Good news for geeks like me everywhere. Word has it that there's a Doctor Who feature film in production, and that the project is being pursued with an eye towards turning more Americans on to the wildly popular British sci-fi series.
For any who don't know (and if you don't, best to move onto another page anyway), the program features a time traveling alien who calls himself "The Doctor" and who periodically "regenerates" into a new body with a different personality and fashion sense - all of which is a unique way of accomodating the fact that this same character has been played by 11 actors over the years. On the long-running BBC series, the Doctor's most recent incarnation was played by David Tennant, whose portrayal vaulted the program to new levels of popularity in England and internationally.
The Doctor also travels through time and space with a companion. Sort of a sidekick to share the adventures. Usually an Earth woman, but not necessarily.
Now I'm sure the new, regular series Doctor-to-be Matt Smith is a fine choice and all, but it occurred to many of us to ask why the next regeneration of The Doctor couldn't be one of us. There's no reason why the film version of the character couldn't be played by an American (well... except for the fact that the whole series is just so British... but let's pretend its not for a bit).
So the question then presents itself; which Americans could fit into the role?
Here in the US, our thespian corps is all about "The Method." Many of our actors, rather than just step into a role wholecloth, are trained to find experiences in their own lives that in some way mirror the experiences of the character they portray - all in order to access a reservoir of personal emotion to feed their performance. Now clearly finding common experience with a space-time traversing, two-hearted alien presents a challenge, but there are parallels in our earthbound experiences.
In fact, I think that many of our politicians have had comparable experiences to those of The Doctor which could give them unique insights into the character. Here, then are five suggestions for US politicians who could be called on to fill the role of Hollywood's Doctor - as well as who might be well-suited to play the role of the Doctor's traveling companion.
1. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. When she first appeared on the national political scene alongside then-Presidential candidate Bill Clinton on the campaign trail, she was offered by her husband as a sort of "two for the price of one" co-president. When criticism from the traditionalist set followed, the electorate was treated to the new haircut and the cookie-baking. Once in the White House, she was the health care policy point person before reform when down in flames. Later, of course, she became the very archetype of the "stand-by-your-man" political wife during the Lewinsky era.
After her husband's eight years in the White House were up, she became a New Yorker - and quickly one of New York's two US Senators. On her own Presidential trail, she was the Democratic anti-Obama for many, and is now Obama's head diplomat as the chief of the US Department of State.
Now, find me anyone else anywhere in the world who can better relate to the Time Lord's ability in the face of certain death to regenerate into new bodies with new personas over the years.
Companion: George Stephanopolous.
2. President Barack Obama. The President doesn't strike me as particularly Time-Lordy per se (although he has been compared to Mr. Spock from Star Trek), but depending on the choice of villains in the new series, he too could find an experience in his own career from which to draw dramatic motivation.
One of the most acclaimed stories in the David Tennant era introduced a collection of baddies collectively named "The Family of Blood;" a clan of sinister aliens (employing an army of robot scarecrows) that pursued the Doctor in an attempt to use his power to unnaturally extend their own lifespans.
They may not be aliens as such, but the President is pursued by his own "Family of Blood." Former Vice President Dick Cheney has extended his own political life beyond all reason by relentlessly taking to the political press and positioning himself as the current President's most high profile critic. But its not just him, as his daughter Liz has become a regular feature on the TV pundit show circuit echoing and enhancing her father's often outrageous attacks. Even Cheney's wife Lynne has been known to get in on the act. And while this family isn't employing robotic scarecrows to further their agenda, they do have Politico.com.
Companion: Lady Gaga.
3. Former President George W. Bush. The fourth Doctor (portrayed, of course, by Tom Baker) introduced an all-purpose device into Who canon: the Sonic Screwdriver. This little tool seems often to be the Doctor's answer to any dilemma. Open a locked door? Need to hot wire a spaceship? Maybe hack a computer? The Sonic Screwdriver could do it all, and it can't be easy as an actor to continually return to such a simple plot device time and time again and not leave the viewing audience rolling their eyes.
From his experience as President, Bush is well practiced at such delivery. During his tenure, when faced with a domestic policy challenge - any domestic policy challenge - he slavishly returned to his own all-purpose solution; tax cuts for the wealthy. Economy struggling? Time for tax cuts for the wealthy. Economy doing well? That's time for tax cuts for the wealthy, too. In fact, there's seemingly nothing that can't be cured by tax cuts for the wealthy - not even terrorism. Getting a television audience to accept the sonic screwdriver should be no problem for this former public servant.
Companion: Tony Blair.
4. Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. Despite his well-known moments of exuberance, The Doctor has had it rough over the years. Even though he has saved his own people from complete obliteration in the past, the leaders of his own alien race grew contemptuous of him, with the Time Lord President coming into open conflict with him during their most recent encounter.
Dean, of course, after rebuilding and reenergizing a Democratic Party left for dead by the pundits (and in the process playing an indispensible role in the election of President Obama) was openly spurned by the new Democratic administration. Left to wander in political disfavor and forced to engage in policy debates from the outside looking in, Dean even came into conflict with the administration when he openly challenged the President's health care agenda during the climactic battle in the US Senate. One could argue that the experience gives him insight into the Doctor's own experience in exile (and I'll leave it to Who afficianadoes to consider the broader implications of putting Obama into the role of Time Lord President Rassilon...).
Companion: Rachel Maddow.
5. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Okay, I have no rationale - not even a tortured one - for this pick. The idea just cracks me up.
Companion: Danny DeVito.
6. Former Vice President Al Gore. Nobel Laureate Gore, of course, saw his political career end during the extended 2000 Presidential campaign, when a divided Supreme Court called a stop to a manual recount that would have put Gore into office instead of George W. Bush, but for the irregularities (which many have cast as malevolent, rather than merely incidental) in the automated voting systems.
Somehow, the Daleks always looked a little like bloodthirsty voting machines to me. I'm thinking the similarity might stir enough repressed emotion for a pretty good performance.
Companion: A polar bear.
(Thanks to Richard and Cary for brainstorming help on this dorky mess of a post.)