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Doctor Who? (or) The shocking story of how everyone’s favorite time-traveling alien regenerated as a 2-dimensional anthropomorphic dog.

In TV Snide on May 29, 2020 at 10:20 am

Here in the WOOF cave, we are in fairly certain agreement that the first Doctor Who any of us remember is Tom Baker, but the legend of Who carries back considerably further into the dim-lit history of BBC broadcasting–all the way back to 1963, in fact, assuming such linear considerations matter to Whovians. [Editor’s note: “Whovians” refers to the fan base of the television program Dr. Who, but appears to be a chiefly American neologism, viewed askance nowadays by the program’s more sophisticated British fans who formed The Doctor Who Appreciation Society (DWAS), in 1978.] But that’s not what we came here to complain about!

Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor: filmed in glorious 16 mm color.

The TARDIS–roomier on the inside.

Long a significant component of British pop culture, the program from its inception featured the exploits of a time-and-space-traveling alien (albeit one possessed of pronouncedly Brythonic verbal traits) who travels through time and across galactic space in a craft designated the TARDIS–an acronym for “Time and Relative Dimension in Space.” Although the TARDIS at some juncture in the show’s evolution revealed itself to be a sentient entity onto itself, its exterior exactly resembles a blue British police call-box (common throughout England in the 1960s), while its interior is disconcertingly–not to say impossibly–spacious, and spangled with twinkling arrays of bizarre gadgetry.

The Doctor is a “Time Lord,” meaning, approximately, that he is a member of an ancient extraterrestrial species native to the planet Gallifrey, (located in the constellation of Kasterborous, although nobody knew this, except presumably the Doctor, prior to 1969). Time Lords are Time Lords because they possess technology allowing them to patrol a non-linear temporal matrix, making their perception of time considerably less restrictive than ours. Though human in appearance, the Doctors are biologically superior, living for centuries and regenerating in fresh physical bodies when mortally wounded—or maybe whenever they like, we’re not certain. They have two hearts, maintain an internal bodily temperature of 59 degrees, can communicate telepathically, and occasionally exert telepathic control over others–for the greater good, of course.

Shabby Chic…

It bears mention that the TARDIS’s interior, as with so much else the program incorporates, is far more dazzling nowadays than was formerly the case. In the beginning, the show’s tawdry, low-budget sets and flash-powder special effects became grist for comedians, but inspirited early fans who saw the production’s cardboard-and-Styrofoam mise en scène as an embodiment of the Camp aesthetic.  Indeed, the program’s drollity was its most indispensable charm– a subtly facetious whimsicality that made the tinfoil-wrapped gizmos and monsters in foam rubber suits not only bearable, but endemic to the show’s appeal.  As TV Tropes comments, “the shoestring-budget look has become one of the most warmly remembered parts of the show,” to the degree that fans often bemoan the glitzy splendor on display in the program’s more recent seasons…but that’s not what we came here to complain about.

Inside the TARDIS across time: obviously a few improvements have been effected!

“Oops!”

Thirteen actors have played Doctor Who, whose post-graduate expertise, even today, remains elusive.  In 1970, the third Doctor’s traveling companion, Liz, asked him “What are you a doctor of, by the way?” and his reply was “Practically everything, my dear!” But we’d best pause here to clarify why it’s taken thirteen actors to play one time-traveling space alien. As mentioned above, it is Whovian canon that Time Lords regenerate themselves occasionally.  This means manifesting a new physical body, which demands a new actor with each transformation. It also prevents the Doctor from growing too old for the part–something the James Bond franchise should have considered.

Doctors one through twelve. Number thirteen to be discussed presently.

Precalculatedly tacky…

The Cybermen arrived in 1968, with baggie trousers and floppy talons.

