Thursday, June 16, 2011

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Friday, June 03, 2011

Doctor Who Re-Launch: Action-Figure Exclusive

For years, the Doctor has confronted the irregularities of space and time with nothing more than his sonic screwdriver. This was all very well when stories depended on scientific inquiry and believable characterisation, but it leaves him ill-equipped to deal with the modern, action-driven, high-octane version of the series. No surprise, then, that BBC Wales has announced plans to "re-launch" the character. As a spokesperson put it: 'If he knows he's going to be fighting a giant CGI mutant or an army of heavily-armed assassins in an explosive set-piece, then what kind of idiot just carries a screwdriver? Duh! Besides, 78% of our core audience demographic consists of punters who are likely to see an X-Men movie in its first week of release or queue up to buy Tomb Raider 3-D when it comes out.'

Scripts are still being kept under wraps. But for marketing reasons, preliminary designs have already been passed on to Character, allowing them to launch their action-figure range at the same time as the debut of the Ultimate Doctor (TM). And thanks to a leak from this world of merchandising, we can present a sneak preview of things to come...

1. 4-D Visor. Internal head-up display automatically identifies any being, artefact, or exotic form of energy the Doctor may encounter, removing the need for tedious investigation or mystery. So as to "subvert" any head-up displays you might see in movies, this one is programmed to say something vaguely witty and English-sounding every one-in-six times the Doctor looks through it, like "a nice cup of tea" instead of "hyperdironic output at 84%". The other notable feature of the visor is that 'IT'S COOL!', as the Doctor will loudly exclaim when he puts it on for the first time.

2. Who-erang. The bow-tie is edged with a unique Time Lord alloy of iron, silver (in case of werewolf attack), and timeywimeyum. Can be thrown to disarm villains, but not kill them, except when it becomes necessary to kill them every other week. In the season finale, it transpires that the timeywimeyum element allows the Doctor to throw the Who-erang through time: in the first half of a two-parter, he randomly hurls it into a corner and sees it vanish, but it appears in exactly the same place at the end of part two when the arch-villain's standing there with the doomsday trigger in his hand. Because the Doctor saw that coming, somehow. Or did he...? He denies it, so yes.

3. Geography-Teacher-Chic Body Armour. All the protection of bulletproof neo-plastic and adolescent machismo, with a hint of eccentric Englishness that's apparently meant to justify its existence. Acts as a metaphor for the entire series. As an additional element of irony, jacket has elbow-patches made from the same indestructible material.

4. UltraTARDIS Control. Finally, the TARDIS comes into its own as a truly chameleonic piece of hardware. By activating his belt-buckle mechanism, the Doctor can transform his mode of transport into a four-dimensional warship, able to hover over battlefields like an All-Destroying Harbinger of Doom (but still inlaid with blue panels, for branding reasons). He can then activate the TARDIS weapons arrays with mere will-power, via the telepathic circuits.

5. Mark III HyperSize Sonic Screwdriver. Eight times as large as the previous version, and capable of firing a bazooka-width band of energy to rip apart the molecular bonds of opponents. (Note: definitely not a gun. Can only be used against targets whose molecular bonds are traditionally weak, like aliens or Nazis.)

6. HyperSize screwdriver is also double-ended, allowing "it goes both ways" and "two at a time" innuendo when necessary.

7. Evil Hand. Spoiler alert. At the end of the preceding season, the Doctor comes into contact with "anti-being", a perverted version of Time Lord biomass which infects our newly-resurrected hero with "the force of Absolute Dark". Throughout the new-look Doctor's first season, the contaminated hand becomes increasingly powerful, a story-arc which eventually results in what fans are already calling "The Darkest Doctor". (Darkest Doctor action-figure available Christmas.)

8. Hypno-Whip. From the beginning, this production team's idea of visual storytelling has largely been based on the Indiana Jones movies. And now the Doctor can look even cooler than Harrison Ford, not only using the whip to bring down enemies who seem more or less human (and therefore can't be killed with the screwdriver), but also to engage them in a hypnotic mind-meld when it's convenient to the narrative. Like in "The Girl in the Fireplace", only probably less sexy.

9. Adamantium Claws. (Optional.)

10. Cyber-Boots. As part of the "darkening" of the Doctor (see point 7), the new-look Doctor will employ cyber-technology in the next season. Though he considers the Cybermen to be a moral horror beyond almost any other, he's still prepared to adapt their footwear into something that can literally "walk through dimensions", as long as there's angst or a long-term sinister consequence involved. Cyber-boots will also allow him to stamp on the throats of inferior beings, or anyone who tries to point out the difference between "drama" and "things happening very quickly".