Doctor Who fans are aghast, or deliriously happy, that the show's main character is having a sex change. Non Doctor Who fans are saying the same thing they always say when they hear details about the show: "Huh?"

We'll get to the good Doctor--whose name is not Who--in a moment. This is set against the bigger question of whether it's okay to change the race or gender of an established character, always (so far) to a person of color and/or womanliness. In general, if it's another case of political correctness gone rampant (I call it Political Over-Correctness) I'm not a fan.

"The next James Bond needs to be black!"
"Why?"
"So we can have a black James Bond!"
"Okay. Or, you could just create a black secret agent from scratch."
"Yeah, but ... then he wouldn't be James Bond!"

Honestly, it's not something I care enough about to argue over, which sets me apart from most people who care at all. If the TV and movie industry disappeared from the face of the earth right now--which isn't the worst idea ever--I'd just go back to reading books for entertainment. Interestingly, if the race of a character in a book isn't specifically mentioned, most people either don't think about it at all or put their own skin color on the character. It never occurred to me, until I saw the wildly entertaining TV version, that Shadow Moon from American Gods was black. You can call that racism or you can call it being color blind, whatever. People will color anything I say here with their own views anyway.

James Bond is an interesting case when it comes to gender and race swapping, because the franchise has already done it--just not with 007. Bond's CIA buddy Felix Leiter has already turned from white to black--twice, if you include 1983's Never Say Never Again. The famous Moneypenny had a similar transformation, while Bond's boss M became a female ... although it should be noted that M is a title, rather than an individual.

You can complain about it all you want, but for me when it does work, it works spectacularly. Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica was just as much fun and kick-ass as a woman in the reboot, for instance. From the time I was old enough to read comics I knew Nick Fury as a white guy, fighting his way across Europe in World War II. Now I can't imagine him looking like anyone but Samuel L. Jackson.

Which brings us back to Doctor Who, who Samuel L. Jackson could totally play if he wanted to. Are you going to tell him no?

On the question of changing a character's looks just for the sake of changing them, the Doctor is a special case. Sometimes the actor playing a character is changed without explanation, as with the James Bond series. (Wait--who's this new Darrin on Bewitched?) Sometimes it's a reboot, as with Battlestar Galactica, and thus not really the same character. But Doctor Who ...

Okay, in case you don't know, I'd better offer a brief explanation.

The original Doctor Who, back in 1963, was an old guy. He was a grandfatherly type, on a show designed as a fun way to teach kids history. (He's a Time Lord, you see.) But the actor began to have health problems, and it was soon apparent he couldn't continue in the roll. It seemed Doctor Who was doomed to retirement.

But wait, the writers said. We've already established that he's an alien. Suppose this particular species of aliens, when facing death, could cheat their way out by transforming into a new body? Regenerate into, say ... another actor's body?

Yeah, they're all the Doctor


That was twelve Doctor's ago. More, really, but we don't have time to go into that complication. In fact, the Doctor has already been a woman, played (very briefly) by Joanna Lumley in a 1999 charity episode.

So there's no story reason why the Doctor can't be female. In fact, one of his main antagonists, also a Time Lord, already regenerated from male to female. The show has had many strong female and minority characters in the past, and the Doctor's most recent companion was a black lesbian. (Is lesbian still a permitted word? I don't care.)

That's Bill, on the left. Black, prefers women, young, smart, and most importantly fun.
So that's where we are in the Doctor's complicated half century. In the Christmas episode the current Doctor is going to meet the first Doctor--that kind of thing happens, from time to time--and then presumably regenerate into someone who looks a lot like the actress Jodie Whittaker. If they did it to freshen up the show and keep things interesting ... well, why not? I'm not sure it's any more of a shock to me than when uber-young looking Matt Smith regenerated into still another grandfatherly type.

I wasn't thrilled back then ("my" Doctor is David Tennant), but I came to like Peter Capaldi's version. That's why I don't understand the so-called fans who are closing the doors of the TARDIS and going home. I know it's not just mysogeny, as some narrow minded people claim. Not always, anyway.

Honestly, I suspect it's just resistance to change in general, and I get that. Contrary to what some will tell you, sometimes change is bad. But you won't even give the new Doctor a chance? Why not? With that attitude, the show would never have made it out of the sixties.

And we'd have missed a lot of fun.

There's a new Doctor in the TARDIS
 R.I.P. Adam West

 

The death of Adam West immediately resurrected the old argument: Who's your favorite Batman?

It's ironic that Roger Moore passed away so close to the same time: His death, of course, caused a chorus of favorite James Bond arguments. They both held similar positions in their perspective portrayals: They were the lighter, more colorful ones who weren't afraid to poke a little fun at their genres.

 

That being the case--especially with West--the argument becomes apples and oranges. What, I can't have both? A big navel orange, followed by a nice Red Delicious? Comparing Adam West to, say, Christian Bale is like comparing ... hm. Oh, I know: Like comparing "Battlestar Galactica" to "Battlestar Galactica". Love or hate the reboot, it just wasn't the same show as the original.

