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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Smith’

I am, without a doubt a Doctor Who fan and would rate my level of enthusiasm for this institution of entertainment at a five out of ten. I place myself in the mid-range of fandom for several reasons. My familiarity with the first eight Time Lords is quite superficial and I have next to no interest in getting to know more about them. I’m not likely to dress up as a Doctor Who character, but I can’t ignore a TARDIS-themed merchandise display.  I don’t differentiate between the models of sonic screwdrivers nor do I care that the Slitheen family come from the planet Raxacoricofallapatorious. My mind gets in muddle when they start talking about the danger of crossing time streams; nevertheless, I’ve come to accept that I don’t always know what’s going on and I just enjoy the ride.

I like the stories, I like the characters, and I like the twists that make your mouth drop open just a bit when the reveal happens.  I LOVE the heartfelt moments and I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve shed a tear on more than one occasion. I am a fan, not a fanatic. Therefore the recent 50th anniversary inundation has presented me with a bit more Who than I require in most situations.

In the States, BBC America proclaimed this past week Doctor Who Takeover Week.

Time Lord Montage

 

Marathons of all three Doctors’ episodes from the rebooted series were broadcast non-stop – even Christophter Eccelston’s meager one series run despite the fact he couldn’t be bothered to participate in the 50th anniversary festivities.  Various other specials premiered including one where physicist Brian Cox explained how time travel and other Doctor Who concepts might be scientifically possible (I have a feeling it would have been more entertaining if the actor Brian Cox had been there instead, but oh, well)…

 

 

 

Friday night I did enjoy the bits and pieces I was able to catch of An Adventure in Space and Time.  This TV movie tells the story of the beginnings of Doctor Who including  the casting of William Hartnell (played brilliantly by David Bradley) as the show’s inaugural cranky time traveler. We get to see dramatizations of behind the scenes stories about how the sets were designed, why regeneration became a part of Time Lord canon and the many fights producer Verity Lambert (Call the Midwife’s Jessica Raine), the first female producer for the BBC, had to wage to give her show a fair chance to become the legend it is today.

 

 

Unfortunately I was in the midst of making Fish Finger cookies (chocolate wafer cookies rolled in graham cracker crumbs and baked until golden crispy) for my 50th anniversary Time Lord Trivia Tournament at work the following day. Some of you  may remember my post from last year – How to Put on a Doctor Who Extravaganza in Six Not So Easy Steps.  What I did this year was basically an upgrade of the original – I swapped out about 75% of my old questions for new ones, my co-worker Mary came up with a Tardis bookmark craft to replace the River Song diary and we had included food this time – the aforementioned Fish Fingers and custard.  This photo actually demonstrates the incredible popularity of this snack as at the beginning of the event, this tray was completely covered in faux fish fingers.

 

Fish Finger Cookie and Custard image credit Lauri Frashure

Fish Finger Cookie and Custard image credit Lauri Frashure

 

I’m happy to say that this program drew twice as many participants as last year.  I can’t take the credit for all the success as I had support from my co-workers Jordan, Kathleen and Fabian.  And it must be said, all the 50th anniversary hubbub did much of my advertising for me.  Stick a life size TARDIS replica in your lobby for a week and it will recruit a healthy crowd.  No mere flyer can do as much!

Upon returning home after orchestrating this exhausting adventure, I settled down with some Chinese food to watch the encore showing of “The Day of the Doctor.” (See, if I was a true TARDIS-blue Whovian,  I would have cancelled my program at work and stayed home to witness the global simulcast on BBC America at 2:50 ET.)  I enjoyed seeing David Tennant back in the pinstriped suit and converse “sand shoes”. I liked John Hurt’s performance and his fauxhawk . Billie Piper didn’t annoy me as much as she usually does, but then she wasn’t truly Rose in this episode so at least I know it’s Rose Tyler, the character, I don’t like rather than just Billie Piper the actress and her amazingly equine-like mouth that bothers me so.

