I have a contest idea:
- Doctor Who is wildly popular;
- Following each regeneration, the Doctor can end up looking like anyone;
- He can appear at any point in space and time;
The BBC should sponsor a ‘Doctor You’ fanvid contest, in which the most implausibly plausible people play the Doctor. In the interests of actually being able to finish in a reasonable amount of time, contestants should create only the pre-credit opening scene.
This whole idea is inspired by the realisation that Matt Smith looks TOO MUCH like the Doctor. He’s not entirely credible because he’s too plausible.
See, David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston are really not unusual-looking. Their only visible eccentricity is in their clothing, and even that isn’t something that would leap out if they walked past you on the High Street.
And that’s why we experience delight when we see, for example, Tennant yelling, ‘Allons-y!’ and leaping out of a spaceship in a suicidal suborbital descent, down through a Victorian skylight, just in time to send the Time Lords back into oblivion.
One look at Matt Smith’s features, though, and we’re more inclined to say, ‘Oh well, he would do that, wouldn’t he?’ Worse, we’re left slightly mystified when he demonstrates normal human emotions, which is a good deal of the time.
So let’s play with the assumption that Doctor could look like anybody. That there’s really no reason he wasn’t more than slightly Sheldon Cooper-esque back when he was in his 200s. That he might be a corpulent middle-aged middle-brow more likely to yell ‘Trot!’ than ‘Run!’.
None of these details really matter. Not nearly so much as the fact that this is a (mostly) human character wandering alone in the Cosmos with the fate of civilizations resting on his –or her– shoulders. That’s character enough, don’t you think?
Anyway, everyone should make an entry. Here’s mine….
POWERS OF TWO
The Doctor [voice-over, concurrent to the following]: Tchilumba Mera! The Tree Planet. Only 6 million years ago, a single kelekele seed fell through the atmosphere onto a barren rock. Now, the root system covers every inch of it, delving below to surface, below the mantle, into the volcanic core of the planet, translating its heat into world-spanning concupiscence!
[Establishing shot – a birds-eye view, as if flying at cloud level over seemingly endless cloud forest, down through the mist, then through the branches of a vast, planet-size banyan-like tree. Two figures become visible, clambering over a giant root. The camera comes to a halt, as if on a tree branch above The Doctor and his companion. ]
Doctor: Concupiscence! Watch your step, concupiscence can be a little–
[They slip, teeter and then fall precipitately. Snap cut with an accompanying thump to a tight close-up of the Doctor and his companion Anna. They are lying tumbled together on the forest floor.]
The Doctor [bounding up and giving a hand to Anna]: Alley-oop!
[Traveling shot: The Doctor and Anna continue walking. Close up on Anna in profile as she pauses, watching the Doctor.]
Anna: Doctor? Why am I here?
The Doctor: Here on this planet, or here in this Universe? If it’s the latter, I shall have to have a word with your parents.
Anna [patiently]: Here with you. I mean, it’s clearly not because you… you know…
Doctor: I do? What?
Doctor: What? Oh!
Doctor: Ha! Yes! NO! No, no. Ha! No. Ha. Why are you here with me? Ah. Well… tell me what you know about this planet.
Anna: Well, it’s concupiscent. And wet. And covered end to end with forest.
Anna: Yes, covered with trees.
Doctor: No-oh. Tree.
Anna: What? This… all this…. This is all one…
Doctor [topping]: One, immense, planetary tree. One single organism, grown to astronomical proportions, encompassing literally everything within the boundaries of its world.
Anna: That’s incredible. [laughing out loud] It’s wonderful.
Doctor: No it’s not.
Anna: It’s… why not?
Doctor: It’s utterly alone. Imagine being the only living thing in your entire world. How would you even know you were alive without someone to remind you?
Anna: Without a… companion.
[They continue walking.]
Anna: So we’ve got to find this planetary tree a companion!
Doctor: Tried that already. Didn’t work out so well.
Anna: Why not?
Doctor: Well, what’s the perfect companion for a lonely tree? A bird. Better yet, a lonely bird. A pretty, lonely bird, with plumage that changes with the light, a song so varied and wonderful that musicians travel across the galaxy to be inspired by it and come back dumb-struck, unable to play another note. Found a nice one. Just the ticket. So I thought.
Anna: What happened?
Doctor: Well, it was a mockingbird.
Anna [mimicking the Doctor]: Wot, got a little taste of your own medicine, did you? Familiarity bred contempt, did it?
Doctor: Well yes. No! No, that wasn’t it. It was a Phrygian Mockingbird, you see. Normally harmless. They mate for life, and as long as the pair are together, they only imitate one another. Perfectly. Literally. Atom for atom. They complete one another. Alone, they’re liable to mimic anything.
Anna: And you only brought one?
Doctor: I didn’t know!
Anna: So what’s the problem? Just pop into the Tardis, grab another up and Bob’s your uncle.
Doctor [testy]: I haven’t got an uncle, and it’s not that easy.
Anna: So you’re just going to giv–
Doctor: The last time I took one in the Tardis, it mimicked the entire universe!
Anna: The entire…
Doctor: Universe, yes. It looked into the heart of the Tardis and created a duplicate universe.
Anna: So what happened to it?
Doctor: I dumped it here on this planet.
Anna: No, the universe!
Doctor: The Duplicate Universe.
Anna: The Duplicate Universe. What happened to it?
Doctor: I destroyed it.
Anna: You destroyed the universe?!
Doctor: The Duplicate Universe. It was a duplicate.
Anna: But how could you know which was which?
Doctor: Oh, I’d know.
[Camera backs off as the Doctor looks around uncertainly. Beat.]
Anna [worried]: Doctor?
Doctor: What is it?
Anna: You left that… that bird…
Doctor: The Phrygian Mockingbird?
Anna: Yeah, that bird. You left it here? On this planet?
Doctor: Yes, well I had to, you see —
Anna: Do you know where it is right now?
Doctor: It’s a Phrygian Mockingbird, capable of imitating anything, down the last atom. How could I know for sure where it is?
Anna [staring off-camera]: Doctor? I know where it is.
[Snap cut to a medium shot of two identical Tardises, side by side.]
Doctor: Ah. No, my dear, you see, that’s the problem: You don’t know where it is. You don’t know at all.
[Freeze frame. Opening Credits.]