Tag Archives: BBC

My Picks for the Next Dr. Who

7 Jun

It’s been a long rainy afternoon, which means that I felt pretty good about giving up any pretense of productivity and making a butt-shaped dent in the couch while I watched multiple hours of ‘Dr. Who’. I’m a latecomer to the series, so I’m still pretty far behind – I’m wrapping up Season 4 now – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have oh so many feelings about it. Like, Donna Noble! So awesome! And really, the Daleks are the superkillers of this world? Because they are pretty much just giant bumpy traffic cones whose weapons are a whisk and a plunger. I mean, how about the invisible piranhas that live in the shadows and pick your bones clean when you walk out of the light? Those things are terrifying!

Anyhoo, it was recently announced that Matt Smith, who plays the most recent incarnation of the Doctor (because if you don’t watch the show, it has a BRILLIANT built-in ‘we can run forever’ device, which is that the Doctor can regenerate himself, allowing new actors to take over the role every few years) is leaving the show. That means it’s time to find a new Doctor, and the internet is abuzz. And because I went down a significant Dr. Who rabbit hole this afternoon, I now feel qualified to add my own two cents to a world FULL of cents.

Judging from the previous actors they have hired to play the Doctor, here are some elements that seem to be likely for whoever comes next:

1. Male

The Doctor can technically take a number of different forms, but so far all eleven incarnations have been dudes. There’s been some support to have the next Doctor be a woman, which, lets be honest, would be awesome and long overdue. However, there are elements of the Dr. Who universe that would make having a female Doctor more complicated than just having a lady running the TARDIS. Beyond just the very present (and lame) excuse of ‘tradition’, the biggest hurdle is that the Doctor (spoiler!) has a female wife. Although the showrunners of the show have said they would welcome a woman Doctor (and the show has been progressive in its portrayal of sexualities, most notably in the bisexual (or pansexual) Captain Jack Harkness), I would imagine that the BBC would still be gun shy about having their most massive shows feature a lesbian relationship at its core. Also, judging from the soul-crushing vitriol in internet comments, lots of fans are, shall we say, resistant. Also, horrible people, because YIKES you guys.

2. A Theater and TV Background

Judging from the new incarnations, casting directors are looking at actors who have legit stage credits (especially in Shakespeare and classics) as well as some roles in television series. Movies don’t seem to be a direct line to the TARDIS.

3. Moderate Fame

All three of the latest Doctors weren’t hugely famous when they were cast. They were more like “oh, THAT guy!” I’d expect that the next Doctor will follow the same route – established enough to be known, but not so famous that viewers will have to shake off previous roles to buy him as the Doctor. Benedict Cumberbatch is too famous. Dominic Cooper and Idris Elba probably are as well. Even Ben Whishaw, whose name has come up quite a bit, might be too famous.

4. 35+

The Doctors are getting younger; Christopher Eccleston is 49, David Tennant is 42, and Matt Smith is only 30. Since traditionally the Doctors have skewed older, I would imagine that they don’t want to continue the trend of Merlin-like backwards aging, and will choose someone a little older than Matt Smith, at least.

5. A Sense of Fun

Yes, he’s a pacifist and a time-traveler and filled with inner pain, but let’s be honest; everyone likes the Doctor more when he’s funny. Christopher Eccleston, the first of the new reincarnations, is an actor who naturally reads more sinister and dangerous, and whenever he smiled his big “I’m having fun!” smile you just thought he was about to snap and murder someone. Which, when the Doctor is supposed to be the guy in the universe you can trust the most, isn’t great.

6. White?

This is the biggest question. All the Doctors so far have been white, but in a show that values literally the diversity of the universe, this seems peculiar. There’s been a lot of pressure to feature an actor who isn’t Caucasian, and since they probably aren’t going to cast a woman there’s a very good chance this is where they’ll expand the canon.

7. British

Duh. Do YOU want to be the nation that has the entire UK coming after you because one of your actors got the role that is so essentially British it might as well be stamped on the top of every McVitie’s? I thought not.

 

So, will all this in mind, here are my picks for who actually might be coming out of the TARDIS next, in no particular order:

1.   Ben Daniels

This name has been bandied about all over the place, because it makes total sense. Except for the whole ‘another white Doctor’ thing, Daniels ticks every box of a likely Doctor: he’s older, has lots of stage and TV credits while still being not immediately recognizable, and is sexy and funny while still being sweet.

2. Adrian Lester

He’s got the stage cred (and, like David Tennant, famously played Hamlet), he’s got the talent, he’s got the looks, and – bonus – he apparently shares the Doctor’s inability to age, because that dude is 44. 44!!! A Time Lord indeed.

