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Eccleston VS Tennant Who [Dec. 18th, 2009|03:38 pm]
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[mood |disappointeddisappointed]

In the last week or so I've been watching back some of the Ninth Doctor stories, and it hit me - I was enjoying the show a lot more than I have been over the last year or so.

Don't get me wrong, I like Tennant as an actor. They've taken his Doctor to some interesting places, but I've come to realise I don't have the connection to his version of the character that I have with Eccleston, which is a shame, because initially I loved Tennant right out of the box. I thought he was a fabulous new direction for the Doctor.

So what's changed?

Well, I can't be sure without rewatching all the Tennant stuff back as well, and at the moment I can't be bothered (surely that's telling of problems right there), but I think it's a matter of character. And story, but mostly character.

The Tennant Doctor has become a series of check-boxes that must be ticked in almost every story. Doctor babbles on amusingly (tick!), Doctor gets dark angry (tick!), Allons-y (or however you spell it - tick!), and so on. He's mostly a collection of mix and match parts than a whole being.

Whereas the Ninth Doctor was actually a character. The only major obvious check box was "Fantastic!" Oh there were mentions of the Time War and so on, but his character reacted to the situations he found himself in in different and sometimes surprising ways as he grew and healed. He reacted to what was happening to the story according to his mood and the situation.

He didn't have stock reactions that were there as a form fan service, and neither did he usually react in a way that felt forced on the character just to forward the story in particular directions.

It's started to feel (to me) as if the Tenth Doctor reacts to the story in the ways that will make sure the expected check boxes will be ticked. 'Oh, David should be shouty and arrogant here, because we haven't done that for a little while...' or 'Well, he has to babble, it's his thing...', 'oh I know, let's have him go mega-angsty yet again, 'cos that never gets old...'

Interestingly, Waters of Mars handles it quite well, to a point. By making him listen to the destruction of the people he admires one by one, and racheting up the angst, when he snaps and saves people who shouldn't be saved it works. Oh it ticks the Time Lord/God box, but in this instance they've pushed the situation so far they pretty much had to have him save people.

In some ways it may have been a hell of a lot more interesting if he hadn't.

But their whole Time Lord Triumphant isn't exactly a dull idea, and as a direction for the character it is genuinely dramatic and new. Until they bugger it up at the end with Cheshire Ood and the Doctor becoming a gibbering wreck.

Then of course we get the little snippet from The End of Time where he's back to the checking the happy-go-lucky babble box. I actually liked that scene a lot the couple of times I'd watched it, but since watching Eccleston's version of the character all I could think was how much cooler and more interesting it would have been if it had been played much more low key, as if he's putting on the pretense of who he was, but his heart just isn't in it. And it would follow nicely from the end of WoM.

It's kind of a shame. The Doctor that delighted me in his early stories isn't there any more, replaced by the shorthand cookie-cutter approach to actual character. I don't care any more, I just want him gone so we can try something new.

Such a shame. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.

[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-12-18 05:08 am (UTC)
I actually really like that happy babbly scene at the beginning of "The End of Time" because it's so transparent that the Doctor is only doing that superficially as an extremely nervous response.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-12-18 05:39 am (UTC)
I'm not sold on the idea that the scene was written with that intention. I can believe Tennant chose to play it that way, but with the writing we've been given recently, it just feels like 'well, have to have babbly Doctor to start things off.' (tick!)
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-12-18 05:40 am (UTC)
I absolutely think that's the way Tennant's playing it - you can see it in the body language. It's more evasive, and even more 10th Doctory than usual.
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From: jblum
2009-12-31 01:24 am (UTC)
...and, as I said in the comment below, according to the commentary his reluctance to go there is an entirely deliberate attempt to spotlight the tenth Doctor's character flaws. He's trying to laugh in the face of destiny, and not really succeeding...
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-12-31 01:42 am (UTC)
It is definitely one of the few parts of the episode I feel really works.
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From: jblum
2009-12-31 01:23 am (UTC)
You might want to listen to the End of Time Pt 1 commentary -- RTD talks at some length about how that scene was written to show the Doctor's... he hesitates to use the word arrogance, but possibly selfishness, in not wanting to face the summons and go to his death. And he points out that it's the fact that he delayed -- as underlined by the Ood saying he shouldn't have -- which means that he's therefore one step behind the Master's resurrection rather than ahead of it, and therefore brings about the whole mess.