Doctor Who gained an immediate toehold in England, and the show’s popularity grew rapidly. It ran for 26 seasons on BBC1, or from 1963 until 1989. Originally conceived as an imaginative means of providing British children with a scientifically educative adventure drama, the idea gave way to the science fiction stories that soon dominated. The telecast began in the epoch of black-and-white programming when very few American shows were broadcast in color, and none at all in England.  In America, initial airings of Doctor Who failed to attract a substantial audience, but spawned a cult following among college students and others attracted to the show’s unaffected kitschiness. The shoddy costuming and budget-basement props were more complimented than diminished by the pallor of black-and-white video tape. Moreover, Who shot video indoors as a cost-saving device, switching to film outdoors because the video equipment was too cumbersome to drag out of the studio. The resultant visual combinations seemed almost precalculatedly tacky.

Almost precalculatedly tacky!

Anthony Burgess, colorful, even in ironic black and white.

As a point of comparative trivia, the BBC first transmitted in “colour” early in 1967, though its leadership was leery of the concept. Novelist Anthony Burgess volunteered his presence on the BBC2 arts show Late Night Line-Up, appearing on a private broadcast viewed exclusively by curious TV executives who drew courage from Burgess’s example and initiated a  select menu of color transmissions in July 1967.  (Perhaps Burgess threatened to write a novel entitled The Clockwork Black and White if they didn’t come around—sorry, we couldn’t stop ourselves.) But in Who’s case, tackiness prevailed insofar as color episodes were filmed in grainy, budget-conscious 16mm, creating a rough approximation of intergalactic home movies. (We aren’t complaining about any this, by the way.)

Exterminate!

Attack of the Foam Rubber People…

Once shed of his educative role, Doctor Who, no matter which actor played him in which avatar, sojourned season after season as a brilliant, though antic, time-traversing eccentric, devoted to battling injustice on a cosmic scale while foiling various alien schemes to enslave or annihilate earthlings, or innocents on other planets. In these efforts the Doctor was typically assisted by a rotating cast of gobsmacked but plucky companions–usually attractive earth females–who found themselves by some plot twist or another, caught up in the adventure.  While his crusades placed him at loggerheads with numerous other-worldly adversaries, recurrent enemies gave him difficulty almost from the beginning. Most notable among these were the Cybermen–a race of cyborgs bent on subjugating all organic species, and the Daleks, who, despite resembling gigantic, tastelessly gaudy salt shakers, function as robotic death squads, ruthlessly bent on the elimination of inferior races, meaning everyone except themselves. While thus engaged, Daleks limit their dialogue almost entirely to the word “exterminate!” shrieked with chillingly non-organic fanaticism.

Daleks always looked like salt shakers, but they looked like cardboard saltshakers when they premiered in 1963.

Who regenerated…

Sylvester McCoy: Almost the last Doctor.

It seemed like curtains for the Doctor (played by actor Sylvester McCoy at the time) when the BBC cancelled the program just prior to the 1990 season. Wrathful fans received assurances that the  series would return, but hopes grew dim until, after several failed reboots and corporate re-alignments, Doctor Who finally returned with the episode “Rose” broadcast on BBC in 2005.

Tennant and Smith–quintessentially British space aliens–and both the same one, too!

This effectively inaugurated the new era of Who.  Although many longtime devotees objected to the show’s glitzy new production values, which they deemed a betrayal of the program’s shabby-chic ethos, the ratings told a different story. The Daily Telegraph of London was impressed, declaring, “The 21st century revival of the programme has become the centrepiece of BBC One’s Saturday schedule, and has defined the channel.” The Times (England’s, not ours) opined that an affinity for Doctor Who was “quintessential to being British,” while in America, Steven Spielberg condescended to remark, “the world would be a poorer place without Doctor Who.” Besides, Americans in particular love witty heroes with British accents, and the show moved from niche appeal to mass appeal in the States with the casting of David Tennant, who became the tenth Doctor in 2005, and, subsequently, Matt Smith, whom Who re-generated as in 2013. Both actors played the role with a mixture of wit, idiosyncratic balminess, British aloofness, and an impassioned sense of mission, bringing America firmly into the fold and expanding an already substantial viewership in England. 

