This started as a response to a comment by butterfly in my previous post. Then I started thinking it should be its own post, so here we are. Butterfly said:
I confess a twinge of disappointment at the mention of the return of Moneypenny and Q. Part of the DC era that I bought into was leaving the silly stuff behind. I’ll reserve judgement till I see it though and hope its done in the spirit of CR and QoS.
I disagree 100% that Q & Moneypenny inherently represent “silly stuff.” We are all talking about the “new Bond;” well, one of the things he needs is stability. Building a real staff at MI6 that’s stable and recognizable is important to who and what Bond is. Interviewers ask me, how is Bond different from Bourne? (They all ask me that!) One important way is that Bond is part of the government, he has an organization behind him and a boss he reports to, whereas Bourne is fighting the government, an outsider fighting the organization. In Bond, there’s good guys and bad guys, and Bond is on the side of good; we can get excellent mileage exploring the ambiguities of that, but the fact is, there are two sides. By contrast, in Bourne, it’s one man against everyone else. There are no bad guys per se, the home agency IS the bad guy.
Plus, Bond is more of a person and less of a superhero when we recognize the organization behind him; when we see that, as M said in DAF, they do their jobs there.
One of the best things about the Brosnan years was building the sense that there was a real organization behind Bond; we saw that in Dr. No (I love that room full of radio operators), but somewhere it got lost. With Brosnan, we had not only Moneypenny and Q, but also Tanner and Robinson, and the overall effect was of a dedicated organization with a staff of which Bond is a part.
In CR, there was an obvious hole for Q when some nobody injected Bond’s arm with the tracer. MI6 is not served by staffing a bunch of anonymous nobodies. It’s too easy, too trivial, too all-the-movies-do-it. Bond is supposed to be special and different.
Do Moneypenny and Q have to be played for camp? Absolutely not, although a certain wit and amusement will be a pleasure to see. I am not looking for Moonraker, but I don’t think every Bond should be the Darkest Bond Ever.™ Humor is humanizing; in the Bond films that were not specifically comedic, we could get the sense that Bond was funny as a way of dealing with his own tension, he was humorous as a way of facing the darkness. Brosnan was deft at getting that across, and of course, Connery was the master of having a quip be a source of composure. There is no doubt inherent humor in the contrast between a gadget guy and a field agent, but where that humor goes is up to a strong script and good actors, and I’m sure Eon can come up with those somewhere.