When the news broke earlier this week that four-time Harry Potter director David Yates is planning a Doctor Who adaptation for the international big screen, the collective Whovian fandom lost its wibbly-wobbly mind. And rightly so. In his interview with Variety Yates said things like “radical transformation” and “American writers” and “start from scratch.” It was enough to make even a casual Doctor Who fan break out in hives. And the itch only got worse when the BBC released a statement yesterday confirming the film, which they are producing “in development with BBC Worldwide Productions in Los Angeles.”
Doctor Who. In Los Angeles.
Apparently, they won’t begin filming the remake for two to three years, but before they even start penning the script, we’ve made a list five dos and don’ts David Yates needs to heed.
1) Don’t hire an American screenwriter — In his Variety interview, Yates tossed out the name of Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves, talking about how he “captured that British sensibility perfectly” in seven of the eight Potter films. To which I say: Um, no. J.K. Rowling captured that British sensibility perfectly and every time Kloves strayed from her dialogue and characterization, it made a resounding KERTHUNK! in the theater. Americans have a terrible, horrible, ghastly, appalling, no-good history of trying to adapt British books and shows and movies. And Doctor Who is THE British show. It’s been an English institution for half a century. I am an American, and trust me when I tell you: America will ruin this screenplay.
2) Do tell just one AMAZING story — One of the biggest problems with big-budget flicks these days is that they refuse to tell an awesome story. It’s all about the special effects and the merchandising and never-ending sequels. It’s an abomination to the power of narrative, and it will be especially disheartening if Yates allows 50 years of beautifully told stories to go up in smoke. He’s made it clear that he’s rebooting the whole shebang, with no regard for the prior Who canon; the least he can do is commit to telling one helluva captivating Gallifrean story.
3) Don’t give us another Girl Who Waited — I’m sure we’ll be getting a dude doctor and a lady companion, and while I loved Amy and Rose and Donna and Martha and Sarah Jane and River Song — my God, how I love River Song — as much as the next person, it’s time to put an end to the theme of ladies waiting on the Doctor. Most of the Doctor’s female companions have been empowered in many ways, but even “companion” is antiquated, if we’re being honest. Equality is the order of the day!
4) Do embrace the queerness of the Whoniverse — In recent years, Doctor Who has really upped its gay factor. This season we got a gay married couple, a badass gay CIA agent and an inter-species lesbian couple.
It has been a conscious effort on showrunner Steven Moffat‘s part to include a variety of queer characters during his run, and even though Yates seems determined to carve is own Moffat-less way, he really should follow Moffat’s lead on this one. It’s probably too much to hope for a gay doctor or gay companion, but it’s definitely not wrong to wish for — nay, demand! — a well-rounded queer character in the film. Doctor Who is nothing without is cast of supporting characters, and with all the diversity available in all of the universes, it’d be silly not to include a gay person we can root for.
5) Do remember some of your Harry Potter roots — If Doctor Who: The Feature Film starts shooting in three years, there’s one Potter alum who will be the perfect age for a trip around the cosmos in the TARDIS. And that someone already has some experience with time travel and green screens.
Am I right?
What do you think of the news that Yates is teaming up with BBC to make an international Doctor Who film? What’s on your list of dos and don’ts?