Thursday, December 17, 2009

What I'll Miss About Tennant's Perfect Ten

When David Tennant's final "Doctor Who" episode airs in the UK on New Year's Day and in the US the day after, I along with millions of other viewers will be curled up in a ball on the sofa, weeping with as much dignity as I can muster while maturely trying to tell myself, "We were lucky to have him as long as we did."

As the end draws near, I've been trying to think of what I'll miss most about Tennant's portrayal of the Tenth Doctor, and I think I've narrowed it down to this: everything. I'll miss everything about it. But here are a few things I'll miss most:

That frenetic mad man energy
Watching Tennant's Doctor was, at times, like watching an extremely bouncy ball ricochet off around in an extremely small box. I got tired sometimes just watching it. Tennant displayed boundless energy, playing a man who never, ever wanted to slow down. Sure, that hyperactivity rankled some viewers, but I loved it. It made me want to bounce right along with him. (But I didn't. Women my age should rarely, if ever, bounce.)

The sincerity
If David Tennant put on his sincere face and tried to sell me a bridge to the Moon, I would hand him my checkbook without hesitation. The man's performances were always 100 percent sincere by which I mean, he looked like he believed every single thing his character said. We've all seen actors who look embarrassed to be uttering the words they're given - *cough*cast of Star Trek Voyager*cough* - but Tennant's utter sincerity helped sell even the most outrageous plot points and rhino-headed aliens.

That face
Beyond the very good looks, Tennant has a face that does more in silence than it does with words. You could always see the Doctor's rage or mirth or fear bubbling up in Tennant's eyes well before any words of dialogue were spoken. Just watch "Midnight" when the Doctor is paralyzed and speechless or sniffle your way through the end of "Doomsday" when he stands silently at the wall where Rose disappeared, and you'll see what I mean. Also, he can do fearsome things with an eyebrow raise. I'm just saying, if there were an Olympic competition for eyebrow raising, he would be Michael Phelps.

The hair
Oh, that hair. It should have its own spin-off, that hair. I don't even know what to say about it except that it achieved spectacular heights and I shall miss wondering what the hell it will look like next. It was my favorite gel-slathered mystery of all...which sounds entirely more dirty than I meant it.

The fan-boy enthusiasm
The beautiful thing about David Tennant is that he's the biggest "Who" nerd of them all, and he's not ashamed to show it. (Well, maybe a little bit.) Knowing that the actor playing the part is an even bigger fan than half the audience gives the show and everything around it an added dimension of fun. Besides, who doesn't get a kick out of seeing Tennant pull some obscure fact about Davros out of the air and then thinking to yourself, "Phew, at least I'm not that much of a geek." Aaand then the doorbell rings, the mailman delivers your life-sized Dalek and your geek cover's blown all over again.

The end of the Russell T. Davies era
I know a lot of people moan about RTD and "ooh, there's too much romance" and "ooh, the Doctor's too sad" but without Davies, there would be no New Who to complain about and obsess over. Personally, I love his stories and think he's a wonderful writer who resurrected a timeless (no pun intended) character and gave him new life. With Tennant's departure comes Davies' departure, and I'll miss them both.

How about you? What will you miss most when Tennant departs?

31 comments:

Mad Mar said...

Is there an 11th doctor coming?

Michele said...

Mad Mar: Matt Smith (Eleven) and Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) are busy filming Steven Moffat's first season right now.

I'll miss Tennant's fanboy enthusiasm and the so-very-expressive face most.

DameRuth said...

I'll miss everything you mentioned above, plus Tennant's ability to portray such a wide range of characterization. He can go from being so silly and adorable you want to smoosh him to being so coldly terrifying you want to run screaming -- and he can turn on a dime. It's a talent that works beautifully for portraying a character as mercurial as the Doctor.

Cara King said...

I'll miss the tenth doctor's warmth. You really believed he had great affection for so much -- people and places and times -- and it made you want to hang out with him!

Jennie said...

I'm afraid I am one of those evil cruel people who can't wait for him to be gone. Sorry.

Rosalie said...

Tennant as John Smith was a series high point for me. Talk about eyebrow Olymics heartbreak.

I'll never forgive RTD for giving the clone!Doctor to Rose instead of to Joan the school nurse. (But I will certainly forgive him for bringing back the series! Good point.)

