Friday Who Blogging

Initial Impressions

Season 1 of the reboot has finally arrived! Hooray!

I’ve just watched the first three episodes and I have to say I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. Not being very familiar with the show I couldn’t remember how different Doctors might be. I was expecting someone very different, that the character was going to be really different. I was pleasantly surprised that he isn’t really. The mannerisms aren’t the same of course, but the energy, the child-like excitement and smart-assiness of the character is exactly the same. Both Eccleston and Tennant are frenetic and oddly bubbly, and don’t take themselves seriously – and yet they do. Eccleson’s Doctor seems somehow lonelier though. Darker. Is that what the actor brings to the part or is that just where the character is at when we first see him? He’s traveling alone at this point. But the idea of a lonely Doctor makes sense with Tennant as well. It seems to make sense wrt to the character as a whole; why else constantly bring companions along with him? His world is dead, his family, his species. He is utterly alone.

Based on what I’ve gathered about the whole story arc of the entire set of series, he seems to go through life bringing humans with him to explore the universe. Maybe he’s excited about this place and that time and humans tend to share his excitement, so he brings them along. “Look look look!” he seems to keep saying. “This place/time will be neat! There’s this thing and that thing! Come on let’s go!” There’s a point (or two? three? can’t recall) somewhere in the shows I’ve seen or the snippets on youtube where the Doctor talks about running – one character talks to him about running, “we ran and ran, didn’t we Doctor?” Not running away, but running in excitement, like kids running into Disneyland. “What’s next?! What’s next?!”

I keep thinking that, for me at least, this is in part what’s so appealing about this show. Being a stereotypical gemini I’m interested in pretty much everything. Then I get tired of it and move on. So this aspect of Doctor Who is very appealing – I can relate to the two of them, wanting to explore. Also, the first DVD has an interview with Eccleston and he describes the show as being very emotional, that its central message is about a love for life and for all life-forms. From what I’ve seen so far I’d say he’s right. It’s a carpe diem sci fi show, with emotion and heart. Like that other cult classic, Star Trek, it speaks against bigotry – trying to show how people and life comes in all sorts of different shapes and forms, and that that difference does not suggest inferiority. It also has a class consciousness, to some degree: Rose keeps connecting to the staff, the Doctor comments on the privileges of the rich.

I may have had concerns about how much I would like this new Doctor, but they’ve all been completely assuaged. I actually really like him. I mean, look at his picture! He’s attractive, but not Ken doll-looking. His face is hard, but he has a kindness to those intense eyes and a soft mouth. Tennant is very pretty, much more youthful. Which isn’t bad, you understand, just different. Tennant appeals to me in a different way than Eccleston, thus far.

Being a bit of a dark soul myself, I think Eccleston’s Doctor appeals to that part of me. He’s got a lot of depth to him that’s more readily apparent; you can see the pain of his loss under the surface, and he’s darker at times, more serious. And yet, like Tennant’s Doctor, he’s also kind of bubbly and perky and full of the love of life. I think he’s goofier than Tennant’s Doctor, which is also appealing. Or, perhaps more accurately, he’s goofy in a different way. Don’t worry, eloriane, I’m not suggesting that Chris is a better Doctor than David – we won’t have to fight over it! They are very different, thus making comparisons difficult, and yet they are definitely the same character.

All of this suggests a post discussing acting and what individual people bring to the same character, how much of one’s own emotional and psychological make-up seep into one’s acting. I can definitely see the great appeal of the Doctor to actors! Very exciting work to be doing. But that discussion will have to wait for another time. I need to know the character’s developmental arc better before I can really discuss this with any depth.

But, I’m deeply pleased with what I’ve seen so far. Now I just have to wait for disc 2!

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