Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The New Doctor Is gonna be a Badass,

and that's okay. 
Remember my first blogspot blog? At that time, I’d seen most of Series 1 of the new Doctor Who on the Sci-Fi channel. I liked it and accepted a lot of the campiness as an integral part of the series.

Anyway, then there was this new guy they wanted to be The Doctor. 

I hated him. He was nothing like The Doctor! All…handsome and fighting people. Mr. No-second-chances-I'm-that-sort-of-a-man.

I’m sorry; Doctor No-second-chances-I'm-that-sort-of-a-man.

But while the Ninth Doctor played by Chris Eccleston will always be my Doctor, his successor, David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, is my favorite. Perhaps even more than Nine, Ten bore the scars of The Last Great Time War, which appeals to me personally for a lot of reasons.

After that, we had Eleven and I didn’t like him either, but I knew that was an unfortunate side effect of having a good Doctor just prior. So I waited for Matt Smith’s Doctor to win me over and moment by moment, bit by bit, that didn't happen. There I was at the end of “The Time of The Doctor” waiting for the love to come even as The Doctor went.
Eleven and Moffat
Matt Smith nailed the intent of the scripts he was given, filling every inch of his role as the Doctor which a balance of cleverness, fun, and bad assitdue as required. Sadly, that role was largely shaped by Steven Moffat.

Moffat’s Doctor, Eleven, cavalierly jokes about the Time War, brags about destroying people, and has an unsettling desire to let everyone know that he’s really dangerous. Matt Smith isn’t the kind of guy I’d accuse of oozing machismo, but as Moffat’s Doctor he does.

Smith makes testosterone poisoning look classy. He’d make slipping a shiv between someone’s ribs look like a graduation march. He’d turn a threat to cut a bitch into an erudite statement of intent. It’s a credit to the actor that he can make such thuggish actions seem compatible with The Doctor I’m accustomed to. 

Moffat's Doctor has always been pulling towards badassery.
It’s the two worlds Smith marries that define the Eleventh Doctor; the inertia of previous Doctors solving issues with integrity and optimism versus Moffat’s desire to cast that off in the name of being a powerful male lead. There’s this palpable frustration with Doctor Who as it stands.

In “Demons Run,” The Doctor is accused of being a good man of principles. His retort isn’t that good men can be dangerous, but that he is not a good man and that makes him dangerous. I’d like to remind you all that a lot of the episode hinged on the quote about how “demons run when a good man goes to war.”

Even though lip service is paid to the strength The Doctor pulls from his sense of right and wrong, a little bit of Moffat’s juvenile belief that evil is stronger slips through.

Listen to the Pandorica speech, it’s a crowning moment of awesome if there ever was one, right? All of The Doctor’s enemies have come together and he scares them of by reminding them that he’s The fucking Doctor. No explosions, no guns, no swordfights. He just reminds them of his track record, cribs a line from Nine's era, and watches them skitter away.

The Doctor doesn’t do anything but trade on his reputation to intimidate his enemies. He’s just such a badass that everyone runs away for fear of being defeated. It’s his reputation rather than any cleverness that really gets them to back away. You could say that intimidation prevents any loss of life, but really the scene is about The Doctor being a badass.

“Time of the Doctor” does it too. I mean, it obviously does it by taking the razors-edge time vortex energy from “The Parting of the Ways” and turning it into regeneration-based laser hands. More notably, it features Tasha Lem.

Who is Tasha Lem? She might be River Song, but putting aside any issues of writing all women to be exactly the same or The Doctor really having a type, what’s important is who she is to the story. She’s powerful enough to dictate terms to the Daleks and Sontarans and her affection for The Doctor elevates him to that level. That he’s enamored a woman of such authority is a dynamic that exists only to exalt him.

Why couldn’t Tasha Lem have been a man that Eleven has a friendly, quarrelsome friendship with? Because that man couldn’t have projected that same atmosphere of sexual tension[1]. Sexual potency is considered a cornerstone of powerful, bad ass men, and it’s that part of The Doctor that Tasha Lem exists to shore up. 

In general, The Doctor is having adventures that are so cool the audience isn't cool enough to see them.

Everything about Capaldi
As of “Day of The Doctor,” the destruction of Gallifrey never happened. The sin which has underlain The Doctor’s personality since we met him again for the first time in 2005 has been removed. The guilt of The Doctorthat he’d done so much that was wrong and had to be extra careful because he might still do it again—no longer exists.

And now we have Peter Capaldi, a man best known for a role of exuberant unreflectiveness and arrogance, decked out in black and no longer fettered by the inconvenient tsuris of The Last Great Time War.

I have faith that he’ll do a fantastic job as a loud, violent Doctor who does morally questionable stuff and spends the next few episodes alternatingly wringing his hands over it without really changing and bragging about it.

Even though the characterization of Gallifrey in new Who has been as manipulative and aggressive, I strongly suspect that they’re going to be isolationist, hippie idealists and 12 (13?) is going to have to bring some harsh truths to them about how they’re going to have to have more machismo so solve whatever stupid, pointless facile problem he has this week.

So, it’ll probably be great to have a Moffat Doctor that shakes off the last shackles of the RTD-era and be the kind of badass Moffat expects exceptional men to be. I look forward to Moffat’s monkey’s paw. His Phantom Menace. His Gigli. It might be good, cheap entertainment. The two-parters will definitely be good popcorn TV, if you don’t think too hard about them.

I’m not watching it though.
Apparently the "Bwwaaaa"s that are in every trailer will be a new companion.

And this was all written before the tagline for the new season was “Am I a good man, Clara?”

No. You are not. You’re an amoral badass who’s going to find redemption by almost being too mean, and then not being as mean as you could have been.

Enjoy it, time creep.
[1] I mean, yes, he could, but not with this creative team, no. 


SkilTao said...

That trailer isn't very good. (Don't remember watching trailers for the other seasons, so I don't know if that's atypical.) Sounds like he'll be transferring his specific guilt from the Time War into a general dissatisfaction with the whole rest of his past. If it stoops to cheesy popcorn fare, at least it's on par with Doctors 1 through 7.

C.O.O.: "Where are we going?"
Doctor: "Into Darkness."

-If only they could have constructed the trailer entirely out of movie titles.

VanVelding said...

I know, right? It's like...right now those two words have a very specific meaning.

Is it a special code that lets me know in advance I shouldn't watch a thing?

SkilTao said...

Hah! Y'know, might actually be.

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