Sunday, August 4, 2013

WHO Are You? Who? Who? Who? Who?

The BBC is going to announce who will replace Matt Smith in the role of The Doctor in Doctor Who today. Officially, the new arrival will be the twelfth actor to play the Time Lord, making him, or her  "The 12th Doctor". Your friendly South London bookie will tell you that Peter Capaldi & Daniel Rigby are the odds-on favorites believed to get the role; both are virtually unknown in the U.S., but in Britain they are better-known than Smith when he got the part. Some people think Benedict Cumberbatch might get it, since Sherlock and Doctor Who don't appear to pose scheduling conflicts (they're both BBC programs;  he could do both) and Steven Moffat runs both shows.

The truth is NOBODY KNOWS. They did a really good job of keeping it a secret - so good, that the announcement is planned to be simulcast on BBCAmerica today at 2pm.

I'm certain about two things: the new doctor will probably stick around for three, four years, tops...there's never talk of pay raises or "points on the back end" for any of these actors when their likeness adorns merchandise that makes a lot of money for the BBC - the only reason why Tom Baker is the only actor to have played the part the longest (seven years) might be because he had co-written a script for a feature film titled Doctor Who Meets Scratchman that was almost fast-tracked into production but was grounded by a lack of financing...and...Tom was forced out by enemies he'd made with his ego. Anyway, the point is, only the Beeb makes the money. No contract negotiations or producer credits or other American showbiz dealspeak; I'm sure David Tennant didn't leave to do that remake of Fright Night; he had become THE most popular incarnation of the Doctor, rivaling Tom & his scarf with his own pinstripe blue suit & eyeglasses. It's no secret that the Matt Smith years are often regarded as "Tennant jr." or Doctor Who Babies.

There's always talk about whether an American version of the series will be made ... doubtful. Two reasons: the ratings would need to average 20 million every week (it averages around 10 million on a good day, 15 on a better day, 8 or 5 at bad times - good for the CW, you might say, but only if the budget was at rock-bottom - Supernatural / Vampire Diaries , dim-lighting, walking-around-shrubs-in-a-studio-lot-at-Burbank bottom). The one time Who saw 20 million was in 1979, when an idustrial strike shut down the only other network in Britain and people who would rather watch the soap opera Coronation Street on ITV were watching part 2 of "City of Death" instead. Low-wattage potboiler detective shows like New Tricks get the same ratings as Doctor Who, which means us yankees would be hoping the U.S. incarnation could do as well as Castle. Another reason? It's too British! Americanize it and you get something we've seen before here: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Back To The Future, Sliders, Angel, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Tru Calling, Dollhouse...even The Ghost Whisperer..with it's mushy, pious, sometimes condescending sentimentality.

The other certainty? Hard core fans are on pins and needles in anticipation...arranging live tweets and recording their reactions as it happens on YouTube, Vine, Skype, Instagram, Keek, etc...

Oh, and  another certainty...there will be plenty of merchandise with the 12th Doctor..and his/her costume - the real dealbreaker that will gauge his/her popularity and still a secret. other certainty.. Jenna Coleman is still in the show, whether "graduating" into The Doctor ( as many fans, including myself, are inclined to think could happen, because of the nature of the current, wonky storyline - that Clara co-exists within the Doctor's lifespan and is dependant on him to stay alive - I think), but also, she's the new Sci-Fi Babe/"It" girl - a title held by alumni such as Eliza Dushku, Jessica Alba, Charisma Carpenter, Jeri Ryan, etc...I suppose she might turn up on the cover of Maxim soon. For now, we're settling for photoshopped pictures of her in vinyl catsuits...

Update: Peter Capaldi IS the new Doctor...and people are already debating if his age and appearance will send female viewers running the opposite direction. Those in support of the decision call him a "silver fox", all opposed recall his track record of playing only  foulmouthed  bastards - Malcolm Tucker of "The Thick of It" in particular. The irony here is I recall Matt Smith fell under the same scrutiny and people already miss him. So that means all IS right with the world. We've got a new Doctor Who. Cheers. :)

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