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David Hines [userpic]

I think I know what Smith was on about

April 1st, 2010 (11:18 pm)

I went and rewatched "Tooth & Claw," which new Doctor Matt Smith ranks as his favorite of the new DOCTOR WHO episodes. On one hand, it's still pretty crud; it's one of those episodes where pretty much nothing happens until suddenly everything happens at once and people spend the rest of the episode frantically running around, with no real dramatic choices or thrillingly human moments anywhere. If I were eight, I'd have freaking loved it; in my thirties, I laugh at the ridiculous kung fu monk opener, and then get seriously bored for about half an hour. RTD apparently likes it a lot, but I honestly can't see why.

I can, however, see why Matt Smith likes it: because you really see David Tennant's performance taking form. In contrast to Christopher Eccleston, who had the character *nailed* from the get-go, David Tennant took a little time to pin down his Doctor. You can see it in "The Christmas Invasion" and in several of his first year on the show; he's just a bit off from from what he wound up becoming. He feels younger and goofier, with different posture and different gestures. But there's a scene where he has to *think,* to go into a frenzied bit of brainwork, and when he does all of a sudden this unformed, awkward character vanishes and David Tennant's Tenth Doctor is fully-formed and there, feeling like the Doctor in a way that Tennant's other scenes in the show often don't. It's an amazing thing to watch, and I bet that scene is why Smith went so strongly for the episode during his crash course: you can literally see what does and doesn't feel like the Doctor, so it's a great guide for an actor looking to play that part. For me as a fan, that scene shows the strengths and weaknesses of Tennant's performance; Tennant's Doctor is at his most Doctorish when he's flailing almost out of control, keeping things just on the edge of panic. As performance, that translates to Tennant talking fast, motormouthing, then GETTING LOUD, then going back to motormouth. That's part of why I still find Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor superior to Tennant's tenth: Eccleston played the part with a lot more subtlety and variation, and he had a more interesting sort of forcefulness.

Smith seems to be leaning more toward the Tennant side of things, but he'll doubtless put a new spin on it and I'm looking forward to seeing his interpretation. Is it Saturday yet?

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