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May 3rd, 2010

11th doctor @ 10:05 pm

So, I'm still giving the new Doctor Who series a chance to grow on me. Specifically, I'm giving 11 (as a character), Matt Smith (as the performer) and Stephen Moffat (as head writer and new show runner) a chance to grow on me. Ok, throw in the revamped theme tune and TARDIS design.

But. Apart from the first 15 minutes of the first episode, and the generally wonderful creepiness of the Weeping Angels, I am not really appreciating this series at all. I'm about 90% postive that it's not because I'm so attached to 10/DT/RTD that I'm just looking for the "new guy" to fail [though it seems like Whovians out there automatically assume that's where you're coming from if you diss Matt Smith]. I mean, apart from the fact that I just love the Doctor as a character, even the Tennant fan in me wants the show to do well and be good because of David Tennant; I know he's a fanboy and I want him to like the show. And...that right there looks like a ridiculous argument, but I only bring it up to show that it's not a rabid fangirl Matt Smith vs David Tennant thing.

Only...obviously, it is. Because, while I think the writing has been sub par and feel that Moffat has almost been playing it too safe by trodding out fan faves and familiars like Daleks, Weeping Angels, River Song and the DoctorDonna/Bad Wolf-esque Grand Narrative where it all revolves on you, my trusty companion, a lot of my dissatisfaction is focused on Matt Smith. And of course some of that (most of it?) is the writing. But the most noticable thing is his performance. Sure, he's great at being alien and a bit mad and quirky, and that's a huge part of the Doctor's character and his persona, but the Doctor also has to have gravitas and Matt Smith just...doesn't. I'm sorry if that offends Eleven fans, I really am. But in the few dramatic scenes we've been given so far this series, I just didn't buy it. At all. And that, of course, is where a DT fan might start making those comparisons that a Who fan would honestly try not to make. You might think, if David Tennant was playing that scene, you wouldn't feel it was all an act. And then you might think, if the 10th Doctor was in this situation it would be so much more interesting. And then Matt Smith and the show runners have lost you!

And while I'd been worried about this before the series began, thinking it might be a stretch to buy someone as young as Matt Smith as the Doctor, I'd hoped his performance would carry him through [remembering that I'd thought David Tennant just seemed so young and bouncy and light compared to Chritopher Eccleston when he first started and me not being sure how that was going to work out and being pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed Ten]. So far, MS's performance, for me, really hasn't. And I'm genuinely sad about that, because this is the first time in years where I don't particularly care if I watch an episode the day it airs [where it used to be such an event].

So, sad that I'm not warming to Matt Smith as the Doctor (though given how well he plays oddball, I'm sure I'd enjoy him in other roles). Yet...angry about the writing. It's felt lazy, honestly. Sure, I loved the return of the Weeping Angels (even if the second of that two-parter was a let down and OMG awkward companion snogging!). But I'd rather have new monsters to face than the friggin' Daleks. Again. So soon. And the whole insinuation that River Song was imprisoned because she will kill the Doctor is...blah. Even if I could wrap my head around the complexities of a relationship on conflicting time lines.

[I'm guessing she first meets him as the 13th doctor at this point. I find it odd that she only met 10 once, and that this seems to be the first time she met 11 since his question about how she recognized him was met with that strange comment about pictures of all his regenerations rather than a simple "I've met this you before." I mean, with the whole journal she keeps and those questions about "have we done this yet?"...doesn't asking 10 that imply that she'd met him AS 10 in her past? Because...if she does have pictures of his previous faces she'd know 10 wasn't a Doctor from her future, right? Does that make sense?

And you'd guess that she wouldn't be imprisoned for simply forcing him to regenerate, though it's possible. If she kills 11, she'd have to be pardoned and then form the hinted romantic relationship with him as 12 and then die herself before finding out what 13 will look like (assuming they stick with 13, which I can see as flexible), thus assuming when she meets 10 that he's...13? No, that still doesn't work because a) she supposedly has the pictures and b) if she'd thought 10 was 13, she wouldn't have asked where in the time line he was because he'd know her whole timeline already! So...maybe 11 is the one who gives her the pictures, but leaves 10 out because he's insecure over David Tennant's foxiness ;D Seriously though, there are problems with it and that may be down to the fact that River met 10 only once (unless he bumped into her somewhere in between the 2009 specials and we'll find out about it later).

But then, if she does kill kill him [either when he's 13 or he dies before he gets a chance to regenerate], it makes her whole death scene sound a bit off. That is, she mentioned the last time (for her) that she was with him and how, though he was sad, it sounded like a romantic picnic situation, not one that ended in his death. Granted, between her killing him and the last time she runs into his younger selves, he might have found out some of the "spoilers" and forgiven her so that she can talk about their last meeting without a shred of guilt or remorse. Still, odd, but could work. And this is all assuming that the Doctor is the good man River kills, and assuming the techinical aspects of their wonky relationship isn't ultimately put down to wibbly wobbly timey wimey business.]

But back to the writing. The Doctor still seems off, like a clumsy, watered-down mishmesh of what's come before. And while he's supposed to have some shared characteristics with his previous selves, this just seems too...obvious. And though I love Amy Pond's spunk, there's nothing beneath the surface charm yet, and that's down to the writing, too. In Rose, we got a feel for Rose right away, could see her motivations for wanting to travel with the Doctor, could see some of her hangups and hopes and what she was running away from. With Donna, we got that twice. And even with Martha, who seemed to be sucked in by her infatuation with him, you still saw right away her work life, her family life, etc. With Amy, we're five episodes in and all we have is the whole "I met you as a kid and have been thinking of you ever since" thing and an undeveloped engagement plot. So, a second-rate cross between Reinette and Donna in The Runaway Bride, no? I'm sure we'll get more in the coming episodes, but it seems, well, ill-planned to put it off for so long. A bunch of weak episodes at the start of the series...not endearing to fans who may be skeptical about all the changes.

So. Obviously I'm a downer. I swear, there are things I've liked! The first 15 minutes of The Eleventh Hour were great, and Amy Pond is a bit adorable, and star whales are a cool idea, and the Weeping Angels are still creeptastic. So of course I'm not going to give up on the show or anything. But, yeah. The return of the Power Rangers Daleks is just cringe-worthy. And I'm not buying Matt Smith's dramatic moments at all. And, whatever his faults, I think RTD ran a tighter ship.
 
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Humility before the Facts

A moving and beautiful thing