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‘WHO’ new – and it’s about Time

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David Tennant and Kylie Minogue in Doctor Who (SCI FI CHANNEL PHOTO)

British sci-fi sensation Doctor Who returns to our shores tonight, and for the season premiere — the annual Christmas special — the plucky Time Lord is joined by British pop sensation Kylie Minogue aboard a doomed spaceship christened Titanic. It all begins at 8:30 on SCI FI, right after its spinoff series The Sarah Jane Adventures at 8:00.

This is truly cause for celebration. It’s the soonest we Yanks have ever received the new season of Who — a welcome trend BBC America began with the most recent season of the Who spinoff Torchwood and SCI FI picked up on with Sarah Jane. It’s just to bad all this Who goodness can’t be contained on one channel or cable tier.

Tonight’s episode, “Voyage of the Damned,” made waves across the pond, drawing criticism both for its adaptation of the Titanic tragedy (story here) and for its depiction of angelic beings as villains (a recent trend for the series as seen in last year’s episode “Blink”) and portrayal of the Doctor as a messiah figure (story here).

After the Christmas special, the fourth season of Doctor Who really gets rolling with next week’s “Partners in Crime,” in which the Doctor reunites with Donna Noble (comedian Catherine Tate), the runaway bride from last year who wanted nothing to do with the Doctor!

Donna’s the new passenger on his voyages through space and time, but he’ll also have reunions with former companions Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman, who has been spending time on Torchwood) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper, who left after the show’s second season and was banished to an alternate universe, supposedly never to return…).

There have even been hints that the Torchwood and Sarah Jane casts will make return appearances in a season-ending spectacular that sees the Doctor needing all his friends to help him prevail over the forces of icky badness in the universe.

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