HOW DOCTOR WHO REALLY SHOULD GET ON THE BIG SCREEN
Since it’s been at least a day or two since I mentioned Doctor Who in this space, let me say it again.
This year, as I’ve noted, marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of the original “classic” series in November 1963. Retrospectives of the show have begun. BigFinish is producing special anniversary audio plays with all of actors still living who played the classic Doctors and many of their companions. In November, the BBC will air a “movie length” special featuring at least Doctors 10 and 11. Any other returning favorites have been, somewhat surprisingly, kept secret.
THe even bigger news with the TV special is that it will also be A THEATRICAL RELEASE …IN 3-D!
At least, it will be in the United Kingdom.
Now, I’m frankly not all that blown away by 3-D. It seems to be so rarely done well. But I’m quite excited about the idea of Doctor Who on the big screen. Whether any of us outside the U.K. will get to see it….well, we’ll see. And, honestly, I don’t think the 50th anniversary needs a theatrical release. Give me a really good sci-fi Doctor Who TV story with a good mix of current and classic characters and I’m a happy fan-boy.
But…I do think Doctor Who in theaters is a good idea. Remember when The X-Files grew from cult hit to its peek in popularity right around the fourth season? The producers, as a “thank you” to fans (not to mention a chance to make huge wads of cash), filmed a big screen movie during the fourth season and released it in the summer between season 4 and 5. The movie dovetailed with what was going on with the characters by that point, while still providing enough back story to entertain those who hadn’t been watching. The movie was great, a smash hit.
It was, I think, an unprecedented move: putting a TV show on the big screen while the show is still running new episodes on TV. But it paid off.
Doctor Who should do that. It’s a tough show to try to drop a movie into the middle of the continuing story line (Doctor Who usually has a mix of stand alone monster stories and continuing plotlines tying episodes, or more specifically character arcs, together)
But I have a way around that.
The Time War.
When Doctor Who returned to television in 2005 after some sixteen years, the back story was that in the intervening period the Doctor had been embroiled in The Time War, an epic battle between the evil Daleks and the Doctor’s own people, the Time Lords.
Fans would LOVE to see how the time war went down. A big-budget theatrical movie is the perfect place for writers and actors and directors to go nuts with that.
The Doctor himself takes responsiblity for ending the war – by wiping out the Daleks and his own people. And somewhere during that war, the Doctor – a being who can cheat death by “regenerating” into a new body – regenerated from his eighth incarnation into the ninth incarnation we see in the 2005 series. We don’t know how or when that happened, and it has driven fans batty for years.
Eight was played by Paul McGann, who fans only got to see on-screen in 1996’s mediocre, pseudo pilot for a new series. The problem with the film wasn’t McGann, but…well, lots of other things. McGann has gone on to do a lot of really popular audio plays as The Doctor, but fans would love to see him back on-screen. A movie that operates independent of the timeline of the current series seems like great chance for that.
One of the problems with the Doctor Who TV movie was it was made by Americans. Doctor Who is a uniquely, venerable and venerated British institution. If the show is going to leap to the big screen under my plan, it needs to stay British. Get current show runner Stephen Moffat to be involved. And former head Russell T. Davies. And Mark Gatiss who writes a lot of the best episodes. And other writes and producers and directors from the classic series. Do this thing right or don’t do it at all.
Fans might even – dare we say it – get to see the long-sought regeneration of McGann’s Eighth into Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. This seems unlikely given Eccleston’s adamant refusal to have anything to do with Doctor Who since he left, but…a big-time movie with world-wide release might just lure him back. He’s in Thor 2 for goodness sakes.
So anything is possible.