Here’s a clip from an episode of Community:
It’s a twenty-second long parody of Doctor Who. Since it combines two of the Internet’s favorite TV shows, that’s about sixteen seconds longer than it needed to be before it became A Thing.
Sure enough, the photons transmitting that image hadn’t stopped vibrating or shooting or whatever it is photons do before the Internet exploded with Inspector Spacetime fan-art on Tumblr, Inspector Spacetime T-Shirts on Redbubble, and not one but two different wikis. (Perennial thorn in my Internet side TVTropes also did a bunch of stuff about it, I’m told.)
I like Community well enough, though I’m not a regular watcher. I don’t know what else they’ve done with the Inspector Spacetime thing since then, but it doesn’t matter – most of this stuff popped up before there was even a chance for it to be a recurring joke on the show, even if the show had new episodes daily.
Now, here’s the thing: as twenty-second parodies of Doctor Who go, it was pretty much what you’d expect. In fact, it’s pretty much what Doctor Who fans have come to expect, since we’ve seen dozens of this exact same thing for years. Phone booth instead of police box? Check. “Cheesy” special effects? Check. Goofy-looking cylindrical robots (often trash bins, mailboxes, or the occasional baptismal font) yelling, usually, “Eradicate!”? Check. It’s about as absolute, lowest-effort, by-the-numbers as Doctor Who parodies go. And that’s fine, it did the job exactly as intended.
But of course, there had to be more. There always has to be more.
At first it was just the usual “put a fez on it!” crowd taking something amusing and running it into the ground at Mach 2. But then things got really weird.
First, the guy who plays Inspector Spacetime in that clip, Travis Richey, mistook Internet popularity for actual popularity and put up a Kickstarter for an Inspector Spacetime web series. This isn’t a writer for Community or anything, just the guy who got the 20-second part. He was somehow shocked and surprised when NBC had something to say about this and shut him down. NBC felt it held the rights to Community and not some actor who appeared on it for a third of a minute. Undaunted, Richey has retooled his web series into “Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time” (which still mentions “Inspector Spacetime” in the backer perks.) Thanks to 643 dedicated fans of micro-entertainment and Stuff on the Internet, this reached its $25,000 goal, so we’ll be seeing more of what he’ll probably have to call the “Blogrons” since Community calls them “Blorgons”.
(Of course, in all this fuss over who owns the rights to what, nobody seems to have asked the actual BBC what they might think about all of this.)
Now there’s news that Karen Gillan, who plays Amy Pond on Doctor Who (the real show) is looking for work since her character is leaving in the upcoming season.
She’s looking to be in an IS bit (on Community, not on the web series.) What could be a better career step than going from two and a half years as the co-star on a pretty successful show to playing an occasional bit part in a parody of that show on a different show that hasn’t been very successful. I realize she’s just funning around but naturally this has been touted as a phenomenal idea, not among fans of Doctor Who, not among fans of Community, but among fans of Inspector Spacetime, the bare-bones spoof of Doctor Who which appeared on Community for a few moments.