No sour plonkers need apply!

The ardent Charlie Jane Anders,  WHOoever she is.

It would take a sour plonker indeed, to deny the show’s energy, creative verve, and frenetic panache during this period, and the 50th anniversary episode, airing in 2013, drew a record 3.6 million American viewers and 10.2 million British.  At its apogee of cleverness and creativity, the show’s replacement of pipe-cleaners and bubble wrap with state-of-the-art CGI, high-dollar props, and mind-blowing scenery did nothing to diminish and much to complement the manic charm of its protagonist–and thus all was well in Who-ville for a cheerful time–and all the Whovians rejoiced.  Even when the popular Matt Smith announced his departure from the role in 2012, necessitating the selection of a new Who, fans seemed to accept the older (and more accentedly Scottish) Peter Capaldi as the regenerated Doctor. Capaldi built a solid following as Who’s twelfth incarnation–so much so that Charlie Jane Anders wrote in Wired that nobody could replace him.  Admittedly, we don’t know who Charlie Jane Anders is, but we know she sports vividly Fuchsia hair (because we found her picture) and we know she writes about Dr. Who with a fearsome ardor (because we read her article), but mainly, we know she was wrong.  

Who…she?

TMI?

To paraphrase Magnum P.I. (the original, we never watched the other one) we know what you’re thinking! All right, not all of you, certainly, but right, left, and center, a not-inconsiderable number of you think we led up to the thirteenth Doctor just to complain about his/her sex change. Wrong, you sour plonkers!  That’s not what we came here to complain about! True, in the past, WOOF has solidly opposed what we consider undue characterological vicissitude–especially when pandering is the clear objective. For example, we objected to recasting James Bond as Black, because Bond was famously Scottish, and, by any rational extrapolation, White.  We may even have snarled at some point that the inproficient-though-gainfully-prolific authoress of the Harry Potter books might as easily have kept Dumbledore’s homosexuality to herself without shirking whatever reformist incumbencies she presumes herself heir to–and yes, we still admit bewilderment at how, precisely, Nick Fury became a one-eyed African American after decades spent as a one-eyed Caucasian, or how he stayed so young, being a veteran of World War II–although in Fury’s case, we don’t mind a bit; we just don’t see how it could happen. So, we can readily understand that some readers anticipate a misogynistic hissy fit from us simply because Dr. Who returned as a woman. But you misjudge us. We are not misogynists at WOOF, but rather genuinely convicted of the innate superiority of women. In fact, as G. K. Chesterton once remarked: that is why we insist on opening doors for them.

Nick Fury, White WWII hero, White agent of SHIELD, Black agent of SHIELD–you can see why we’re confused, right? Say, maybe he regenerates! Oh, but wouldn’t that fix his eye?

And our door (so to speak, because caves don’t actually have doors, per se), was opened broadly (no pun intended) for actress Jodie Whittaker, the moment she was named the thirteenth Doctor. Why not? It would require stuffier and stodgier traditionalists than us (and that’s really saying something) to reject the right of a Time Lord to regenerate in female form, at least once in a while.  And Whittaker seemed an ideal choice to pioneer the terra incognita of distaff doctor-hood.

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See? We weren’t kidding about the Twitter storm–but that is an absolutely terrible sketch of Jodie Whittaker!

Attractive but not glitzily glamorous, blond, yet exuding a keen intellect, shapely and fit to a degree that made overemphasis of these attributes unnecessary, and most imperatively, a capable actress able to display the full repertoire of whimsicality, eccentricity, and irony, blended with fits of analytical intensity, endemic to the part.  While some (more plonkish than we) took to Twitter to fulminate against Whittaker’s casting (check out: # NotMyDoctor!) we at WOOF remained unruffled, one could even say alacritous, regarding the matter.  In fact, our enthusiasm for the idea played a role in rendering our disillusionment all the more severe–our disappointment doubly intense.  And yes, of course, we are disgruntled–but our problem is not with Miss Whitaker (at least until she wins an International Emmy Award and breaks into a 15-minute rampage against the Christian Right), nor with female Time Lords in general.  No, our problem is with those unseen journeymen who labor to keep Dr. Who witty, winsome, and oddly profound: the writers.  The problem is, besides being unseen–they’re gone!

