The Fifth Stage of Mourning Ten(nant)

Just a little update for everyone on the mourning Ten front. After “The Beast Below,” I think I’ve finally reached acceptance. The episode was remarkably well written, funny, and poignant, and Amy and Eleven are starting to develop a relationship that is different from anything we’ve seen before. (Somehow Amy manages to create more sexual tension than Rose while maintaining the can-do, take no prisoners attitude of Donna. I think I might be in love with her.) Matt Smith’s Eleven ain’t too shabby either. He is at once an old man and a child and manages to pull of the condescending tone we’re used to from Doctors like One and still be unbelievably lovable.

But what really helped me heal was this interview from the AV Club. In it, Matt Smith shows this amazing sensitivity and charm (plus he reveals he was a soccer player, another plus for me). He is humbled by the role, and just intimidated enough to do a good job.

AVC: Based on “The Eleventh Hour,” it seems like if anything is starting to set you apart, it’s that you use a lot more physical movement to your performance as The Doctor. Is it tough to be physical in tweed?

MS: [Laughs.] I don’t know, man. I think tweed lends itself to being physical, because it looks just a bit odd. I do hope he’s quite a physical Doctor, because I think that’s quite an interesting way to play the comedy of it, actually. I’ve always been interested in physical actors like Peter Sellers. I’ve always been interested in the body. There’s a French [performer and acting instructor] called Jacques Lecoq who’s always interested me, his theories and stuff. So I hope I continue to explore his mad physical side, because it’s this alien inhabiting a human body. It’s quite an odd concept.

AVC: You were an athlete before you were an actor, right?

MS: Yeah, I was a footballer.

AVC: Do you draw on that at all?

MS: Yeah, definitely. I think there are definite parallels between sport and art. There’s a real sense of sacrifice. There’s a real sense of dedication that is needed in sport that I think you can attribute to art. I think so much of it is about bravery and courage, being an actor. I think similarly, these things can be applied in artistic roles. It’s about having the courage to follow your instincts, and also having the discipline and dedication to sacrifice the things in your life that you need to sacrifice to get the best out of yourself artistically. So I learned a lot of valuable lessons as a sportsman.

AVC: The series can be any genre from week to week. Have you found, at this early stage, a preference for a certain type of episode?

MS: No. I guess one of the great liberations as an actor is that the show can go anywhere and do anything and be anyone. It’s ever-changing, and the worlds are completely ever-changing. There’s never any world that you can’t inhabit. I like the fact that it’s always changing. Once every 12 days, you’re in the future, then in the past. We filmed an episode called “Vampires In Venice.” We filmed it in Croatia, and that was rather wonderful. But then, of course, we went way into the future, and the sets are just mad.

AVC: Doctor Who has always been more of a cult sensation here in the U.S. than in Britain. How would you describe the series to someone here who has never seen it before? What would you say it’s like?

MS: I’d say it’s about a 900-year-old alien who travels around time and space in a blue police box, which is called the TARDIS, having adventures, saving the world, and defeating evil. It’s not bound by space or time or logic or genre, and therefore creatively it can go anywhere and do anything. You can be in the past with dinosaurs one week and in the future the next week, as the world is about to explode. I think it’s full of heart and humor and wit and invention. I think Doctor Who improves your life. And I mean that. It’s not just, like, my mission statement. I do, as a man who’s come to it late on, as well. It’s never too late to get into it. I think we’ve got a new team and a new show, and I think now is the time to start watching.

I totally agree, Matt. I totally agree.

………………………

Don’t get me wrong. It still hurts a little. I still tear up when I watch this,

but I’m getting more used to our new Time Lord.

I mean, how could you say no to that devilish glint in his eye?

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5 thoughts on “The Fifth Stage of Mourning Ten(nant)

  1. Yes – he HAS got a great glint – and you’re right he’s old man and child at the same time – and the first 20 mins of Beast Below were totally brilliant — but then —- arrrrgh! No!! – it’s all going wrong wrong wrong!

