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Lately, it feels like I'm the only person in the world who couldn't give a shit about the new Dr Who.

No, I haven't watched it, and no, I don't plan to. I just don't care. A giant goddamn promotional phone box could drop out of the sky and land on the sidewalk right in front of me, and I'd step around it, assured that whatever came out of there would be utterly useless to me. And doesn't anyone remember Billie Piper from her fifteen minutes as a pop starlet, dancing in a laundry mat, and telling us all... well, who knows, really. Something innocuous and repeated sixteen billion times in pop songs around the world.

I don't understand the need to keep remaking shows like Dr Who. Is the audience that starved for the story of a guy and his telephone box that they'd have this instead of something new?

I've found, of late, that the moment I hear that something is being remade or rethought or reappropriated or returned in any fashion whatsoever, that I lose interest. It's like a switch in my head. After some inspection, I've decided that the reason for this is that none of these shows are actually worth remaking. They're not that unique. They don't bring anything new to television or whatever else there is. Take Superman as your not Dr Who example. How many Superman series have we had? How many times has the storyline of Clark Kent dealing with his duel identities while chasing a girl he loves been played out?

Christ, we know what happens in the end, do we really need to see it again?

One of the things that drew me to Firefly was that it wasn't a remake of an old TV show that people in their mid to late thirties grew up on. (That's not a slag, simply an observation.) It wasn't new, of course, because you could pick up the influences fairly easily, but what it didn't have was that sense of a pre-existing fan base who had already decided the rules by which the series should exist. The Dr won't be getting blowjobs from Billie Piper in a back alley, for example, because that's not what Dr Who is about, and if it was, fans would react badly. But back to Firefly: the other advantage of it was that you didn't have a sense, when reading or talking about it, that the series was competing with a child's recollection of what it was once like.

Of course, Firefly was canceled, and maybe that was why. If it makes it back to the television after Whedon's Serenity, will it exist in the same space?

Of course, remaking things is not an issue located in science fiction television. How many times have you seen the story of Batman's identity in film? Batman Begins is most likely going to be a film that is about Bruce Wayne becoming Batman, which isn't that much different to the four or five films that are about Bruce Wayne being Batman and someone finding out. And there's a new Superman film--I wonder what that plot will be? And film makers are constantly remaking old films for a new generation that, with the popularity of DVDs, don't really need it, but could be argued as simply vanity projects where directors and stars pretend they are Frank Sinatra and his buddies. Indeed, outside those examples (which are hardly complete as supporting my argument goes) there is the suggestion that most film is simply the remake of a novel or comic or article or video game. The percentage of original films being made out there doesn't appear to be that big, after all.

And why should it be? Remaking something means you're creating a product with an already existing audience. It's good business.

But I want something new.

Comments

benpeek
May. 25th, 2005 01:44 pm (UTC)
you seriously can't be telling me that one series of stories staring the dr is different from a different series of stories staring batman, are you?

the logic to that is just flawed, man.

stories are stories. there is, really, a limited number of the kind of stories you can make, so it's the characters and world that set the guidelines and interaction. the dr, for example, can only do a limited number of things and see a limited number of worlds, and you will always seem them in that 'dr who' kind of way, just as you would see it in a 'batman' kind of way--and by this, i mean they have to equal the tone and setting.
angriest
May. 25th, 2005 02:18 pm (UTC)
I think you've picked a bad example with Doctor Who, which has changed both immeasurably and radically numerous times over the past 42 years. It's not a story - it's a format. It's like saying "Christ, why make a police series? They made Dixon of Dock Green and Dragnet back in the 1950s, why make any more?" It's a flawed argument.

I think you're also massively understating and under-appreciating popular mythology and popular culture. Why do they have to keep re-making Batman? Maybe because he's a character that resonates with a 20th and 21st century audience.
strangedave
May. 25th, 2005 06:14 pm (UTC)
Grant has a point with Who. Its strength as a show was always the total reinvention of itself. Essentially, it was a way of dressing up what was almost an SF anthology series by adding a few odd ongoing plot twists and protagonist(s). I'm quite happy to see another SF show on TV that genuinely will show me something new every week.
benpeek
May. 25th, 2005 10:05 pm (UTC)
to me dr who has changed no more than something like batman. there has been changes, but to me it's not enough to take it into the format that you say. happens. i'm not much bothered.

i'm always under appreciating pop culture. i always will. for me, once is, usually, more than enough. i only ever needed one batman film or series tp appreciate it. granted, some of the remakes have been good (i enjoyed the cartoon series) but if they hadn't been remade, and something new had come along, i would have lived my life out exactly as i have.
thehornedgod
May. 26th, 2005 12:13 am (UTC)
Mightn't actually watching the new Who give you a better idea how it's changed? OK, it's still a bloke with a timeship, it still looks like a police box and a Dalek appears in one episode. That's about all the meaningful continuity I know of between old and new Who so far. And there's a lot of places you can go in a timeship!

And are you sure the Batman film and series are a good example of how remakes are superfluous? The Adam West and Tim Burton versions are polar opposites.
benpeek
May. 26th, 2005 01:30 am (UTC)
it's not really a question of if the thing has changed. i mean, you're right that adam west batman and michael keaton batman (just to stick to the actors) are polar opposites in a depiction of batman... but that doesn't change the fact that i would rather have an entirely new thing, with a fresh clean plate, to the remake.

that's what i'm saying here. not whether the remake is good or bad. i quite liked the remakes of batman, but at the moment, they bore me. the idea of another remake, just bores me. i want something that i haven't seen before. something fresh. i would rather have it than a remake, simple as.
thehornedgod
May. 26th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC)
Keaton, that's his name. I'm quite looking forward to Batman, less because it's Batman than because I enjoyed Nolan's other films. I suppose people who don't mind franchises often end up identifying themselves as following creators rather than specific properties; missing the Alien sequels but catching all Ridley's films.
angriest
May. 26th, 2005 01:24 am (UTC)
I think the problem is that if you write one narrative about a costumed vigilante fighting crime in a dark American city, does that mean no one should ever write another one?

Think that way and you'll rapidly run out of ideas.
benpeek
May. 26th, 2005 01:33 am (UTC)
no, but if your narrative about the costumed crime fighter is the same character, you're not exactly bringing in brand new ideas. you're simply applying a fresh coat of paint, imo, since in the end, we all know that (in the case of batman) the character has a centre that it cannot be altered from.
angriest
May. 26th, 2005 02:20 am (UTC)
This is where we differ. When I see Tim Burton's 1989 film lined up against, say, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, lined up against the 1960s television series (which I loathe, btw), I see three very different interpretations of an iconic popular mythology. I think there's a lot more going on that applying coats of paint, so to speak.
benpeek
May. 26th, 2005 02:36 am (UTC)
well, fair enough. everyones mileage is different.
thehornedgod
May. 26th, 2005 02:59 am (UTC)
No, I don't see the common centre of Miller's and West's Batmen either, unless it's the little bat drawn on their chests.