preview disc full of clips from these BBC shows and more, courtesy of Atomic Comics in Mesa! Pip-pip, tally-ho and Bob’s your uncle! Cheerio!