Discussion in 'Community' started by Darth Guy, Jan 3, 2013.
The question Jonah was gonna ask was "What's your perfect Sunday?"
I love those guys.
I mean the sped up physical comedy... I mean, you might be right, but that doesn't improve my opinion of Tennant as The Doctor!
Guys, the 50th Special in my head is way better than what we're going to see.
The special we all see is likely to better than the one that actually airs.
The Nerdist's Just Cos at Gallifrey One, posting this because the host interviews one of the former Torchwood and Buffy writers and she has some interesting thoughts on female roles in fiction and a possible female Doctor.
Well, but that's personal preference for his personality and thus his Doctor's. That's not the same thing as acting ability.
Neither, by the way, is an occasionally slipping accent. And as both a director and linguistic nerd, I am behooved to at least state my opinion on this. I definitely notice Tennant's accent slipping, and am perhaps one of the only Americans I know who could instantly tell he was Scottish and that his English accent is intentionally a rather broad fake caricature. Hooray for making English-speaking world accents my hobby
But I think it's totally off-base to class an accent slip as 'bad acting'. Putting on an accent isn't really acting. It's a very surface level element that helps one get into the headspace of being that different character. But there are plenty of fantastic actors who can't do an accent other than their own to save their lives. Some people just don't have the proper linguistic skill for it. Others are unfortunate to have grown up with a natural accent, such as a Scots accent, that has linguistic markers that are much harder to erase. And it's hardest for any actor to maintain a fake accent when in an emotional moment, while shouting, or while whispering.
My point is, literally every single actor I've seen have to fake an accent has slipped up at some point, no matter how good they are. To a trained ear it's always going to be evident at some point that their accent is fake. Every single one of them. It's an inevitability when you're faking an accent and it doesn't matter how good an actor you are. Even the most skilled linguists and omniglots who work with language professionally will slip accidentally in foreign tongues and dialects here and there. It's how the brain works.
Tennant doesn't deserve to be maligned for 'poor acting' because his accent inevitably slips once in a while as literally anyone's would. Especially considering it's not his fault RTD and the BBC wouldn't just let him have his natural Scots accent because they wanted it to be a more 'general' accent. Because obviously British means English Just because Smith happens to be English doesn't mean he deserves to be patted on the back and get extra acting points for not having to fake the accent of the dominant culture.
If you don't like his Doctor, that's fine. That's just how the show works, you like some and you don't like others and either way it will change up every few years. There's something for everyone and that's the beauty of it. But not liking something as well isn't the same thing as something not being as good.
More for me it's the character. They should've let him use his Scottish accent for it, because then you'd just have to deal with it. This regen speaks with a Scottish accent But there's not really a reason that the Doctor would slip out of an accent like that.
Oh and please show me a time Dominic West has slipped in The Wire. I'd be surprised to see that.
Honest to God, the first time I saw The Wire, I got about halfway through Jimmy's second scene and I can't recall the exact give away, but I instantly said aloud, "Oh, so that guy's British. Good accent, though." I could tell pretty immediately. Honestly, Dominic West slips all the time in The Wire. He goes for east coast US to try to be closer to the UK but there are wonky British vowel sounds all over the place in his accent. Not constantly, I just mean it happens here and there all the time.
Just as a linguistic note, one of the dead giveaways that seems to do it for most folks is "ing". In most American dialects, this is pronounced as some variation of "eeng". In most British dialects, this is pronounced as some variation of "inn". That's a bit of an oversimplification, but to give you the general idea. I started noticing British actors having great American accents save for this one fatal flaw way back in high school. It applies to Aussie and Kiwi actors, too. It's how I realized when watching Arrested Development that Portia de Rossi wasn't American, way before I knew anything about her. This is the slip West makes most commonly in The Wire.
My thesis film starred an Aussie as an American and I noticed her make this exact slip a few times and asked for retakes. There remains a single one of these slips in the film, and no one else seems to hear it. But I do. I do. So yes, if I had the time I could point to dozens of slips from Dominic West. Does that make him a bad actor now?
Welp you must have an insanely good ear then. My dad who spends a decent amount of time in Baltimore, didn't know West was a Brit until he saw it on Wikipedia...
So what about Idris Elba in The Wire and Hugh Laurie on House?
Do they ever slip? I'm actually curious, because I wouldn't have been able to tell you from their performances.
Maybe it's because I'm a New Who fan (and perhaps also because I remember how awful Marina Sirtis doing Troi's accent got during the latter years of TNG), but I just chalked up Tennant's accent 'slip - ups' iif we're calling it that as "Well, he's an alien, of course his voice is going to change a bit.
Granted, I didn't watch House all that often, but I can't recall Hugh Laurie slipping up in his 'House' accent. I was always surprised when I would see a bit of House and then hear Laurie in interviews and always being surprised when the Laurie in interviews would open his mouth and a british accent would come out. But then again, the accent Laurie came up with for House is fairly different from the 'standard' American accents. It tends to be more growly and sharp than most people you hear on TV.