Jody said...

I will most miss the moments when DT's performance actually gives me goosebumps. The few moments as John Smith in mental agony while deliberating whether to open that watch and become the Doctor once had me sitting there just stunned as the credits rolled.

The bar has been raised for the Doctor. Heaven help poor Matt stepping into those shoes!

Kathe said...

Absolutely everything Liz! Absolutely everything. :)

C. said...

I will miss the utter joy that Tennant brought to the role. He was my first Doctor and will always be my favourite.

Sonya said...

Nine was my favourite Doctor and I feel really short-changed with Ten as I wish we got more of the angry, crazy Doctor that he seems to be becoming in the latter bits of his run.

I love Tennant though and his enthusiasm is what has kept me sticking around.

helygen said...

Oh well said! I'd be hard pressed to list everything but you've done a wonderful job of summarising the important bits and your lovely tribute to him has brought tears to my eyes
He's not my first Doctor, but he's most definitely my favourite and I'm going to miss him so much

Sarah Blue said...

I didn't realize RTD was leaving too. Whoa!

Things I'll miss about Tenant's Doctor: his energy, his quirkinessthe fact that we can read his face...we know what he's thinking even when he says nothing. I always hate when a character is portrayed one way and then the dialogue takes them a completely different direction. It's weird! Tenant never did that. He played right where he needed to, so that we were with him every step of the journey.

Even though I am going to miss Tenant, I am really excited to see this final episode. Every teaser has featured Catherine Tate. She and Martha were my favorite companions. I am hoping that she will get a better ending than the memory loss. The romantic in me wants her to find her silent man. The practical me just wants her to get her memories back without going insane.

foxyhlc said...

You brought it all together so well. Thank you.

I'll really miss the way Ten moves through emotions so fast. He goes from raging to laughing in record time and I love trying to keep up. And the eyes, oh the eyes...

Anonymous said...

What I'll miss about Ten?

1. The little quirks like his problem with reciting numbered or lettered lists. 2. The brainy specs. 3. The physical tics (hair ruffling, neck scratching, etc.) 4. The verbal tics ("physicsphysicsphysics", "Allons-y, Alonzo!", "Mickety-Mick-Mickey!" 5. The occasional rudeness. 6. The catch phrases. 7. The Converses. 8. The way he could make even a long-winded technobabbly speech fun to listen to. 9. His zest for experiencing everything the universe had to offer. 10. Him.

Rachel Lou said...

I will miss all the things you listed, Liz, plus:
-all his little gadgets (the best part of Planet of the Dead was him flicking that tiny satellite dish) and how he is always Mcgyver-ing (if that's a word) stuff out of bits of wire and junk using the sonic screwdriver
-the alliterations
-how much he hugs other characters
-his running!
-and, to parrot others, everything!
I will definitley be crying for this one.

Rachel Lou said...

Oh, and I totally agree, Sarah Blue, about Donna. She deserves a happy ending!

Michelle said...

I am going to miss David so much! He is and will always be my Doctor. I think I'll miss the fanboy-ishness (is that a word?) the most. He really LOVES being the Doctor; you can see it on his face.

emraldeyedauter said...

I think you've summed it up so well. The man is an acting genius and he will go on to bigger and better things but sometimes I wish he would stay as the Doctor.. Chris was wonderful ... David was a God.

VeraCobb said...

Nine was my first Doctor and I'll have to admit that it took me about a half season to completely accept Ten.

That being said, what I love most is Tennant's ability to portray the Doctor as bouncy and enthusiastic while never forgetting the dark undercurrents that are always there.

Alyson said...

I'm gonna miss the trenchcoat and the Chucks. And the brown pinstripe suit. Tennant sure can fill out a pinstripe suit!

lilacsigil said...

I'm so happy RTD is going, though I'm glad they're dealing with the "Doctor is God" complex in a serious way before he goes - the lickspittle version was turning me right off! I will miss Tennant, though, in particular the demented menace of Ten. If the next Doctor is so young, though, I would have loved to see an older Companion. (and I still hoped for Idris Elba or Chiwetel Ejiofor as the Doctor, dammit!)

gallifreygirl2007 said...

you nailed it all! :) 2010 wont be the same :(
(still not sure if i'll watch s5 anyways...)

alumiere said...

