Doctor-y thoughts

25 Aug

I know, I know. I haven’t posted anything here in a really long time, but I have a good excuse. Several good excuses, in fact, that include positives such as celebrating BIL’s Marine Corps retirement with my family at Disney World and new editing tasks from the Unk world and CONvergence and moving house, and negatives such as moving house and work instability and financial woes and general “someone please make the suckage stop, thanks”. In my absence from the Refuge, I’ve been accumulating various topics for posts, including a couple new MSG Reports; when or whether I’ll get to them, I cannot say right now.

But for the moment, I just want to dip into Fandom. If you’ve never seen or don’t care for Doctor Who, you may want to skip this and move on to watching cute kitten videos. So if you want to get up and leave now, no worries. I’ll wait.

….Okay, they’re gone. On with the squee.

A friend posted the excellent news that Matt Smith is slated (pending an actual contract, but my fingers are crossed – so ignore typos in this one, please) to continue in his role as the Eleventh Doctor until at least 2013. This prompted a discussion on said friend’s Facebook page that involves minor spoilers and in-references that are going behind a cut. Voilà:

Because I reference a couple things she said, I should tell you that the fabulous Leda said:

“My reactions to the last three Doctors have varied wildly. I was in love with Chris from the start (and, truth be told, still miss him). David grew on me very slowly and it took the best part of Series 2 to warm to him, (although I don’t think the Doctor/Rose thing helped) but Series 3 had me hooked…especially ‘Blink’, of course :)

“As for Matt, I think I just needed a point of reference – and oddly enough, as much as I dislike the prominence afforded to the Daleks, seeing them again in the third episode helped him settle in from my point of view.”

My next contribution to the discussion went embarrassingly long and wandered somewhat off-point, so I decided to post it here instead, where it continued to grow and started becoming a bit ranty (consider yourself warned). I figured this also gave me an excuse to put up a blog post, and one about the Doctor at that, which I don’t think I’ve yet done here.

For the most part, these are things I’ve said before, in various places across the web and in ranty discussions with HF, but this may be the first time all these comments have been collected together and typed into whatever permanence the Internet provides:

My very first episode of Who EVER was “Blink”. Even though David is barely in that one, I was instantly hooked on lines like “wibbly wobbly timey-wimey”. Went back to the beginning of Chris’s run to catch up and, sorry, but really didn’t “get” him. I don’t hate Chris (although Nine has a lot of anger and moody), he’s just not my favorite.

Series 2 with the whole Ten/Rose thing – agreed. Rose had her fun moments, but she was such a petulant child at other times. For instance, I couldn’t stomach how she treated Mickey (granted, Mickey the Idiot, but still; he was a Good Guy and deserved better).

Series 3 brought in mopey Ten, which got really wearing. “Oh, wah, I’m the last of my kind and now I’ve lost the whiny 19-year-old I was hanging out with, too. I’m 900 years old, but I’m head-over-heels for that child.” To compound this, meet mopey Martha! “I’m almost a doctor myself, much more his intellectual equal than that bubble-headed shop girl, could have been a great Companion, but am reduced to moping around about how he never notices me because he’s hung up on her.” But this is the same series that had “Blink” and William Shakespeare, so…

Series 4! DONNA NOBLE! It took me two or three viewings of “The Runaway Bride” to come around to Donna (and I think viewings two and three were during or after Series 4), so I was anxious when she was announced as the next Companion. And then I saw “Partners in Crime” and wondered why I was worried. The FUN was back! OMG, the Doctor smiled again! Here you had a Companion who was enthusiastic and awestruck by the Doctor and their adventures, yet was more mature, intelligent, and also sassy and stubborn enough to rein in the Doctor when he needed it. In fact, that moment in “Partners” when he’s panicking and she clearly and loudly asks, “Doctor! WHAT do you need??”, centering him so he can communicate what help he needs from her, is what sold me on Donna. And right from the get-go, they established that they would only be friends, with none of the pseudo-romantic bother that had infected the previous seasons. Unfortunately, what happened to Donna in the end broke my heart and I’ve found myself unable to go back and watch that series again, because I know what’s coming. (And let’s not mention the Return of Rose, who’d forgotten how to speak in her own voice.)

