Doctor Who: 5 Reasons We Really Don't Want a Prequel on Gallifrey
Recently, 3 Stags, the same group that made the news by sending a replica of the Tardis into low orbit, attempted to put together a series that would deal with the lives of The Doctor and The Master before either left Gallifrey. With no backing from the BBC, but apparently with some form of "We're not typing the cease-and-desist letters just yet", the project was called A Wild Endeavour (Previously called the much-cooler Sons of Gallifrey), and would be a serious, hour-long science fiction drama.
Despite the rabid fanbase and the involvement of some not inconsiderable actors like Rahul Kohli and Alex Zur, 3 Stags was not able to raise the $1.2 million they had hoped on Kickstarter and it looks like the project is likely scrapped. Frankly, I'm relieved. Fond as I am of Doctor Who I have absolutely zero interest in seeing the early life of The Doctor, and I bet when you sit down and think about it you really don't either.
The Master as a child
Prequels Are Generally Terrible: In my opinion there have been only three artistically successful prequels in the history of film and television. The first is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and most people don't even know it's a prequel so it barely counts. Then there's Godfather Part II, but it's not really a prequel if two-thirds of the film is set in present day. Finally, there's Bryan Fuller's Hannibal, which is not really a prequel so much as a reboot of the Lecter mythos that happens to start long before we're accustomed to.
Every other prequel ever made is pretty much crap. The odds are literally three out of all of it. There's no suspense, you see? We know how the story ends, and even if there are unanswered questions about The Doctor's young life, such as the exact catalyst that prompted him to run away, you have to ask yourself if those questions are important enough to spend an entire season on. The Doctor is not Wolverine, He's going somewhere, not going back to somewhere. That is sort of the whole point.
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There's No Way to Avoid Lucasing: What is Lucasing? Lucasing is when you revisit a fictional universe and go out of your way to connect it to the original story in ways that are admittedly neat ideas, but in execution ultimately come off awkward and pointless through cameos and Easter Eggs and the like. Case in point, C-3PO and R2-D2 in the Star Wars prequels, or really any ham-handed "remember this" inclusion in the prequels.
It's a really bad habit that sacrifices original writing and ideas for memes and self-congratulating nonsense. A Wild Endeavour was already well down that road by creating a companion named Sydney Lambert (After the two creators of Doctor Who, Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert), and having her work at Hartnell Organics, a Whole Foods-like market named for the First Doctor's actor. If you ever want to have a real discussion on the weaker parts of Doctor Who: The Movie, one of the worst is how at the last minute producer Jo Wright wandered into the production and tried as hard as possible to Lucas as many references to Tom Baker's extremely popular Doctor as possible. It feels like, and is, more of a love letter than a stand-alone work of art.
Gallifrey is Boring: Maybe the future of Gallifrey will be different after the events of last season, but the past is definitely boring. Really boring. That's why The Doctor left. Time Lord society was exactly like Hermione Granger and the time turner, but only in the first part of the movie when she was using phenomenal power to attend a few extra classes.
Even the good television stories that take place on or involve Gallifrey, stuff like "Trial of a Time Lord", are specifically about how the Time Lords are all basically ultra-conservative nannies that make sure nothing unexpected ever happens. There's nothing wrong with doing a science fiction version of The West Wing or something like that, but that's not Doctor Who.
Great... All Our Characters Are Immortal: Regeneration is the reason Doctor Who has survived for 50 years, but it's also a very good reason to stay the hell away from other Time Lords when it comes to stories. We care when The Doctor dies and is reborn because he's The Doctor, but surround him with cast of people all with that same ability and you will literally create the exact opposite of suspense.
How are you supposed to care about anyone when they can be replaced at a moment's notice no matter how bad odds get? The only reason it works with The Master is that his existence has been a constant look at what happens when you squander gifts and talents for selfish reasons. If you head back to the beginning you eliminate even that aspect to his character it makes him just another young guy who thinks he is immortal, and with good reason. Frat boys in space... who wouldn't want to see that?
At This Point, Who Cares?: Maybe back in the '60s or '70s there was enough weight to The Doctor's early life to want to revisit it, but on the other side of so many lives and adventures how awesome, exactly, could the early days have been compared to what we've already seen? The future is wide open, but the past is just a funnel spiraling down to a singularity. There's room for a few new monsters or intrigues, but the infinite possibilities that make the show what it is simply don't exist. What's left just isn't worth much.
I've enjoyed the brief glimpses and reminiscences that we've seen of The Doctor before we met him at Foreman's Junkyard, but there's no point in dwelling on the past. Sure, I'd like to see some more doled out here and there, maybe even a whole episode, but an entire prequel series would have been the Coke Zero of the Doctor Who universe; all sweet taste and no calories. We've had our fill of nostalgia over the last year. Now it's onwards.
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