Tuesday, August 26, 2014

For Who The Bell Tolls!


Stumbled across the 2013 BBC movie An Adventure in Space and Time quite by accident during the most recent Dr.Who marathon in anticipation of the all-new Dr. Who (Peter Capaldi). I really had no notions of what I was about to see, but was quickly enamored and swept away by a surprising and fetching production which purports to chronicle (with I'm sure many a dash of romantic nostalgia) the creation and earliest days of the venerable Dr.Who television show.

The movie begins by focusing on a quixotic TV exec named Sydney Newman (Brian Cox) who has a notion for a sci-fi show for kiddies focused on time travel and history. He puts in charge a former protegee named Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine) a novice female producer who has to shake up the stodgy BBC infrastructure more than bit to get what she needs. Also in focus in the early stages is Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan) a British-Indian director who likewise is breaking ground socially and professionally at the BBC.

But the focus of the story soon shifts to the first Dr.Who, at the time the one and only Dr.Who, William Hartnell. David Bradley is frankly fantastic in the role of a veteran and more than a bit irascible actor who might just realize his career is winding down. It's profoundly compelling to watch Bradley as Hartnell, who at first resists the demands of the role, but then throws himself into full bore because of his professionalism and because he realizes the incredible impact the role is having on the children. He is a guy who, in the twilight of his career, is delighted to have such an incredible turn, savors it for what it is, and doesn't want it to end.

As an older man myself now, who is closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning, I identified more than a smidge with Bradley's fascinating portrayal. It's a hard thing to realize that your time is limited and your days are numbered, and that the number is rather paltry indeed. It gives a sense of urgency to lots of things, and Bradley's performance as Hartnell gets this core notion perfectly. His health failing him, we are struck by a man who doesn't want to leave the stage, but who knows it's time. None of us do, but we all know the end will come.

Great stuff. Better than most of the Dr.Who shows of the last few years which wear me out for the most part.

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8 comments:

  1. I'd love the BBC to do some 'Untold tales of Doctor Who', with Bradley playing Hartnell's Doctor. Now wouldn't that be something?

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    1. That is a very intriguing idea, Christmas special I suggest.

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    2. That's a damn great idea. I'd watch eagerly.

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  2. Is William Russell portrayed in the film? I'm a long time fan of his

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    Replies
    1. Yes - he's actually in it in person too, in a cameo role.

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  3. I saw this when it came out, and I thought it was fantastic too.

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  4. Yep. Seen it twice and found it moving and fascinating.

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