Saturday, August 3, 2013

Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor

This is it people, the moment we've all been waiting for. From the moment that Matt Smith told the world that he is leaving the role of The Doctor in “Doctor Who”, the world, from London and Cardiff to Philadelphia (yeah that's right, Philly!) to Sydney and everywhere in between has been speculating on who would take over the role that made Smith a household name on 5 continents.

Now I realize that it's part of the British psyche to blow things out of proportion, their tabloid newspapers prove that on a daily basis, but is a live broadcast dedicated to the choice of a new actor to play a role that has been around for 50 years and has been played by 11 other people really necessary?

I get that the British betting parlors had nothing better to do after Kate and Will had their flippin' kid (seriously - you people need a life), but to be taking bets on who the next actor to play The Doctor????? To us here in the US, that's like taking bets on who will go to the bathroom next. In other words, it's inconsequential and not that important.

Previously, the next actor to play The Doctor had been introduced in a blurb in the Radio Times or some other publication and that was that. There might have been a picture of them in their new outfit (which kind of spoils things if you ask me), and a few words from the actor and that was it.

I get that “Doctor Who” is now a huge world wide cash cow for the BBC (and they'd better start putting that money into better special effects), but I really think they are starting to over hype things. With this “Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor” they are, somewhat embarrassingly, starting to believe the hype and get a little full of themselves, at least as far as I am concerned.

In August, 2013, there is no reason why the name of an actor, who will not appear on or TV screens until a year from now, need be announced. I know, I know, it takes the mystery out of things and allows them to film the climactic Christmas episode without a lot of leach-like paparazzi following their every move trying to figure out what actor they've brought in for the “Regeneration Scene”, but this over hyping of the actor's selection could possibly be what brings the show down in the end.

I truly believe that Moffatt and Company should heed the words of Patrick Troughton on taking over the role of The Doctor from the original, William Hartnell, "I think acting is magic. If I tell you all about myself it will spoil it."

See that, even Troughton was against spoliers, sweety.

And I think that's my biggest problem with this whole thing. I grant you that we over here in the US have not known any actor, except for maybe Peter Davison from his “All Creatures Great and Small” days, before they took on the role of The Doctor, or if they were known, they weren't widely known (like Eccleston and Tennant), and to me that's part of the “magic”.

These actors come to us with no proconceived notions, no baggage from earlier parts, which is something that makes, in my opinion accepting a new actor in the role a lot easier.

There was much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth when it was announced that Matt Smith was taking over in the role of The Doctor. I was one of those wringers and gnashers. I loved Dsavid Tennant. He brought the right amount of fury and comedy to the role an as much as I hated “The Season of Specials” and what I called “The 10th's Goodbye Tour and Extreme Makeover – TARDIS Edition”, I, like 10, didn't want him to go, but go he did and Matt Smith took over.

And you know what??? I am where I was at the end of Tennant's run, but even more so. I wasn't ever actually nervous about the naming of a new Doctor as I am now. From the second that Matt Smith stood down the Atraxi in “
The Eleventh Hour” I was hooked on the newly bow tied Doctor who would eventually allow his hat fetish to come out. I'm not going to say that I loved all of the concepts that Moffatt threw out there, especially at the end of Smith's 1st season, where after the events of the Pandorcia, bascially we had a universe that came from Amy's imagination, what I called the “Universe pulled out of Amy's Ass”.

Anyway, I have let my “Matt Love” get in the way here.

I truly hope that this over hyping of Smith's replacement does not raise the expectations of the fans too much, or in contrast, dash them to pieces. I would just rather be like The Doctor at the end of “The Eleventh Hour” when he approaches the newly rebuilt TARDIS in Amy's Aunt's backyard and says, “OK, what have you got for me this time?” when it comes to new actor in the role and I truly hope they are up to what's in store for them, for even before they have said one word of dialogue or flipped one switch on the TARDIS console, they will be the most sought after actor in the world.

As for me, I hope they go a little older, in the Tennant range. I think a transition from Smith to an actor that is more than 10 years older will be unbelievable. Matt's 30 now so a 40ish actor will work and, to be honest, even though The Doctor can appear to be anyone, by today's standards, a Doctor in his 50's or older , travelling along with Clara would be kind of creepy.  It was OK in the early 60's when The Doctor was Susan's Grandfather or when Dodo was there with Ben, but to have a 50something Doctor travelling with a 20something companion these days is weird.

Yes, I know that Billie Piper was 19 when she took on the role of Rose, but Eccleston didn't look old and neither did Tennant when he took over.

Despite his youth, Matt Smith could project that he was playing a character that was over a thousand years old, better even than David Tennant and Chrostopher Eccleston could. OK, they were in their 900's, but still, you get the idea and that was the genius in casting Matt Smith as Doctor Number 11. I truly hope they have that genius this time and that this extravagaganza on a Sunday afternoon here in the US and up in Canada (and in the VERY early Aussie and New Zealand morning on Monday) do not destroy the show that millions have grown to love.