Saturday, August 25, 2012
Well, inevitably, no matter how hard we try not to... the topic turns to writing. What someone is writing at the moment. Where someone is stuck on a rewrite. How late a check is. Etc., etc.
So earlier today several writer friends and I were chatting over coffee and a familiar question came up: "If you could write for ANY show, what would it be?" In years past, I'd given answers such as "24" (me loves my Jack Bauer), "Battlestar Galactica" (do I REALLY need to explain that one?!), or "Hawaii 5-0" (me loves Hawaii, beaches, explosions, and mai tais a bit TOO much). But during today's confab, the following caveat was added: "... and it can be any show PAST, PRESENT, OR FUTURE."
After debating vociferously over how one could choose to write on a show that hasn't been created yet ["Zombie Doctors," anyone?], I came up with a bunch of shows from the past that I would have loved to be a part of: THE X-FILES, STAR TREK, BUFFY / ANGEL, TWIN PEAKS, and DARK SHADOWS to name a view. These are the shows that blew me away as a kid and continue to influence my work today.
Then it occurred to me. There IS one show I'd love to write for. A show from my past (Tom Baker), my present (S7 in less than a week? OH, HELL, YEAH!), and my future (2013... 50th Anniversary... need I say more?). Yup, if I could write for any show in the world, even just one episode, it would be DOCTOR WHO.
Hmmm. There are tons of reasons. I could say that it's because Elizabeth Sladen, Louise Jameson, and Mary Tamm were some of my first boyhood crushes. I could say it's because I did a pretty good K-9 impression in the sixth grade. Or maybe it's because I'm going to miss Amy and Rory so much that I want to pen one more, final adventure with them. But the truth is... I'd write DOCTOR WHO in a heartbeat because in The Doctor's world anything is possible.
On DOCTOR WHO, all races, all colors, and all orientations work, live, love, fight, die, laugh, and cry together. It's a world we should all aspire to bring about just like The Doctor himself does. It's a world I want to live in. And admit it. You wish you lived in it, too.
But since I'm looking at things now from a writing professional's perspective, I have to admit that there's an even larger attractiion to writing DOCTOR WHO. (The first TV spec I ever wrote back in the late 90's was a spec DOCTOR WHO, and yes, the program wasn't even on the air back then. THAT'S how much I love this show...).
With the ability to tell stories set anywhere... and in anytime... The Doctor's adventures are truly limitless. Just how limitless? I'll use Neil Gaiman's frakkin' brilliant S6 episode, "The Doctor's Wife," as the perfect example. In it [MILD SPOILER HERE, FOLKS...] the TARDIS itself becomes personified, then goes on one of the wildest adventures ever with the hero who's been... fondling (!)... her controls for centuries. It's an episode full of joy, tears, action, and comedy. And it's the kind of episode that makes us all feel wonderfully glad to be alive, to be human, and to have the ability to feel, think, love, react, and yes, cry.
Folks, try as we might, writers rarely (if ever) get the opportunity to walk the creative line along such a varied emotional pallet as audiences experience on DOCTOR WHO. Now don't get me wrong. There are a ton of great shows out there right now. And great shows from GREY'S ANATOMY to GRIMM do an absolutely fantastic job of combining intense drama with either romance or tears or chills or humor. But imagine a show that does all of them AND MORE every week? By "more" I''m talking about politics ("The Deadly Assassin"), historical fiction ("Vincent and the Doctor"), bizarre fantasy ("The Pirate Planet"), environmental activism ("The Green Death"), pure sci-fi action & epic spectacle ("Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday"), horror ("The Curse of Fenric"), and pure sexiness (anything with River Song).
Simply put, if being human is about experiencing a gamut of emotion over the course of a lifetime, then here is the one show that encapsulates and reflects that varied palette better than anything else out there. Which means if getting the opportunity to write great TV for a living is a privilege, then writing DOCTOR WHO must be the greatest privilege of all.
Oh, Stephen Moffat, how I envy you. And all of your talented writing crew.
You folks have the best writing gig in the galaxy. And it shows in every nuance, every classic nod, every exuberant Matt Smith soliloquy you write. Maybe someday I'll join you. But until then, let me just say two things: 1) See you next Saturday, Sept. 1st on BBC America. And 2)... keep up the great work.