Monday, November 14, 2011

Doctor Who Gets a Movie

David Yates, the BBC TV workhorse who jumped to features for the final few "Harry Potter" movies, makes what can be called a lateral career move - signing on for a feature adaptation of "Doctor Who." The big news, of course, is that it will (apparently) be divorced from previous/current incarnations.

To be fair, this is a franchise that lends itself easily to a reboot. It's actually part of the "gimmick" - the title character is a nigh-immortal time-traveler who gets a fresh new body/personality every time he dies. The series has been running on and off (mostly on) for DECADES, but the overall "continuity" is generally more about recurring/remade characters, stories and motifs than sequence-of-events.

That says, let me lay some "how movies are made now" bets down:

1. It'll be an "origin story" a'la Abrams Trek or Casino Royale, with a new "first" Doctor and lots of big "oh, THAT'S where/why that came from/does that!" reveals for the TARDIS etc.

2. Youngest (in terms of casting) Doctor EVER.

3. Whoever the antagonist is, expect The Master to be hanging around at the margins for a "bad guy in the sequel!" reveal at the very end.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I can definitely see them going the way of Abrams with antagonistic choice with iconic-but-not-incredibly-famous foes in either the Cybermen or Sontarans for the first film (like Abrams used the Romulans in 2009 Trek to save the Klingons as an audience-hook for a future film), and either the Master or the Daleks (or both!) built up through-out the first film and then properly used as the antagonist in the sequel.
And I'm not sure about them casting the youngest ever Doctor. Doctor 11, Matt Smith, was 26, and I don't see them going that much below that.

-F. said...

As a huge Doctor Who fan, I can't help getting cautiously enthusiastic. I think your 3rd bet is a very safe one, and considering the current "Youngest Doctor ever" turned out to be my favourite Doctor that might not turn out bad at all..

Ryan said...

The last time they made a Doctor Who movie, it had Eric Roberts (famed for his role in DOA: Dead or Alive, a movie that made Mortal Kombat look original) playing The Master. This bodes ill.

Joshua the Anarchist said...

Younger than Matt Smith, who was 26 when he took the role? I kinda doubt that, but whoever it is will probably be in the general ballpark. Even if it isn't in continuity, I kinda hope they just cast Matt Smith again. I cannot get enough of that guy.

I actually wouldn't be surprised if they have the Master as the main villain and set up the Daleks for the sequel. The focus will probably be on setting the Doctor up if it's an origin story, and once you've done that, the Master is pretty self explanatory. Evil Time Lord. Done. Daleks are more well known but slightly more complicated. "Well, they're these other aliens, but they're also cyborg/genetic experiments gone wrong, and they've got the whole space Nazi ethnic cleansing shtick...". After all, isn't that the reason they went with the less iconic Romulans for Star Trek instead of the Klingons, the Borg, Khan, or somebody more non-Trekkies know about?

Chris said...

If they do an origins story (the only way to make an out-of-continuity Dr. Who movie, see below) they would still have to still follow already established canon for the Doctor's history.

Doing any "other" Doctor, other than the first, would send Dr. Who fans into revolt. Recasting any of the previous actors would not work unless it is a younger version of the first Doctor since we have seen the birth and death of all the other incarnations (we didn't see a young Tom Baker for example). And you can't slip another actor in there and call him Doctor 9.5 for example.

Shannon said...

I agree with Chris. The only way this could work would be to have it be the origins of the first Doctor. Regardless, I have very little faith in this. How can I when Yates is considering unnamed American writers and Steve Kloves? Kloves annihilated the characterization and personalities of more HP characters than JK Rowling killed off. I'm supposed to trust a Doctor Who that's in his hands? No, I can't.

Plus, I can't help but feel that doing a big Hollywood production of DW would lose a lot of the charm that the series has. Big-budget Hollywood things have to look slick and polished and you can't really get away with the sometimes goofy looking effects that the show has in that sort of arena.

And if he's really considering American writers I'd hate to think of some of the horrendous casting Yates might already have in mind. There is no way this is gonna end well.

Morgan said...

Or not:

"We checked with the BBC, and a rep says there are "no plans" for a Who movie, and any talk is "pure speculation.""

Anonymous said...

Yo, Bob! What's your take on this:

Morgan said...

Sorry, didn't realize the link I posted earlier was old, and I don't see a way to delete the comment :-(.

Sylocat said...

I'm torn. On the one hand, Doctor Who is my favorite TV show currently running. On the other hand, I'm as well aware as anyone that the show has never really been gifted with an overabundance of quality. Yes, even since Moffat has taken over as showrunner.

And on the one hand, Yates is a genius... on the other hand, the show has always been more about writing than directing.

Zach said...

This. Is. Not. Okay. Not even close. Matt Smith is doing well. The show is as successful as ever under Moffat. Yates made good Harry Potter movies. Good wouldn't even be enough to make this okay, and I doubt it will even be that.

Maniacal Fox said...

Don't forget the plucky romance to keep this from being a total sausage fest! As well as the comic relief you hope gets shafted repeatedly!

