Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Order of Rassilon #10: Christopher Eccleston, The Non-Doctor

"I’m constantly told I’m not funny and I’m not charming, and they were some of the demands in the role" - Christopher Eccleston, being very correct

When asked why he wouldn't wear a flamboyant costume like the other Doctors, Eccleston literally said that it was because his Doctor wasn't going to be a "tosser."
Keeping with the "first is worst" theme, the first Doctor of the classic series comes in last place, with the first Doctor of the new series in first to last.  His place on this list is going to piss off a lot of people, but I stand firmly by it.

I'll confess, as much as I seem to know about Doctor Who, I'm actually a very, very recent convert.  I just fell so in love with it that I went back and watched every episode, started digging out obscure Doctor Who comics and audio adventures, and two different sonic screwdrivers (a 9/10 one and an 11 one).  I actually began my love of Doctor Who watching the new series from the beginning when they were already well into the David Tennant era.  So, they say that your first Doctor will always be your favorite, but Eccleston was my first, really, and he's just one spot up from the bottom on my list.

Let me be clear:  it isn't that Eccleston wasn't a good actor.  He just wasn't a Doctor.  The three new series Doctors each had a very different position that they started from.  Tennant was already a die hard fan of the show who was said to be able to quote the classic series "chapter and verse."  Matt Smith was not a fan when he became the Doctor, but made damn sure he did his research before taking on the role, which caused him to fall in love with the 2nd Doctor.

Christopher Eccleston had never seen an episode of Doctor Who, and made a conscious effort not to.  I doubt he's seen one since.  He never seemed to fully understand what he had gotten himself into with Doctor Who.  We all complain about his refusal to return for new episodes or audio books, but I think that part of the reason for that is that he doesn't fully understand that it's expected of one of the Doctors. He said that he chose to take the role because he was interested in working with Russel T. Davies, not because he was interested in Doctor Who (which makes me seriously doubt his intelligence and sanity).

Christopher Eccleston has no muscles or fat in his body whatsoever.  Only bones.
The idea of one man with 12 different faces is an idea so bizarre and so wonderful that it seems to blow my mind, only for it to be repaired so it can blow again.  It's a concept that seems brilliant and impossible at exactly the same time.  Part of the fun is trying to imagine these very disparate people as being the same man, and both believing it and not believing it at the same time.  When you watch the Doctor's in order, there's a mostly gradual progression that can allow you to believe that William Hartnell and Matt Smith are the same person in a way that you couldn't really believe if you just watched their episodes in isolation.  But each regeneration strays from his predecessor just slightly so that the combined effect is more believable (with the exception of a few large leaps in personality, most notably the jump from the 5th to 6th Doctors).

But 9 is the oddball out, as putting him up against pretty much any other Doctor in the franchise will still look strange.  He doesn't act like any other Doctors in the history of the franchise.  He has little sense of humor.  He lacks the Doctor's whimsy.  He's never happy.  He's not flamboyant.  He can fade into the background in a crowd of people.  He doesn't really seem to like most people.  He's not the Doctor.

The one thing that 9 now has going for him is True 9, and that's something he can thank Moffat for.  True 9, as we get to know him, might help us get bridge the monumental gap between 8 and 9.

No comments:

Post a Comment