I enjoyed watching the British telly series “Broadchurch.” A noirish detective drama, it starred both David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker. I found that notable because, at separate times, Tennant and Whittaker have played that famous time traveler, Doctor Who.
“Doctor Who” first appeared on BBC in 1963. The sci-fi program has remained popular, now featuring Whittaker as the 13th actor to play the eponymous Time Lord who travels about the universe in a stolen time machine that looks like a blue British police box (a telephone booth for the use of policemen).
Called a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), the word has found its way into the Oxford English Dictionary because of the show’s popularity.
The transition from one actor to the next is written into the scripts, allowing the Time Lord to transform into a new body when the old one gets badly injured.
The 10th actor to play the part, Tennant was a well-liked incarnation of Doctor Who. He says it was his ambition to play Doctor Who ever since he was a little boy.
“The End of Time” was a two-part storyline broadcast between December 2009 and January 2010. In it, Doctor Who learns that his archenemy, a renegade alien known as the Master, has returned, marking the end of time. The Doctor must destroy a diamond in order to sever the link and make the Master disappear. But in doing this he hears the prophesized “four knocks” that signal his own demise. Making way for the 11th Doctor Who.
This marked the final appearance of David Tennant in the role. The story has been described as “huge and epic, but also intimate.” It is considered a classic.
So, it’s no surprise that Fathom Events is celebrating the 10th anniversary with a one-night presentation of “Doctor Who: The End of Time.”
You Whovians (as Doctor Who fans are sometimes called) will want to catch this special showing Aug. 7 at the Regal Grande Stadium 16 in Greensboro at 7 p.m.. It also features a new interview with Tennant.
Doctor Who fans have included Stephen Hawking, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, Tom Hanks, Michael Chabon, Mark Hamill and David Duchovny. Steven Spielberg said, “The world would be a poorer place without ‘Doctor Who.’ ”
TV Guide ranked “Doctor Who” as the No. 6 sci-fi television program, and No. 18 among the Top Cult Shows Ever.
Yes, I admit it. I’m a Trekkie, a Warsie, an Avatard, a Gater, an Achiever, a Buffista and an aspiring Baker Street Irregular. Add to that resume that I’m also a Whovian.
‘Hobbs & Shaw’ is new ‘Fast & Furious’ spinoff
Movies steal concepts from TV. Take spinoffs, for instance. “Lavern and Shirley” was a spinoff from “Happy Days.” “Knots Landing” was a spinoff of “Dallas.” “Phyllis,” “Rhoda” and “Lou Grant” spun off from the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.” “Star Trek” begat a number of TV series. “JAG” spawned “NCIS,” which spun off “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” The “Law & Order” series has given us a total of 10 spinoffs.
Radio did it too. “Fibber McGee and Molly” gave us our very first spinoff when a supporting character got a comedy program called “The Great Gildersleeve.”
The “Fast & Furious” movie franchise has done the same thing. After eight films (and two more in the works), this series about street racing, spies and heists has its first spinoff, an action adventure titled “Hobbs & Shaw.” It is alternately called “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.”
The earlier “Fast & Furious” films starred (off and on) Vin Diesel and Paul Walker as a couple of just-outside-the-law street racers who did impossible car stunts while taking on the bad guys.
Along the way ex-wrestler (and even-bigger movie star) Dwayne Johnson appeared in “Fast Five” as Luke Hobbs, a DSS agent and bounty hunter. Martial artist (and popular antihero movie star) Jason Statham joined the fun in “Fast & Furious 6” as a British Special Forces assassin and mercenary named Deckard Shaw.
With this new film — “Hobbs & Shaw” — Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw become unlikely allies as they team up to protect Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 agent who is being pursued by heavily armed thugs led by a rogue spy named Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). They are assisted in their fight by Madam M (Eiza González), a mysterious billionaire black arms dealer.
Given the physicality of the two stars, the film offers more fisticuffs than fast cars, although racing buffs won’t be disappointed.