And dear Matt Smith, I’m missing the 11th Doctor already…

 

 

Three Doctors in one place, the potential to change Gallifreyian history, nods to Doctors past and future – what more could you ask for?  Well, what I was most anxious to see was two Doctors on a couch answering (or not answering) the questions of Whovians perched precariously on a certain red chair…

 

 

Not only was the entire Doctor Who segment of the Graham Norton show great fun, but it illustrates my initial point.  I am a fan, not one of those delightfully eccentric people we just witnessed getting flipped over by a their heroes in something approaching a comfy torture device.  (I know you’re thinking it, “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”).  Though when I think about it, that last tattoo guy got to not only meet David Tennant but also got to touch him when the 10th Doctor autographed his arm.  Perhaps, I’m ignoring the fast track to fan girl glory?

The anniversary of any TV show that can draw a fan base for fifty years is an achievement to be celebrated for sure, but I’m happy to say the overwhelming wave of Doctor Who is over for now, or at least until Matt Smith’s farewell episode is aired this Christmas.

 

 

Until then I plan on recovering from my Doctor Who fatigue by avoiding reruns and staying away from time machines of all sorts.  Anyone else experiencing a Time Lord hangover or is it just me?

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I just happened to glance at Facebook today right as the bombshell announcement was made  –  Matt Smith will be leaving Doctor Who after this year’s Christmas special.  Not a total surprise, but a recent pronouncement found on more than a few internet sites certainly led one to believe that he would continue as the mad man in a blue box for another series.  In a show that’s produced its share of red herrings, I wasn’t expecting one from the star himself.

Matt Smith and the Tardis image credit guardian.co.uk

Matt Smith and the Tardis image credit guardian.co.uk

I’m not complaining. Matt’s run has been significant in quantity and quality.  His eccentric, energetic, emotional portrayal of the 11th regeneration was always a joy to watch. Even though he was the youngest actor ever to play the role, he made you believe he was a millennial alien time traveler. His interesting, expressive face helped – my husband was always mentioning his noticeable lack of eyebrows – but I think he also had the courage to take risks and the talent to pull it off.

And while the modern Doctors have nowhere near the number of episodes under their belts as the classic ones did, Smith’s 44 episodes approached the David Tennant mark of 49 and we all know they both far exceeded the aloof 9th Doctor’s total of 13 paltry episodes.

Why did Eccleston even bother?  There were companions who logged double and almost triple that amount.

After the painful departure of the 10th Doctor, I learned that the grief caused by a regeneration takes time to heal.  And whereas flirty, charismatic Tennant’s exit left me with the ache of a slightly besotted fangirl, Smith’s farewell is more likely to feel like the loss of a mischievous but beloved little brother.

Until I feel ready to accept a new Time Lord into my heart (and I will not waste my time speculating who the replacement will be), I will take comfort in some fond memories of the brilliant 11th Doctor…

New Mouth, New Rules

 

The Doctor’s Ingenious Cover Story

 

Fluent Speaker of Baby

 

The Doctor’s Truest Love

 

We’re All Stories in the End

 

Best of luck to Matt Smith on the next chapter of his career.  Geronimo!

 

 

 

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Later on this evening, we will know who has won the 2012 US Presidential election (maybe) and not a moment too soon I can tell you.  In our house, we’ve been pressing the mute button on the campaign ads for months now.  In my view, the problem with the American political system is that there’s no middle ground, no compromise, and when it comes to running for office, no substance either.  We get to know our potential leaders through a filter of sound bytes, image consultants and spin doctors.  And for all the preaching we hear about the deficit and making tough financial choices for the good of the country, the amount of money spent to get candidates elected is nothing short of obscene.  On top of all this, I live in what the media likes to call a swing state so we’ve been hit harder than most with a constant barrage of tv ads, mail flyers and campaign visits.  I’m quite weary of it all and I just want it to stop.