"Women my age should rarely, if ever, bounce."

I beg to differ. We should bounce as often as possible, preferably on the dance floor to good music.

And I'll miss his eyes and expressiveness as well.

alumiere said...

"Women my age should rarely, if ever, bounce."

I disagree. We should bounce as often as possible, preferably on the dance floor to some slammin' tunes.

And I'll miss his eyes and expressiveness as well.

Anonymous said...

What a brilliant post! I can't add anything as you cover it perfectly. Thanks DT for everything *sniff*

Anonymous said...

God, this was a nice post. Like a lot of other people here, I got a little misty eyed reading it. (Extra props to you, Liz, for the Michael Phelps comparison; MP has some seriously scary eyebrows of his own!).

The funny thing is that as I'm reading all this, I keep getting emails from my local Whovian friends, making plans for a group viewing of the grand finale. We're assembling a list of necessary items: Kleenex, chocolate, and alcohol.

The list you give pretty much pegs everything that is so wonderful about DT's Doctor. Absolutely he is the most iconic Doctor since Tom Baker, and I suspect he will be for a long time.

The thing for me is the sheer love Tennant brought to this role. This is a guy who literally became an actor because of Doctor Who. He was three or four years old when he first started watching, and he has said again and again that he basically owes his choice of career to DW. The difference between DT and every other actor who has played the role is that for Tennant, it was the fulfillment of a childhood dream. You can see that in his face in almost every single scene he plays, the unconditional love he has for the series and the character, and his determination to make every moment as authentic as possible. This isn't a job for him; it's a holy calling. I've never seen an actor simply pour himself--mind, body, heart, and soul--into a character.

Tennant has provided many, many favorite scenes, but if you put a gun to my head and demanded my favorite, it would be the scene in "School Reunion" when Sarah Jane first walks into the staff room. There are so many layers of emotion at work here, and the scene is just brilliantly played. The kicker for me is that Sarah Jane doesn't recognize him. She's spent possibly the last three decades missing this guy, thinking about him, and when she finally runs into him again, she doesn't know who he is. The last time they'd met, he appeared to be about twice her age. Now the tables are turned, and she appears to be twice **his** age. He's in a completely different body, and she doesn't recognize him. And she stands there, reminiscing to him about this guy she used to know who called himself John Smith, not realizing that he's the guy she's talking to. And the subtle way his expressions keep changing during the course of this conversation is an absolute masterpiece of acting. You can see every thought, every emotion passing through his eyes.

Okay, now I'm going to go cry in a corner. Where's my chocolate!?!?!

Veronica said...

I'll miss RTD,
can't even imagine what Doctor Who will be without his energy and enthusiasm.

Anonymous said...

This is so true: "The thing for me is the sheer love Tennant brought to this role. This is a guy who literally became an actor because of Doctor Who. He was three or four years old when he first started watching, and he has said again and again that he basically owes his choice of career to DW. The difference between DT and every other actor who has played the role is that for Tennant, it was the fulfillment of a childhood dream. You can see that in his face in almost every single scene he plays, the unconditional love he has for the series and the character, and his determination to make every moment as authentic as possible. This isn't a job for him; it's a holy calling. I've never seen an actor simply pour himself--mind, body, heart, and soul--into a character."

I couldn't have said it better so I'm just quoting it. I'll miss him sooo much :(

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Gaile said...

fantastic list! I agree with it all. And have to say that as a veteran whovian who still loves Tom Baker's madmandoctor, hated the movie, and embraced Christopher Eccleston in the role (and is still bitter that he so misunderstood the character he left after one season, thus wasting an incarnation, imho)I wasn't sure about DT. Until about the last 15 mins of his first episode. When he made his speech "she is defended!!" i fell hard, and knew that this man LOVED The Doctor as much as we do. He will be missed indeed.

Michelle said...

It was Tennant's Dr. Who that brought me to the show after years of my husband trying in vain to get me interested. I was *devastated* when I found out he was leaving! Of course I've always been a sucker for the nerdy professor types, but IMHO he made the character lovable and the show fun. (And then there's all the cute. And the hair. Can't forget the hair.) Other Doctors have seemed altogether too serious for my taste.