Respectful Insolence

Open mouth. Insert foot.

Given the way that he’s so successfully resurrected Doctor Who, I had come to believe that Russell T. Davies could do no wrong. I guess I was wrong:

The Daily Post is reporting that comments made by Executive Producer Russell T. Davies at the preview screening of Voyage of the Damned have caused quite a stir.

When asked who from history he would like to see play the Doctor, Davies reportedly jokingly answered “Hitler. He was stern and strong. He would be great.”

According to the story, some guests laughed, but others were shocked by the remark.

One fan later remarked: “Hitler carried out some of the world’s worst atrocities. He ordered the killing of millions of innocent people. I don’t want my kids thinking Hitler and Doctor Who are in any way the same.”

When David Tennant was then asked the same question, he reportedly declined to answer.

Although I can’t believe that Davies would have said something so mind-bogglingly stupid, it does reassure me that even creative geniuses stick their foots in their mouths sometimes.

Comments

  1. #1 Paul
    December 31, 2007

    As a Doctor Who fan, I know that way too many fans take the show too seriously. People should lighten up and not make such a big deal out of what Russel T. Davies – or anybody for that matter – says.

    It was a joke. It failed. Please move on. The world has already spent too much time on it.

  2. #2 Jud
    December 31, 2007

    …even creative geniuses stick their foots in their mouths sometimes.

    Foots?

  3. #3 Orac
    December 31, 2007

    Typo…it should have read “foot.”

  4. #4 Andrew
    December 31, 2007

    Davies has said lots of stupid things since ressurecting Doctor Who. Take, for example, the awful howler “wouldn’t it be a terrific idea to make an episode without the Doctor in it, where the only alien is a comic relief one played by someone with no acting experience and designed by a seven year old?”

    Or that time he said “ah, screw it, we can just shove in a deus-ex-machina ending like we did in the last two finales”.

    He just doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.

  5. #5 Janine
    December 31, 2007

    A rather unfunny joke. It is not like they are going to use the TARDIS to pick him up. Are they?

    Well, if so, pick him up anytime before January 25, 1933. Perhaps a lot of trouble can be avoided.

  6. #6 Orac
    December 31, 2007

    Davies has said lots of stupid things since ressurecting Doctor Who. Take, for example, the awful howler “wouldn’t it be a terrific idea to make an episode without the Doctor in it, where the only alien is a comic relief one played by someone with no acting experience and designed by a seven year old?

    Actually, at the risk of a spoiler, I read somewhere that there will be one episode next series without the Doctor in it. Supposedly, it will feature Rose, Martha, and (if memory serves me correctly) Sarah Jane (or was it Captain Jack) trying to find him. (I’ll have to find the article.) At least it sounds as though he didn’t succumb to the temptation to use the alien designed by a seven year old and played by someone with no acting experience.

  7. #7 Eric
    December 31, 2007

    I suspect the rather poor joke is inspired by the recent fuss over Will Smith’s recent comments, where “I think [Hitler] woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was ‘good’. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming,” somehow got turned into “Smith: ‘Hitler was a good person’” by a bored and incompetent press trying to sell ads on a slow news day. Part of the problem (obviously) being that Davies’ attempt at a joke still isn’t funny even in that context.

  8. #8 Infophile
    December 31, 2007

    At least it sounds as though he didn’t succumb to the temptation to use the alien designed by a seven year old and played by someone with no acting experience.

    Again, that is. But personally, I didn’t think Love and Monsters was that bad. You just have to look at it from the right perspective and not think too hard about the implications of the ending.

  9. #9 Jon H
    December 31, 2007

    Obviously just making a joke by suggesting an unexpected, outlandishly inappropriate individual.

  10. #10 Brendan
    December 31, 2007

    “…not think too hard about the implications of the ending.”

    I worry about any sci-fi show which asks me not to think too hard about implications. I actually think that’s where these kind of bad jokes and the issues people have with his writing stem from in some respects- he’s always just a bit sarcastic or ironic or camp, never quite totally serious. It’s easy to misjudge that tone, and it wears thin over time.

  11. #11 Jon H
    December 31, 2007

    To add a bit, if he made the same comment with friends it would probably result in back-and-forth suggestions of wildly inappropriate candidates for the role in some good-natured darkly humorous riffing on the theme. ie, Doctor Jeffrey Dahmer (and a series of frequently replaced companions), etc.

    Under a different social context, it’d provide a few humorous minutes.

