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Liz Tells Frank What Happened In the 1996 “Doctor Who” Back Door Pilot

Dear Frank,

As you may be aware, the history of Britain’s classic science fiction series Doctor Who is epic — we’re talking about a show that premiered the day after Kennedy was assassinated and is still on the air. But the show hasn’t been running non-stop since 1963; between the “classic” Who years and the Russell T. Davies relaunch, the franchise experienced a fallow period. A very long fallow period. During which some truly crazy shit happened.

See, in between the show’s initial cancellation in 1989 and the recent reboot, the Fox Broadcasting Company got the idea that maybe Doctor Whowould work for American audiences. This was the year 1996, at which time Fox had established a proud tradition of airing crazy sci-fi shows, including The X-Files, Strange Luck, M.A.N.T.I.S. and VR.5, so the idea of them picking up Who isn’t as bizarre as one might think.

Hedging its bets, Fox pulled a pretty common network move, commissioning a back door pilot to be shot in Canada (another proud ’90s Fox tradition!) and starring a new (younger and presumably hotter) Doctor — if it worked, then Fox would continue the series, and if it didn’t work, all that would happen is an embarrassing memory for all involved. (GUESS WHICH ONE HAPPENED GUESS!!!!) Read the rest of this entry

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