Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Ninth Doctor : Darkness Follows

It's funny; I really intended this to be a media blog--and it will be, it does have its moments--but I've noticed that it's become more of a Doctor Who blog. It's where I showcase my love for this venerable sci-fi classic and display my opinions (usually very positive ones). As I've stated previously, even I, a Yank, grew up on this show. I remember with a strange hazy fondness: Tom Baker with his multi-coloured scarf, giant spiders, Daleks, and yes, to a lesser degree, Sarah Jane Smith. It was oddly exhilarating and to me, a bit scary. (C'mon, that thing with the giant spiders? Gah, it makes me shudder still nearly two decades later.) I loved horror as a child and it still resonates with me into adulthood. I chose to write pretty and scary stories as a grown-up. Doctor Who doesn't quite qualify as straight horror, and I've always been rather disdainful of science fiction, but as with all things, it has its moments. When I learned the BBC was going to revive the series, I was anxious, and I don't mean in an ecstatic way. I was wary because it had been a long time since I'd encountered the Doctor and the TARDIS. I wondered if that sense of magic, wonder, of awe I'd experienced as a child could ever be made real again. And I was quite pleased to find that yes, it could be. It was. I mean, it does help that the Beeb can make it look less cheesy than it did when it originally aired all those years ago. Anyway, here are my reasons as to why I think this current series has impressed me so much:

1) The casting of such a reputable actor like Christopher Eccleston. I know that I am a bit enamoured of him, but I have been following his career for years. He makes an excellent Doctor: a bit mad, a bit sardonic, and a bit dismissive.

2) An obvious reverence for the show. It's quite apparent that Russell T. Davies and company love the whole mythos for Doctor Who and it's endearing...even if they stumble a bit sometimes.

3) The relationship between the Doctor and his current Companion, Rose Tyler. I find it very fascinating that out all of the Companions we have ever met or seen, Rose seems to be the one that is the Doctor's equal. And Billie Piper is growing on me, even if she does wear way too much mascara.

Listen, I know that here in the States, we're well into Series One; within a few weeks there will be more new Who episodes for nearly a year. So this entry deals with the Ninth Doctor; it'll barely touch on the Tenth One. This far into the series and I echo everything Jacob from TWoP has discovered. This Doctor we've come to know and love because of his quirks, his ruthlessness, and yet his unusual compassion, is the darkest Doctor I've seen yet. Nearly every episode has been touched with death. As an ordinary man who has been monitoring the Doctor's appearances throughout history puts it in the introductory episode, "Rose": "Everywhere he goes, death follows him." And it's true. This Ninth Doctor, this survivor of the last great Time War, doesn't just go swanning about in time. He seems to end up in situations that call his decision, and usually it's a very bloody one. The loneliness, the aching awareness that he is the last of his kind is very evident in the eyes of Christopher Eccleston. He adores Rose, even though she can frustrate him, but it's also a look of knowing no matter how much he cares for her, one day she won't be there anymore. I mean, look how many Companions there have been. And it's not because the Doctor has been fickle--though there have been a few instances of that--it's more because no matter what, a lot of them have been human and therefore have limited spans. The Tenth Doctor so eloquently states in the Series Two ep, "School Reunion," "You can spend the rest of your life with me, but I can't spend the rest of my life with you." (Yeah, I know said I wasn't gonna, but it summed it up well.) He will always be the Lonely God, the Last Gallifreyan. And sometimes this makes him mean, and sometimes this makes him melancholy. I have observed that throughout Series One to his regeneration, that the Ninth Doctor learns the meaning of sacrifice, of letting your burden go, of grace, and of course, love. He gives his life for Rose in the last episode. I don't think that's something he could've done if he hadn't learned to change and give a part of himself. After all the death we witness in the series, the most painful one is that of the Ninth Doctor. There's something...poetic about that.

Sorry, this entry is late. Apologies.


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