Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Little Destruction

If you don’t own Life's Little Destruction Book, you should. It’ll make you feel better about committing those little social faux pas -- or even really big ones. Its tagline is “512 boorish, insensitive and socially obnoxious pointers for leading a simple, self-centered life.” It was intended as a parody of the similarly titled Instruction Book (which only offered 511 pointers), but there are some of us who discovered this text to be far more profound. Here are some of those pointers:

Never tip more than a quarter.

Take the hotel towel.

Help fools part with their money.

Let everyone know how hard you work.

If the mistake is in your favor, don't correct it.

(That one’s great for bloggers.)

Tell the ending of movies. (So’s that one.)

Give little kids clothes for their birthdays.

Add insult to injury.

Develop a convenient memory.

Touch strangers.

Sneer at people who try hard.
(Again, Blogger 101.)

Dish it out, but don't take it.

Develop a truly tasteless foul mouth.

I’m real fond of that last one, and recklessly embrace it if I’ve had a few drinks in a public place. You can read more of these tips by clicking here or you could just go buy the book...although in doing so you may be breaking one of the rules.

One great pointer (though I rarely abide by it as I've learned the fallout can be hell) is "Pass the vicious rumors along". Admittedly, this isn't all that vicious -- hell, it isn't vicious at all -- but it is a rumor and one that's got me stoked about Doctor Who Season Four: The Sun reports that Ben Kingsley is close to signing on as the Dalek creator, Davros. One thing that cracks me up about the Sun piece is their observation of the irony of “Gandhi playing Davros”. Good lord! As if Kingsley hasn’t played one bastard after another since 1982. Man, it’s what the guy’s good at! Does anybody really still think of him as Gandhi!?! His career since has been so anti-Gandhi. Maybe he feels playing Davros will forever wash away that stink?

As I recently wrote at The House Next Door, we’re all suffering from Dalek fatigue at this point -- but much like in the classic series, the one surefire way to overcome that is to introduce Davros. Davros entered the series in 1975’s "Genesis of the Daleks", and his introduction was revisionism of sorts whereas the Daleks were concerned (he'd never been mentioned before). It mattered not. Davros was ruthless, witty, cold and always able to engage in some sort of theological discussion that not only mesmerized the Doctor but also made his blood boil. His presence so overshadowed his creations that he featured to some degree or another in every subsequent Dalek story -- which was actually only five tales including his intro. (Back then, the Doctor didn’t meet the Daleks every season, just every few years.) Many complained the Daleks took a back seat to their creator (a valid criticism), but from a dramatic standpoint, one Davros was ten times more stimulating than a fleet of Daleks. He owned a copy of and lived by Life's Little Destruction Book.

Russell T Davies has done a sterling job of reinventing the Daleks (even if every outing hasn’t been stellar), and with the idea of the Cult of Skaro, he’s come close to replicating the Davros vibe. Close, I say, but not close enough. If he intends to reintroduce the mad genius one can only imagine the villainous reinvention he’ll have in store for the character, and Ben Kingsley is a superb choice for the job. I’d heard through the grapevine before this casting rumor that Kingsley is indeed a fan, so perhaps it’s genuine. The last time I wrote of a Who rumor via the Sun it was about Kylie Minogue’s appearance in the upcoming Christmas special and that turned out to be true. (Granted, the same article claimed Woody Allen would play Einstein and that, at least so far, hasn’t come to pass).

But it’s hard to imagine Kingsley signing on to play the part under the heavy makeup Davros requires. Is it possible Davies might unveil a "Genesis of Davros" storyline? Perhaps a story leading up to the nuclear devastation that nearly wiped the Kaleds and the Thals off the face of Skaro? See, Davros wasn’t always so hideous; he went through an Anakin Skywalkerish-type of literal meltdown, which is how he came to be a disfigured invalid. Terry Nation, the true creator of the Daleks, left the Davros/Dalek history open enough for it to be played with...and obviously Davies loves to play. One area that seems difficult to play with, however, would be the Doctor meeting Davros for the first time, as those events are clearly shown in "Genesis of the Daleks". But then again, you’ll not find me being such the fanboy stickler that I’d heavily criticize Davies for fudging that in some manner if it made for an engaging story. If the Daleks are to return next season, they’d better damn well be packing a dramatic punch, and there's likely no better punch than Davros.

If you’re new to Who, I highly recommend tracking down the DVD of "Genesis of the Daleks". It’s Who/Dalek/Davros 101 and one of the greatest Doctor Who social allegories ever written. But you’re sick of Daleks, right? The good news is it barely features them and focuses far more on their creator as well as the ongoing war between the two aforementioned races who coexist on Skaro (hence the title). Terry Nation, who’d been cranking out Dalek stories since 1963, was at the top of his game and just a few years later he unveiled what was to be his television masterpiece: Blake’s 7. (Someday soon I'm gonna write about B7...)

By the way, it's pronounced "DAV-ross".