I admit it, it’s all to give Andrew a diversion from his work…
So a little while ago, the always-brilliant Jonathan Burns suggested to me that a person who would make a GREAT Doctor who wasn’t from Great Britain would be John Clarke, the New Zealander making a living in Australia, master of the sidelong comment. I had no choice but to agree completely with this, as it may be among the top ten greatest ideas I’ve ever heard: John Clarke, the Doctor.
Dalek: “WE…WILL…ACTIVATE …THE…MACHINE! YOU…CANNOT…STOP…IT!”
John Clarke: (grins inappropriately) “I wouldn’t do that, if I were you.”
Dalek: “WHAT…DO…YOU…MEAN? EXPLAIN! EXPLAIN! YOU…WILL…EXPLAIN!”
John Clarke: “Oh, well…I just mean it’s probably a terrific idea? You should probably go ahead and do it. Regardless of the…well, you know…consequences…”
Dalek: “THERE…WILL…BE…NO…CONSEQUENCES! ALL…HAS BEEN…ACCOUNTED FOR!”
John Clarke: “I completely agree, of course. But I’m just a little bit worried about your misgivings?”
John Clarke: “You see, that’s what I’ve been telling them. They keep asking me, is the fellow in Weapons Engineering…I’m sorry, I’ve actually forgotten your name?”
John Clarke: “Yes, so ‘Da-Lek, is he a sound man in your opinion, has he been infected’, that’s the sort of thing they’ve been asking me…”
John Clarke: “Yes, that’s what I told them too. I mean how can he have been infected, isn’t the Compassion Plague restricted to the upper echelons? You Big Daleks with all the power, you can’t just lay it off on the little guy, can you? If there’s a fault in the Machine’s design, it certainly couldn’t result in the engineer being called for an order to…oh, what do you all call it, it’s on the tip of my tongue…”
John Clarke: “Yes, that’s it, anyway I don’t see that the uninfected Daleks (by the way, don’t worry, they’re getting rid of the infected ones right now, but you didn’t hear it from me) could possibly blame the Machine’s faultiness on you? After all you’re just the mechanic…”
Dalek: “AN…ENGINEER…IS NOT…THE SAME THING…AS A MECHANIC!”
John Clarke: “Oh, of course! And I’m sure they see it that way too. So there’s no way they’d hold you responsible, is there?”
John Clarke: (winks) “Exactly, my friend. EXACTLY. Well, anyway, since there’s only ten seconds to the failsafe point I guess I’ll leave you to it…”
John Clarke: “Who, me?”
John Clarke: “Well, all right. If you insist.”
John Clarke: “Gosh, I’m not sure I know how. Is it this button?”
John Clarke: “Sorry…silly me…”
Anyway, there’s a somewhat slapped-together example of a Kiwi being a great Doctor. Er…
Lots of planets have a Southern Hemisphere?
But what I wanted to ask you all today, is…
What about a FRENCH Doctor?
“Mademoiselle Sarah, tu sais that yu-mans cadnot go to zee Gallifrey…le Roi, il faut etait en colere quand personne visite… “
[apologies to all French-speakers, I am forgetting all of it, it’s horrible…I am aghast and need to visit the good ol’ Francophonie again]
Or a NIGERIAN Doctor?
“I have not the right, to disrupt your future, my present. I know nothing of it but what is in my own life, and in my own life I still see a way to fight.”
Or a RUSSIAN Doctor?
“What does that switch do? That switch, my dear Jo, blows up the TARDIS and destroys all space and time in the process. We do not press that switch, dear Jo. In time, you’ll understand the need for this.”
Anyway, the idea is…
You know, if you thought of a Belgian Doctor, he wouldn’t have to be Poirot? Although…
No, suppose you thought of an Indian Doctor, a Punjabi Doctor? How about a Thai Doctor, or an Egyptian Doctor? An Israeli Doctor, even.
A Swiss Doctor?
Go on, give me a pitch, Bloggers. Pretend it’s Christopher Eccleston in 2005, only instead of Christopher Eccleston in 2005, it’s…
Shit, I may do that “Mexican Doctor” one myself, if no one beats me to it…
My Doctor-Who-fu is not even rudimentary, but I imagine that this is my cue to nominate a Canadian Doctor. Let’s see… who should it be… Mike Myers? Christopher Plummer? Burton Cummings? Scott Thompson?
