Lazy Luddite Log

28.11.13

Perfect Imperfect

I sometimes find myself imagining ways in which I would like a fictional story to have been changed. However I also note that I only do that for things that are worth imagining improvements to. You never try to fix a total mess or something bereft of value. In that sense saying “they should have done this” is a form of compliment. Here I will discuss a few of the changes I have imagined for some of my favourite fictional franchises.

Doctor Who



Sometimes I get all fussy over trivial things like technology or costume design (I do this for Silurians here under 'Tragic Fan'). However at other times what matters to me is more important things like character and plot development.

I’m very satisfied with the recent Day Of The Doctor fiftieth anniversary special but even so I have wondered how things could have been if the producers had managed to secure the involvement (beyond the use of archival footage) of the first of the “New Who” actors in Christopher Eccleston. This was an absence I for one noticed and it makes sense for him to have been the incarnation that experienced the end of the Time War. However there are some lovely interactions that occur with the involvement of the fabulous John Hurt that would then have been missed. The result of this musing is the realisation that you cannot have everything – that there are different ways to do a good story but to do everything risks the integrity of a story.

Middle Earth

Now with Day Of The Doctor past us I can get excited for the next instalment of the Peter Jackson directed re-telling of The Hobbit. That story is unfolding but the later tale of Lord Of The Rings has been fully re-told by Jackson and I do wish some of it was done differently. Unlike many fans however I am happy for changes to have been made from the novel but I wish those changes were fully committed to. Consider Arwen.

Jackson effectively merges the characters of Arwen and Glorfindel. I was fine with the more independent and action-oriented Arwen we see in part one but by part three she had turned into a swooning fairytale character who will magically die if the heroes fail in their quest. What rot! Arwen could have stayed strong as much as her father Elrond. She could have insisted that the sword be re-forged and then taken it to Aragorn in Rohan. I only decided all this once the story had been fully told. Sometimes however one imagines what will happen between instalments of a continuing story.

Star Wars

There was a lot the matter with the Star Wars prequels and I think that the tale of political intrigue and decay could have worked so much better as a mini-series with an HBO feel. Nonetheless I still enjoyed the further exploration of an amazing setting and during the intervals between the movies I hoped for some things that never happened.

I pondered who the Sith Apprentice between Maul and Vader would be. I imagined a stealthy female assassin with mauve complexion wielding twin light-stilettos (I’m aware there is something like this in the expanded and non-canonical Star Wars universe). I think that the character played by Christopher Lee had a level of gravitas too close to that of his Sith Master. George Lucas only got him in because of how cool he had been as Saruman. Another more recent movie has suffered from such use of an actor who happens to be hot stuff at the moment.

Star Trek

Towards the end of the following post I criticise the use of Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. This actor is good but so are other actors. But because he is the cool thing currently we suddenly had an Indian character who had been immortalised by a Mexican actor now re-interpreted by an English actor. This was annoying and resulted in me referring to the character by the alternate name of “Kaiser”. But lest you think I only ever want to expand the ethnic diversity of actors in movies read on…

James Bond

The most recent 007 movie Skyfall had a better balance of classic Bond elements than we have had for a while. I enjoyed it but had one issue with casting. In it we met an antagonist who was supposedly the best MI6 agent in the 80s till he was abandoned to his apparent death by M. The actor Javier Bardem depicted a convincing villain but I find it difficult to accept that an elitist British institution like MI6 would have had a Hispanic favourite a quarter century ago. Javier Barden could have always been Khan. But for Bond I would have loved to see that the abandoned favourite was effectively another incarnation of Bond and it would have been delicious to have him played by a sardonic Timothy Dalton.

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With the exception of James Bond I tend to do this re-imagining stuff for those things that present a complete fictional universe and credit must be given to those who produce such settings because it is a very difficult thing to do. You are far more likely to fall short of perfection if your palette is an entire universe rather than just - say – a small English village in which a murder happens every week. If your canvass spans worlds then naturally there will be mistakes. It is still worth the effort for the sheer imaginative thrill that you give to others.

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