Saturday, January 02, 2010
The Doctor is Out...and In.
Well, tonight was the premier in the US of the final episode of Doctor Who featuring the dreamy, dishy David Tennant. Now before we go any further let me just say that this post will be LOUSY with spoilers, so if you haven't seen The End of Time parts one and two run along and do so. We'll wait.....................
Oh, right, this isn't real time. OK, then, allons-y!
In 1980 or so I was watching the smallish black and white TV in my bedroom when a strange electronic music came on and a diamond shaped symbol seemed to tumble down a multi-colored(or so I had to assume) tunnel. Then the words Doctor Who popped up. I had heard of Doctor Who, and had even seen Doctor Who and the Daleks as a child, but those 1960s movies bore little resemblance to the wonders I was about to behold. A beautiful woman, Sarah Jane Smith, was helping up a man who seemed a stranger, and a friend all at once. He was tall, with a bushy head of ginger curls and a hawkish nose. But his eyes twinkled like every imp ever imagined, and his smile lit the universe. Tom Baker had just taken the mantle, and long scarf, of Doctor Who. I watched him fight Daleks, and Sontarans, and Cybermen, and glowing plastic-wrap-cellophane cabbage monsters. Eventually Sarah left, and the feral but smoking hot Leela joined the TARDIS crew along with the dogamaton K-9. The show was cheese with a capitol CHEE, but it always stayed just serious enough to be fun. And the Doctor was always the center of the fun. When he got serious, you knew everyone was in deep kimchee.
I ate up the low budget special effects and over-dramatic acting because everyone was so committed to their parts that when a man was crushed to death between two mummybots in a way that could only be seen as silly, you rolled with it and felt a bit scared. What they lacked in cash they more than made up for with atmosphere, with great acting, and with a sense of fun that made it all work.
Then Baker decided to move on, or was moved on, I never really found out, and I reacted like many folks are reacting right now to David Tennant's departure. I won't like anyone else who dares to play the Doctor. And I was right. I took one look at Peter Davison in his cricket outfit and knew I wanted nothing to do with him.
Fast Forward a couple of decades and I hear of a new Doctor Who series on the horizon. Peter Eccleston is to play the homeless Time Lord this go round. Never heard of him, but I'll give it a chance. He was kinda goofy looking, with a rubbery face and tea pot ears, but I warmed to him right away and after only a few episodes I was hooked. Plus his new companion, Rose, was incendiary. They had many fun adventures which culminated with the Doctor nearly giving his life to save humanity. And in the process he triggered his regeneration. After only one season, he flippin' regenerated!! I was pissed! I liked Eccleston. I trusted him as the Doctor. I wanted more, God dammit! But the goofy, almost clownish face was replaced by an aquiline, narrow face with unruly brown hair and bird-bright eyes. This Doctor was a bit less scrappy, but he was certainly more dreamy. The Doctors on the whole haven't been known for being an overly good looking lot, but David Tennant is quite attractive. And he grew on my very fast. He was quick with a joke, or a smile, but there was always a subtext of sadness about him that really made the character come to life for me, and he is a good enough actor to know when and how much of that sadness to let through. There have been some clunkers on Tennant's watch. Planet of the Dead was terrible, as was the one with the little fat monsters, but overall it was a good run of shows, and they saved the Earth/Universe many times. But ultimately it came time for Tennant to leave, so what better way than to have him fight not only The Master, his arch enemy, but also the resurrected Time Lords themselves! That was a twist I did not expect. And the final battle was less about warriors, and rested squarely on the triangular antagonism between Rassalon(President of the Time Lords), The Doctor, and The Master. Of course the correct action is taken and the Earth is saved, but not the Doctor. Damaged beyond repair he knows he must regenerate soon. What then follows is, to me, an overly sentimental montage of the Doctor visiting his former companions so he can look wistfully at them from afar before turning, always sadly, away. Then he launches the TARDIS afer a quick chat with an Ood, and in the process of regenerating blows up the interior of the time capsule. Now granted I'm no Whovian scholar, but when did regeneration become The Quickening? Anyway, new Doctor shows up, realizes the ship is crashing, and proceeds to try to get everything under control. Cue music.
I liked it. I liked Tennant, but with Doctor Who you know that you don't get to keep them all that long, so I was not that upset by Tennant leaving. If the new guy does a good enough job then I'll stick around. If not, weeeeellllll, there are plenty of other shows out there Donna...sorry, Martha...I mean Rose. I've enjoyed enjoying Doctor Who again after all these years, and I'm excited to see what's next.
That's all for now. Beddy bye time.
So long, Mr. Tennant. You will be missed.