In other words, it's a classic tragic-hero routine, where his character flaw brings about his own destruction.
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[User Picture]From: purrdence
2009-12-18 05:09 am (UTC)
I really wanted to slap The Doctor RTD by the end of Waters of Mars. I don't like the way Ten has been taken either.
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[User Picture]From: stephen_dedman
2009-12-18 06:03 am (UTC)
Agreed. I can't think of any other Doctor Who story where I've hated the ending that much, even in the Colin Baker days.
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[User Picture]From: mondyboy
2009-12-18 01:21 pm (UTC)
I loved it.
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[User Picture]From: stephen_dedman
2009-12-18 02:52 pm (UTC)
It wasn't RTD's characterisation of the Doctor that infuriated me, or the mysterious sudden appearance of the Ood, so much as Brooke's suicide, which struck me as completely out of character for her (and also left me wondering why settlers on an otherwise uninhabited planet would carry sidearms). Up until that point, I'd quite liked the episode, but I thought of three better endings by the time the credits had finished.
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[User Picture]From: nevryn
2009-12-19 10:27 am (UTC)
I thought it was very much in character. She's built up fairly early on as being capable of making the hard decisions, as "doing whatever it takes" and capable of sacrifice.

And when she knows that her continued survival threatens the future history of the human race, it's exactly what she does.
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[User Picture]From: stephen_dedman
2009-12-19 10:53 am (UTC)
Maybe I blinked at the wrong moment and missed something, and I don't have a copy of the ep to hand... but it didn't seem to me that her being found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot in a London apartment would have the same sort of inspirational effect as her being martyred in a tragically heroic mission to Mars.

The alternate endings that occurred to me while the end credits were still rolling were:

1. The three he rescues become the next companions.
2. He takes them to some place where they'll be safe, but won't screw up the timeline.
2a. (my favourite) He takes them to the extrasolar planet where Brooke's grand-daughter will land, re-uniting her with her family.
3. Brooke realizes that leaving her corpse for her family to find is not going to inspire anyone to explore the universe - quite the contrary. Instead, she arranges for herself, Mia and Yuri to disappear (or, alternatively, shoots them and disposes of their bodies before committing suicide in a manner that won't leave an identifiable corpse).
3a. Realizing that the Doctor has gone power-mad, she shoots him first, to prevent him fouling up time any further.

4 (which I thought of later). Not exactly a changed ending: something earlier in the episode to indicate that Brooke needed to leave Earth for reasons of her own, and her despair at being returned there led her to commit suicide. (One possibility was that her heart was no longer able to cope with 1 gravity: I know this is asking a bit much of scientifically semi-literate tv, but I was also annoyed that everyone adapted instantly to Earth gravity after a year on Mars. And don't try to tell me they'd bother putting artificial gravity in the colony.)
5 (which I thought of just now). She uses the gun to force the Doctor, Yuri and Mia back into the TARDIS, and makes the Doctor think for a moment about the consequences of his actions.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_roy
2009-12-18 06:17 am (UTC)

It's like RTD is having a mid life crisis he wants to see played out on screen. The fact that he has changed the Doctor so quickly bothers me. The Doctor has never been worried about human conquests, he loves Rose and didn't even go there with her.

If Gallifrey comes back, I just might cry. Not looking forward to The End of Time, I just keep telling myself Ten2 will become 11 and Rose will live happily with Ten. *Im happy in my denial bubble!*
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-12-18 10:07 am (UTC)
I preferred Eccleston all the way, and was very sad to see him go. David Tennant has had his moments, but, really as a whole I really really love Eccleston.

Why? He just pulls it off better - see the episodes with the little kid asking where his mummy is. (Ironically with a not too dissimilar flavour to the plot to GIJoe did anyone notice?)

I have a sample of Eccleston in an Orbital song, You Lot, where his rant always, always reminds me of the Doctor - I also think he did a similar rant in the doctor series although the sample was actually taken from a moive.

Anyway, point of my ramble is - yay Eccleston Doctor Who!
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[User Picture]From: fuschia17
2009-12-18 10:08 am (UTC)
BTW that was me.

I am seriously not ananymous or a number...

Actually I am a number aren't? Grins...
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