Who’s on the 50th Anniversary guest list?
Guest contributor Taylor Grey on who really deserves to be involved in the 50th Anniversary.
With any big anniversary there’s an obvious desire to doff our hat to all that’s gone before and wallow in a bit of warm cuddly nostalgia. Fifty years of Time travel has certainly given us plenty to celebrate. 11 Doctors, 40 plus companions, countless enemies and villains, innumerable alien creatures, and untold planets and times!
But, no matter how tempting it may be, I believe it’ll be nigh on impossible (and perhaps a little unwise) to attempt to cram so much history and creativity into the limited space of one whiz bang anniversary special. Such an enterprise would simply descend into a greatest hits roll call devoid of any strong narrative coherence.
No, these things have to judged very carefully. We must decide what aspects of ‘Who’s great legacy really, really matter.
Firstly, I don’t believe it’s an absolute necessary for any classic villains to return. All those interplanetary egos jostling for centre stage may produce nothing more than a series of dull, diluted cameos. Look at ‘The Five Doctors‘. A galaxy of villainous guest stars and what did we get ? A lame slo-mo Dalek chase scene, Cybermen getting their metallic derrières kicked by a performance dancer in a silver leotard, a barely recognisable pot-holing Yeti, and the Master playing hop-scotch!
Hardly their finest hours!
No matter how qualified the writing choreographer may be, any ‘Royal Monster Variety Performance’ will always disappoint because each foe is ultimately denied the opportunity to adequately shine. They simply end up lurking in the wings awaiting their cue to say “Boo” to the Doctor; before shuffling off stage left.
If a popular enemy has proved their worth then chances are they’ve performed numerous encores already. If you want them to return yet again, (perhaps accompanied by some lesser known but equally adored baddies) then by all means let them play their part over the course of an entire jubilee season. Cramming them all into one 90 minute extravaganza makes it less an opportunity for celebration and more an exercise in organisation and logistics.
The same principal applies to any returning companions. Whilst it’s always a pleasure to see friendly familiar faces, any participation from the likes of Jo, Leela, Nyssa, Ace etc, should really only be on a ‘needs must’ basis. If their appearance is nothing more than one long wave to the fans at home then…well…thanks, but no thanks.
If you pour too many ingredients into the ‘Big Story Machine‘, you simply end up clogging the ’plot pipe‘. This can lead to either uncomfortable contrivances, awkward pairings or touchline contributions. If you’re going to bring back a legend, you better make sure they have something to do!
For my money ‘The Three Doctors’ pitched the anniversary vibe just right. No returning foes or companions (despite the hoped for Jamie cameo), just an epic new adventure and a clear focused threat in the novel shape of Omega. Ahhh Omega. Poor tragic Omega!
Rather than dwell entirely on past glories, this story took the opportunity to enhance the show’s larger mythology by widening our knowledge of the Doctor’s people. It also marked the special occasion by finally rescinding the Doc’s exile on earth, thereby propelling the character forward for the remainder of the Seventies.
The joy in watching this story didn’t lie in ticking off returning friends or antagonists, it was in witnessing the charming interaction between our hero’s first three incarnations. Granted after only ten tears there may have been a smaller back catalogue of monsters to draw from, but Letts, Dicks, Baker and Martin still recognised that the most important component of a ‘Doctor Who’anniversary special should be…well…the Doctor!
Which brings me to…
Sadly, poor Billy, Pat or Jon can’t be present at the 50th, so I’m at a loss to explain why some ‘fans’ are so keen to deny the other surviving ‘classic’ Doctors a chance to attend the big party. Surely we should all rejoice in the fact that we’ve still got ‘em. I simply will not subscribe to the notion that, ”They’re not pretty anymore, so I can’t bear to watch them!” Why? This is ‘Doctor Who’ not ‘James Bond‘.
No one expects Doc’s 4 – 7 to look or function exactly the way they did 20 or 30 years ago. Yes of course they’re a bit chubbier, greyer and creakier, but thankfully the wonderful world of Sci-Fi provides us with a myriad of explanatory leeway.
What if the Doctor is somehow splintered in time (a la Scaroth from ‘City of Death‘). A temporal explosion fragments and separates the Doctor’s various incarnations, and scatters them through time and space. Each persona then goes on to lead a completely autonomous life, totally independent from his other ‘selves‘. To really complicate things, some ‘Frag-Docs’(yes they’re called ‘Frag-Docs‘) may be unaware of their original identity, despite all still possessing some small trace of their inherent ‘Doctorishness’, eg, with Tom it’d be the scarf, cricket for Peter, cats for Colin etc!
Or how about that other old favourite from the big Sci-Fi lexicon.the Parallel Universe, or Multiverse!
What if ‘11’ somehow opens the gateway to a multitude of universes, each comprising an incarnation that never regenerated. They simply just got older. Hey Presto, any age discrepancy explained away.
Of course some Universes can‘t be breached, tragically the ones containing Bill, Pat, or Jon!
But ne’er mind!
I’m sure ‘the powers that be’ can still find a clever way for ‘The Big Three’ to put in an appearance.
They have to, because the Fiftieth Anniversary is really all about one thing…..
Our man from Gallifrey!