Saturday, April 10, 2010
But for all the fine supporting actors, the Specials in particular belong to David Tennant, and he is wonderful. In the final episodes especially he is up to the challenge of being epic and also totally grounded in key scenes, such as his discussion of his own death in a cafe conversation with Bernard Cribbins—this startling scene stops the action in pretty much an unprecedented fashion, which allows Tennant’s Doctor to open up emotionally in a startling and mesmerizing way. It pays off again in his final scenes, where the personal and the epic merge.
The last glimpses of the companions are brief and reasonably satisfying—with some surprising twists—and they fittingly end by going back to just before the beginning. And the 10th Doctor’s final words—“I don’t want to go”-- will be probably be debated for years, especially in reference to Tennant’s departure.
Tennant’s reasons may be those he’s given in public—time to move on, leave with the team of Davies and Gardner, and leave when he’s still wanted. (John Simm, who plays the Master, said something similar in commenting on the decision to end the series he starred in, “Life on Mars,” while it was still very popular.) On the other hand, I suspect there are contributing reasons that may or may not be known at some time in the future.
But the Davies’ book disabused me of one notion I had about Tennant’s decision. I couldn’t figure out why Doctor Who would forgo a full season and just make the Specials for a year so Tennant could play Hamlet, if he wasn’t intending to come back for another full season. But according to Davies, the decision to do the Specials instead of a full season was made independent of Tennant—it was Davies plan all along. Tennant took the Hamlet job only after this decision was made.
In fact, throughout the Davies book, Tennant comes across as the same generous, energetic, intelligent and caring good guy he’s seemed to be. But the book adds one detail to the previously known meeting between Tennant and Steven Moffat about the fifth season. Tennant said publicly he was tempted to stay. But according to Davies, he added that while Moffat’s plans were “genius,” he’d rather watch those stories than act in them.