No… I think I’m going to have to go with Steve Smith aka Red Green.
I want you to pitch that, Matthew! Let’s have a pilot!
Pilot shmilot, I suppose it’s just that one day some Cybermen show up at the lodge after their car breaks down? The Daleks are the city-folk across the lake who keep trying to build condos in the mud?
Doctor Who reimagined as a symbolic lakeside full of idiots!
I’m not entirely convinced the original show wasn’t based on a lakeside full of idiots, actually…
Mark Wahlburg as the Southie (blue collar boston neighborhood) Dawckta:
Companion: “Oh my, Doctor! What are they?”
Doctor Marky Mark: “A shitload a’ Cybuhmin. They’uh these wicked weeyd cybowgs that want ta get ridda feelin’s an’ shit. Buncha silvuh cocksuckas!”
Companion: “Heavens! Whatever shall we do?”
Doctor Marky Mark: “Blow some gold inta theyuh respiratuhs, Fucks ’em all up.”
Please note that the swearing is necessary for an authentic Southie Doctor.
Or, wait! Even better than Steve Smith.
Swearing would be necessary for that too, wouldn’t it?
Not actually that crazy a suggestion…I do believe Jann could do it, you know?
(For British readers: uh, maybe imagine Dawn French crossed with Hayley Campbell? I guess?)
I confess, I thought you were crazy at first, for suggesting that…but now…
Also, needless to say: “buncha silvuh cocksuckas!” is something I would support wholeheartedly as a catchphrase.
There’s genius in that: “Doctor Who Gone Wrong”. My friend Ed once floated the idea that the Tenth Doctor’s romantic shenanigans could be explained by Time Lords every once in a while entering a reproductive-phase regeneration…awkward and uncomfortable for everyone! And of course the Doctor is famous for sometimes having wonky regenerations that maybe don’t work 100% right. Similarly, we could imagine that a particularly screwy regeneration could result in the new Doctor’s personality straying from the idiom that he might have chosen for himself — so much time on Earth, he starts to just go all over the noosphere.
To the Zero Room!
Ed also interpreted the Paul McGann movie as an example of how the Doctor transits idioms as much as he does planets, suggesting that this is just another REALLY WEIRD STEREOTYPE-PLANET he’s visited. And if the movie had starred the Fourth Doctor, he would’ve no doubt up-ended every convention of that very weird and formulaic world, grinning toothily all the while, but because this wasn’t the Fourth Doctor he had to deal with it much more on its own terms. Actually it occurs to me that you could chart all the regenerations on a graph of increasing engagement with exterior influences? Hartnell practically stands apart, Troughton is actively comical, Pertwee is in a constant state of exasperation!! Tom Baker is irrepressibly mischievous, Davison cares too much, Colin Smith is brusque and extreme, McCoy clearly enjoys projecting himself as caricature — the world’s most dangerous little hobbit! — and McGann is full-bore EMO. But in this scheme, it’s clearly not his fault?
Eccleston is hysterical, Tennant is crazy, Matt Smith is…?
Matt Smith is semi-functionally bipolar. I say this as someone who didn’t watch Doctor Who until the Smith years and quite enjoyed his performance.
Matt Smith is the Hartnell element trying to reassert itself after the Tennant element’s insanity, but finding that the deck’s stacked against him and it’s an uphill road?
As sad as Ed’s McGann, really…
Ooh, ooh, the clear choice for American Doctor has come to me: Late Night-era David Letterman. A sarcastic trickster, he would REFUSE to take any of the standard Who bad guys seriously. Threats from the Daleks would be met with an eyeroll. “Well, now that we’ve heard from the garbage cans…”
My other thoughts are Belushi or Richard Pryor. Which means I seem to be unable to come up with a contemporary choice at the moment, but I do appear to feel that an American Doctor would have to be a comedian of some sort, right?
No wait, it just hit me: Louis CK. A Doctor whose adventures are a neverending string of personal humiliations but who perseveres anyway. He has a quality I think you want in a Doctor, in that he is unfailingly honest and will tell you things exactly as he sees them.
Hmm, you know, that actually makes sense to me! A depressed Doctor, who you sense doesn’t really want to be there…but he’s not incapable of happiness, and not incapable of contempt?
It does seem strange at first, but…