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The Televisionist, April 15


THE DOCTOR'S IN: Cult show 'Doctor Who' returns to BBC.
  • THE DOCTOR'S IN: Cult show 'Doctor Who' returns to BBC.

Starts: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 17
BBC America

It says something about my love and admiration for the BBC series “Doctor Who” that I'm a little nervous about the debut of the series' 11th Doctor.

For those poor benighted souls who don't know what I'm talking about, a primer: Started in 1964, the groundbreaking BBC series features a time traveler known as The Doctor, who flies through time and space in a blue police box – kind of a wooden phone booth – that's much bigger on the inside than on the outside, fighting aliens, robots and his own, complicated history.

He's assisted in most episodes by his Companion, a comely female who both serves as foil and – sometimes – as love interest. The series is able to get away with being on the air for over 45 years thanks to the fact that, whenever the Doctor gets mortally wounded (or the producers think the show needs a change), he can “regenerate,” becoming a totally different person with an almost-wholly different character. Hence: The 11th Doctor.

I have to tell you that I had a total geek-crush on the 10th Doctor, played by David Tennant. Tennant's Doctor -- the second Doctor since the series was revived in 2005 after being cancelled in 1996 -- was excellent; funny, droll, but still tortured by the things he's seen over his eons-long lifetime. Given that, the new Doctor, played by Matt Smith, makes me both excited and a little apprehensive.

For one thing, he might be one of the most funny-looking actors on television, and that's saying a lot. He doesn't seem to have any eyebrows, and his face is rather lumpy, with a drawn out chin and cheekbones like the fenders on a dump truck. For another, he's very young. Shallow concerns aside, however, only time will tell whether he has the stuff to fill Tennant's shoes. If not, there's always regeneration.

As for his companion, Amy Pond (played by the Scottish actress and all-around smokin' redhead Karen Gilliam), she obviously got Smith's share when they were handing out the hotness. This week, in Smith's first outing as the Doctor, he and Amy travel to Great Britain at the height of the Blitz and meet Winston Churchill. The problem is: The Doctor's old enemies The Daleks are there, waiting to give him a deadly reception.

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The human mind is an incredible engine. Even when you're not aware of it, it's in your skull churning, thinking, imagining. Some of the things that meat-computer on top of your shoulders can get up to, especially if it's not quite functioning the way a “normal” brain should, can be equal parts fascinating and horrifying, leading otherwise normal people down the dark mental hallways where nightmares live.

A good example of that is the phenomenon known as hoarding. As the name implies, hoarders think – for whatever reason – that they need to collect things. Lot of things. They'll start saving a little here and a little there, and soon, their entire house or apartment is stacked floor to ceiling with the junk most of us would have long since thrown away -- everything from newspapers to motorcycle parts to plain old trash off the streets – often liberally infested with both domestic pets and/or vermin.

What's more, in most cases and left to their own devices, hoarders are perfectly happy to live that way. It's a hell of a thing to behold.

These days, of course, any time there's a deviation from the norm the reality television cameras can't be far behind. The first series to spotlight hoarders was over on A&E. Now comes this new series from TLC, featuring the worst of the worst of hoarding. For a person who feels a lot of compassion for the mentally ill, it can be a difficult thing to watch, especially during the interviews with children and family members forced to sleep on piles of the hoarder's junk, and at the end of the show, when a therapist brings in a debris removal team to try and walk the hoarder through the process of getting their home and mind free of the obsession to collect.

On the plus side, watching the show will definitely make you reconsider then next time you think your house is a wreck because there are crumbs on the rug. For more on the show, go to: tlc.discovery.com/tv/hoarding-buried-alive/.

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