Wednesday, December 19, 2007


When Allan Sepinwall posted his thoughts about the 'Extras' Christmas special on his blog "What's Allan Watching?" (link to the left), he received this comment from "Kensington":

"The only thing I really didn't like about the Extras finale was the derisive treatment of Dr Who.

Has Ricky Gervais even bothered to watch the current program? With the way Andy kept sneering at it, and the depiction of it as a cheap bit of garbage, you'd think they were discussing Classic Who rather than the wonderful new version, a version that's, quite frankly, more entertaining than Extras.''

I thought the same thing as Kensington, that Gervais never even bothered to check out the new version before he decided to get snarkily dismissive about it. However, it would be in keeping with Andy Millman's character that he never bothered to ever watch the show and was just basing his opinions on what he may have remembered about the show back in the 1970s. Remember, Andy never saw 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' either, much to the shock of Patrick Stewart.

That depiction of 'Doctor Who' within 'Extras' as a low-budget, cheesy alien sci-fi show may not jibe with how it really is in the Trueniverse, but it fits perfectly in the Toobworld concept. Now, I'm not going to go into the whole Zonk issue of 'Doctor Who' being referred to as a TV show within a TV show when the two of them should be sharing the same TV dimension; I just did about two weeks ago:

"Most references to 'Doctor Who'... are about the movies which starred Peter Cushing back in the 1960s. And for alls we know, there have been movies since then about 'Doctor Who' in Toobworld featuring other actors. (This gives us an out in case specific actors are named.)

As to why there would be a movie about the Doctor, here's my theory: Some movie producer heard rumors of the Doctor's existence (It's not like he was hiding himself back when he visited London in the sixties and seventies.) and decided to cash in by making a movie about him. Of course, he didn't know all the specific details about the mysterious stranger and that's why the character is actually named 'Doctor Who' in the movies. But he did know enough that he was able to get right such details as the Doctor zipping about in the TARDIS and having a grand-daughter (although he has two in the movie)."

So now it looks as though there was a TV show based on those movies.......
And since the Toobworld version of 'Doctor Who' looks to be such a cheap-jack piece of shite, then we can state conclusively that any TV character who refers to 'Doctor Who' as a TV show is definitely not talking about the version we've been watching since 2005. First off, the Doctor's Companion is a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service, a "WREN", and she's played by a newsreader named Claudia Sermbezis. Whatever the character's name is, she's never been seen in the TARDIS on the real show.

(I wonder if the fact she was wearing an HMS cap - with the name of the ship not visible - is an indication that Gervais was taking a shot in the dark as to what the Christmas special was going to be about. After all, we saw the TARDIS struck by the Titanic at the end of last season - or at the end of 'Children In Need' scene entitled "Time Crash".)

We can hypothesize one other way in which the 'Doctor Who' of Toobworld is not the 'Doctor Who' of the real world: the actor playing the Doctor was not David Tennant!

Sure, that was David Tennant up on the screen, and David Tennant's name in the end credits, but even so, I'm putting out the Toobworld claim that he was not playing himself.

Let's deal with that pesky problem regarding the credits first. Back in November, I wrote this:

"Whatever a character's name is stated to be within the actual show, then that's the character's name. If the name is mis-spelled, or presented as something different in the credits, that should have no effect on the TV Universe."

To this assertion, I'd like to add that should a character's name never come up within an episode, then we can claim that character could be somebody else... no matter what it may say in the credits.

O'Bviously we can't run rampant with this idea. Let's say the late Don Adams showed up to do a cameo in some sitcom and even though he was never named as such, we could tell he was playing a secret agent. Then of course he would be appearing as Maxwell Smart, without the benefit of being identified as Agent 86. But we can't just say that even though he was a secret agent on the side of niceness, he was actually Byron Glick, hotel dick.

Just about everybody connected to the production of 'The Prisoner' will deny that Patrick McGoohan's character of Number Six was actually John Drake of 'Danger Man'/'Secret Agent', even though it's Drake's ID photo that is "resigned" at the beginning of most episodes of 'The Prisoner', and despite the lyric in the "Secret Agent Man" theme song: "They've given you a number, and taken away your name."

They deny the connection for financial/proprietary reasons, as John Drake was created by somebody outside those concerned with the creation of 'The Prisoner'. But it doesn't matter - to most fans, Number Six is John Drake.
In the credits for the 'Extras' Christmas special, David Tennant is listed as "Himself", but he's never mentioned by name within the show. Now, David Tennant has appeared as himself on TV shows in which he's talked about being the Doctor - 'Parkinson', 'Richard and Judy', 'Graham Norton Live', and that infamous 'Doctor Who'-themed episode of 'The Weakest Link'.

But there's no sport in using those types of TV shows for making links to other shows, so most crossover researchers ignore them outright. (If they show up within a show, like 'Live With Regis And Kathie Lee' on 'Seinfeld', then I only deal with that televersion of the real show.)

Had Tennant played himself in some sitcom or drama series, like 'Hotel Babylon' (Wait - isn't that both types of show? LOL), and mentioned 'Doctor Who', then I guess we'd have to accept that he's appearing in the 'Extras' Christmas special as himself playing the Doctor. But until then, why not make the claim that he's playing a character he played before in some other TV show and thus get the link to that series established?

