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and if there's a record scratch sound effect in the trailer so help me - EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!

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November 14th, 2011


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04:57 pm - and if there's a record scratch sound effect in the trailer so help me
Variety is reporting that David Yates, director of the last few Harry Potter films (honestly, was I the only one who really thought Alfonso Cuaron did a great job?) is "teaming up" with the BBC to make Doctor Who a movie.

Yippee! Zowie! The Doctor who is not Peter Cushing and his companions on the big screen! Let's read the article together, you and I, and thrill to the exciting developments to come!
Yates, who directed the last four Potter films, told Daily Variety that he is about to start work on developing a "Doctor Who" movie with Jane Tranter, head of L.A.-based BBC Worldwide Prods.
Okay, Jane Tranter worked with Russell T. Davies on the New Who. I took a liking to her after reading Davies' production diaries, if only because she had the common sense to turn down some of Russell's more embarrassingly bad ideas. Onward and let's get to the good parts like MAYBE IF K-9 WILL BE IN IT! I LIKE K-9!
"We're looking at writers now. We're going to spend two to three years to get it right," he said. "It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena."
Well that's a bit of a comedown. I never like hearing that an established series needs a "radical" kind of anything. And Doctor Who doesn't. Want to make an exciting and fun Doctor Who movie? Get Moffat to write, get Matt Smith and anybody who's around after the Christmas special. (I have yet to watch the second half of this season, by the way, and I've studiously avoided spoilers so I don't know anything that's happened since Spring) Have them run around for two hours thwarting alien menaces in a solidly-crafted story, and you'll have some damn good sci-fi. People are going to want to see the characters they know and love.

Maybe I'm overreacting just a little bit. Maybe I'm taking "radical transformation" out of proportion. Maybe all Yates really wants to do is change the theme tune, you know, put some heavy bass under it or something. Or maybe he'll make the Cybermen glow orange. Let's see.
Yates made clear that his movie adaptation would not follow on from the current TV series, but would take a completely fresh approach to the material.

"Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside and start from scratch," he said.
wait

what

DOES THIS MEAN WE WON'T GET K-9?!

Now that's a pretty spectacular disappointment and specific to boot! Time was all someone had to do to irk the masses was say "Hey I'm making a movie of a favorite sci-fi/fantasy property" and we'd descend like howler monkeys (we are legion; we are hyperbolic) to cry "It won't be the same! It will suck!" More often than not we were vindicated. Hello, I, Robot. Other times really everyone was pleasantly surprised with how well it came out. Hello, Lord of the Rings. But David Yates here doesn't even set a "might not suck" bar. He simply kicks it to the ground with a Reboot implication. Yeah, don't think like he won't. Phrases like "completely fresh" and "start from scratch" are pretty damning.

Doctor Who is a British institution and beloved television show for decades, and there's one good reason why: It's constant even in the face of changes that would faze other television programs. Actors and actresses (including leads) come and go, show runners switch off, the TARDIS keeps looking different inside. It's a show all about change, but it's been constant in that change. It has built a robust universe with strong characters, recurring villains, and species who have been allowed to develop on their own as characters.

Doctor Who has become one grand epic story, and while some chapters have been better than others and okay, there might have been some slight fiddling with the canon, it's still an amazing work all around. A lot of really clever and talented people have worked hard on this story over the years and starting from scratch, doing away with their universe entirely, is an insult to their endeavors.

It seems to me that while Yates can cloak his intentions with "It's an artistic necessity! Honest!" what he really wants here is Michael Bay blockbuster grosses. Take a franchise that people have heard of, turn it into blow-up-real-good entertainment for the PG-13 demographic, then go swim in your Scrooge McDuck money bin. And there's nothing wrong with blow-up-real-good entertainment, but you don't have to ruin Doctor Who to do it.