He’s basically standing in front of a TARDIS. I mean, come on.

3. Oliver Chris

This probably won’t happen because he’s too similar to Matt Smith, but how great would the tall bedimpled star from ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ and the British ‘The Office’ be as the Doctor? He’s a goofy/sweet stage actor with comedy chops for days – a great combo. Also, the dimples. Oh, the dimples.

4. Domhnall Gleeson

   The same age as Matt Smith (although he reads even younger), Domhnall Gleeson is a great choice if they want to continue the youthful trend. He’s insanely charming and has the stage credits (remember him in ‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’? He was HILARIOUS) and feels like he’s just the right level of fame to play the Doctor – he’s teetering on the precipice of being the Next Big Thing, so why not confirm it? However, he’s more of a boy than a man, and he’s still white (although he is a redhead, which people sometimes seem to think is some sort of weird other category unto itself – I guarantee you that if he is announced as the next Time Lord there will be headlines extolling the first Ginger Doctor).

5. Irrfan Khan

   Come on, if this man beckoned you into his traveling police box to travel the universe, would you go? Of course you would, because Irrfan Khan is the best. He’s a bigger star than anyone else on this list, for sure, but he still hasn’t quite broken into the British and American market in the way he has already in his native India. But it feels like only a matter of time; he is an incredibly talented actor, who effortlessly projects a fundamental decency and heartbreaking vulnerability at the same time. You would instantly believe that his Doctor carries the weight of his destroyed world with him always, and yet you’d trust whatever he says. He’s not technically British, but this would be a really cool nod to the UK’s large Indian population.

6. Stephen Mangan

  I was going to stop at five, but then remembered Stephen Mangan, who would be SO perfect. I mean, right?

7. Jennifer Ehle

  Screw what I said before about not having a woman Doctor, because JENNIFER FUCKING EHLE. Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t want to watch Jennifer Ehle play any role at all? There cannot be, because Jennifer Ehle is the shit. That is all.

Dueling Sherlocks

15 May

Perhaps you have noticed that I am a fan of the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’. It’s true! In case you didn’t pick it up from the many teenage-girl-at-a-Beatles-concert-toned references, I think ‘Sherlock’ is just the bee’s knees*. This is especially true of the second season, which has finally started airing here, and which proves the show has hit its stride, finding the perfect balance of tight plotting, incredibly smart writing, and a relationship between Holmes and Watson that is so delightful one imagines a spin-off show called ‘Menial Errands with Sherlock and Watson’ would still be better than most things on television.

But of course, I’m not the only one who’s noticed this. And America has a funny habit of noticing something great from another country, and just spontaneously coming up with an idea that just happens to be very similar (I’m almost surprised early settlers didn’t start making large conical dwellings and saying to the Native Americans, “What, these things? We just designed them, we’ve been thinking about them for years. We call them Peetees. Oh, you have something similar? What a coincidence!!”) So CBS has announced that it will be making ‘Elementary’,  a contemporary Sherlock Holmes adaptation. Sound familiar?

Their biggest spin is to turn Watson into a woman, which, in brief, I worry about (Sherlock Holmes is by definition smarter than everyone else around him, I worry that his impatient snapping at Watson’s inability to keep up will turn what is amusingly irritating in most versions into something ickily misogynistic). But they’ve cast Lucy Liu, who is awesome, so I guess we’ll have to see.

But what about the biggest question that hangs over any possible telling of the Holmes story; who is the great man himself? That’s where it gets interesting. For playing Sherlock in this version is Jonny Lee Miller.

Now, Jonny Lee Miller is reliably excellent and always interesting, so that’s a plus. But more importantly, Jonny Lee Miller was also in the National Theatre’s Danny Boyle-directed version of ‘Frankenstein’, with the man, the myth, the legend, ‘Sherlock’s own Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch (or, according to the Washington Post, Bandersnatch Cummerbund). And they alternated the roles of the doctor and the monster every night.

So, see what I’m getting at here? We have two men already familiar with alternating roles, both playing the same iconic role in two contemporary adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, which is famous for having two main male parts. So instead of just competing (on a side note, I really hope these guys are either the best of friends, or that every time they see each other they face off, fingers nervously hovering over their belts, a la the OK Corral), why not find a more elegant solution?

Luckily, I’m not the first to have thought of this.

 

Thanks, ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’.  And you’re welcome, CBS.

 

 

*That’s a little Sherlock reference for y’all right there, because Sherlock Holmes was a beekeeper in the original stories. See what I did there? BAM. Although, bee’s don’t actually have knees, so Sherlock’s commitment to facts would… you know what, nevermind.