As a diversion from all this carefully choreographed nastiness, I’ve been examining the UK equivalent.  I’m talking about the handlers, the people behind the scenes whose job it is to make their guy look good or at least competent.  I’m afraid the prep time the team put in on this junior minister was all for naught:

The staff researchers who read, digest and write almost every word for their MP or candidate:

And the party press officers who, in the end, care about nothing but their own survival.  Believe it or not, the three guys in this room are all members of the same party:

The Thick of It is hardcore satire of the British political scene so everyone is supposed to be caricature of either a power-hungry monster (Malcolm Tucker) or a major screw-up (all of the ministers).  Only Party Animals researcher Danny Foster (yes, that was The Doctor, Matt Smith), clings passionately to the ideal that government can make the world a better place, just like some character out of West Wing.

And it is just that attitude that separates American from British politics.  American politicians often refer to their public service as a calling while I think their British counterparts consider politics a career choice.  In the US, we are sweetly earnest and famously idealistic about our democratic process whereas citizens of Great Britain are perhaps more practical and definitely more cynical regarding theirs.  For example, in the UK there is something called a shadow cabinet wherein the party not currently in power (the opposition party) appoints their own members to “shadow” each actual cabinet minister, that is to criticize their legislation and policies while offering alternative ones.  Essentially, the shadow cabinet are preparing a point by point platform for the inevitable day when the voters will turn against the party in power and bring in the other guys for a turn at not fixing any of the country’s woes. Peter here is a shadow minister, trying to connect with his constituents via a ghost written blog:

I realize I sound a wee bit disillusioned but it’s just the election cycle fatigue talking.  Not to worry, I haven’t let it keep me from the polls.  I voted for the candidate who mirrors my own philosophy and values; who thinks education is the key to building a better society and not just a plot by the teacher’s unions to score more jobs; who wants dignity for people of all ethnicities, religions, genders, and sexual orientations;  and knows how to conduct himself in a professional, respectful manner when representing the US to the rest of the world.

Did you guess?

Do I think things will change after this election?  I’m past those kind of expectations, the kind only my college-age children and their generation can hope to sustain.  That’s the assimilated Britishness coming out in me.  Realistically, the best we can do is deal with what we get and continue to do what we feel is right despite what an electoral majority of our countrymen may think is the best path.  Keep calm and carry on.  Wait, that’s an English thing too.

P.S.  I guess I was part of the electoral and popular vote majority.  Who knew?

And just so you don’t believe that politics in the UK is without some emotion and passion, please enjoy this example of the Prime Minister’s Questions:

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Some of you may recall I was hesitant to move on to another Doctor after watching the David Tennant incarnation of the Time Lord.  There’s a saying that applies here -“you never forget your first Doctor”.  And believe me, I haven’t.  But right here I have to admit that the 11th Doctor’s adventures are the best I’ve seen so far thanks to a cosmic combination of Matt Smith as the intrepid Doctor;  excellent companions, feisty Amy Pond and loyal Rory Williams;  all steered by the capably creative hands of producer and sometimes writer Stephen Moffat. Why do I like this lineup so much?  Amy and Rory make an exceptional companion team.  After the romantic drama of Rose Tyler, the unrequited love of Martha Jones, and the platonic bickering of Donna Noble, a married couple makes for a very welcome change.  Yes, there’s a strong bond between the Doctor and Amy Pond which at times makes Rory wonder where Amy’s heart really lies but in the end there’s no doubt that the Pond-Williamses are irreversibly devoted to one another.  The Doctor feels a special connection and responsibility for Amy because he sees her foremost as the girl who waited.  It’s basically a lovefest in a big blue box.  Add to this the wonderfully suspenseful and twist-filled tale of River Song woven throughout series 6 by Steven Moffat you have a piece of purely joyous entertainment.

I realize I’m gushing and while at first my growing enthusiasm took me by surprise, it really makes sense how the Doctor and his world can infiltrate your own.  From the ubiquitous TARDIS and sonic screwdriver to the mostly constant rules of time travel to the promise of an perpetually regenerating Time Lord, fans of Doctor Who delight in all these familiar aspects of a fantastic alternative reality .  They make us feel we’re in on something that those less enlightened “non-Whovians” have somehow failed to embrace.  And whenever my head starts to hurt a little as I attempt to keep all the time streams straight, there’s always a funny bit to remind me it’s not really rocket science.

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