(33 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:bkdelong
Date:November 14th, 2011 10:01 pm (UTC)
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To be fair, Yates did the best of all the HP movie Directors of both keeping close to "canon" while adding enough of a spin on it to make it marketable and accessible. Now, this was also because the author had a strict desire to keep things within certain boundaries (as did a very large chunk of the huge fandom) - here all you have asking/looking for a certain amount of rigidity to Dr. Who standards would be its fandom.
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From:derspatchel
Date:November 14th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
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Yates did an amazing job with the last four movies, I agree. He did have to work with Rowling signing off on everything and kept things amazingly faithful, but yeah, something tells me the Estate of Terry Nation or the ghost of John Nathan-Turner won't be filling this advisory capacity for Doctor Who.
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From:fancycwabs
Date:November 14th, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)
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I thought Cuaron did a fantastic job--the realism of every following movie in the series owes him a huge debt.

I have no opinion on Dr. Who, since I've seen precisely zero episodes of it.
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From:ayelle
Date:November 14th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
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He did do a fantastic job, yes! Not coming back for the rest of the franchise was his decision, and IIRC, I read a magazine article in which Yates freely acknowledged the debt to him.

FWIW, Cuaron and Yates both acknowledged the debt to Columbus, too. True, his offerings were not as strong as theirs, but he was the one who created the universe and found the actors. Also, unlike the directors who came after him, he really knew how to work with children. So many directors don't. The main three describe the sudden change that happened in the third movie when they were suddenly expected to behave like professional actors -- and by that point, after years of training with Columbus and the amazingly experienced cast of lifers, they were ready and able to step up their game and do what was demanded of them -- but they couldn't possible have done that as freshly cast 11-year-olds.

Lastly: boo reboots.
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From:mmcirvin
Date:November 14th, 2011 10:03 pm (UTC)

The question isn't where we are... but WHEN.

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He wears a bowler hat and a Mackintosh now, and his friend is a London bobby, and they ride around in a red phone booth.
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From:cheezdanish
Date:November 14th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
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INSPECTOR LOOK OUT! BLORGONS!
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From:cheezdanish
Date:November 14th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
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1) Agreed about Cuaron.
2) Agreed about this being a reboot since that's all the rage these days.
2a) I'd like to reboot this person in the head.
3) If they cast an American, I will flip tables.
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From:mmcirvin
Date:November 14th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Cuaron's movie was the point where I suddenly decided I liked the Harry Potter movie series. And none of the rest have been quite as good, though Yates did a pretty good job on Order of the Phoenix.
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From:mmcirvin
Date:November 14th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
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NB: I haven't seen either half of Deathly Hallows.
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From:greenlily
Date:November 14th, 2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
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This news brings two things to mind:

a. the Eighth Doctor movie and
b. the X-Files movie(s, but I only saw the first one)

These are not encouraging mental associations.
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From:derspatchel
Date:November 15th, 2011 04:00 am (UTC)
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The tele-movie itself was craptacular (the Variety article even includes a graf on that very subject, HOW PRESCIENT) but it was still canon. The Eighth Doctor has gone on to do very well with the Big Finish audio series.
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From:sovay
Date:November 15th, 2011 12:36 am (UTC)
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(honestly, was I the only one who really thought Alfonso Cuaron did a great job?)

No; it's my favorite of the films. The strength of the source material didn't hurt—after she stopped repeating herself and before she forgot how to edit—and neither did the addition of David Thewlis and Gary Oldman, but it was the first movie that felt like a living world, not a kind of tableau vivant.

Yates made clear that his movie adaptation would not follow on from the current TV series, but would take a completely fresh approach to the material.

I do not then see the point of a Doctor Who film at this time. The series is by definition rebooted on a continuing basis; why not stick with the current continuity? It'll change in a few seasons anyway, so we might as well exploit the chance of Matt Smith on a big screen while we can.
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From:derspatchel
Date:November 15th, 2011 04:44 am (UTC)
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I think the Hogwarts atmosphere gave the first film that living world feel, and that's definitely due to Chris Columbus' by-the-numbers adaptation. In the first, Harry wanders around all wide-eyed at his new surroundings, and we get to be all wide-eyed, too. Even though the film plods in paces, it plods with a marvelous sense of wonder.

