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The Atlantic Magazine’s James Parker has penned a profile on Doctor Who titled, “The Doctor Is In: Why a 47-year-old English sci-fi show is suddenly an American hit.” In the article, Parker propels us through all of the Doctors and eras of the show. (The London-born columnist grew up with Tom Baker, just like so many U.S. fans.)

Parker offers that Russell T Davies‘s “Great Reboot” in 2005 helped bring the series “into line with American standards. No more sets made out of cereal boxes and aluminum foil, no more waffling monologues and congealed fancies. Now it’s CGI, backchat, irony, long narrative arcs, and tighter-than-tight writing: a post-Buffy the Vampire Slayer world.”

He adds that new millennium viewers identified with David Tennant‘s conflicted Tenth Doctor, who was part of a new era of “post-secular television – of Lost and Heroes, of time loops, unearthly powers, chaotic entrances into parallel dimensions – and the Doctor and his wheezing sci-fi are, finally, bang up-to-date.”

He concludes that he thinks Matt Smith “might be (heretical thought!) the best Doctor yet. One minute brooding like Sherlock Holmes, the next as compact and exclamatory as Willy Wonka, with all of time and space his Chocolate Factory. He has a bony young/old face and cavalryman’s legs, and his idiom is demotic 21st-century Brit with jabs of Edwardian rhythm: ‘Twelve minutes? You can do loads in 12 minutes. Suck a mint! Buy a sledge! Have a fast bath!'”

In short, Parker argues that Doctor Who‘s longevity is owed to its uncanny ability to re-invent itself while remaining true to its roots of quaint English gardens and battling Daleks. The history of the show is a study in Longterm Re-Branding 101. Rather genius, isn’t it?

Read the full piece at The Atlantic website.

Do you agree with James Parker? Why do you think Doctor Who has lasted 47 years?

by Kevin Wicks

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By Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks is the founding editor of Anglophenia.