The replacement killers…

Chief assassin Chibnall–just look at those beady eyes!

Before the new season aired, BBCAmerica trumpeted that “Three new writers have jumped on board the TARDIS for the upcoming season: Nina Metivier, Maxine Alderton and Charlene James.” This veritable wrecking crew was invited aboard by the series’ new and equally subversive showrunner, Chris Chibnall, who said: “We’re thrilled that Doctor Who continues to attract some of the most the most exciting and dynamic talent working in television…we’ve adored working with them, and can’t wait to show you the explosive stuff they’ve created!”

But Chris Chibnall is clearly one of that vast population of hyperactive meddlers who never learnt to avoid fixing things that work, and his “explosive stuff,” according to SyFi Wire contributor Alan Kelly, includes a “new theme, new Doctor, new companions, new tone, new format, [and] politically-charged storytelling.” Kelly, after examining each of these categories, expresses his view that as a result of so much change, the “show just isn’t very good anymore.” We certainly agree, but Chibnall and his PC crew of replacement writers didn’t need sweeping change to kill the ethos of Who, they only needed to laden their scripts with sanctimony…the life’s blood of political correctness, instantly lethal to wit.

The Chibnall assassination team of new writers, from leftmost to who’s left: Metivier, James, and Alderton. Clearly, James (middle) is the least culpable–probably brilliant, left to her own devices. We suspect the others are a bad influence on her!

Rumblings both Left and Right….

Social Justice and Virtue Signaling (file photo).

You see, the new direction Chibnall had in mind was the essentially earthbound pursuit of social justice—and since virtue signaling is the Siamese twin of social justice, Miss Whittaker is required to pause at moments destructive to pacing in order to pedantically enunciate each episode’s particular lesson, as though we weren’t already wincing in realization. This returns the Doctor to his/her original mission: teaching lessons in a manner fit for children–but instead of learning science, the lessons emphasize progressivism (although occasionally disguised as science). The outcry against this is muffled by the fact that Who fans tend to lean Left–and liberals see the Doctor’s newfound penchant for didacticism as character growth. They are, it seems, too busy yelling “right on!” to mind the narrative devolution. Even those able to view it critically manage to indulge it in the name of consciousness raising.

Save the children!

If Baldock is correct, on the other hand, we’ve definitely located the perfect next Doctor.

For instance, METRO contributor James Baldock agrees that “not a week goes by…without some point or another being rammed home, whether it’s gun control or gender politics.” Baldock also noticed that in one episode, “Jack Robertson – the story’s villain – escapes scot-free, brandishing a handgun and promising that he’ll make America great again…a grotesque parody of Trump.” But Baldock’s concern is not the grotesquery of the caricature. Rather, he is affronted that Trump’s effigy, who displays one or two likable attributes, is not portrayed more negatively. Despite admitting he initially rolled his eyes at the show’s political preaching, Baldock bravely rationalizes his way leftward, concluding that it’s really okay because his children find the episodes educational, and, “we need to have a programme that reflects, as far as the narrative will allow, both the society we live in and the people who live in it – because ultimately, Doctor Who is a children’s show.”  See? Even if that were so, which it isn’t, reflecting society as a leftist caricature accompanied by an endless procession of liberal talking points reflects an agenda, not reality. Baldock’s kids deserve better.

Grumpy Motorist–official avatar.

