Monday, November 14, 2011

Rant: Doctor Who Movie? Oh, This is not Likely to End Well....

"We’re going to spend two to three years to get it right. It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.”
David Yates on trying to take Doctor Who to the movie theatre.

My own personal disrespect for the mans movie making abilities notwithstanding, lets address where this is going to go wrong:

1) Throw everything current out and reboot the series for the theatres only. (ie: we want to be able to tell our own story!) Hey, outside the neighing and stewing of continuity nerds there's nothing inherently wrong with that but...

2) ... this idea that you need to "rework the concept" to make it work in the movies when they do two hour specials every fucking year just makes me /facepalm. The concept is solid and straightforward: "crazy" alien on the run with his stol... er... borrowed time machine picks up hot earth chick (+ her SO now and then), and takes her on adventures through time and space. Earth chick is our point of reference to the protagonist, protagonist gets through things based on wit and comes across as a bit scattered to anyone not working in his head. It's applicable to any medium and the only real thing you need to decide is which pieces of the existing story you want to adapt and when.

Furthermore, the idea that the movie theatre is a "bigger arena" for a show that airs worldwide to billions these days already is kinda laughable and plays to a certain elitist line of thought towards the medium. You don't need to be on the big screen to be "epic", sorry. You need to tell a tight fucking tale with moments of fucking "Woah!".

All this means you don't need to rework the concept. What you actually need to do is tell an awesome 2 hour story containing the character archetypes people have become familiar with and love without falling into the trap that many people trying to goto the big screen with an established franchise do...

3)... and that's that "Our Story" needs to be self contained because nothing, and I mean nothing, produces worse movies than the assumption that you're going to get sequels and we need to clutter up this story with hooks to the next 15.

If "Doctor Who" the first movie is anything more than: "Here's the Doctor, here's the hot chick, 'Hey, look, time travelling telephone box!', here's todays threat/adventure, wrap with them heading off for the next", then you've got too much story. Gallifrey? You can get to that. Any more than one, and I mean ONE, of the rogues gallery present? You can get to that. The Master? You can get to that. Regeneration? When the actor asks for a raise/wants out you can get to that.

Seriously, don't try and get everything into the first film just so you can say you've covered all your bases- it leads to a cluttered mess like Green Lantern.


4) ... It will be interesting to see who this film is for. To some people, Doctor Who is Children's programming, to others family, and to others it's tight Sci-Fi regardless. The reason the series, and particularly the current rebooted incarnation, has been so successful is that it manages to straddle a whole lot of lines. This is going to cause the biggest hurdle in getting this produced because the elephant in the room is quickly going to be studio expectations for which of those markets they think the movie is going to appeal to and how. This has the potential to end in a lot of disappointment when the Doctor picks a couple spunky kids as the companions instead of a 20-25 year old pin-up girl because that's what the studio wants to "make it relatable to a younger audience" and risks resulting in the whole thing blowing up at the box office because the end product only services some, or none, of the niches or changes it in ways that the property no longer appeals.

For reference, see "The Last Airbender" for what happens when you get a bunch of people in the room who think they know what the audience wants better than the source material does.

All of this is why I really don't have any current expectation the "movie version" will be good or successful and I think I'm going to just stand aside from here on out until the reviews hit (if the project ever makes it out of development hell that is), before making a call.

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