 

I've probably just started arguments that would rival fights among British football fans, but there you go. 

 

 

"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb." -- Batman

 

Look at the above quote, and picture Michael Keaton's Batman saying that. Look at the photo, and imagine Christian Bale's Batman cavorting with a purple Batgirl or a bright red and yellow Robin. Ain't gonna happen. For that matter, imagine Ben Affleck making fun of his Batman on an episode of Family Guy. (Clooney would probably do it.)

 

My point is, you can like them both, or all, even Val Kilmer if you want. If you're a sports fan, the analogy is that you can like both the Cubs and the Bears: They're both in the same city, but they're two different animals.

 

So embrace and remember the fun that was Adam West. We should all be so lucky as to bring that much joy to such a wide audience.

I've not planned my funeral. I'm not the Queen. A procession through the streets of Stockwell would be nice, I suppose. But when I go, I'd just like everyone to say: "He lived longer than anyone I knew.". -- Roger Moore

 

 

The death of the third James Bond naturally brings up that question fans have debated for decades: Who was the best Bond? (Roger Moore was actually the fourth on-screen Bond--the first, Barry Nelson for an American TV Movie, might be so changed from the original as to not count.)

 

George Lazenby is generally considered the second Bond for his one and only appearance in 1969, but that would be wrong, kind of. David Niven played Bond in a 1967 spoof of Casino Royale. To confuse matters further, in 1964 James Bond was a character on a comedy sketch show, Mainly Millicent. In that case, a full nine years before Roger Moore took over the part in the movies, James Bond was played by ... Roger Moore.

 

"Maybe someday they'll give me this part in a movie."

 

 

 

 

So you see, the question of how many actors assumed the role of James Bond is complicated, even if you don't include Bob Simmons -- a stuntman who played Bond in the opening "through the gun barrel" sequence in Dr. No.

 

For me the question of who was the best Bond is very complicated indeed: The most realistic Bond seems to be Daniel Craig, the best Sean Connery, and my favorite Roger Moore. (My next favorite after Connery and Moore would be Pierce Brosnan, who I predicted would someday play Bond the moment I first saw him on Remington Steele.)

 

Daniel Craig seemed most like the original Bond, the one from Ian Fleming's books. Plus, his character gets beat up and wounded inside and out, is darker, and generally as close to real life as Bond ever got. That's why he doesn't make my favorites list--not because he or his movies were bad, but because I watch spy movies for escapism and fun, not real life.

 

Sean Connery was just ... Sean Connery. He's on a gold medal stand, all by himself, not just for originating the movie roll but for doing it with such style. You can believe he's a cold blooded killer, but you can also believe he's having some fun with the role. No one else ever quite matched him. (In my opinion. And no, I'm not going to get into a fight about it, because hey--it's movies.)

 

Then Moore came along, and instantly realized the inherent silliness of the whole thing ... so he played it with tongue in cheek, which enraged many fans.

 

 

Sean's jokes come from left field, and I let people know a joke was coming. I basically said "I'm have a good time doing this, and I hope you're having a good time watching me have a good time.". -- Roger Moore

 

 

The first Bond movie I saw was Moore's first, Live and Let Die. You always remember your first. Everything that meant Bond to me was there: The gadgets, Q,  the over the top villains, the jokes, the girls, the chases. The boat chase in that movie stands up to this day, as does the opening song (the first in a Bond movie not sung by a woman).

 

Irony: Roger Moore hated guns.

 

 

To me, the Bond situations are so ridiculous, so outrageous. I mean, this man is supposed to be a spy and yet, everybody knows he's a spy. Every bartender in the world offers him martinis that are shaken, not stirred. What kind of serious spy is recognized everywhere he goes? It's outrageous. So you have to treat the humor outrageously as well. My personality is entirely different than previous Bonds. I'm not that cold-blooded killer type. Which is why I play it mostly for laughs. -- Roger Moore

 

 

And there you have it, the reason why I can have more than one favorite James Bond. They weren't playing the same character, not really. Conner, Moore, Craig ... they're playing characters with the same name, but from different worlds. You don't have to debate: Just enjoy their work, and if you don't enjoy it--turn it off.

 

 

When I was a young actor at RADA, Noël Coward was in the audience one night. He said to me after the play, "Young man, with your devastating good looks and your disastrous lack of talent, you should take any job ever offered you. In the event that you're offered two jobs simultaneously, take the one that offers the most money." Here I am. -- Roger Moore

 

 

“Local Author (That’s me!) Follows the Story”—in which I talk to Eric Olson about planning, not giving up your day job, and the Klan. Oh, and writing.

 

 

(Just don’t forget if you search for me online to put in my middle initial, so Mark R Hunter. Otherwise you’ll end up reading about British politicians, Olympic rowers, Hollywood photographers, or dead people.)

