Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grand Theft TARDIS!

"Shut up tardis!"
"No, you shut up, you're a tardis!"
Hey, get this: the son of some guy who may possibly but by no means certainly came up with the Doctor's TARDIS back in the 1960's is suing the BBC for all the money ever! The suit comes conveniently close to the series' 50th anniversary and I can't help but wonder if maybe there's a connec-I'm sorry, what? You don't know what the TARDIS is? Really? Why are you even reading this? You know, I should probably just let you keep wondering if maybe it's some kind of stain remover or a name nine-year-olds call each other, but that wouldn't be very neighborly.

Here, nerd primer: The TARDIS is the Doctor's time machine on Doctor Who. It's a magic blue box that's bigger on the inside and travels through time. I say magic because, let's face it, Doctor Who contains about as much real science as a Texas science curriculum. I mean, the Doctor is great and all, but Neil deGrasse Tyson isn't exactly on the writing staff.
Oh don't look at me like that. Your time machine is powered by whimsy
and was once repaired with tea...TEA! Could you be any Britisher?
Good thing they didn't go with
Future Universal Co-orbital
Kinetic Electron Device
The iconic, yet incredibly stupid sounding name stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, which isn't so much a name as it is a bunch of seemingly random words one of the writers strung together. Which writer? Well, that's sort of the issue here. Stef Coburn, who's suing the BBC, says his father came up with the blue police box idea and the name TARDIS. However, according to this story on io9, the production team had already decided that the chameleon circuit would be stuck on 1950's blue police box before Coburn was hired.

Coburn is also suing the mall Santa for
toys he says he was promised in 1964.
Ok, so who's right? Nobody's really knows. Coburn contends that his father had granted the BBC 'informal permission' to use the TARDIS, but that when he died, the rights reverted to the estate. Ok, great, but did Anthony Coburn really invent the TARDIS concept? According to Stef, his father came home from work one day and told him and his brother about the TARDIS, but unless hazy childhood memories are admissible in court, I suspect he's pretty screwed.

It's all about the 'lizabeths...

"The only ends I wish to accomplish...involve bringing about the public recognition that should by rights always have been his due, of my father James Anthony Coburn's seminal contribution to Doctor Who, and..." wait for it, here come the money part: "...proper lawful recompense to his surviving estate." 

-Stef 'Surviving Estate' Coburn

Proper lawful recompense is, of course, a shit load of money. Specifically back royalties for every time the BBC used the TARDIS, mentioned the TARDIS, thought about the TARDIS. Everything: television, books, comics, video games, oh, and just so you don't think Coburn is a dick, you should know that he's also giving the BBC the option to just stop using the TARDIS altogether. What a guy!
I suppose the Doctor could simply fix the TARDIS's chameleon circuit, then it could look
like anything: a doric column, a Kenmore washer/dryer combination, even a Pinkberry.
That is, assuming, the BBC gives me some of that sweet, sweet lawful recompense...
Stef Coburn (center) seen here being related
to a guy who worked on Doctor Who once.
Look, if this really is about Stef getting recognition for his father's work, then more power to him, but between the timing and the crazytown amount of money the TARDIS is worth, this kind of smacks of a desperate cash grab. I mean, I'm all for the intellectual property rights and protection of an writer's work, but the show was a collaborative effort that ran for decades and involved hundreds of creative people. Even if Anthony Coburn did shout 'TARDIS' in a production meeting 50 years ago, does that really entitle his kid to millions of pounds?

No comments:

Post a Comment