The internet was abuzz with a meeting of giants. Giants of pop-culture, that is, as it was hinted that Doctor Who might play a part in the next Lego movie. The story broke on io9.com, though the headline promised more than the article could deliver. Namely that director Rob Schrab “teased that Warner Bros. and the team behind the movie are currently in talks with the BBC to negotiate an appearance by the Doctor in the sequel.”
They are in talks to negotiate a deal … that could be anything from close to closing, up to the saga of peace talks in the Middle East. Factually, it is nothing. At least not until all parties sign on the dotted line.
Yet some fans were already breaking out the bubbly to celebrate. But, let me ask this heretical question, would a merger of Doctor Who and the Lego animation franchise really be a cause to celebrate? I don’t think so. There, I said it.
— Superhero Feed (@SuperheroFeed) November 4, 2015
Don’t get me wrong, I am a fanboy for both … I love my Lego (and can’t want to get my grubby little fingers on the Doctor Who set), and I love Doctor Who (especially in his Capaldi-incarnation, which already kicks plastic butt on Lego Dimensions). But(t) still, shoehorning the Doctor into the brightly coloured Lego multiverse on film? Thanks, but no thanks.
From a franchise point of view it all seems to make sense: Lego can draw a few more nerds into the cinemas (or at least in front of the small screen), who’ll be satisfied with a mere fly-by of the Tardis and a wee crack from yon Doctor. And adults may chuckle at the odd in-joke, while kids will go screaming “It’s Doctor Who!” anyway. The sales of any Doctor Who available in Lego will get a boost, and even the venerable Doctor Who franchise may get a boost in return, by curious Lego fans discovering that it is bigger on the inside …
From a commercial point of view, certainly. But then, from a commercial point of view, the BBC might as well continue negotiations to also bring Sherlock to Lego (and the Cumberbitches will follow in droves). Throw in some EastEnders and all financial worries might be gone …
What I am more worried about is the reaction of fandom … will the Lego incarnation of the Doctor become part of the canon, or will it be derided and ignored, suffering a fate similar to the Ninth Doctor in Scream of the Shalka? Just in case you never heard that scream, Richard E Grant actually was the Ninth Doctor according to the BBC, until the Welsh took over. Or will it be viewed with the amused affection generally reserved for the Joanna Lumley (“I think I can see the On switch!”) version of the Doctor in The Curse of Fatal Death?
My money is on a short-term money-spinner that’ll work fine for both the BBC and Lego … and a ripple in fandom that will be felt as a great disturbance, but lose its force quite fast. Then quietly fading away, to become a minor footnote in the Doctor Who universe, canonical or not.
Unless … well, unless Lego and the BBC are indeed hatching greater plans. After all, we had (albeit straight-to-video) Batman movies by Lego. And that might prove very divisive indeed. With kids loving them, no doubt, adults being more lukewarm, and fans possibly going “Meh! Meh!”
Having said that, you never know which way fandom will swing. At the end of the day, creating a Doctor Who section in the Lego multiverse might be the best idea since sliced bread. Or at least since wearable technology replaced dodgy sonic screwdrivers.