Sunday, April 25, 2010
A FEW WORDS ON MATT SMITH. I must say that I was EXTREMELY dubious when I first learned that Matt Smith was taking over for David Tennant as the new Doctor. I had already seen him co-starring (prophetically) alongside Billie Piper in the 2006 BBC-TV Victorian production of THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE so I was fairly familiar with him. My first reaction was that the 26 year old actor was cast as the new Doctor simply because he was so young in the hopes of appealing to the teenybopper demographic. Then, after seeing his brief first appearance as The Doctor after he regenerates at the end of the (rather poor) final David Tennant story "The End of Time", my apprehensions were not really soothed. Ah well, it's always tough to judge an actor on the first few moments after his regeneration because the performance much needs be always rather over-the-top. So it was not until the official "first" new Doctor story "The Eleventh Hour" that I felt I could judge Matt Smith objectively. And now, after having seen his first two episodes I have to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised. Already I think Matt Smith is a terrific Doctor and, in fact, quite a bit better than David Tennant. While I am not a Tennant basher and quite liked him as the Doctor, I've always said that he was a step down from Christopher Eccleston's portrayal. And the thing I think makes Matt Smith a much better fit as the Doctor is the fact of the actor's genuine quirky eccentricity. David Tennant as an actor and a person is simply not naturally "quirky" or "eccentric" and he therefore "acted" the Doctor as quirky and eccentric. There was always a false note there -- and in fact Tennant often barrelled way over the top in that department and needed a director to rein him in sometimes. Matt Smith, however, appears to be actually quirky and eccentric as a person before he steps in front of a camera; this natural eccentricity comes through in a natural, genuine and unforced manner. This makes all the difference. I mean, most everyone's choice as the best Doctor is Tom Baker (certainly mine) and there was no one more "eccentric" in real life than he. Matt Smith has the same quality. However, he is certainly no one note clown; he has already displayed a remarkable dramatic quality as well: notably in the second episode "The Beast Below" in which he evinces a powerful rage and pain one would not expect from the same guy eating the fish fingers dipped in custard in episode one. The scene culminating in Matt Smith's disgusted roar "Humans have nothing to say to me today!" was probably one of the hardest-hitting performances in the series. I mean EVER. The new creative team at the helm of the "new" new Doctor Who series has so far hit two episodes out of the park. Splendid, splendid episodes. Let's see if they can keep it going. Matt Smith certainly deserves the best they have to give him. As things now stand, Smith has the potential to become a candidate for the best Doctor ever. And that's saying something. And no one could be more surprised to hear me say that than me!