Hold Off, Apocalypse. I’ve Got Some ‘Sherlock’ To Watch.

24 Dec

According to some crackpot conspiracy theorists and crappy Hollywood films, the year 2012 will bring the Apocalypse. Which to my mind seems unlikely, but to my mind ‘Wicked’ becoming a ginormous monster hit seemed unlikely as well, so so much for my predictive skills.

So, if the year ahead will indeed bring utter destruction, I have a simple request – could you just hold off until June, Apocalypse? You see, although Brits will get to see the second season of my beloved ‘Sherlock’ in January, we Yankees have to wait until May (why so long, BBC?!? You could put it in the Mayflower and it would get here sooner than that. George Washington could have rowed it across the Atlantic Ocean sooner than that. Paul Revere could have ridden a tortoise to deliver it and it would have gotten here sooner than that.) Judging by this teaser:

And this trailer (thanks, Isaac!!):

Next season will be potentially even more awesome than the first, if such a thing is possible (And there’s Cumberbutt!).

So please, Apocalypse, withhold your fiery brimstone for just a few months.

Ooh, but actually, now that I’m looking at my calendar, I would really hate to miss ‘The Hobbit’ movie, too, which is scheduled for release in December 2012, and also looks pretty great (Martin Freeman, with his perfect Martin Freeman timing! Ian McKellen! Gollum! Richard Armitage as a strangely attractive Thorin Oakenshield!). So you know what, Apocalypse, 2012’s looking like a bad year for you. Ooh, and then the stage musical version of ‘Strictly Ballroom’ is happening in Sydney in 2013, so… sorry, Apocalypse. You’re just going to have to postpone yourself indefinitely; there is just too much awesomeness coming up.

P.S. While I wait for season 2 of ‘Sherlock’, I will just have to mentally plan my hypothetical future hit television show, ‘Dink and Batch’, in which Peter Dinklage and Benedict Cumberbatch play buddies who show up in different time periods and places, and quip at each other wittily.

P.P.S. “I always hear “punch me in the face” when you’re speaking, but it’s usually subtext.” is a line that I wish I had written so much it hurts. Oh ‘Sherlock’, you are so brilliant.

P.P.S. In searching for a featured image for this post, I just came across this image from season 2:

Lara Pulver as Irene Adler

SQUEEEE!!!! That means that the lady in the preview is Irene Adler, only one of the most badass of ladies in the mystery literature canon, if you ask me, and one of two people who ever bested Sherlock Holmes (the other being Moriarty). Huzzah! I am very excited. I am also very excited because this picture also shows that season 2 will maintain ‘Sherlock’s gleaming crown as the best-wallpapered show on television, possibly ever. I mean, really, they should just do a tie-in line, right now (and if they do, I will happily promote it in exchange for a few rolls of 221B Baker Street’s living room paper. Sans bullet holes, please.)

The BBC Quells my ‘Downton Abbey’ Withdrawal With Parody

22 Apr

Since the beginning of this year, there is one phrase I have heard many times, in many forms. There was the most common ‘are you watching Downton Abbey?!’, or ‘you’re watching Downton Abbey, right?’ Or, for the people who know me well enough to know that a new costume drama from the BBC is as irresistible to me as a cheese platter, ‘I assume you watched Downton Abbey.’ For a shamefully long time, the answer was no, I wasn’t watching it. I had no good excuse – I was working on a play, I guess I was busy, but the reality is, I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Well, finally, I did, thanks to Netflix on demand. And within a half an hour, I was completely sucked into the world of Downtown Abbey, the palatial home of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, their three daughters, and their myriad servants, and the Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith so delightfully that you rejoice when she enters the screen. I just watched the last episode of the season last night, and afterward I was left with the melancholy that comes from having gotten deeply involved with the lives of these characters, and knowing that I’ll now have to wait until the winter of 2012 to find out what’s happening to them.

I feel strongly about these people.

Luckily, the BBC must have known the pain they were causing Downton Abbey fans by not having a constant stream of calling cards and pining looks and shifting social happenings. Because they made this brilliant parody, ‘Uptown Downstairs’, with a cast arguably just as famous as the actual cast (who knew Kim Cattrall was such a good mimic? She gets Elizabeth McGovern’s strange mid-atlantic kewpie voice just right), to tide us over. And boy, is it funny.

If you haven’t experienced the delight that is Downton Abbey, get thee to Netflix immediately. And once you’re done, come on back. If you have already seen Downton, then be prepared to hit repeat a few times. Especially on the Thomas/O’Brien/Bates moments. Amazing.