And despite mopey Doctor and angsty Doctor and sparkly Jebus Doctor, I was still firmly a Ten girl. Until real life crashed the party…

The Specials: Eh. Return of mopey Doctor, because he’s lost Rose again and lost Donna and has been told he’s about to die, with new guest stars each time. I by no means fault David for going off to do Hamlet – his performance was astounding and one that everyone who has any interest in Shakespeare needs to see. I feel lucky to have seen the live performance in Stratford-upon-Avon and the BBC film version has overshadowed Branagh’s as my new favorite.

What I do fault David for is betraying us, lying to us. Leading up to his sabbatical, there were multiple rumors that he was leaving the Doctor for good, all of which he vehemently denied: “Oh, no, I love this job; it’s the best thing in the world! I’m coming back, no worries.” Then at some point during the Specials, new revelations: “I’ve been planning to leave for some time; I want to exit before this becomes just another job.” Etc.

Did I want him to stay in a job he no longer wanted? No. Do I understand that actors come and go? Only too well.

What I don’t understand is why it happened the way it happened. Because it does feel like he lied to us all. And if his later comments about how long he’d been planning his exit were true, I would have preferred a lie. We all knew he’d missed most of the London run of Hamlet due to back surgery. We all know that the role of the Doctor is a very physical one. If he had said, “Look, I love this role; I’d love to do it forever. But I can no longer keep up with the physical demands without fearing for my well-being”… David, we would have understood that. I wouldn’t have faulted your exit under those circumstances. I would have been sad to see you go, but I wouldn’t have felt betrayed and heartbroken and angry with you. No, I haven’t forgiven you; I still find it a bit hard (or at least irritating) to watch your performances as the Doctor, even the ones I most loved.

Compounding what felt like a betrayal is the frustration that if he’d been planning to leave for so long, he could have officially left when he went off to Stratford. In return, we could have had a full fifth season instead of those specials. And then Davies went and rubbed salt into the wound by having Ten’s last line be “I don’t want to go!” I cannot watch his regeneration without wanting to scream at the screen, “Then why did you quit?!”

So, David took off. Davies gleefully broke all his toys, not to mention his fans (see also Torchwood: Children of Earth), and ran away from the playground – and how is your L.A. career coming, Russell?

Then the glorious news: Stephen Moffat – the man behind “Blink” and “The Girl in the Fireplace” and the Vashta Nerada (in other words, all my favorites, all the best and creepiest bits of Who); a man who can write rings around Davies (see also Sherlock) – was being left in charge to clean up Davies’s mess. Wait, what? He’s cast a 27-year-old child with a weird forehead? Whatever, I trust him.

And while my friends were digging up every bit of information they could about Matt Smith, watching YouTube clips of his previous performances, etc., I opted to stay ignorant. I didn’t want to have any preconceptions of the actor before seeing him as the Eleventh Doctor. Even in my hurt, I couldn’t imagine how anyone would follow David’s performance, but I was willing to give this new guy at least a couple episodes. I’d give him a fair chance.

In the end, he got five minutes.

Roll on, Series 5!

Young Amy: You’re soaking wet.
The Doctor: I was in the swimming pool.
Young Amy: You said you were in the library.
The Doctor: So was the swimming pool.

That was all I needed. The pacing, the timing, the deadpan, the sheer quirkiness. From “So was the swimming pool,” I was sold. And then the food scene! From “You’re Scottish; fry something!” to “Beans are evil. Bad, bad beans!” to fish fingers and custard.

In the space of maybe five minutes, Matt stole me away from David. Ten will always be my first Doctor; there’s no way to change that without a TARDIS. But Eleven? Now, Eleven is my Doctor.

Yes, he still has a weird forehead, but he has a spirit and personality that more than make up for it. Like so many blokes I find attractive, Matt doesn’t photograph well; one must see him in motion to understand. He is utterly believable as a 900-year-old traveller, an old soul in a young man’s bow tie.