On the starboard tack, a writer for the Australian site XYZ styling himself “Grumpy Motorist” summed matters up pithily, pointing out that “the virtue-signaling has been getting so glaringly obvious that the show now is more about left-wing wet dreams than it is about all the odd, scary, funny possibilities in a limitless universe…[but] appease the screaming masses of lefties, and you will never have substance or quality.” But Grumpy is surely aware that Leftists consistently equate quality with liberal messaging. Telling Chibnall that his show’s quality is suffering would render him scornful–it would be like telling Mao Tse Tung that socialist realism is awful art, or Academy Award winners that speechifying about bovine flatulence isn’t the best way to express gratitude after winning an Oscar.

Stop them before they kill again!

“A loss that should not be mourned….”

The Guardian supported Dr. Who enthusiastically, until they decided she wasn’t woke enough!

Add to that the fact that the Left is not appeasable. Ever. Jack Hudson of England’s essentially Marxist newspaper The Guardian, complains about the new season’s “apathetic engagement with the political climate.” Apathetic?  Hudson cites the season finale during which Graham, one of the Doctor’s traveling companions, “told the Doctor he wanted to kill…a genocidal alien [one Tim Shaw] who had murdered his wife [but] the Doctor argued that…this would make Graham ‘the same’ as Tim Shaw.” Hudson declares this “an especially uncomfortable message at a time when those fighting fascism are often condemned as being as bad as the fascists themselves…” but before you shout “Bully!” gentle readers, permit Mr. Hudson to expatiate: “…for example in Donald Trump’s remarks after Charlottesville, when he equated white nationalists with those speaking out against them.” See? Hudson takes additional umbrage at an episode about “an Amazon-like delivery company. The story reflected real-world mistreatment of workers, but while many viewers [read: John Hudson] expected a satire of exploitative capitalism, the real villain was revealed to be a maintenance man…” Hudson deems it unforgivably counterrevolutionary that “This led the Doctor to claim that ‘systems aren’t the problem,’ just people who ‘use and exploit the system,'”  – thus, Hudson seems to say, shrinking from her responsibility to condemn the holders of the means of production and urge the proletariat to full rebellion.  One aspect of season 12 that doesn’t bother Hudson at all, however, is all those “fans decrying the show as too PC.” He tersely dismisses the entire demographic as, “a loss that should not be mourned”! Surely, if print journalism doesn’t work out for Mr. Hudson, his indifference to mass decampments of viewers qualifies him to replace Jeff Zucker at CNN.

Jeff Zucker: probably worrying about Jack Hudson angling for his job, because he obviously never worries about dwindling viewership.

Lost, even in space….

“You fools! You blew it all—umm…okay…no, you warmed it…okay, wait…you all shoulda not had SUVs, maybe…or maybe…aw, forget it!!

Left and Right are in agreement on the point that Doctor Who is now largely a platform for recitations of P.C. axioms–but the Left, predictably, considers these recitations inadequate to the cause, while the Right rightly perceives the relentless didacticism as murderous to the show’s vivacity. Even when the TARDIS appears to return the Doctor and her fellow travelers to space and engages them in battling horrible monsters on a desolate planet, social justice springs an ambush. As Craig Elvy explains in Screen Rant, “The episode’s titular planet is revealed to be Earth in the future, destroyed by global warming.” Indeed, the monsters are what global warming did to humans while reducing Earth to a desert. Fortunately, the Doctor makes a stump speech about how all of this can still be avoided if humankind will simply see the error of its ways and–well–you know–do stuff. As Elvy points out, Who has always contained political messages, but “where past stories would tell a compelling story around a strong moral theme, [the global warming episode] takes its message and repeatedly bludgeons the viewer into submission with it…” Elvy goes on to complain that, “Whittaker’s speech might’ve been envisioned as stirring, but instead comes across as patronizing, and this not only spoils enjoyment, but distracts the audience from engaging with the episode’s environmental themes in the first place.” True! Even those of us who didn’t want to engage in the first place, wanted to even less after enduring the Doctor’s nannyish homiletic.

