So David Yates, the director of the last four Harry Potter movies, is working with the BBC on a big-screen Doctor Who adventure. The kicker? It won't have a damn thing to do with the Doctor, any of the versions of the Doctor, who's made the series so successful that the notoriously cheap BBC is willing to shell out enough for a major motion picture. According toYates,
"It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena. [...] "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."
I can't tell you how tired I am of this song and dance. Time and again, a genre property will get popular enough that the movie studios will take notice, and what happens? As a reward for it cultivating a successful brand, that brand is stripped to the bone and a whole host of random new elements are included. In the best case scenario, we can end up with something like the Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter movies, something that's strange and not quite right, but still enjoyable. More often, it seems, we get Dragonball Evolution, or the Resident Evil series, or Michael Bay's Transformers, or Roland Emmerich's Godzilla, or the upcoming live-action Akira film. No matter how closely the BBC is working with Yates and whoever else on this project, it's hard to see this as anything but a prelude to a story that is Doctor Who in name only, trading on the name but desperately trying to distance itself from everything that's made it so popular in order to appeal to the sort of people who wouldn't know Doctor Who from Doctor House.
Not that that's all bad...
And honestly, a reboot? I just can't look at this as anything but J. J. Abrams' Star Trek all over again, a needlessly complicated and unsatisfying re-write of the established mythology, failing to either tell an interesting new story or take the fans back into the pleasantly familiar universe. Star Trek was particularly brutal about this, wiping out an entire universe (sort of) in order to free Star Trek up to do 'new' and 'different' and 'interesting' things that, apparently, they couldn't do otherwise. And the new, interesting, different story they want to tell for Star Trek 2? Something with Khan Noonien Singh. You can't make this stuff up.
So what does a reboot mean for Doctor Who? Well, the script isn't done yet; Yates isn't even talking about having this thing ready before a few years from now, and hasn't even settled on a writer yet. But it's hard not to worry, and worry with some cause, that this is going to be some sort of elsewords-Doctor, unconnected with anything from the show, and one that uses the reboot excuse to change his character. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Doctor having a romance with his Companion, or firing a gun (repeatedly), or even having a space battle with the TARDIS. You don't reboot a series, after all, if you intend to play the pre-existing characters and themes straight. We saw this in Abrams' Star Trek, with Kirk's thoughtless bro-ishness turned up to 11, and Scotty as a work-shirking chucklehead, and the Spock/Uhura romance. So why would we expect something different from a Doctor Who that 'puts aside' everything people actually like about the series so they can 'start from scratch'?
Like this but, y'know, moreso...
Sigh. I used to wish that the movies would do something new, or different, or interesting. Now I just wish they'd stop redoing old, familiar stories so damn badly.