Happy 10th Birthday New Who
Doctor Who is the best show in television history as far as I’m concerned, I love that there is a show that spans so many decades, and generations.
The genius conceit of a regenerating Time Lord offers an open canvas for telling superb stories, imagining impressive scenarios, audience engagement, characters, surprises, and an evolution of production methods, improving broadcast standards and consistently impressive performances throughout, what more could you ask for?
Of course there is room for improvement, tightening story lines, adding new “things” and getting more female representation on the writing and technical teams for added perspective, but this is the beauty of Doctor Who. It’s all about progression.
Each player who has ever been involved has taken the role of the Doctor and while retaining the core character, has moulded their specific incarnation into individuals we continue to believe in, that inspire us, that we continue to watch, think about… all the while bringing into the character, more depth, vision and an unusual sense of what progression must feel like to an infinite creature… which is why Peter Capaldi had not just one set of enormous shoes to fill, but twelve!
In 2005 I wasn’t certain what to expect, but Christopher Eccleston was phenomenal and therefore shattered all preconceived ideas. His nuanced portrayal of simple guy with a dark sense of humour, running away from something huge, comes across perfectly when enjoyed almost a decade later. We don’t know exactly what went down between him and the BBC, but judging by rumours, and the subtext conveyed, there’s a story here, and maybe one day we’ll get to know it.
The perfect cup of tea, David Tennant was a gorgeous, sexy and emotionally complexed Doctor, sharing companions with his previous version, but accumulating many more along the way. Of all the Doctors I think he was the most versatile, providing wholly believable performances alongside a diverse range of companions and villains alike.
All his interactions brought yet another layer to his wonderful characterisation of the Doctor. He’s an amazing performer who gave us so much to love about the intricate network of empathetic relationships lovingly woven into the tapestry of Who mythology during this time.
I know some fans complain that the Russell T Davies era is when the show was best and it shouldn’t have been tampered with, and that opinion may have merit because it was so good… but life moves on for people, and different compositions of writing teams, bring different strengths and foci. Steven Moffat brought us a new, sharper depiction of life in the TARDIS with his unending incredible (sometimes twisted) imaginings, able to bring forth vivid ideas with exquisite timing, and sometimes when I think he might have let us down, he surprises me by drawing down on it at a later point. So, whatever we may at the time see as plot holes, usually turn out to be investments in the future, creating more scope to go so many more places.
For example I think I am still reeling from Death in Heaven. I was so utterly disappointed by a handful of things, that the brilliance of the rest of the other things were dulled. Happy to say that the Christmas Episode made up for it in spades, and I am thrilled that Clara is staying because I think she has to – they couldn’t end things like THAT!
So, where was I?
Oh yes, Matt Smith… Through Matt Smith’s marvellous morphing and Steven Moffat’s macroscopic vision, we finally glimpsed into the deeper heart of the Doctor, we discovered history that had only previously been alluded to. We understood how Christopher Eccleston had come into being who he was – dark and flavoursome, not quite the potency of strength 6 Columbian Coffee like Peter Capaldi – but more akin to Espresso in the sense his regeneration was so quick and startling that by the time you saw it coming he’d left.
Matt Smith (Whole bean, Instant coffee) was larger than life, loud, loveable and as mad as a box of frogs sometimes, a contrast to Tennant. He brought us fish fingers and custard, an almost unforgivably unpunctual Time Lord, showing true mastery of time travel, and he upgraded the Sonic Screwdriver to be the most useful sonic device in the Universe – just as well it doesn’t work on wood.
And finally (for now and the foreseeable) Peter Capaldi, the mad eye-browed idiot in space is our guide through more amazing stories, ideas, revisitations, and imaginings of the fans who create for fans. Mercurial, loyal, angry, loving… a dichotomy in flux, flipping from one end of one continuum, to the extreme end of another. I am so absolutely intrigued by his character, and I watched each episode several times! I can’t wait to see where he and Clara are going to take us in Season 9. I will be there, you can bet your boll… er… life on it.