 

So, the TV interview happened. We (Emily, the dog, and I) spent about an hour with Eric Olson of ABC21, which used to be 21Alive, which in my mind was a way better name. Bae was a little taken aback by the camera setup, and by the fact that Eric smelled like cats (according to Eric--I didn't notice it). But once the dog got used to him, Bae wanted nothing more than to be underfoot as much as possible.

Eric interviewed me after my first book was published, all the way back in 2011, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect. I don't consider myself a good interview--one of the reasons I write is to avoid talking--but I have confidence in his editing ability, so I'm sure he'll cut out of the worst of my verbal pratfalls.

The interview will be one of the 21 Country segments, which air during the 5:30 p.m. news segment on ABC21 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That's as close as I can come to telling you when it'll be on--but it should be online the next day, at which point I'll post a link to it.

I'm coming close to being one of the most famous living authors presently writing in southwest Albion.

 

"Say, I haven't read this book since proofreading six month ago ... it isn't half bad!" If you look carefully, you can see Bae investigating down at the bottom right.

 

Emily and I just caught the most recent episode of "Gotham". The characters are great, but the show's really all about the villains--and the casting director, who should get some kind of special award. Cameron Monaghan, the guy playing the "Joker" (it's never been acknowledged that his character actually is the Joker from the comics) is the latest of a long list of revelations--I'd go so far as to say he's in my top five list of Jokers. If he is Joker.

When the show started, I wondered what they would do if it became successful. I mean, Bruce Wayne was what, twelve or thirteen? How would they bridge the gap between Gotham's past and the present day, when this naive little kid becomes Batman? How do they explain all these villains showing up so early in the timeline? How does Alfred survive getting a concussion in every single friggin' episode? (By the way, The Doctor's son is one of my favorite Alfreds.)

Well, I still don't know about any of that, but I can tell you this about the most recent episode: We saw the foundation of Batman going up. Or, you know, the seed germinating, or the origin origining, or whatever. We actually got chills. (Emily and me, not Bruce.) The kid (David Mazouz), who was one of my biggest concerns on the acting front, has taken the part and run with it, and in that last episode you could see that moment he determined to become something more.

I know some people have a problem with "Gotham" seeming to be out of the timeline, playing with origins and such, to which I say: Who's played with origins more than DC, to begin with? Just sit back and enjoy an awesome ride (Or, you know, switch to "Agents of Shield").

 

My wife and I budget our television, since we have so many demands on our time such as writing, doctor appointments, playing with the dog and, oh yeah, working for a living.

 

As a result, we don’t take on too many new TV shows, even if they sound interesting, Generally we only start a new one if one we already watched gets canceled, as happens all too often. So far this year we’ve only checked out two new shows:

 

The Good Place. I will watch anything with Kristen Bell in it, even if she’s a singing cartoon character (which she was—wonderfully). I’m also a big fan of Ted Danson, so a show joining the two was worth checking out. Turns out it was worth checking out the worth checking out.

 

Bell is Eleanor, who finds herself in a—well, good place—after dying. The only problem is, something is horribly wrong—and it’s her. Eleanor is just a nasty person, who’s well aware she doesn’t deserve to be in paradise. She soon realizes that mistake is throwing her surroundings into chaos, so she sets out to improve herself, aided by her mistakenly assigned soul mate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper).

 

Danson plays Michael, who’s an angel, or something, assigned as architect of this little heaven of three hundred or so perfect people. It’s Michael’s first creation, and when things start going wrong he’s puzzled, then panicked. Turns out nobody can play panicked like Ted Danson, just as nobody can play nasty like Kirsten Bell.

 

I wasn’t sure how they’d manage to continue this concept, but after several episodes it’s getting better and better as we look into the past of all these perfect inhabitants, and realize none is so perfect, after all. In fact, I’m enjoying it so much I’m convinced it will soon be canceled. That’s been the fat of every star-centered show we’ve liked in recent years (for instance, Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams/Sarah Michelle Geller.)

 

Timeless. I’ve said before that I love a good time travel story. We’ve only seen a few episodes of this one, but they put a great twist in as the characters seek to prevent history from being irrevocably changed—and fail.

 

Temporarily, I assume. The story concerns a terrorist—or is he?—who steals a time machine and sets off to change the past. Naturally Homeland Security gets involved, assigning an historian, a soldier, and a scientist to go back and stop the bad guy. Abigail Spencer is great as the driven historian, who has exactly the same reaction I would to looking up and seeing the Hindenburg fly overhead.

 

The story’s fun, if heavy on the plot holes. I think when you’re talking time travel you have to dedicate yourself to the suspension of belief, or you’re stuck with the “why don’t they just send a different team back an hour earlier?” problem. It’s also just a bit too much on the serious side, but this show has Supernatural pedigree, so maybe that will change.

 

Overall I like the cast and setup, and the effects are good enough for a TV show, so we’ll see. After all, shows don’t get canceled before they have a chance to find their footing. Do they?

 

 

.

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