So, David Yates is to direct a Doctor Who film, huh? How do we feel about that?
On the plus side, he was the man at the helm of the good films of the UK’s other giant franchise. He’s no stranger to entering a world that’s already well-established and populated with rabid fans.
However, this is Doctor Who, a series that’s almost 50 years old and has built a massive mythology. So massive, it seems weak to describe it as just a series. Harry Potter‘s canon was made up of seven novels; Doctor Who‘s spans 783 episodes of television and several spin-off shows, let alone all the radio plays and books. With the continuing debate about whether TV these days is actually better than film, is it perhaps a backwards step to take The Doctor into an enclosed two hour format?
Yates has said, “It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.” This is definitely true. Beyond an enduring affection for Tom Baker’s scarves, we at Mild Concern had little familiarity with Doctor Who before 2005 but even with only six years of watching under our belts, trying to explain the intricacies of the relationship between River Song and The Doctor to a total newcomer is at least two pints in the pub material.
This leads to the question of whether David Yates and Jane Tranter, (she with the impressive title of executive vice-president of programming and production of BBC Worldwide), are looking at a total reboot. Kick out the existing 11 incarnations of The Doctor and start all over again? An origins story, going back to The Doctor’s start in Gallifrey? Maybe that’s a good thing. It wasn’t until four years after the relaunch, when Steven Moffat took over from Russell T. Davies, that we felt that the programme really fulfilled its potential and part of the reason why Doctor Who has endured has been down to the opportunity to remake itself on a regular basis embedded into its format. A clean slate might help avoid the dreaded flop that is almost any TV series: The Movie.
It would be safe to say the jury’s out at Mild Concern on this one. But for The Face of Boe’s sake, can we please put a ban on Daleks and Cybermen? No matter how much kids in the seventies were forced to hide behind sofas whenever those clunking bits of plasticky metal appeared, neither is the faintest bit scary any more. We’re too busy trying to stare down stone statues.