Thu
Sep 29 2011 11:00am

The Sudden Emergence of Inspector Spacetime Fandom

One week ago, popular geek sitcom Community threw us a 45-second Doctor Who parody in the form of Inspector Spacetime. In seemingly no time at all, a fictional fandom for this non-existent TV show emerged online, complete with a TV Tropes page, message boards, at least one Tumblr, and t-shirts for purchase.

What’s interesting about all of this is just how specific a response it has generated from Doctor Who fandom, and how widespread that response has become. (It’s also a bit cheeky that a community has been so inspired by a show titled Community.) The idea of lovingly poking fun at one’s own Who obsession has become self-propogating with tremendous speed.

The result being an entire fictional universe, birthed from a sort of limerance, and formed in less than a week.

So what do we know about Inspector Spacetime? In just a few days, quite a bit actually. First, it’s been around nearly as long as Doctor Who, and like Who has had a reboot and TV movie. Steve Carell apparently stared with Anne Hathaway in the TV movie, which some fans defend!

Many actors have portrayed the good Inspector over the history of the show, including:

  • Stephen Fry (who suffered from bad scripts)
  • A young Liam Neeson (who also suffered from bad scripts, writ by Alan Moore)
  • Benny Hill (considered one of the greatest Inspectors)
  • Malcolm Tucker
  • Peter Sellers
  • One of the Muppets (that was a weird period for the show)
  • Daniel Landlord (think about that name for a second...)

A good majority of the Inspector Spacetime game seems to be synonyms or deliberate inversions. There is a popular episode titled “Stare” and also “Quiet in the Bookstore.” An episode called “The Princess in Smoke” establishes that the Inspector had a relationship with Marie Antoinette while apparently a Terry Pratchett-penned episode warmed the hearts of several fans. There’s an “associate” named Mary Sue (who had her own spin-off show) and also a current associate named Rose Lily.

In some contributions to this meme it seems that Inspector Spacetime exists in the same universe as Doctor Who insofar as both the character Rory Williams and the actor Arthur Darvill seem to have been on both shows. (One fan is outraged that Arthur Darvill “sold out to the rip-off.") In one of our favorite jokes, one fan claims to hate the show Hercule because it stars Benedict Cumberbatch, which means Cumberbatch will never play the Inspector! The fact that the world of Inspector Spacetime features not only this Doctor Who homage but also a show called Hercule (presumably a modern day update of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories) is totally awesome.

The show seems to have numerous catch phrases, but the most enduring seems to be “There’s Always Room for One More” as some kind of tribute to “it’s bigger on the inside.”

What does “There’s Always Room for One More” mean? We may never know. For now, we get to watch what fandom and the internet do best; have fun. Will we see any Inspector Spacetime costumes at New York Comic Con or Halloween? It seems all you need is a trench coat and a bowler hat. Bowler hats are cool.

Check out all the various Inspector Spacetime links below.

Inspector Spacetime Tumblr

Message Boards

TV Tropes


Stubby the Rocket is the voice and mascot of Tor.com. Stubby liked it better when the Inspector used to fly around on a real rocket instead of that dumb red box.

7 comments
Michael Poteet
1. MikePoteet
This is awesome! And a great SAT analogy:

Galaxy Quest:Star Trek::Inspector Spacetime:Doctor Who
Angela Korra'ti
2. annathepiper
I love this MADLY. Especially the crossover of Rory Williams and the bringing in of Hercule!
SeeingI
4. SeeingI
What's funny is that last season "Community" established that "Doctor Who" does exist in its world. However, since "Who" started in '63 and "Inspector" started in '62, it means "Who" is the rip-off!
SeeingI
5. Tom Galloway
This reminds me of what happened on Usenet's rec.arts.comics newsgroup back around 1991 when someone wanted to post "Can someone tell me what's going on in Suicide Squad", but typoed it as "Suicide Squid". We promptly, and independently of each other, came up with a 50 year long history of Suicide Squid comics, including doing an actual Suicide Squid t-shirt with art by comics artist Ty Templeton.
SeeingI
6. JohnElliott
This isn't the first time the Who fandom has done something like this; in the 1990s, one of the spinoff books had a brief appearance by 'Professor X', who was played by Frankie Howerd and travelled in a pillar box called the TASID (because he bought it from a man called Sid). Fans promptly created a universe compendium, casting the other seven Professors and naming all their companions.
SeeingI
7. thepreciousthing
o-oh my gosh
so many feelings welling up inside of me
I am so proud to be a part of this

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