Saturday, April 10, 2010

So even though in the fourth season finale Davies built a possibility for Tennant to return (a double living in a different universe with Rose), it seems we’ve seen the last of David Tennant as Doctor Who. During the Davies/Tennant tenure, Doctor Who spawned two other TV series and branched out into web stuff and animated versions (there already were novels, and unlike Star Trek, episodes were based on them, written by the same writers.) Now it looks like the web and gaming are going to be a bigger element (as they’ve become with Star Trek JJA.) The D/T tenure also energized the process of recycling the old Who episodes, with more DVDs and more commentaries, and even actors from the old series (like Tom Baker) recording new stories for audio and perhaps animation.

Meanwhile, Davies and Gardner are in L.A., partly to expand the BBC brand to America. There was talk of moving Torchwood to the U.S., although that appears not to be happening. (And David Tennant’s U.S. pilot didn’t get picked up.) Still, BBC America is going All Who next weekend to introduce the Matt Smith season. Doctor Who never quite caught on in the U.S., though it does have its devoted fans, and perhaps this very youthful orientation is an attempt to do better in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as get more action-oriented for the gaming and on-line market.

I think it was David Tennant who said that for most fans, their first Doctor remained their favorite—their definitive—Doctor. I didn’t watch Doctor Who as a child—I was a so-called adult when a tiny Pittsburgh public TV station (WQEX, Sweet Little Sixteen) began running the Tom Baker episodes in the late 80s, and they proved so popular that the station ran all the Doctors available, before Baker and after. But it’s still true that my first Doctor remains somewhat definitive, although in my personal pantheon, it’s kind of a tie between Tennant and Tom Baker, with Chris Eccleston and then Peter Davison, and the others are, sorry, inconsequential.

So I hope in the brave new international media world of the new new Doctor that the continuity admirably maintained by fan Tennant and fan Davies, as well as the characteristics and character they sharpened and augmented, will continue in some fashion. I won’t get to see Tennant become an older and wiser Doctor (even if Smith can open the TARDIS by snapping his fingers, it’s not the same.) But I can hope the character won’t veer too extremely.

For example, from this description by Julie Gardner: “It was always about the consequences of your actions. I think Doctor Who is a really moral show. You have to choose your responsibilities and where you stand, and the things you sacrifice.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I must say that I was not as impressed as everyone else was with David Tennant. I felt that Ecclestone was the stronger Doctor, and that Tennant was over the top spastic at times. I found the Lion King comment only semi-funny and the satsuma incident ridiculous. This line continued for me in the awful New Earth, where the overused body swap plot was simply childish. Tennant came into his own in the second episode when he licked the walls and asked people to arm themselves with books. From then on out, his performances varied between adequate and contmeporary, and moments of brilliance. His success obviously bolstered by good looks/contemporary geek-chic dress for the girls and gay crowd, and the fact that for new audiences this became THEIR first long term Doctor with whom they had invested emotion into. Newer audiences have been left with horrible science-fiction which celebrates the fetishistic markers of scince fiction rather than decent stroy telling. While Doctor Who is above par, it too has been dumbed down for newer audiences (timey-wimey - as if!). Tennant ultimately went out on a note of whingeing - WHINGEING about saving a companion. Completely ignoble, and very out of character. the last episodes were a celebration of David Tennant leaving and not the regeneration of the Doctor.

It may seem as if I have it out for Tennant - I do not! I honestly enjoyed his term and many of his character quirks. I may have disliked and liked some of the writing, which goes far towards explaining some of my overall distaste for some of Nu-Who (which, although not completely his fault has to be laid at the feet of Russell T. Davies) but overall I thought it was okay. And that's it. Okay. not this great thing the younger set seems to think is mind-blowing, but okay. It's as if they lack the imagination to be able to enjoy the older (many better written) Doctor Who as stories and simlply replace in their minds the special effects. I have actually read on this very blog that the original Star Trek had to rely on acting because of the low level of special effects. What a statement! NO drama should have to rely on special effects - even fantasy/sci-fi which features them heavily. It should ALL come out of story telling and acting. The bias is purely superficial and says more about fickle taste than curent production values or audience attention spans.

Matt Smith has proven himself to be a brilliant Doctor - I had reservations about his age as well, but he has smashed them to bits. Better than the bland Peter Davison, his comic timing and sheer alien-ness blow the other two "just a bloke" new Doctors out of the water. His choice of costuming as more of an anti-cool geek thing eschews a contemporary feel, which is more in line with being a time-traveller - and I feel a braver decision. Admirable. While the first episodes harken back to the RTD era probablly because the writers don't know exactly what they are going to do with the new "feel' but also so not to alienate RTD fans - the series ended up finding it's own not-so-dissimilar feet and making this 38 yesr Doctor Who viewer a new believer again.

Just my two cents. Thank you.