Watching The Wheels

Monday, March 2, 2009

Matt Smith: Eleventh Doctor in the Eleventh Hour

I have to admit, I have never seen any of Matt Smith’s acting. But when I saw the video interview with him when they announced he was to be the next Doctor Who, I was immediately sold. For those of you who don’t know – and if you don’t, you’re probably not reading this – Doctor Who is a British sci-fi series that has been going on since the early sixties. So far, 10 actors have played the part. You see, the Doctor is a time travelling alien, and when he’s near death he regenerates into a new body. This was an ingenious way for a new actor to take over the role when one tired of it, or was fired.

Therefore, the Doctor has had many personalities, my favorite being Peter Davison. I was first introduced to the series here in the US in the mid 70’s. I was about 9 years old, and I had a fever of 102 and was watching Public Television on a Saturday. I was watching Tom Baker as the Doctor – the most recognizable by many as Doctor Who – and the confusion and cheesiness of the show was adding to my delirium. I didn’t like it but after a while I couldn’t live without watching it.

When Peter Davison took over the role I was doubly interested because, at the time, I looked very much like him. In fact, at Halloween in 1988 I went as his Doctor in a costume that was meticulously tailored (at large expense) and it was EXACT. It was a fine moment for me.

I lost contact with the show since. I have been reading online a lot about the new series, but haven’t seen it, except for one small episode in which the current Doctor (David Tennant) meets one of his former selves (Peter Davison). This wonderful little vignette was oddly moving to me. It was so well done, and Tennant is the best Doctor I have seen since Davison. It was a very emotional experience for me.

When I heard they had picked a new Doctor, Matt Smith, I was relieved. My reason for my relief I will not expound upon other than to say I’m glad that casting people in the UK are much deeper than here in the US. I love them for not opting to turn the show on its ear or, worse, go politically correct. What I had been reading about speculation for future Doctors was making me nervous.

Anyway, I saw the little video interviewing Smith upon announcing his casting and I was, frankly, hooked again. Just watching this young man talk, his movements, his thankfully non-Hollywood appearance (oh, and the hair) was a spectacle to behold. I said – out loud actually – after watching the video, “You guys got it right!”

So I have a much renewed interest in the good old Doctor Who. I have no doubt whatsoever – none – that young Matt Smith will be a blessing to a show already blessed with long life. Amazing, amazing casting. Now I have to go rent something he’s been in.

Oh, and I think that at the end of every episode he should say, “Damn.” No reason. Just “Damn.”

So, as the Cloister Bell rings, I’m off.

(c) 2009 by Andrew T. Durham

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