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Trial of a Time-Lord-to-be

I wasn't going to post about the Eleventh Doctor casting news, because I didn't really think I had anything to add. And I don't, not about the casting choice itself, except for a minor misgiving that he's not a bigger change in physical type from David Tennant. Which just means he'll need to make up for it with a big persona shift, because regeneration is more than just recasting -- the Doctor is not Darren Stephens. But that's not what made me decide to post after all.

At the risk of sounding condescending, I have no problem with fandom freaking on spec. That's just one of the things fandom does, and if people didn't have fun with it, I sincerely hope they wouldn't do it. Not my personal bag, but no skin off my nose either.

I am, however, observing it in a superficial sort of way, and keep being struck by some of the underlying assumptions -- at a couple different positions in the discussion -- about acting and age. And here's the thing that I think people are missing: Acting is all about being what we are not. (Generally speaking, we get there by building it out of pieces of what we are, but it's still all about getting there.)

I've personally known several, and am familiar with the work of several more, very young actors whom I would consider perfectly capable of bringing the whole package: the class clown, the Lonely God, the unknown quantity, the Oncoming Storm. We're talking about building a 900-year-old Time Lord here. In that realm, the difference between the life experiences of a 25-year-old and those of someone twice that age is a whole lot less than you might think.

On the other side of the coin, I've personally known several, and am familiar with the work of several more, middle-aged actors perfectly capable of keeping up with the physical demands of the Doctor's role in its current form. Richard Dean Anderson started playing Jack O'Neill at 47. Patrick Swayze, at 56 (not to mention, y'know, in treatment for pancreatic cancer!), has been dubbed "Superman" by his younger colleagues on The Beast.

These people are exceptions, yes. But any star is, by definition, an exception. Heck, statistically speaking, any time you book a gig you are an exception.

The Doctor, of all characters, is nothing if not the ultimate exception.

One more thought... We're all grownups. We all know that the story of the casting process as told in the Doctor Who Confidential special is already packaged, polished, and sprinkled with PR fairy dust. That's how these things work. But there's one thing I see no reason not to believe happened exactly as Stephen Moffat tells it: Matt Smith walked in on the first day and knocked their socks off, and they couldn't get him out of their heads.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is called being a star.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 7th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
I am so -trying- to reserve judgment. Because when Tennant first appeared, I called him Rat-Face for half a season. Now I'm in love.

And really... that's where my upset comes from. Not because they made a bad choice... I have no idea if they've made a bad a choice. But that they've made -any- choice.

I seek what I do not have in my fiction. Joy. Verve. Hope.

They're messing with that. And dear God, I'm afraid I'll lose them.
Jan. 7th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)
The idea of Who ever being without those things is almost beyond my imagination. Even at the worst of times, when the producers and the writers and the Beeb execs were playing tug-of-war from different planets *koff*trialofatimelord*koff*, that heart has always been there. It's not going anywhere.

Edited at 2009-01-07 03:41 am (UTC)
Jan. 7th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)

I actually first got properly enthralled by the Doctor during Trial of a Timelord, for all its faults. Kinda like meeting FK in third season. :-)

>"that heart has always been there. It's not going anywhere."

It has. I didn't know we were fearing it being extinguished!
Jan. 7th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
I actually first got properly enthralled by the Doctor during Trial of a Timelord,

I thought I remembered that about one of my friends, but wasn't certain who it was.

So many shows get screwed up beyond repair by casting changes, I can't blame anyone for being nervous. There's no concretely explicable reason why Who should be immune, even though I have faith that it essentially is.
Jan. 7th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
I accidentally surfed across a publicity photo of him and instantly hit the "back" button before I could properly focus. (Just got enough of a glimpse to agree that he's roughly the same physical type as Tennant and that disappointed me because I would really love to see someone completely unlike any of the previous incarnations.) It instantly hit me that I don't want to see this person until he IS the Doctor. I don't want to form an opinion based on a still shot or an interview or anything else. I want to see the new Doctor.

And the thing is, once I do see the new Doctor, I'll get used to him. I may not fall in love with him. He may not be my favorite. But he's bound to make me happy from time to time. I can start to tell you about how Colin Baker and Patrick Troughton are low on my list of favs ... and then giggle like an idiot through "The Two Doctors". I can shudder at what an old crank William Hartnell was ... and then heartily enjoy any of his pissier moments, which are somehow even funnier in the context of who he will become and put a whole new spin on the complaints that Nine or Ten were control freaks, because HELLO, of course, they/he are/is and always have/has been. (Ah, the joys of Gallifraen grammar.)
Jan. 7th, 2009 12:33 pm (UTC)
*giggle* Temporal tense tangles! Occupational hazard.

That seems like a very sensible approach. He'll be as shiny and new to you as humanly possible, which is going to be awfully cool.
Jan. 7th, 2009 09:42 am (UTC)
"the whole package: the class clown, the Lonely God, the unknown quantity, the Oncoming Storm"

I am hopeless. A young actor who can pull off "ancient and eternally young, disarming and powerful": Now I wish they'd cast Kyle Schmid as the next Doctor.
Jan. 7th, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC)
Maybe you're hopeless, but that's the most obvious name on the mental "perfectly capable" list.

And pretty much the same story -- you watch a guy get whacked in the head with a tennis ball by America Ferrera, you don't think "Gee, betcha he's got Henry in him." The chance to take on something like that in one's 20s is so incredibly rare, I can't imagine begrudging it to anyone.
Jan. 7th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
I think quite a lot of the problem people have with the new doctor is because they will miss Ten (I know I'm going to miss the Ten & Donnna Show). There's always something about the new that will never be as good as the old until it is no longer new and so forth. The actor's youth in this case is just an easy thing to notice that is different. It's funny really because of all shows Doctor Who is the one where total cast changes are the most likely and yet it's still hard for people to accept.

Talking of Henry makes me miss Blood Ties. I got the UK DVDs finally because I'm not sure how long it will take for BT to be released in North America.
Jan. 8th, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
So far my off-air copies are holding me over, but the wait is getting REALLY annoying. :-(

And yeah, change = scary. That's a given. It's the form some of the discussion is taking that caught my attention. Mostly just interesting.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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