Long before The Golden Compass, I picked up a book by Pullman called The Ruby in the Smoke, and enjoyed it. I didn’t even realize it was the same writer for quite a while, and when I did was obscurely disappointed; my first impulse was to get rid of Ruby – I don’t want anything by that man in this house. But I did rather like it, and I probably paid less than fifty cents for it at a library sale, so it can stay for now.
Then Masterpiece Theatre adapted the book. “Masterpiece”?? Seriously? It is to laugh… Or cry. One would think there were enough legitimate masterpieces to keep the producers busy, and they could have tucked this one into the Mystery! pigeonhole, but who am I to say. And then they did the second book, The Shadow in the North, and that one I managed to catch. Regardless of its deserts, the film got my attention by the fact of its star: Billie Piper. She was the main reason I watched Shadow … she was not, however, the reason I Netflixed Ruby and watched it last night.
One of her costars, in what has a faintly bitter flavor of irony, was Matt Smith. He who … I still have difficulty typing it … is going to be the next Doctor. (Not The Next Doctor, of course.) That was why I got it. I needed to see the boy in action.
Billie Piper plays Veronica, better known as Sally, Lockhart, whose ship’s captain father has just died in a shipwreck leaving her at the tender mercies of an aunt (the old sow). One day Sally receives a scrawled and ill-spelt note telling her she’s in danger, something about Sevin Blesings, and go see some fellow in “Chattum”. Her first step is to go to her father’s shipping office, and lo – a familiar face, and one soon (*sigh*) to be familiar: Robert Glenister played her father’s partner. Love him (though not as much as his brother). And Matt Smith played Jim Taylor, a young … very young … no, really, very young … clerk of the agency. He looked about sixteen.
The adaptation was a bit of a mess. Very little made sense, at least to my mind stunned as it was by Matt Smith’s youth. But – did they ever say who sent Sally the note? I don’t believe so … And I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a story wrapped up so quickly so tidily ever before – one minute everything was still shrouded in mystery, and the next person after person was spilling her guts and – ta da! Denouement.
Billie was fun to watch. It was a little distracting now and then to listen to her very precise speech – no “anyfing” here, not from Miss Sally Lockhart. She’s a nice actress, is Our Billie, and the period clothing and hair looked very well on her. She did a creditable job. (Another distraction, speaking of the clothing, being the yards and yards of hem that trailed the ground … I would think that would be an indulgence seen only in the wardrobes of the considerably wealthy, which Sally Lockhart was not. After all, there were a great many horses on the streets then; only a wealthy woman could afford the care (and replacement) all that fabric trailing through the mud and muck would need…) And I liked JJ Feild, who played enterprising photographer Frederick Garland. Despite the spelling of his name.
Matt Smith … did I mention how young he was? This was dated 2004 on the Netflix sleeve (though I see it dated ’06 elsewhere), which means Smith was (*sigh*) 22 (or 24, depending). He looked about 16. Oh, I said that already. Well, he did. He’s got an interesting face; it’ll wear well, I think… I wouldn’t want the Doctor to be gorgeous. Decent voice. Does a good Cockney. Does a good sixteen-year-old… If he wasn’t going to be playing the Doctor, I would like him just fine. But. I still can’t resign myself.
Aaaand I just made myself watch the preview that’s out there:
… Snogging. Of course there’s snogging. And vampires, that could be good. Oh, look, a non-weeping angel; I’d heard they’d be back. I am not going frame by frame. I will not. (Right now, anyway.) It looks like it could be more upbeat. Which could be good… It would be nice for the Doctor to be in a bit less pain, heaven knows.
He looks … unfinished, somehow. Oh dear. I am not reassured. I have a terrible premonition of Boy’s Own Doctor Who Adventures, or something of the sort … Which is the down side of it looking more upbeat.
There’s a spiffy new logo, looks like:
With my usual ability to see the glass as both half empty and half full, part of me wants to hate it; the other part thinks it’s pretty neat and wonders why no one thought of it before. I hope they haven’t messed with the opening sequence, much, and I really hope they haven’t mucked up the theme.
I am going to try to remind myself over and over that taking over from Russell T. is Steven Moffat, who was responsible for what I consider most of the very best episodes of new Who:
# “The Empty Child” / “The Doctor Dances”
# “The Girl in the Fireplace” (my favorite, I think)
# “Time Crash” (Well, no, THAT’s my favorite (Fireplace is my favorite full episode, then), ever, at all – it is in fact about ten of my favorite minutes of video in any context – and if he can write that, well, then … )
# “Silence in the Library” / “Forest of the Dead”
Oh, yes. The man who made me afraid of mirrors, and the man who made me love bananas. During the production of the Lord of the Rings films there was a motto of “Trust Peter”. Whether or not that was earned, and maybe someday I’ll explore that, I think I’ll take as my new motto “Trust Steven”. In other words, “Don’t Panic” – except that’s taken.
O God. I really should NOT look at anything about the casting of the 11th Doctor, ever again. Now I’ve just seen that not only James McAvoy, aka Mr. Tumnus, was considered (that *thunk* sound you just heard was an arrow to the vicinity of my heart) but also … Sean Pertwee. *thunk* *thunk* *thunk*
I do not wish to discuss the quashed possibility of Russell Tovey.
Don’t Panic Trust Steven Don’t Panic Trust Steven Don’t Panic Trust Steven …