    And then – Victory of the Daleks? Victory of the scriptwritereater more like it. How could Gatiss do that to us?

    I think they should start again, with Doctor Who as a woman.

    • I was worried in the middle of Beast Below too, but I loved the ending because I realized we were definitely in a world governed by Moffat. Everybody lives Rose! Everybody lives!

      I don’t really like Victory of the Daleks turning the new Daleks into Toyota Priuses, but the idea of putting the Nazi allegorical Daleks back in WWII I absolutely buy. I’m growing to suspect that this series is going to be a little uneven. That happened in Series One, so I’m going to give Moffat the benefit of the doubt. I mean we’ve got Weeping Angels and River this week!

      ….I’ve always wanted Emma Thompson to play the Doctor. Always. (Or at least Romana.)

  2. I would definitely vote for Emma Thompson; it would be pure classic. And I’d probably do best to vote for her, given that my image might not get too many takers: What I had in mind was Annie Leibovitz’s photo of Jorie Graham:

    Jorie Graham

    with a character that crosses William Hartnell, David Tennant, and Germaine Greer.

    I think Matt Smith is looking good by now: bravely battling against those Toyota Prius Daleks (nice one); only-just-coherent Weeping Angels (they can always get you from behind; so really there’s no defense against them at all); and extreeeeeemly patchy plotting.

    And – no – wait! Series One wasn’t uneven! It was pretty much pure genius!

    • That is an amazing picture. It makes my mind spin and speculate.

      I’m going to have to defend the Weeping Angels because they are probably the most terrifying of all the Doctor Who villains to me personally (except for maybe the Master), precisely because there is no defense without a partner. Plus “Don’t Blink” did some of the most interesting stuff with time travel that the show has ever done. It pushed the limits of the show in a really brave way. …And it made me terrified of the Angel Bethesda in Central Park.

      I personally wasn’t very engaged in few episodes of Series One, most notably “The End of the World,” “The Unquiet Dead,” (both of which have this strange trend of sacrificing woman to save the future which made my skin crawl a bit) and “Father’s Day.” As always, the character development was excellent but they really didn’t have enough plot to sustain a full length episode, so there was a lot of asking big questions and Rose crying to distract you.

      The choice between Moffat and Davies is always a matter of taste, but I’m almost always more engaged by the worlds that Moffat creates because their rules allow for a greater emotional payoff. It’s a place that is very dark but sometimes people don’t stay dead (“Everybody lives!” or Bob’s haunting dialogue in “Time of the Angels.”) That’s kind of lovely.

  3. Yes! The first weeping angel episode was totally brilliant – perfectly constructed; and whole thing about the video having to be watched at the right time for it to make sense was incredible. I mean, it was as good an idea as any of Phillip K. Dick’s and I thought *no one* had ideas that good. And the angels are totally terrifying – they’re related to Ridley Scott’s Alien (which was [in the first movie] always supposed to be ‘balancing on one finger for the occasion’ whenever it appeared), but they almost improve on it. They’re more scary. Hiding their faces! Noo!

    My skin also crawled at the unnecessary virgin-sacrifice at the end of Unquiet Dead too; but I hadn’t spotted the pattern. Veeery interesting. There’s also that sadistic scene where the Dalek blasts the woman out of the space station, where you don’t hear the voice, just see the headlights flashing the ex-ter-min-ate syllables. Definitely a higher female body count. (It would never happen if Emma Thompson/Jorie Graham were in the lead).

    Re. Bob’s haunting dialogue – in the UK EVERY army recruitment advert has a voiceover like Bob’s – a good-salt-of-the-earth lowly-educated Northern Chap telling you how he found fulfillment through joining the UK’s mechanised killing machine and invading the developing world [it’s not quite phrased like that]. I thought Moffat was giving the British audience some helpful deprogramming with lines like “I had my neck snapped/I died alone in the dark”, delivered in the exact same cadences.

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