Monday, January 05, 2009

4 January 2008: Who

Who is Matt Smith.

(That's a statement, not a question.)

Presumably it's not the same Matt Smith who sometimes says football cliches on ITV?

As for the reaction? Generally mixed, but what everyone needs to remember is that the most important replacement is not Matt Smith coming in for David Tennant, but Steven Moffat coming in for Russell T Davis. How anyone can have doubts when the writer of 'Silence in the Library', 'Blink' and 'The Empty Child' is coming in amazes me, and here's why: Doctor Who is always about the writing.

Tom Baker was the best partly because of his scarf, partly because of his overacting but mainly because he had writers of the likes of Douglas Adams, Robert Holmes, Bob Baker/Dave Martin and of course Terry Nation doing the Daleks. Colin Baker was universally panned because he didn't have a single story that was at all interesting or, in the case of the 'Trial of a Timelord' series, comprehensible. (Side note: 'The Two Doctors' was Colin Baker's best story, and that's because it was written by Robert Holmes and based on his initial ideas for 'The Five Doctors' from some time previously).

Sylvestor McCoy, conversely, suffered from poor scripts right up until his final series in 1989, when then-script editor Andrew Cartmel suddenly added layers and dimensions to the story arcs that made it the best season in ten years, and led to renewed intrigue and darkness concerning who The Doctor really was. Same actors as the previous two series, same cheap production values and poor sets, but suddenly there was an incredible depth and back-story coming through.

Sadly, though, the BBC had already decided to cancel it and put that series on Monday nights up against Coronation Street on ITV. Shame, because it was really good. Dialogue included the following:

Davros: In the end, Doctor, you are just another Time Lord.
Doctor: Oh Davros… I am far more than just another Time Lord.

Of course, when they decided to cut the series, they also cut those two lines, because they couldn't follow through with the rest of the story arc, where the Doctor was to be revealed as having a very interesting, fragmented, re-woven past. But on reflection, over the years, and as novels and audio plays continued to be produced, the final 1989 series seems to rank up there among the best they ever made, even in the heydays of Pertwee and Baker (T). And it's all because of the writing.

So, David Tennant will have his farewell tour this year, and Steven Moffat can take over in 2010, and Matt Smith shouldn't have to worry about whether the writing is up to scratch or not. He'll do fine.

Frankly, with Moffat at the helm, I could probably do the job myself.

Postscript: Let's not get into the football. Argyle played with a bit of pride but forgot to come out for the first four minutes of the second half; Saints meanwhile were pretty dreadful. Only thing to say on that one is that it's a shame the referee didn't allow a game of football to take place. Man United should be good enough to beat Saints without incorrect sendings off, incorrect offside decisions and incorrect penalty decisions. So why did the referee choose to do that all stuff? Of all the things in football that frustrate me, consistently one-sided refereeing is the greatest.


Whiskers said...

And on top of that the COLTS lost their football game as well ;)

Whiskers said...

I agree Tom Baker is the best.

Anonymous said...

Well I watched it on the telly and I'd have given him a straight red for that tackle, that said... The penalty, oh dear - that was obviously nowhere near anybodys hand.

But, those ravens snuffed out a wildcat in Miami, they look like a dangerous side to me.


DuncMcRae said...

Well, with no Cowboys and no Colts left, I suppose I'd better start following the Ravens.

Becky said...

I think he could be good actually. I confidently predicted an unknown, and I reckon he has that look-about-the-eyes-that-speaks-volumes-without-him-opening-his-mouth that David Tennant has, which is definitely a good thing.

Some people are slating his age, but he's only a few years younger than Peter Davison was, and I don't think that's got anything to do with whether he'll be any good or not. It's got more to do with how socially acceptable or otherwise it is for the complainers to fancy him as they did DT!

Like you say, it's all in the writing. I think Smith has the potential to be brilliant, and with Moffat in charge, I think Who's in good hands.

Argyle were bloody good actually, shame about going to sleep for five minutes at the beginning of the second half, but I nearly took the ceiling off our flat when we actually got a goal back ... scoring against Arsenal, I mean, that's bloody dream time, isn't it?!

DuncMcRae said...

They were good indeed: watched it (along with a number of PASOTI-ites) over justin dot tv in a pretty decent quality stream. Defending towards the end of the first half was really good, they can take a lot of confidence out of that. David Gray also looks very handy indeed - he even has a good long throw-in - and Gallagher was quality, playing off Fallon very well when they had the chance. But then, Arsenal are a darn fine side and that's why they've been at the top-ish of the Prem for over a decade.

Anonymous said...

what is it with this long throw in business? and why didn't delap do it when he was at saints.

how did the chant go?

Rory Delap, Rory Delap
used to be good but now he's just...

oh well - suppose its all good. Seem to remember Dave something or other at Swansea specialising in it too, whatever happened to him?

Kevin S said...

Hi Duncan, happy new year to you! Thumbs up for Steven Moffat from me too, and I'd add 'Girl in the Fireplace' to that list of awesome Moffat stories.

I've not seen the dodgy decisions in the Saints-Man U game but you're obviously convinced Saints got a raw deal from the ref. It's looking ever worse for Saints, isn't it? At least they'll probably get a visit to Colchester's new stadium next season...

DuncMcRae said...

Saints are going down the loo faster than a russian cat (you had to be there). Thing with Delap was, he used to sometimes do them and nobody was in the box to do anything about it (partly because Crouch, amazingly, is useless in the air).
Girl in the fireplace was ok, but deliberately left out of the list as I don't think it quite matched the others. I mean, why doesn't David Tennant burst through a mirror at St Mary's and decapitate Rupert Lowe with a big lance? Be a better story and a happier ending.