Jul 20 2008 2:13pm

Who, Tintin, and the changing of the seasons

Steven Moffat and HugoIt's been widely reported that BAFTA- and Hugo-winning Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat will be taking over from Russell T. Davies as full-time Who showrunner when the series resumes in 2010. Yesterday's Daily Mail adds a detail I hadn't known, which is that in order to take this on, Moffat walked away from his deal to write two Tintin movies planned by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, leaving only the first script completed.

Of course, the Mail, being the Mail, plays it as a story of plucky little England cocking its snoot at big dumb Hollywood.

One Hollywood insider said: 'No one walks away from Spielberg and all that money for a show no one has heard of. I mean, what is this doctor show about? It sounds a little silly.'

Destination Moon, in the original"What is this doctor show"? Please. Of course "Hollywood insiders" are capable of thinking and saying all kinds of silly things, but surely that sounds more like what a Mail reader would imagine a "Hollywood insider" saying. Not that a newspaper as dedicated to journalistic probity as the Daily Mail would ever invent a quote, of course.

Actually, for that tiny number of us Americans who grew up reading the Tintin comics, usually in British editions, the real cognitive dissonance comes from the idea of Tintin as the mighty project bestriding Hollywood. I mean, I keep a copy of Destination Moon--the Tintin comic album, not the George Pal movie--in my office as a reminder of some of my earliest experiences of skiffy wonder. But I'm used to that being an eccentricity, not a mass-market taste.

1. ceddy
Oh my beating geek girl heart! Shows how much of a rock I have been under lately. The possibility of a new Tintin movie!

One of the happiest things that I was ever able to do was to turn my son on to the books..and watch his head explode.

patrick sullivan
2. psulli
Spielberg has been jonesing to make a Tintin movie for a while. IIRC, initially there was talk about him doing a live-action Tintin (yikes!). Jackson might be able to deliver a reasonable Tintin movie, I doubt that Spielberg could at this point.

But... if you've seen Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, go back and read Flight 714 again. I think Lucas and Spielberg were passing around their Tintin research material. :-)
Torie Atkinson
3. Torie
My parents picked up Tintin when they were young and in Europe and brought back all the issues (in both French & British English). Those are the books I grew up reading--not Lord of the Rings, not Heinlein or Asimov--but Tintin and Snowy. As such, I'm frankly terrified by the thought of a 3-D motion capture series of films (the Canadian animated cartoons were pretty good!). I wish I were more optimistic, but all I can summon is some apprehensive ambivalence. Here's hoping they find another excellent writer to carry the project through.
Georges Huberty
4. mth
There have been a lot of attempts to make a Tintin movie that's any good. I think not even the big Toymountain will be able to do that. It is just too difficult to imitate Herges style in real life, I guess.

PS: There are some great Tintin animated movies, though, as Torie said before!
will shetterly
5. willshetterly
It's no wonder Moffat ran as soon as he possibly could--Spielberg's famous in screenwriting circles for having no respect for his writers' work. I've got a draft of Saving Private Ryan from before Spielberg got hold of it. All the things in the movie that writers and editors complain about? Not in the original script. Every change that Spielberg made was a mistake.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
6. pnh
Rob Hansen, who pointed me to that Daily Mail story in the first place, tried to post to this comment thread, but was defeated by beta fu. He says:
The online Doctor Who forums are also pretty unanimous in thinking that 'Hollywood insider' quote is made up. It just doesn't sound real.

Since, as I understand it, Peter Jackson will be directing the second movie. I'd've thought he'd be more inconvenienced by this than Spielberg. Then again, he's apparently a big Doctor Who fan. If so, I'm sure he understands.
James Enge
7. JamesEnge
Okay, I'll admit it. I thought the French title of Destination Moon meant something like "Objective Moon" (as opposed to "Subjective Moon"). Maybe misreadings like that are where Ruben Bolling's postmodern comics about Billy Dare, Boy Adventurer come from. Or maybe it just means I can't read French very well.
8. mcmatz
I have to say I am both excited and horrified at the thought of a big screen Tintin adventure. I dearly love the art and adventure in the several books my dad introduced be to and the thought of the beautiful colors and linework coming to life destroying the aesthetic along with any misguided plotting is not happy.

Moffat writing them was hopeful but I am afraid that the sensibility may be trampled by studio execs.

But I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the films will do justice to the original in the end!

Rich Rennicks
9. RichR
Well, Tintin's cool and all, but YES! Doctor Who is coming back! Note: I'm watching on DVD in the US, so I'm a little behind in my gossip, but had heard rumors of a hiatus or even a cancellation.

And Steven Moffat's an excellent writer. Seems to be a bit hard on the actors, though. David Tennant has to talk at a very fast clip to get all the dialogue out in Moffat's episodes.
Magenta Griffith
10. Magenta
I'm going to have to wait until 2010 to see the next season of Dr. Who? I could die of old age.
11. rogerothornhill
Tintin begins and ends in the global soup of mass culture. I first encountered the character in animated films of the original strips that showed on American television in the 1960s. Then, I went back and discovered the originals. The one thing that keeps Hollywood fresh is its global reimagining: a Belgian sees Hollywood fantasies, does them better, the rights are then bought by an American from the suburbs of Arizona, who then asks a New Zealander who's made excellent zombie movies to take his crack at it. As long as you keep the suits out of it, Hollywood is the closest thing to a global culture that we have.
luc betbeder
13. javelin
Growing up bilingual Tintin and the whole belgian (french language) BD scene was formative for me. One of the haphazard effects of big blockbusters attempts can be to bring the old back into vogue. New audiences and a new look at the old content and memes.
Re-reading my old damaged Tintin's a couple of years ago made me realise how racist many of the strips were but also the quality and length of the writing. They were the pop cartoon of the day but the bar was indeed set very high.
Pablo Defendini
14. pablodefendini
The Beeb has an update:
A newspaper report that he had "turned down" a two-film deal with Spielberg was "a bit misleading", Moffat said.
He had planned to finish Tintin before starting Doctor Who but was delayed by the US writers' strike, he said.
But it was "the proper duty of every British subject to come to the aid of the Tardis", he added.

I like that last bit. I've very little perspective on this, since I only discovered Doctor Who recently (I know, I know), but it seems that the British are very, very fond of the good Doctor. As they should be.
Constance Cochran
15. ccochran
When I was in high school, I had to take French, and someone, probably my teacher, pointed me at the Tintin books as an incentive. So at the age of 15 or so I got completely hooked (in French). Then later bought them all in paperback in English and was still hooked.

Spielberg + Tintin seems like a terrific idea. If Moffat had stayed on, that might've been almost too much glee and my head would've exploded.
Foz Meadows
16. Foz_Meadows
Man, I loved Tintin as a kid - I thought I was so grown up, reading stories about politics and science and jungles and so on, with actual proper characters, it was a huge shock to come back as an adult and realise that all the names are, well...joke names. And I'd taken them so seriously! I even remember thinking, 'Wow, I know it's a bit ironic to have a sea captain called Captain Haddock, but that could totally happen in real life. I'm reading a Grown Up Book!'

That being said: a Tintin movie? Bring it on!
Rob Hansen
17. RobHansen
Just a quick test to see if I can post using my work account.


Apparently, I can. Hmmm.

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