On Craig Ferguson and His Pet Dalek

While I anxiously await Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith’s appearance on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson in an hour and a half, here’s the opening monologue from Ferguson’s Monday, November 15th episode where he goofs off with a Dalek prop:

Some thoughts, because I vented on Twitter today some frustrations I’d had when discussing Smith’s appearance on The Late Late Show.

As I said on Saturday, this is pretty important for Doctor Who on this side of the Atlantic. This is Doctor Who on mainstream American television, on a somewhat anarchistic late night talk show that best fits Doctor Who‘s ethos. This is a Big. Fucking. Deal. for Doctor Who. While Craig Ferguson is not the “king” of late night television by any means, he does have a young, smart, and very devoted audience — and Doctor Who is exactly the kind of thing that would interest them.

On one side of the Atlantic, Doctor Who is a family show, watched by all-ages, and the subject of everyday conversation. It’s a cultural institution. On this side of the Atlantic, though, Doctor Who is far from that. Doctor Who is a niche science-fiction series on a cable channel that not everyone gets and is watched by a dedicated adult audience. It’s a show planted firmly in the science fiction ghetto.

British fans may say, “But that’s not what Doctor Who is, that’s not who it’s for,” but that’s what Doctor Who is over here. For an American Whovian, having Matt Smith on an American late night talk show is huge. Doctor Who has escaped, even if it’s just for an hour, from the ghetto.

I’m not trying to oversell Craig Ferguson, but this one episode is arguably more important for Doctor Who‘s visibility over here than even the FOX television movie was fifteen years ago. That movie, much as I enjoy it (and I do), was terrifically easy to pigeonhole into the science-fiction ghetto, assuming you even knew it existed back then. This is a late night talk show. There’s nothing pigeonholing about that. What I do expect is that Matt Smith will go on an American talk show, have a bit of fun, have a smart conversation with Ferguson (much like Ferguson’s interview with Stephen Fry earlier in the year, I suppose), talk about Doctor Who a little bit, and that will be it. This is a moment for Doctor Who in the United States; for one hour, the series gets to be mainstream in a way that it never has been before.

A seed will be planted thanks to Craig Ferguson. People who have heard the name “Doctor Who” but never gave it a second thought may come away from The Late Late Show with the thought that Doctor Who is, like a LEGO Fez, “cool” and check out the show. New fans have to start somewhere, after all. 😉

T-minus one hour to The Late Late Show.

EDIT: Here’s the episode, which was a lot of fun. It was a bit of an anarchistic mess, which is typical of Craig Ferguson. (The Stephen Fry episode, which was a serious, sober My Dinner With Andre-type affair, was seriously atypical.) Matt Smith was goofy, he didn’t talk about Doctor who a lot (though the interview didn’t really get there except at moments), and it was just really really fun. And, Ferguson’s idea for a Doctor Who sitcom, while not exactly original, is the kind of thing I would watch. Yes, yes I would. 🙂

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see a big song-and-dance number, with puppets, Matt Smith, and a lyricized version of the Doctor Who theme. The Late Late Show didn’t have the proper legal clearances. 🙁

The first part, with the non-song/non-dance number and stuff about a Kentucky man eating his beard:

Now that I’ve read about the beard-eating incident, it’s not as funny. :-/

Craig reads the mail with Doctor Who fan Chris Hardwick:

Part three, the interview with Matt Smith:

Craig dancing with a Dalek while Geoff looks on in horror:

Craig closes the show and brings the puppets and dancers back out:

And with any sort of luck, the dance number that was to open the show, complete with puppets and a dancing Matt Smith, will leak to the Internet sometime today… 🙂

ETA: It took a couple of weeks, but here it is…

“Triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism!”

One thought on “On Craig Ferguson and His Pet Dalek

  1. Nice article. I fully agree and was extremely excited to watch it and be a ‘part’ of history, so-to-speak. I hope it encouraged people out there to give Doctor Who a try. I don’t think they know what they’re missing.

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