|Posted by James on May 8, 2012 at 11:20 AM|
Doctor Who is going Hollywood...and I don’t know how I feel about that.
It was recently announced that Harry Potter director David Yates will be bringing the Doctor and his TARDIS to the big screen in a giant, epic film that will pay no never mind to the 50 years of continuity the British series has under its belt. ...I just don’t know how to feel about that, I really don’t.
First, my history with the Doctor: Its only a month or so old. As I’ve said before, I got rid of cable and have been relying on downloads and Netflix for my nightly television fix (a much cheaper solution, I might add). In the year and a half I’ve had my PS3 I’ve burned through one television series after another: 30 Rock, Lost, Buffy, Twin Peaks, Heroes. Now I’m on to Doctor Who. I’m only halfway through the show (and I should point out, I started off with where the series picks up in 2005). David Tennant is still the Doctor for me, I haven’t even made it to Matt Smith yet. So I am in no way an expert on this show.
However, I can say that Doctor Who has charmed the hell out of me. Compared to what I’m used to in my science fiction - fist fights, laser guns, battles to the death - the Doctor is a breath of fresh air. He’s a pacifist. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him throw a punch. That I can remember he’s only wielded a weapon once. He’s a man of action, but he values life in all its forms.
I knew, going in, that Christopher Eccleston would not be the Doctor forever, but I didn’t know his run was so brief. I’d grown quite fond of his mugging one second, brooding the next performance. When David Tennant took his place, I was resistant. I didn’t want to like him at first. Now, as I’m nearing the end of his run, it breaks my heart to think of him going away. Tennant’s portrayal of the Doctor is easily one of the most charming performances I’ve ever seen an actor give.
Yates’ plan, to bring the Doctor into the world of film, does not include Matt Smith. Many are outraged at this, but as I’ve not seen Smith’s performance yet I can’t comment. However, I think dumping continuity should always be the last resort. What choice did Christopher Nolan have with Batman? Was there really anywhere else to go with James Bond? Hitting the reset button is something you shouldn’t do unless there is absolutely no way to continue a franchise that’s been run into the ground.
I suppose David Yates is looking to JJ Abrams Star Trek film as some sort of inspiration. After all, Star Trek is sort of the American Doctor Who. The Enterprise has been sailing the galaxies about as long as the TARDIS. They are both beloved sci-fi staples that promote peace and understanding. Perhaps Captain Kirk is more likely to take a life than the good Doctor, but they are both, at heart, explorers who long to find peaceful resolutions to conflict.
However, Abrams' Star Trek film was not a reboot. Despite what many fans claim, he did not hit the reset button. Oh, he did, but in a way that acknowledged everything that came before. The presence of Leonard Nimoy and the acknowledgment that the time line had been reset made 2009’s Star Trek a sequel, not a reboot. Spock still died and was resurrected, Captain Picard still took over the helm. Hell, there are even still Tribbles in Star Trek’s past. I can’t think of any way to better honor the legacy of Gene Roddenberry than to reboot the universe instead of rebooting the franchise.
Personally, here’s what I’d like to see happen with David Yate’s Doctor Who. Let the BBC steer the next season toward gearing up for the film. In the films opening scene, bring back Matt Smith. Open the movie with his death and resurrection as the next Doctor...the movie Doctor. In a perfect world the show would continue as well, with this new fella playing the twelfth and final Doctor. Set up a trilogy of films to be released every few years, have the schedule of the show revolve around filming of the movies. When the final film is released, the Doctor dies for the last time, sacrifices himself to save the universe. Before he dies, he looks into the camera with that cheeky grin that every Doctor’s had. He gives us a wink and he says, “You were fantastic.” ... Let him rest for a decade or more, and only then hit the reset button.
I think there’s potential for a big, $200 million Doctor Who movie, so long as they don’t lose sight of what makes the character so wonderful. Don’t put a gun in his hand. Don’t have him kill his enemies with a smile and a quip on his lips. Have some courage and portray the Doctor as a man of peace, a desperately lonely explorer lost in a sea of stars, none of which he belongs to. If they do that, I’ll be there opening day.