And since I talked about Companions above, there must be mention of Amy Pond and Rory Williams! The chemistry between the three of them is fantastic (even without bringing up slash fanfic, which you will NEVER see me do). Like Eleven is all the best of Four, Nine, and Ten, with his own spin, Amy is the best of Rose and Donna, now with more fiery gingerness! Rory… The Boy Who Waited. If you didn’t melt at that, go away; you’re not human. Yes, Amy flirts shamelessly with the Doctor, even after the wedding, but overall, it’s refreshing to have not one, but two Companions who are travelling with the Doctor for the sheer fun of it, not because they have any hope or desire to get into his pants. And a married couple! An entirely new dynamic to explore in Series 6, yay!

Of course, they had the benefit of an entire series produced under the watchful eye of Moffat, who from “Blink” onward has shown an unparalleled understanding of time travel and what can be done with it. Only after one has seen all thirteen episodes, seen all the various threads sewn up neatly during “The Big Bang” without any last-minute “gotcha” moments or contrived sparkliness, can one fully appreciate what just happened. Yes, the series had its clunker episodes (“Vampires in Venice” and “Victory of the Daleks” are the two screaming examples), but in a general sense, there wasn’t a plot point dropped or a shot wasted. Things that lit up the ‘Net as possible inconsistencies made absolute sense in the end as threads woven into the tapestry of Series 5.

I haven’t gotten to it, but I can’t wait to go back to “The Eleventh Hour” and rewatch the entire series in order, knowing what I know now, to fully appreciate the structure of it all.

My one concern is River Song; although I’ve almost reluctantly come to like her, I’m still uncertain what Moffat is up to there. But again, I trust him. I’ll wait him out and enjoy the ride in the meantime.

Why isn’t it Christmas yet?

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4 Responses to “Doctor-y thoughts”

  1. Kristen 25 August 2010 at 17:20 #

    Yes. Mostly. Yes to ALL of the Eleven bits, (plus Team!Tardis Fic,) I think there are bits of David’s departure I may not be up on, (whatev,) but WTF RUSSELL T. DAVIES? Who seems to simply love to screw with his audience because HE CAN. I’ve rewatched the specials recently, and as stand-alone eps, they’re not bad. Except for The End of Time. The last bits are a wonderful performance in a monologue that makes no SENSE within the context of the universe. While Nine’s regeneration was full of rueful melancholy and smiling in the face of it, Ten cheated regeneration once, (which makes me gag,) then we get the woe-is-me roaring? I want to smash things, watching it. At least the teaser trailer is out!!! Merry Smithmas. ;)

    • ButMadNNW 25 August 2010 at 17:39 #

      :-D WHOVIAN HULK SMASH!

      “End of Time”, don’t even get me started. WTF, ruining the Master? WTF, yelling at poor Wilf?? WTF that monologue??? And, this above all, W.T.Serious.F. – after all he’s been through, all the fights, all the adventures, he earns a slow, painful death through radiation poisoning? The sole purpose of which was Trip Down Companion Memory Lane? Ugh ugh ugh. And, of course, the salt-in-the-wound line.

      “Planet of the Dead” isn’t bad, I’ll admit.

      “The Next Doctor” I didn’t like, partly because Cybermen (as with the Daleks, I’m ready for them to be over), partly because I don’t like David M.

      “Waters of Mars” was fantastic and heartbreaking, with added warm-fuzzy points because it was the first time I’d gotten to see an episode of Who *in* the UK *on* the night of its premiere. And then the parents and I went to Eden Project the next day, the domes of which gave me a delightful Whovian chill. :-)

      I haven’t decided yet if I want to watch the trailer or be surprised when the Christmas Special airs. If I do decide to watch it, you’ll probably know. ;-)

      • Kristen 25 August 2010 at 17:46 #

        It’s not at all spoilery. Just deliciously tantalizing.
        One of these days, I’ll get to see Doctor Who properly. :)) (i.e., In the UK.)

      • ButMadNNW 25 August 2010 at 17:50 #

        Well, you have to understand, K, that what I define as spoilery is different than most people’s definition. Firstly, I’m just too good at predicting where a story will go – I can figure some things out from a comment that someone else doesn’t deem at all spoilery.

        Secondly, sometimes I really do like to know literally NOTHING.

        That said, it’s Eleven and December is a long way away. I’ll probably break down. :-D

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