Tube Talk: The catch-all catch up

Last week I was going to write about the global season premiere of Doctor Who, which was this past Sunday, but I got a bit sidetracked by Comcast’s decision to pull WHA-Madison from our lineup. And this week I was going to tell you about a new Amazon Video streaming series, The Romanoffs.

Instead, we’ll play a bit of catch up with a catch-all column.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a new episode of Doctor Who, but that wasn’t the only reason its season premiere was a huge event. This season also marked the debut of a newly-regenerated Doctor – who just happens to be a woman. For the first time ever.

In her very first episode, Jodie Whittaker, memorable as Beth Lattimer in Broadchurch (the British version, not the American remake), more than proved that she was the perfect choice for the 13th Doctor. Her Doctor is a breath of fresh air for the 50+ year old franchise.

While some fans have complained about a woman playing the Doctor, it’s important to remember that the character is a Time Lord, just like his arch nemesis, The Master, who has already regenerated into female form, as the fan favorite, Missy (Michelle Gomez). The truth is that the vast majority of fans were more than ready for a woman to tackle the iconic role – and they tuned in to watch history unfold.

According to Variety, overnight ratings for Whittaker’s debut topped those of the 10th, 11th and 12th Doctors (David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi, respectively) in the US where Whittaker averaged 8.2 million viewers (peaking at 9 million), while Tennant drew 8 million, Smith 7.7 million, and Capaldi 6.8 million. In the UK, the season premiere dominated the ratings.

Not bad for a girl. And unlike her predecessors, she even had to build her own sonic screwdriver from scratch.

Speaking of predecessors, The Romanoffs is an anthology-style limited series from Matthew Weiner, the creator and producer of Mad Men. That’s why it’s no surprise to see John Slattery (“Roger Sterling”) and Christina Hendricks (“Joan Harris”) featured in different episodes.

Each of The Romanoffs’ eight episodes focuses on a different story about characters from around the world who believe they’re descendants of the doomed Russian royal family, who were executed in 1918.

There have always been wild rumors that one or two of the Romanoff children survived the execution – and numerous women have claimed to be the daughter Anastasia – so there are probably plenty of real people around the world who’ve been raised with family lore that they’re descendants of the ill-fated family. It’s a romantic notion, but anyone who’s watched Finding Your Roots, Who Do You Think You Are?, or Genealogy Roadshow knows, family lore is seldom accurate. But it always makes for a fun story. R.

Programming notes:

The Romanoffs debuts Friday, October 12 on Amazon Prime Video, with new episodes streaming each Friday.

Doctor Who airs Sundays at 7 p.m. Central on BBC America.

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