Friday, September 26, 2003

Please don't screw this up...

Doctor Who to return to the BBC in 2005!!! Says writer Russell T. Davies (IMDB entry), "Although I'm only in the early stages of development, I'm aiming to write a full-blooded drama which embraces the Doctor Who heritage."

I'm going to be so all over this.

Looks like the official Doctor Who page on the BBC site was as surprised by the announcement as I was.

Speculation on casting is just that at this point -- speculative; however, while rumor chasing, I came across this at "Other details are sketchy, but a BBC source dropped hints that the all new Who should be back by either the end of 2004 or early 2005, and names in the frame for the new Doctor include Peter Firth [imdb] (recently killed off as the head of the secret service in 'Spooks') or – should budget allow - David ‘Only Fools and Horses’ Jason [imdb]... His assistants may be an American male and female pairing to help series re-sale to the USA, and a heavily updated version of K9 might roll out to complete the team."

Now that we are presented with the reality of a new production, certain questions leap to mind ...

Foremost, obviously, is the casting issue. I don't know either of the guys mentioned above (or Andrew Davies, whose name is also popping up, usually prefaced in message boards by the descriptor "that horrible c-nt,") so have some research to do. I wonder if Paul McGann will get a shot to pick the role back up or if his one shot Fox TV movie from a few years back will drop out of the continuity? Or, will McGann will get a cameo for a regeneration sequence? Folks calling for the return of Sylvester McCoy should, IMO, hush up. I posted on this a while back and still think that with proper dialect coaching, Sammo Hung would make an outstanding Doctor. It won't happen, so I won't waste any more time discussing it. Anthony Stewart Head should, if free and willing, be given strong consideration.

Second, how much continuity will there be from the original run in content, episode format, aesthetic (budget), and target audience? Will this "full-blooded drama" be more adult, teen, or kid focused? Will it be arcs of four half-hour episodes or move to half- or hour long standalones? Any chance of it being a reboot? A reworking of the Whoniverse would actually be my preference. Some terrible mistakes were made in the original run and this would be a great opportunity to draw from the best stories of the past and weave them into a new, consistent continuity. Again, I think I'm probably on the lunatic fringe and should expect we'll be looking at 9th Doctor in the original continuity awith the likelihood that a new team will be selective in which parts of the mythos they incorporate leading to awkward contradictions.

I hope the new production team will recognize the failings of the Davison/C. Baker/McCoy years and give us a Doctor whose personality is more in the vein of Pertwee and Tom Baker's irrepressible comic sensibilities. The third and fourth Doctors are so enjoyable to watch because they were (almost) always having fun. Peter Davison and Colin Baker brought different strengths to the role (I despised McCoy and hope all involved in the new production watch his run as a lesson in what not to do) but neither seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as Tom Baker did.

They should also be willing to genre hop. Do hard sci-fi, historical period pieces, horror, action, martial arts, detective fiction; don't get tied down! One of the great things about the Doctor Who universe is the freedom to genre-hop. We've seen Doctor Who move from the sterile, bright environs of a far future space station, to the dark sewers of turn of the last century London. Sherlock Holmes inspired mysteries are no more out of place than thinly veiled light social commentary dressed up as sci-fi. The Paul McGann one-off was an ill-considered misstep and, if this new version smells anything like that muddled travesty ,it's going to crash and burn.
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