Friday, November 18, 2011

The Keys to the TARDIS: A Hollywood movie?

Ok, so this installment of our "Keys to the TARDIS" series isn't about an element of Doctor Who that already exists, but rather, speculation about the big-budget Hollywood version of Doctor Who that is allegedly in the works, with David Yates at the helm.

That's right.  In case you hadn't heard, David Yates told Variety this week that he is about to start work on a Doctor Who movie along with Jane Tranter (who is the head of BBC Worldwide Productions).

The question is: is this cause for excitement, or cause for alarm?

After reading the article, my thought is that this is definitely cause for alarm.  For instance, Yates told Variety, "We're looking at writers now. We're going to spend two to three years to get it right."  While that sounds all very well and good, Yates continues: "It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena."

But wait.  I like Doctor Who the way it is.  I like the smaller arena of the show.  I like that the aesthetic isn't the same as every other thing that comes out of Hollywood.  As Peter McClean noted in an earlier "Keys to the TARDIS" installment, the low-budget special effects are a key part of the series' charm.  When describing a forest that appeared in an early episode with the Daleks, McClean writes, "Well, it was easy to see that it was a studio with cardboard trees and rocks. But that made it all the more fun, because it made it more like every child’s make-believe games with their friends, which also excused the dreadful acting and the somewhat banal dialogue--but we still loved it!"  The fact that Doctor Who has a look that is different from the standard Hollywood blockbuster--not only in special effects but also in setting, lighting, and even choice of actors--is a vital part of the show's appeal.

Yates also said, "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."  Again, yikes.

I have nothing against Yates--in fact, I really liked what he did with the last Harry Potter movies.  He did a great job of capturing the mood of the novels while also paring things down quite significantly.  And the Harry Potter movies are a good example, as Yates points out, of movies that maintain a "British sensibility" while receiving the Hollywood treatment.

So who knows?  Maybe this won't be a disaster.   But I'm sure not holding my breath.

What do you think?  Let us know in the comments!