|David Tennant as the Doctor, via Variety.com|
The TARDIS has taken “Doctor Who” through time and space and landed on Disney XD. The network will air seasons two through four — the ones starring David Tennant as the Doctor — of the eccentric BBC science-fiction this summer.The questions I have are: is this a smart move on Disney's part, is it a smart move on the BBC's part, is there anything to read into this, will it impact my local public TV station's broadcast of the same, and will Disney edit them in any way?
Unfortunately, nothing I've seen so far answers those questions. So, let's speculate wildly and irresponsibly, shall we?
Is this a smart move on Disney's part? I expect it will turn out to be. While I would have liked to have seen them start with Nine, I understand why they are going after the Tennant years first. (One reason, apart from the obvious that they don't think kids will respond as well to Eccleston's take, they don't have to dance around "The Empty Child" & "The Doctor Dances.") Disney XD's demographic, pre-teen boys, is the perfect audience to discover and fall in love with the show. I'm not able to forecast whether it will be a hit for them or not -- I suspect that will depend on well they build it up across their channels.
Is this a smart move on the BBC's part? It increases the profile the show, with the concomitant risks. If it fails on Disney, it could damage public perception of the brand in that very demographic it (I suspect) it highly covets. If not properly marketed, and if Disney hacks it down to sanitize it for the youth of America, it could be a setback for the series popularity in the years ahead. There's also the question of whether association with the Disney name will hurt the series in other demographics
Is there anything to read into this? And, by that, I mean, could Disney have bigger plans. Like, Star Wars-type franchise acquisition plans? They'd be fools not to want the franchise. They're making an Avatar-themed overhaul of one of their properties that they're probably going to want to rip out in a few years because, WTF, who cares about Avatar?! Would the BBC ever consider a partnership, a co-production agreement outside of the BBC family? I bet they would if the money was right. As much as it scares me, I'll tell you right now, I would be bringing the kids to Disney World as soon as possible to see whatever they did if they themed a section of the park after my favorite show. If Disney put a talented production team in charge of a live-action or animated series, I would certainly watch it ... until, and this is my fear, it broke something fundamental about the nature of the show.
Will public TV still broadcast the Tennant years? I'm going to watch to see if the word "exclusive" starts showing up in regard to Disney's deal. Will also ask my local station and update here if/when I get a reply.
Will Disney edit the series, or will they show the BBC, or BBCA, versions of the show? No idea, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if they hacked it up. If they cut down "Human Nature" / "The Family of Blood," for instance, watch out. Won't only be me going Full Comic Book Guy on them.
So, this may be nothing. A limited run on another channel with no consequences. Or, it could be the first sign Disney wants to own another long running, wildly popular, science-fiction franchise with unlimited merchandising potential.
Here's my blasphemous thought: the latter might not be soul-crushing death knell of the series as we know it a swath of fandom might fear. (Although it could be.)