April 1st, 2010

sledge hammer!

a flash of genius

Up at Ma's. Long driving always makes time a little nebulous for me, especially if I do the trip in stages (which I did); I come out the other side not quite knowing when it is anymore. I realized now that it's early Thursday morning, which means that SPARTACUS episode 11 airs tomorrow, which ordinarily would give me cheerful anticipation of complete insanity -- except I'm not thinking about it at all, because DOCTOR WHO is back on Saturday, and we're getting thirteen weeks of a new Doctor, a new companion, a new showrunner, and (I'm certain) a new explosion of fan activity. There's a couple of weeks of overlap, but the thirteen-week seasons of SPARTACUS and DOCTOR WHO are neatly arranged for my convenience! TV should do this *all the time.*

Brainwave: TV SHOULD DO THIS ALL THE TIME. Don't have one TV season. Have four. Go to the thirteen-episode season model for dramas (I haven't cared about a sitcom since SLEDGE HAMMER! went off the air), and have four seasons with a few new shows in each. If the fates align, I could have one new hour of entertainment every week.

2010 is actually kind of close to that. It started off with SPARTACUS, which is, yeah, okay, *not good* but it is relentlessly entertaining and I am getting considerable mileage out of it. Now, with very slight overlap, it's DOCTOR WHO, for which I have high hopes. DOCTOR WHO will run until the summer months, which is when LEVERAGE (not a good show, but a passable timekiller) is back. In the fall... something? I don't know. Maybe something will come along. But the possibility of having a year pass like this is pretty remarkable.

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cass groovy

I think I know what Smith was on about

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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