The Peabody Prophecy

Sir Lenny–comedian, actor, song man, knight of the realm.

Recently, Lenny Henry, the actor playing billionaire Daniel Barton in season 12, reacted huffily to complements about the show’s racial diversity. While conceding that racial and sexual variety was visible in the supporting cast, he horrified his complementers by insisting the program’s producers “would rather have a dog do Doctor Who, than a Black person.” Of  course, WOOF has no means by which to assess the validity of Sir Lenny’s criticism (and yes, Lenny is a knight–we don’t know why), but we can say two things about it with reasonable certainty.  First, his remark guarantees that a “Black person” will be cast as Doctor Who in the not-too-distant future, and second, whichever Black person gets the part will not be Lenny Henry. 

News item: WOOF declares first female Doctor a victim of “sexism!”

But how correct Sir Lenny may or may not be regarding racial bigotry in the program’s upper echelons is of less moment, at the moment, than the uncanny accuracy of his prophecy.  Yes, gentle readers, a dog has become Dr. Who–or more precisely, Dr. Who seems to have regenerated as a life form incorporating the behavioral characteristics of a dog. And once again, no, we are not denigrating Jodie Whittaker, or comparing her in any way to a dog, as such. Criticizing Jodi Whitaker for behaving like the particular dog we have in mind would be silly–like hating Anthony Hopkins for being a serial killer, or blaming Robert De Niro for the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. No, the fault is not in Miss Whitaker, but–as we have just explained–in the scripts she is handed by the nincompoops writing them. If anything, we protest the sexism apparent in burdening the first female Doctor with such substandard scenarios, and a B Team of screenwriters better suited to pamphleteering than plot development. And what’s more, we accuse these motley hacks–of plagiarism.  

Rocket J. Squirrel, aka “Rocky,” with the best known of his friends, Bullwinkle the Moose (left) circa 1959.

Plagiarism?!

Yes, plagiarism–an ugly word, usually construed to mean purloining another author’s words and representing them as one’s own, but not exclusively.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, plagiarism is “The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas [emphasis added] and passing them off as one’s own.” And on this basis, WOOF maintains that Jay Ward has grounds for legal action against Chibnall, et al., except that Jay Ward is dead, and unlikely to regenerate. In life, Ward produced TV cartoon shows. He produced such animated series as Crusader Rabbit, and George of the Jungle. But of more immediate significance, he produced the cartoon anthology “Rocky and His Friends,” each episode of which contained a segment created by the equally un-regenerated Ted Key, featuring Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Sherman was a young boy, implausibly adopted by Hector Peabody, a brilliant, bipedal dog, who besides speaking fluent English, invented the WABAC (pronounced way-back) machine. The acronym undoubtedly stood for something, but whatever its precise designation, the WABAC was a time machine that transported Peabody and Sherman into the past, and safely returned them to the 1959-60 era during which the program was originally broadcast.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman, his adopted boy–pioneering historically assistful time travel before it was politically correct.

Choosing a few scenarios at random, episode 27 features a visit with Paul Revere. Our heroes discover Revere doing his utmost to warn colonists that the British are coming, but to no avail since he’s myopically astride a statue of a horse. Peabody and Sherman straighten him out, get him properly mounted, and off he goes. In episode 43, they have to convince Christopher Columbus the world is round and persuade him to discover America. In Episode 77, they go back to observe Edgar Allen Poe, but discover that Poe can’t think of anything scary to write about. Naturally, they help him with scary ideas and literary suggestions until he’s inspired to write The Raven. Obviously, the show had a formula: Peabody and Sherman went back in time to observe some famous person, only to discover the person was too inept, and/or stupid, to achieve the feats attributed to him by history–unless the time-travelers intervened. Despite the formulaic repetitiveness, the cartoon remained amusing because it was—obviously—nonsense, and because Mr. Peabody never ended an episode with an officious monologue aimed at his present-day audience. (We told you he was intelligent).

