Hollywood loves rehashing successful franchises to generate more cash. Charlie’s Angels, Transformers, and the Bourne series are just some of the TV shows, toys or books that have recently been rehashed.
Television shows in particular have been getting a good run recently: Star Trek was spectacularly rebooted with a new cast and new parallel universe (nice touch); Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible series doesn’t seem to want to end; and the recent relaunch of The Muppets shows that a weekly TV program can create memorable movie characters.
But for every hit, there is a miss: Bewitched, The Dukes of Hazzard and Lost in Space are proof of that.
Which is precisely why there should never, nay, will never be another Doctor Who movie. At least in the foreseeable future.
No matter what storyline or actors are chosen, it will end up being another Dark Shadows: a film that polarised the audience with fans feeling cheated and newbies to the franchise being baffled with boredom.
The recent pitch for new Who by David Yates stated it wouldn’t feature the existing Doctor (Matt Smith), essentially making it a reboot. This is pointless as the TV show has had 11 major reboots over its 49 year history.
Doctor Who is unparalleled in this aspect – with each new regeneration, and even with the departure and arrival of new companions, the show changes. Sometimes minimally, sometimes going in a brand new direction.
Colin Baker’s 6th Doctor harked back to the original William Hartnell – snippy, aggressive, cantankerous … essentially a loveable pain-in-the-arse. The 10th Doctor became a sci-fi love story with Billie Piper’s Rose and Freema Agyeman’s Martha harping over the devilishly good-looking and increasingly power-mad David Tennant.
Whom would the film version be based on? Definitely not the Peter Davison soppy wet fish Doctor, nor the clownish Patrick Troughton, or the maniacal Tom Baker.
No, we’d end up with a Hollywood version: a Frankenstein’s monster mash-up of the last three Doctors. Brooding, good-looking, and (naturally) insanely brilliant. And of course not angry or conflicted or potentially vengeful – a big screen Doctor would have to be easily accessible for the masses.
The problem is, fans have seen this all before. The Doctor’s personality must be different for each regeneration – that’s what makes the concept work. Having a slightly watered-down Doctor harks back to the original two Peter Cushing films. While the first was a hit, the second crashed and burned, leaving the franchise to continue solely on the small screen.
It would be a mistake to alienate the existing fanbase, the largest potential audience, with a celluloid Doctor they are highly likely to reject. For this reason alone, the BBC would be hesitant to proceed back to the big screen.
Then there is the companion: the ‘everyman’ who juxtaposes the Gallifreyan’s alien nature by injecting humanity and awe. Like a dumbed-down Dr Watson, the companion is essential to Doctor Who, they are not only our eyes, but our key to this universe. Without the ability to grow a character over time, a film version would become a cheap, one-dimensional side-kick, similar to Dr Holloway in the one-off TV movie.
Most importantly to a movie reboot is the MacGuffin. Popularity dictates it would probably be the Daleks or the Master, but with recent stories brilliantly told with these villains, and even the introduction of new adversaries that stand up well alongside their predecessors (the Weeping Angels, the Silence, and the Vashta Nerada), a new movie would either have to portray an existing villain in a new and exciting way, or debut a new opponent – one worthy of the pantheon of the Whoniverse.
While it’s exciting to think of the possibilities, history proves that this is highly unlikely.
The final nail in the coffin of a new movie is Steven Moffat’s innovative approach to season 7, where every episode itself feels like a movie. In his own words, every Doctor Who episode for 2012-2013 was created with “slutty titles and movie poster plots … big pictures and straplines”. He even said that one episode he wrote would “feel a bit like Die Hard”.
What’s the point of making a Doctor Who movie when we’ve just had five absolute classics, with another seven to come in 2013 … including a second episode penned by the extraordinary Neil Gaiman, and an episode tentatively titled “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS”?
Perhaps there will be another Doctor Who movie, but not until the current series is rested to allow demand to grow again. Which hopefully won’t be for quite a few years yet.
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