“Doctor Who” is popular, right? Of course it is.
Matt Smith has been a pleasant surprise, and a strong follow-up to David Tennant, which many fans still consider their favorite Doctor of all time.
So why do rumors continue to circulate about the end of “Doctor Who”? If British viewers are tuning in, and American viewers are tuning it, it should be just as safe as “NCIS” is in the United States. But for some reason, those rumors continue to circulate.
“The economy has had a lot to do with the problems the show is having,” Airlock Alpha columnist and “Doctor Who” fanatic Ann Morris recently told Alpha Waves Radio. “I know they are not getting the revenue they did in advertising in this country. There are fans here, but they can’t afford second tier cable, and BBC America is not on everyone’s cable.”
BBC is funded by taxpayers in Britain, so the fate of a show there depends not just on its popularity with viewers, but also the ability to continue producing television like that within a tight budget. However, international sales of “Doctor Who” helps finance a much larger budget, especially commercials on Space in Canada and BBC America in the United States.
Yet, it’s not just the broadcasts that are hurting “Doctor Who,” but what fans should be doing when they see the show on a store shelf.
“People just can’t afford” the DVDs, Morris said. “If you lost your job, you’ll just wait. You are not going to go out and buy a season of ‘Doctor Who.'”
And while sales might be down, that doesn’t necessarily mean the show is in danger.
“It’s the flagship show of the No. 1 network in the United Kingdom,” said Steven Schapansky, one of the hosts of the Radio Free Skaro podcast. “It makes so much money for them overseas … why would you think they are trying to cancel their biggest money maker?”
One theory is that because “Doctor Who” has been on for six seasons now (plus a year of specials) that it must be coming close to an organic ending, since six seasons is considered amazing by many television show standpoints. However, “Doctor Who” is different, Schapansky says, because of its ability to regenerate along with The Doctor himself.
“It would be the most ridiculous publicity to say, ‘We are going to build up to 2013, and when everyone’s eyes are focused on ‘Doctor Who’ (for the 50th anniversary), we’re going to cancel it.'”
So let’s say “Doctor Who” does stick around. The show has a history of saying goodbye to stars, especially when they are in their prime (see: Tennant, Christopher Eccleston). What about Matt Smith?
Tennant seemed to follow the mantra of leaving after three seasons, but that would be terrible if Smith did the same thing. Especially with how much he’s being billed as a new generation’s Doctor, said Kenn Gold, one of the co-founders of MediaBlvd.
Some fans, Gold said, were a little agitated about Smith’s youth and the fact that he was different. “But I really liked Matt Smith from the beginning,” Gold said. “When I saw the pictures of him (after his casting was first announced), and saw some other series .. I thought maybe this is not going to work.”
It did, however. And thanks to the change from Eccleston to Tennant, Gold said he was much more prepared for the change from Tennant to Smith.
But would Smith be the star of a “Doctor Who” movie? Not if Harry Potter director David Yates gets his way. Yates wants to do a Doctor Who film outside of the television show canon, and that has a lot of fans up in arms.
Ian Cullen, who runs Sci-Fi Pulse, however, reminds fandom that this wasn’t the first time a movie was planned.
“If (Yates) did a good job of establishing his own continuity, then more power to him,” Cullen said. “There were two movies in the 1960s set outside the continuity of the television series, but they borrowed the story lines from the first two Dalek movies to do this. It’s been done before.”
Even Elliott Serrano, a writer for The Chicago Tribune‘s RedEye publication under the Geek To Me title says fans should be careful not to overreact.
“There’s no reason why they can’t co-exist,” Serrano said of a television series and movie. “No reason why that movie can’t be sort of like a gateway for folks to get into the TV show.”
Such reimaginations have happened before, he said, especially in comic books.
“You have Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man,” Serrano said. “They’re just trying to make these characters accessible to a wider audience.”
Plus, fans shouldn’t forget who is involved here. Especially the director who is credited with making sure the Harry Potter movie franchise stayed strong all the way through to the end.
“It is necessarily going to be great? There’s no guarantee there, although I think that David Yates is a great director and has a great sensibility,” Serrano said. “He did an awesome job with the Harry Potter movies, and I think (a Doctor Who television and movie series) can co-exist.”
There is a lot more where this came from in the special pre-Christmas Day episode of Alpha Waves Radio.
You also can hear the show right here:
The holiday special of “Doctor Who” airs Christmas Day on BBC One and BBC America.