History repeating….?

Vinette Robinson as Rosa Parks, needing a blue-eyed blond woman from another planet to make sure she catches her bus.

Not so with the TARDIS’s current crew. Choosing a few episodes at random, in “Rosa” the Doctor and her companions travel back to 1955 Alabama the week Rosa Parks ignites the civil rights movement by refusing to move to the back of the bus. It seems, however, that poor Rosa can’t quite manage by herself.  Fortunately, the Doctor and her traveling companions help her get on the right bus and do the right thing once aboard. This seems queasily remindful of what we were talking about in our (widely misunderstood) “White Man’s Burden” article, some years ago. Apparently Chibnall, Metivier, Alderton and James all missed it. What are the odds?

Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair, King James’s bewitching heat throb.

Then there’s the episode in which Who and her team wind up in 17th Century England to discover witches are being persecuted. Of course, the Doctor tries to put a stop to the madness, but silly King James I proves difficult to convince. Luckily, as Sarah Deen points out in METRO, James becomes helpful after developing a homosexual crush on the Doctor’s traveling companion, Ryan, “calling him ‘Nubian prince.'” That certainly  never happened to Sherman.

Spoiler alert! This question is answered immediately below.

Ever more? Now-and-then more? Sometimes more? Help me out here, guys!”

Clout and precedent!

In yet another historic intervention (in blatant mimicry, we contend, of the above-mentioned Peabody-and-Sherman episode about Poe), the Doctor helps Mary Shelley write Frankenstein (whose monster turns out to be a lone, battered Cyberman. (Symbolic, perhaps, of Chibnall’s failed effort at resurrecting the program’s former sparkle?) METRO critic George Griffiths accurately observes that “Doctor Who has always had a knowing wink at history” but just as accurately admits, “this time is different…” Still, Griffiths gamely suggests “the argument that the episode willingly and knowingly takes most of Mary’s autonomy away can wait for another time.” But Griffiths is too generous. It’s bad enough that each viewing of this once-nimble sci-fi phenomenon requires fans to slog through left-wing polemics and endure the attendant narrative arrhythmia while the Doctor natters on–and to whom? James Baldock’s children?–about her latest sociopolitical insights. We draw the line at  rewriting scripts from a 60-year-old cartoon about a dog and his pet boy! Further, we prescribe legal action, and our case has clout and precedent!

Jack Kerouac (right) and Neil Cassady–the actual protagonists of “Route 66.” No credit, no royalties, no Corvette,

It’s Route 66 all over again!

In 1960, CBS Television began airing a weekly drama entitled Route 66.  Each week, America watched two young, free spirited drifters named Todd and Buzz drive a current-model Corvette up, down, or anywhere even vaguely proximal to, Route 66. The pair had adventures, entered into various romances, won and lost fistfights, and landed themselves in countless dramatic embroilments, while their ratings skyrocketed. So, what’s our point? Was the Corvette a time machine? Did Todd and Buzz uncannily presage future Doctor Who episodes? Not a bit of it! But the entire show amounted to what blogger “hobo hippie” aptly calls “a commercially sanitized misappropriation of [Jack] Kerouac’s On The Road.”  The theft was so egregious, Kerouac was advised he had excellent grounds for a mammoth theft-of-intellectual-property suit against Screen Gems, CBS, Chevrolet, and the show’s “creator,” Stirling Silliphant. So did Jack Kerouac get rich as a result? Well, no…he never went ahead with the suit for reasons that remain mysterious, but that’s not important now. Everyone agreed he could have cleaned up if he had gone forward. And given the distinct similarities, we hereby encourage Mr. Peabody and Sherman to take their case to court! After all, they were there first, and as liberal commentators like to say on mainstream news channels, enough is enough!

 

Awarded two Backstroms out of respect for the mythos in general, and what might have been accomplished by the current Doctor had cooler heads prevailed.

 

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