But when you start cutting for time, atmosphere can be easy chaff to remove, and the later films show it. (Rowling also pretty much wrote out the likes of Peeves and Nearly-Headless Nick, which was a shame. Peeves was always funny when referred to off-page. But even with Rik Mayall in the role, he would have been terribly annoying on film.)

Cuaron stuck to the source in his own way. He picked different details and lingered on them, like the raindrops on the playground equipment outside at night. That was the moment I sat up and said "Okay, this is going to be special." His artistic digressions were lovely, and the contemporary costume design was a very good idea. I don't know how he would have taken things once they took a real turn for the dark, though.

The series is by definition rebooted on a continuing basis; why not stick with the current continuity?

And that's the question David Yates ought to answer openly and honestly, without using phrases like "the bigger arena." Granted, this project is clearly in the very early stages so casting isn't even a thought yet, but I don't think a re-start in the film with the existing actors would jibe with their goings-on in the television series. But introducing an all-new Doctor will be a great way to put off the existing fans who want to see their Doctor in the theaters.
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From:clickie
Date:November 15th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
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I am a recent convert to Who, but have watched all of the Matt Smith eps at least twice and all of the Ninth/Tenth ones at least once, so feel qualified to comment! Also, have read lots of wikis on the subject because I am a Big Nerd and have to do that with anything I am currently obsessed with.

Anyway. Overall, what you said. I think the brilliance of Who is that it is inherently a constant reboot, but, that being said, it has the obligation of not ruining anything for itself either before or after. It doesn't assiduously follow a canon, and various showrunners have admitted as much, but it does have an obligation not to break off into various timestreams that can't be reconciled. Like, my understanding is that even though the Eight Doctor only appeared onscreen once, he stayed consistent in other media after the TV movie, and didn't become some sort of alternate universe timeline. If Matt Smith is the Doctor at the time of the movie, he had damn well better be the Doctor in the movie, or they'd better explain it in the movie, etc. If he's not the Doctor, then the TV show has to use a new Doctor after, either the Twelfth or Thirteenth, I'm not picky.

It's gone on so long without ruining itself for itself...it'd better not stop now!

In general, I really don't feel much need for movies, and haven't seen most of the Harry Potter ones even though I've read each book at least five times, so my movie opinions are probably more contrary than most. Certainly I think the reason I loved Who from the get-go (three months ago? Started in September) was that they didn't really ever bother expositing anything. I hate movies in general because they're so expository. I hope these two things are not impossible to reconcile in a movie.
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From:derspatchel
Date:November 15th, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
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From:batyatoon
Date:November 15th, 2011 01:56 am (UTC)
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If you really want to "start from scratch" and produce something "completely fresh," hey here's a wild idea: WRITE SOMETHING NEW.

WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU ADAPT SOMETHING WHEN YOU DON'T WANT TO USE ANYTHING FROM WHAT YOU'RE ADAPTING. WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT OF THAT.

I HAVE DROPPED MY CAPSLOCK ON THE FLOOR I AM TERRIBLY SORRY.
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From:derspatchel
Date:November 15th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
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They can't write something new because it would have No Appeal. They have to attach a name to it or else it's worthless. They think this because in between their ears there is chowder, and it's not even New England clam chowder, it's that godawful Manhattan impostor stuff. They are that dumb. They are also incredibly rich.

I guess Avatar was an exception, but that was James Cameron so he like totally got a pass. Wait, was Avatar a direct adaptation of something? Beyond any one of the previous works which featured the Noble White Man becoming God-Savior of the Weird-Skinned Natives. Ugh my brain hurts.

YOUR CAPSLOCK APPEARS TO HAVE HIT MY GLASS OF WATER WHICH WAS ALREADY ON THE FLOOR
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From:tonysalieri
Date:November 16th, 2011 02:00 am (UTC)
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9P4SxtphJ4&feature=youtube_gdata_player

This is all that needs to be said about Doctor Who

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