The spinoff is fortified by some familiar faces. Dame Helen Mirren reprises her role as Shaw’s mother. Charlize Theron returns in the role of Cipher. Eddie Marsan appears as Professor Andreiko. Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds do an end-cap cameo.
“Hobbs & Shaw” will be busting heads and burning rubber starting tonight at Creekside Cinemas with showings at 7 p.m., 7:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.
As it happened, this spinoff bumped the ninth “Fast & Furious” film from the 2019 schedule. That caused “tensions” between Vin Diesel and Johnson, with Diesel posting an Instagram dissing Johnson.
“Fast & Furious” fans don’t mind the controversy between the two brawny stars. They would love to see a smackdown between the former bouncer and the 10-time world wrestling champion.
Meanwhile, “Fast & Furious” engenders still other spinoffs: A future film that will focus on the female characters; an animated TV series called “Fast & Furious: Spy Racers;” Universal theme park attractions, one of them called “Fast & Furious: Supercharged.” Even “Fast & Furious Live,” a road tour that combines stunt driving, pyrotechnics and projection techniques to recreate scenes from the films.
“Fast & Furious” is ranked as the 10th highest grossing film series of all time, raking in a combined gross of more than $5 billion. And that’s not counting this “Hobbs & Shaw” spinoff … and more movies to come.
Top 10 movie spinoffs
With “Hobbs & Shaw,” the new movie that’s a spinoff from the “Fast & Furious” series, I got to thinking about other movies that had been spun off from another one.
I mean movies that took a character(s) or other elements from the original film, then went in a new direction — not simply being a sequel.
Here are my Top 10 favorite movie spinoffs:
10) “Minions” (2015) — These little yellow sidekicks of softie villain Gru in the animated “Despicable Me” flicks stand on their own tiny feet in this story about how they met their master.
9) “Puss In Boots” (2011) — The fairy tale cat (voiced by Antonio Banderas) in those animated “Shrek” movies gets a swashbuckling story of his own.
8) “Get Him to the Greek” (2010) — This silly comedy with Jonah Hill and Russell Brand is actually a spinoff from that cute rom-com “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Here, Brand reprises his role as Aldous Snow, an obnoxious British rocker who is running late for a big performance.
7) “This is 40” (2012) — That sneaky comedy king Judd Apatow brought back two minor characters (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) from “Knocked Up,” giving us a spinoff that nobody noticed was a spinoff.
6) “Creed” (2015) — Is this a spinoff or a sequel to the “Rocky” films? We will go with spinoff as Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) turns over the boxing gloves to Apollo Creed’s son (Michael B. Jordan).
5) “The Lego Batman Movie” (2017) — I’m not big on movies based on toys, but the Lego folks pulled it off, especially when they did that spinoff featuring a toy version of Batman, the caped superhero. Credit the voice acting of Will Arnett, Ralph Fiennes and the rest of the cast.
4) “Night Train to Munich” (1940) — The comedy team of Caldicott and Charters (Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford) were so popular in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Lady Vanishes” that they appeared in five other films in the same roles.
3) “A Shot in the Dark” (1964) — The original “Pink Panther” film was about a cat burglar (David Niven) of that cuddly nickname, but bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) was so funny, the producers brought him back for more films.
2) “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016) — In this charming spinoff from the Harry Potter blockbusters we meet Newt (Eddie Redmayne), who is kind of a cryptozoological zookeeper in the same wizarding world.
1) “Deadpool” (2016) — A spinoff of Marvel’s “X-Men” movies, this sarcastic, self-aware anti-superhero was a hit as portrayed by Ryan Reynolds. After Reynold’s poorly received “Green Lantern” movie, this was a welcome comeback for him in the comic book world. I admit I’m biased in that I gave Deadpool his first self-titled comic book back when I was publisher of Marvel.
Your favorite spinoffs? There are plenty of others to choose from. Movies never hesitate to take a side trip when audiences demand it.
Shirrel Rhoades, a Wilkesboro native, is a former vice president of Marvel Comics and present owner of the publishing house Absolutely Amazing ebooks. He writes movies reviews from his home in Key West, Florida. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org