The classic British sci-fi series Doctor Who has been on the airwaves for such a long time that many of the themes and story lines from the show have inspired other popular science fiction movies or television series.While many take a more subtle approach when addressing very similar story lines, or drawing inspiration from the cult classic, others are a bit less subtle.
We’ve already addressed the similarities between Star Trek’s Borg and Doctor Who’s Cybermen, as well as the remarkable similarity between Stargate and the Doctor Who story arc Pyramids of Mars, but today we will touch on the most obvious case of
rip-off “inspiration” yet…
Case in point number three:
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
The story: If you are fortunate enough to have never seen the 1989 movie, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, consider yourself lucky. But, for the sake of you lucky dogs who aren’t familiar with the plot, or for those of you who did see it and have subsequently tried to block the utter stupidity from your memory as a defense mechanism, let us recap.
Ted “Theodore” Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esquire (otherwise known as “Bill & Ted”) are a pair of teenagers that would make Forest Gump look like a certified genius. The idiotic duo are trying to pursue their dream of becoming rock stars by forming a band together they call “Wyld Stallyns” while using cheesy dated 80s lingo. Unfortunately they’re flunking history, and if they don’t pass, then Ted’s father is going to ship him off to a military academy in Alaska, and basically the world will end, or at least the future.
No really, that’s part of the plot.
Did I mention that in the future humanity achieves world peace and lives in a utopian society thanks to somehow being inspired by the music of the “Two Great Ones” – Bill & Ted? Yea. That’s how stupid the premise of this movie is.
So, to save their great future society, in the year 2688 the leaders (who apparently monitor discrepancies in history Time Lord style) send an emissary, Rufus, back in time to help Bill & Ted ace their history presentation and pass their class. He’s sent back in a time machine (wait for it…) in the shape of a phone booth. Yep, a phone booth.
So more stuff happens and Bill & Ted end up traveling throughout different time periods and bringing back a group of historical characters the pick up throughout history to help them with their history presentation, which include: Napoleon Bonaparte, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig van Beethoven, Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, and Abraham Lincoln. They also travel back and forth between various points of time to set up plans for themselves after the fact in typical time-traveling-paradox hijinks-ensuing fashion.
For some reason they even made a sequel.
Why it’s familiar: I don’t really think this one needs much explanation. The Doctor’s TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), which is his ship that travels through space and time, is shaped like a 1960’s Police Call Box. That is, a special kind of phone booth.
Flying around in a time machine that looks like a phone booth, is the main premise of Doctor Who. It’s iconic. And although in a few of the earliest episodes the TARDIS took on a few different shapes, as its appearance is a disguise it chooses to blend in with the environment, after a certain point it was implied that the circuit became stuck, and it had remained the blue box, the police call box, ever since.
More recent episodes, however, made illusions not that the TARDIS was actually stuck, but rather, that this was the form it preferred.
“It’s camouflaged. It’s disguised as a police telephone box from 1963. Every time the TARDIS materializes in a new location, within the first nanosecond of landing, it analyses its surroundings, calculates a twelve-dimensional data map of everything within a thousand-mile radius, and then determines which outer shell would best blend in with the environment…. And then it disguises itself as a police telephone box from 1963.”
There is nothing more stable to the series than the TARDIS. The companions change. The Doctor changes. The TARDIS may change slightly, but it always remains a police call box from 1963: a phone booth, which of course, was the only part of the Bill & Ted movie that was even slightly entertaining.
I think we all know where they swiped that idea…
Now, if only they had encountered the Daleks, that would have made the movie much more interesting than watching Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter playing air guitar every ten minutes.