Series Two of the new Doctor Who series starring David Tennant and Billie Piper will, by all indication, see its US debut on September 29 on the Sci Fi Channel
, along with Series One repeats earlier in the day. The news hasn't officially been confirmed by the channel; however, an NBC/Universal release
(in PDF form) for Sci Fi shows that Doctor Who returns to the schedule on the evening starting at 9pm four episodes, the first two of which are marked "new" (and "repeat" at 11pm and 12am, the usual pattern for a premiere night). Outpost Gallifrey was, in fact, told that the series was "almost certain" to return "this October" recently, although no information was forthcoming until this release. Sci Fi's schedulebot does show four episodes broadcast that evening; in late September, there is almost no likelihood of a Friday night airing of reruns.
Will "The Christmas Invasion" be included? Says Benjamin Elliott of "This Week in Doctor Who," "The Christmas Invasion is 59 minutes long without commercials, so it would either have to be a) skipped and shown later or b) have 15 1/2 minutes chopped out of it to fit SciFi's schedule as currently displayed. It does have an extended trailer for Series 2 that could be cut and the credits will always get squeezed, but that still leaves 13 minutes unaccounted for. SciFi has always felt willing to change their schedule at a moment's notice, so things can always change. They could air Christmas Invasion complete and have filler to finish the 2 hours. But for now, we must assume one of the following 2 scenarios: 9pm Christmas Invasion and 10pm New Earth, or 9pm New Earth and 10pm Tooth and Claw. The Christmas Invasion isn't required to enjoy Series 2, but some references (notably at the end of the series) make more sense if you see it, and as David Tennant's debut story it helps establish the kind of Doctor he is." Also noted is the fact that the Daytime marathon on September 29 on the Sci Fi Channel is the last 8 episodes of Series 1, which makes sense to lead into the new episodes.
We'll bring you official word from Sci Fi as soon as it's official, but this matches everything
we've been told about Sci Fi's positive reaction to the first series ratings in the spring and the desire to bring the show back with new episodes by the end of 2006.
Update 6 August
: Outpost Gallifrey has heard from our contacts that this is indeed Series Two and that it debuts with the two-hour block on 29 September because the third season of "Battlestar Galactica" debuts the following week with a two-hour episode block. Doctor Who and Galactica will air at 9pm and 10pm, respectively, with another series airing at 8pm throughout October and November, with a short break for the Christmas holidays. Our source also believes that "The Christmas Invasion" is being held back in this first block, and will instead be aired as a special in December. More details soon.