Chris said...

The only other way they could make this work with fans is make the movie Doctor be #12 (Matt Smith being #11). That way you set it in the unspecified future. You could have whatever actor is #12 come in for a cameo when Matt Smith hangs up the TARDIS key for the incarnation change.

Then have the next TV Doctor be #13 with an offscreen handoff like they did at the beginning of the new series (between #8 and Christopher Eccleston's Doctor) That gives you enough room to do whatever you want with movies without messing up the "cannoninity" of the TV series.

Uncle Tim said...

I remember stories for a while about Russell T. Davies doing an in-continuity movie with David Tennant as the 10th Doctor, presumably taking on a new companion and having adventures that would occur between the lines of the current series. I think that would have worked and I know John Barrowman was eager to be involved in that.

This however has the potential for disaster, because while the show often re-invents itself, its history is a very big factor in it, particularly now.

The other important thing about reboots is that they usually occur because a property needs renewing or cannot continue in its present state, as was the case with Batman and arguably James Bond. Doctor Who has never been stronger in terms of popularity or quality. Reinventing it now seems just plain silly and potentially damaging to the brand. There's a good reason why Chris Nolan insisted that Batman not appear in other live-action media while he's making his films.

Besides, the only point to doing Doctor Who on the big screen would be to focus on the spectacle that a major production could offer, but that will require big money and as such, you can imagine the studio will attempt to maximize its profits through some 'helpful' ideas:

"What's with that blue box thingee? We don't have those in America? You don't even have them in Britain anymore? Well then let's dump it. Let's make it a phone booth. That worked in those Bill & Ted movies!"

"Ok, so the Doctor has to be British but does he have to be a British actor, because Johnny Depp would be perfect here. Captain Jack in time and space? Perfect... what do you mean you already have a Captain Jack!?!"

"These Daleks, they're robots? Cyborgs? Well can they transform into things? Think how cool they'd be then!"

I know, one might say that WB and David Yates were pretty faithful with the Harry Potter films, but those had the contractually-mandated approval of J.K. Rowling looming over them. Doctor Who has no singular creative presence to ensure quality and as the 1980s and the 6th Doctor seasons showed, the BBC does not always have the Doctor's best interests at heart when it comes to saving money or making a profit.

A shame because with that budget you could bring back Paul McGann for some adventures or better yet, McGann and Ecclestson and show us the Time War finally. That all said, an in-continuity prequel of the early days of the First Doctor stealing the TARDIS and running off on adventures with Susan could work, especially if Yates cast David Thewliss as the Doctor.

Let's not forget this wouldn't be the first time we had a Doctor Who movie separate from the series, but as those Peter Cushing-led films showed, there's probably a good reason.

Sofie Liv Pedersen said...

@uncle tim


now we are talking! that would be cool.

Saddly I don't see it happening -_-;

And yeah, this seems like another disaster productions for who-vians to make fun off alongside "Dimensions in Time." half of Colin bakers run and the Paul McGaunn movie.

Oh come now, we all know it's shit and we all make fun of it.

Shezz, just get Moffat to write it, he can safe anything, and if people say. "But he isn't a hollywood writer." BALLS!
he was credited head writer on Steven Spielbergs Tintin.

And I know this is spoiler material for you americans (muahaha)
But it was a good movie! A very good movie.


vamast said...

never let me go is the best movie, then all potter stories/merchandizing/videos combined. there was sex shown/implied, and was like wolfs rain

Equuizzicals said...

Darned movies turning me into
"Yes! We loves Doctor Who! We wants it's movies!"


"But what about Ponies, Precious? They are good for us!"


The rest of the conversation quickly became irrelevant.

Equuizzicals said...

Above post ommited "gollum" after into for some reason.

Sylocat said...

On the other hand, after the train wreck that was this latest season's finale, I'm thinking that a fresh new direction on the material might not be such a bad thing.

Especially since the Doctor was already 400 years old by the time the show began. So if they do an origin story, they're not exactly short of opportunities.

NoFunnyName said...

The problem with an origin/Time War is that things, esp Doctor Who's backstory, rapidly become less interesting if you explain them in detail.

I'd love to see a Paul McGann vehicle, which would not only bring a not complete suck 8th story to the gen public, but also would avoid stepping on the toes of the current series. As an added bonus, it would be super easy to make it a big-screen cataclysmic even that ends up causing him to regen into Eccleson at the end.

A movie's not a bad idea, but it must be handled carefully. So who know.

Mike said...

They probably couldn't screw it up more than the TV movie from the last decade. So there is that at least.

The fun of Doctor Who is the slow reveal mixed in with the running gags/themes. Neither are that good for feature films unless that is the only focus and it is about some very specific bit of knowledge only realized by the audience seconds before that knowledge is imparted(often a twist). A good example of this Memento.

Though, if any plot device lends itself well to messing with audience perception of a situation, time travel is it.

Anyway, if it happens I will see it in theaters. If not, there is always he TV show. Sersiously, the show refuses to die, much like the Doctor himself(I am hoping day I can say "herself").