Friday, January 25, 2013

Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor Who, Is a Clown

And I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I am a fairly new Whovian with my wife and I catching up on the modern series from 2005 forward on Netflix as we hunker down with the fireplace on to wait out this rather miserable winter. We've seen three modern doctors and they've all been great. I've even gone back to a few classic episodes from the 60s and 70s and seen some others. And they're good too. But there's something about this latest Doctor.

Matt Smith - The Eleventh Doctor
Smith as the Doctor certainly has a comedic style about him. He is prone to pratfalls and "rhimey-whimey" word plays. There is, of course, the overriding, dry British humor style as it is a British show (filmed mostly in Wales, by the way). And comedy, by its very nature is difficult to explain or analyze as the epitome of "you know it when you see it."

So, we'll have to see some examples. This is somebody's compilation of comedy scenes from modern series 5 (right where we have just finished up, so highly apropos):

Only Seattlite Whovians will maybe understand me here as I'm going rather esoteric in this, but the connection I have made is with another "clown" who was not really a clown but a real personality. Yes, the late J.P. Patches of Seattle kids' TV.

Matt Smith as a Clown
J.P. as a Personality

It's only right to see a clip of classic J.P. comedy. Here he is with a robot, of all things. But J.P., like the Doctor, was always fond of technology, the cheesier the better:

J.P., like the Doctor for some, is an acquired taste. Gertrude, who appears near the end of this clip, even more so. That was an unrequited love (thank heavens!) like we understand about the Doctor's "companions" (more or less). Having experienced J.P., Gertrude, and the others in my childhood, they were always real people to me who did not seem the least bit strange. My wife, who admits some fondness for the Doctor, has no tolerance for J.P. thinking him just a clown and Gertrude a guy in a dress (what?!!!).

I found a striking similarity in personality and "psychic connection" even harder to explain than comedy. J.P., like the Doctor, was full of pratfalls and word-plays - he was the master of the double-entendre that meant different things to kids and adults without being offensively off-color - quite a feat actually. In that sense, J.P. seemed to be talking over the head of us kids but still with the greatest of respect much like the Doctor's unfailing respect for the human race in spite of all our faults. And no one can talk over the head of us mere mortals like the Doctor as he weaves his humans into his schemes and plots mumbling his techno-babble.

There is the strongest sense of rebel in both these anti-heroes. Doctor Who with his pacifism is constantly battling all the enemies of the universe being totally out of time and space and J.P. is constantly and totally out of reality. Yet, once again, they both manage to do this with the greatest of respect for those they truly care about. I can't help it. I like them both and find some similarities in their value to their viewers.

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