Here's what I found at with regards to an episode of a TV show called 'People Like Us': "The Actor"
gs: David Tennant [ Rob Harker ], Steve Oram [ Sound engineer ], Lucy Punch [ Kate ], Elizabeth Bennett [ Sue Harker ], Robert Swann [ Mike Harker ], Nina Sosanya [ Cassie Pearson ]

Roy spends a day in London observing the work of actor Rob Harker, as he attends auditions, meets literary agent Cassie Pearson, has coffee with some actor friends, including dancer Kate, and runs into his ex-girlfriend.

b: 10 Jun 01 w: John Morton d: John Morton

[Not that it matters in the TV Universe, but David Tennant and Nina Sosanya would also work together in "Casanova" and the "Fear Her" episode of 'Doctor Who'.]

So why can't we make the claim that within the TV Universe, that version of 'Doctor Who' is starring Rob Harker as the Doctor? This way we can make the connection between 'People Like Us' and 'Extras'.

And why was he cast? Because of his amazing resemblence to the real Doctor. That guy David Tennant looks like him as well, but he was probably off doing some movie work - like "Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire".

Toobworld is malleable. It's always in a state of flux, even within the established framework of a TV series because of changes made by its writers. So if it turns out a fictional televersion of David Tennant comes along and makes the claim that he's playing 'Doctor Who' on TV, then I will drop this claim about Rob Harker and accept it.

Unless of course I want to theorize that he's talking about an episode in which he plays the evil twin to Rob Harker's Doctor.....!

Toby OB


MediumRob said...

Ricky Gervais is always bleating on about how he doesn't watch British TV any more because it's so rubbish. Then when he tries to parody it, it's clear he's telling the truth because it's nothing like the TV currently being made in Britain! "When The Whistle Blows" (or whatever it's called) is pretty much like any sitcom on British TV during the 70s and 80s, but there hasn't really been a workplace sitcom since then and certainly no sitcom like that since The Royle Family changed the genre so much.

So it's no surprise that Gervais hasn't watched any new Who.

MediumRob said...

Although actually, now I think about it, he might have been watching Dinnerladies.

Toby said...

That reference sent me off to Ryan's Guide to British TV Shows

where I found this entry:

Dinnerladies (5/99)
Victoria Wood is a household name and institution in Britain, yet is virtually unknown in the US. More's the pity because she is extremely talented, both as a writer and performer (and singer), and you can never get enough of her. In this BBC series, her first sitcom which she also writes and stars in, the focus is on the women who work in a cafeteria of a large Manchester company. Everyone is a "character" but like in all of Wood's work, there is poignancy in the laughs, especially when her mad mother (played by frequent collaborator Julie Walters) occasionally drops in. A nice little workplace comedy, although if it were as easy as it looks, everyone could do it.

Ryan's Guide is a great resource for those of us in America who want to know more UK shows that we've heard about. Check it out!

As for Gervais' show-within-a-show, 'When The Whistle Blows', I always figured it was his jab at 'Are You Being Served?'

MediumRob said...

Hmm. I know where you're coming from but Gervais, on-screen and off-screen, is always slating "catchphrase comedy" as though it's a current thing - it is in sketch shows, admittedly, but not in the slightest in sitcoms. But AYBS ended in the 80s, so if he's having a go at it as what he doesn't want to do in comedy, and which is apparently on display in every other current comedy, he might as well have a go at the omnipresence of Penelope Keith and the use of video for interiors and film for exteriors while he's about it for all those criticisms' currency.

Dinnerladies is probably the only thing in the last 10 or 15 years that's even close to what WTWB parodies. But even Victoria Wood thought it had issues - she wanted something shot more in the style of ER!

I think Gervais is certainly funny in some ways, but as a satirist, he's rubbish - he can't be arsed to do the research and simply mocks his received idea of something (cf Doctor Who as rubbish monsters and technobabble a la 80s Who)

Anonymous said...

We know that Ricky wanted David Tennant on the show if there was a third series. (And David could have been lots of fun making fun of himself.)

We also know, from both early leaks and official BBC statements, that originally the scene was supposed to be much earlier (while Andy was still considering firing his original agent, and therefore still on the upswing). And yet, that's not how it turned out. (And that line about it being the BBC's flagship show doesn't really fit the new version; it sounds more like they forgot to rewrite it....)

So, here's my theory: David had a chat with RTD, and they decided that it would hilarious to make fun of their show. Instead of being the brilliant show that everyone and his dog desperately wants to be on, it's more like an hour of that old Jim'll Fix It segment (but as written by Terrance Dicks' six-year-old granddaughter), and desperate has-beens only grudgingly agree to appear on it.

Remember, this is the same RTD who wants to find a way to fit The Curse of the Fatal Death into continuity.

So, David told Ricky and Stephen, they agreed it would be hilarious, they lied to Auntie Beeb to make sure nobody would stop them, and they all had a laugh.

I could be wrong--but really, even if you think Ricky's that clueless about TV, do you think David's that stupid?

Anonymous said...

One more question, smartie: How do you explain Dimensions in Time? As little sense as a Doctor Who/Eastenders crossover made in the real world, it makes even less sense in the toobworld, where two companions have mentioned Eastenders as a show, while an Eastenders character is famously a fan of Doctor Who....

If you can pull this one off, I'll be impressed.

Toby said...

I've talked about "Dimensions In Time" in the past, and I think it can work in the main Toobworld:

And like I said, Toobworld must be always in a state of flux since its writers are always changing their minds. I'm still playing around with the 'Doctor Who'/'EastEnders' theory and it can go in several directions.

Thanks for visiting, Anon.