Thursday, November 29, 2007

Piper at the Gates of Yawn

Billie Piper is to return to Dr Who, says the BBC. Personally I really, really hope she doesn't.

I have nothing against her. I was pleasantly surprised – and I wasn't alone – to learn that all my prejudices were wrong and she's a pretty good actress. Billie and Rose between them were exactly what the show needed to kickstart it in the twenty first century. When she felt it was time to move on with her career, she couldn't just leave. The producers rightly put Rose in a situation where she had to go, had to stay away and could not come back. Ever.

Except that apparently, she can. Thereby making that heart rending farewell on a beach in Gower Norway ... utterly meaningless.

I has a TARDIS gets it about right, here and here.

But – shows rely on ratings, ratings rely on actors, and as long as the actor is actually alive in the real world (and even then not always) there is always the possibility of their character returning. Producers should be made to hand over their firstborn child as a deposit against yielding to the temptation. It cheapens all that has gone before; it devalues any kind of tension.

Trek did it with their mirror universe. In the original series, in a one-off episode, a transporter accident sends our heroes into a parallel universe where they are evil (and their evil counterparts end up in ours). You can tell they’re evil because Spock has a beard, though fortunately for all he’s just as logical as usual and is key to the plan to get everyone home. And they really have to put their thinking hats on to make it work. It was a conundrum and a pretty good episode.

By the end of DS9, however, people started popping over into the parallel universe every time they put the wrong fuse in a plug. And then they started doing it at will. It had its compensations (evil Major Kira = woof!) but it was still cheap and lazy and diverted resources from doing something really creative.

One more reason why books will always be better ...


  1. Well, my gut reaction's the same, but I've seen an interesting fan idea online that they could "bring her back" if the Doctor were somehow erased from existence. Epic series finale, probably too many returning monsters (I'm undecided, could they be gratuitous *and* justified by the story?), undo the madness at the end at the cost of banishing her once more to the Phantom Zone. It might, just might work without trampling all over Rose's dramatic (and very final) exit.

    There are other possible ways of doing it, but for various reasons I'd object strongly to them all.

    BTW, I personally wouldn't have chosen to illustrate the point with a ginger Star Trek dominatrix, but what the hell... nice!

  2. That would be an interesting take. She could always borrow the yellow truck again to save the day.

    Anyway, glad to detect appreciation of all my points.

  3. It wasn't your points I was appreciating, nyuk nyuk!

    But yes, I agree heartily with the sentiments of your post. And who couldn't love I Has A TARDIS?

  4. Didja see my own tentative first offering??

    So much funnier than endless spoilers for bloody Utopia.


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