  12. #12 Lucas McCarty
    December 31, 2007

    Agree that it was stupid to say and whatever joke it was meant to be fell flat on it’s face. The point of issue is why it was stupid. If people say “Because Hitler was a mass-murdering psychopath” then I can’t agree: people that fit that loose description sometimes do make hilarious characters and it works. I’m thinking Kim Jong il in Team America and even Charlie Chaplain parodied Hitler at the time. Hitler even made an appearence in Indiana Jones and the scene was entirely intended as humerous and it worked great.

    Davies is just asking us to imagine the furious furher accusing the Daleks of genocide after killing a couple dozen people like David Tenant did. It would only work if it was done really well and we were actually showing it. Asked to imagine it, it just falls flat.

    Charlie Chaplain would be my choice of Doctor from history.

  13. #13 Jon H
    December 31, 2007

    “Davies is just asking us to imagine the furious furher accusing the Daleks of genocide after killing a couple dozen people like David Tenant did.”

    I think that’s leaping to conclusions not supported by the description of the incident.

    I very much doubt he was suggesting Hitler with reference to a particular plot incident.

  14. #14 Calli Arcale
    December 31, 2007

    For what it’s worth, I liked “Love and Monsters” too. I took it as a send-up of the series — not to be taken seriously. However, I frankly have gotten to the point where I’m anxious for the next producer to come along. Four seasons ought to be enough. It kinda stagnated under JNT as well, and I’d hate to see it stagnate under Davies too. Plus, I’m getting a bit tired of the soap opera stuff. I mean jeepers, the episodes are only 45 minutes; there’s no time to waste on soap opera business! I can just hope that a season of Torchwood helps Davies get his soap opera fix.

    That said, I am still enjoying the new Dr Who. And I like Torchwood too. It’s still Dr Who. ;-)

    BTW, to Brendan, if you want a sci-fi show which ALWAYS expects you to think about the implications, check out “Babylon 5″. Appeals well to Dr Who fans, but is much more serious — and very rigorous with the physics, the philosophy, and the storytelling. Continuity errors are common on Dr Who, but virtually unheard of on B5.

  15. #15 Michael Suttkus, II
    December 31, 2007

    B5 was *pretty* good with physics (I’d give it a “great” rating, except for all the psychics), and certainly expected you to think through the implications.

    And, as for stagnating under JNT… nah, too easy a joke.

  16. #16 Janine
    December 31, 2007

    Here is something where a Hitler joke works well. It is Bonzo Dog Band with “The Intro And The Outro”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF2HozqQ22I

    A relaxed Adolph Hitler on vibes…very nice.

  17. #17 Brendan
    January 1, 2008

    Hey, thanks for the B5 recommendation. It’s one of those shows/universes I’ve obviously heard of, but never made a point of sitting down and getting into. I should look into it.

  18. #18 Calli Arcale
    January 1, 2008

    One of my favorite J Michael Strazynski quotes is this, approximately: “A good story should provoke discussion, argument, and the occasional bar fight.” :-D JMS is also obviously a student of Anton Chekov, because he believes almost religiously that nothing should be included which does not serve the story — and on the flip side, that whatever you include has got to have an effect. Thus, pay attention to even the smallest details. A brief comic scene one episode may turn out to have a devastating impact a season later. Davies has been experimenting with that on Dr Who, but it’s nowhere near the level of B5. Davies inserts little bits of foreshadowing for the season finale; JMS went far beyond that, where by the end of Season One, you realized that he wasn’t just telling the A story and the B story for each episode; he was telling a much, much bigger story. He planned it from the start as a story in five acts. (Due to the unique insanity of the television world, he ended up compressing it into four acts, thinking it’d be cancelled before season five. When it got renewed anyway, he therefore had to start a new story for season five.)

    The psychics on B5 were a case of alien tech, really — thus, Clarke’s Law pertains. (Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.) That’s slightly a spoiler to say that, so I won’t explain further. ;-) But physics was occasionally compromised on behalf of the story. It was exceedingly rare, though.

  19. #19 Azkyroth
    January 2, 2008

    One fan later remarked: “Hitler carried out some of the world’s worst atrocities. He ordered the killing of millions of innocent people. I don’t want my kids thinking Hitler and Doctor Who are in any way the same.”

    Dude, if your kids think that the people on TV and the actors who play them are “in any way the same,” you’ve got bigger problems than who the actors happen to be.