I don't really know how to say this without sounding insufferably condescending and Sherlockian, but yes, I have a genius level ability with languages and always have and genuinely don't know what these things sound like to other people because to me I hear little slips and it just seems so obvious. Again, I'm not trying to be a prat about it, honestly. It just is what it is. I've also paid attention to various English-speaking accents as a hobby for about ten years so I've just got a lot of language samples of different dialects tucked away in my head. (Sidenote: the International Dialects of English Archive is the best website ever )
I could definitely tell Hugh Laurie's accent was fake. That one's a bit unfair because of course I already knew he was English before he was in House. I was a fan of Jeeves and Wooster, and had seen some of A Bit of Fry and Laurie. But I would have been able to spot it straight away regardless. It's not necessarily slips in pronunciation in his case so much as it is the actual accent and emphasis and cadence on words and in sentences that sometimes belies that he's English. Now I haven't seen much of House, but from what I have seen I think he gets away with it because as Juliet said he sort of makes his unique way of speaking just part of his unique and odd character. But a lot of that 'sharpness', from what I observed, seems to come from sometimes having an English cadence with American pronunciations.
Now I will say, in spite of the fact that I'm sure like every other human Idris Elba must have slipped somewhere along the way in his accent in The Wire, that was one I didn't noticed. But for one thing he was going for the much more specific and imitable African American English dialect, and aiming for something highly regional and specific can he really helpful for an actor. Secondly, to be perfectly honest, I don't think if I heard any oddities that my mind would have actually made the connection to his nationality because if I'm being frank, I just never would have expected a black actor to be British. Obviously there are Black British people. But it's not something Americans are exposed to very much (except for in DW - thanks DW for your diversity!) I'm actually about to rewatch the show for a third time with my boyfriend, though, and I'm curious to see if I can spot the slip ups more now that my brain isn't having a cognitive dissonance.
Yes. Smith blew every single angry Tenth Doctor moment out of the water with that.
Sure there is. It's a little bit of leftover Seven slipping to the surface every now and again.
I mean honestly there's no in-world reason the Doctor should have any one accent over another. He's an alien, not British. His person and personality changes and he ought to just switch into whatever accent that regeneration happens to fancy. He's heard them all, throughout time. So the only real reason Ten couldn't have a Scottish accent is because it was "too regional". Uh huh. Northern English was okay, just not Scottish. Sometimes it amazes me how still incredibly stuck in old stereotypes and policy mindsets some people at organizations like the BBC can be.
I can dig it.
And I'm jealous of your ability solojones. It's practically a superpower. You could probably join Justice League Unlimited.
It is like a super power. Not a terribly useful one as far as the accent part goes. Helpful for picking up foreign languages, though
I generally get preoccupied by an acted accent, regardless of the person's skill set. In my case, it is primarily because the US public school system did its darndest to obliterate my brogue as a child, but what actually occurred was more a case of my learning to be less "obvious" just so I could not spend my childhood answering absurd questions. But, as SJ mentioned regarding West, if you know what to listen for, Irish vowel sounds and cadence are so obvious while I am speaking in my "Philly" accent. That makes it a bit more obvious to myself when I hear a bloke like Dominic West doing his NorthEast US accent. I particularly love it in Punisher: WarZone. Sincerely.
A basic acting requirement is the ability to do the accent that you're cast for.
I think Tennant's a great actor, but not with accents. Ditto for Eccleston; his southern English accent in 28 Days Later is terrible, as is his Scots in GI Joe. Give him a role with a northern accent and he shines.I take your point about actors who can't do accents, but Sean Connery being a good actor doesn't really mean anything in relation to David Tennant doing a dodgy characterisation in Doctor Who.
I had not heard that the decision to play him as a mockney false eccentric was RTDs. I had the opposite impression, but I can't think where from... A DVD commentary or extra perhaps.
The 'too regional' comment seems at odds with the facts of the pro-regional accent/anti-RP policy of the BBC at the time, which pervades to this day. (They're talking about replacing the posh voices on Radio 4 now! There will be tutting in the streets, mark my words.) It's at odds with the casting of posh-girl Billie Piper to play a working class Laaaaaaaaaandanah, and many many other examples of regional accents in new DW. It's also at odds with McCoy's Scots accent from 20 years before.
...Thinking about it, it's at odds with the way the 10th Doctor was played. His accent, generic southern English lower middle class, is regional. The alternative is RP.
I hope I don't come across as sneering or confrontational when I say it's probably not a great idea to claim you're a genius on an internet forum unless you have a humiliation fetish.
Anyway, let's not fall out over this. Let's agree I'm right and move on.
There's that jolly old English spirit!
It wasn't that Scottish wasn't "okay", so much as they'd just come off the back of "the Doctor has a strong accent from the North" and didn't want an immediate repeat.
Yes, sometimes if you're doing a really bad accent it gets in the way of the realism of a character. But Tennant's mockney accent isn't that bad. It's broad, but there are some people who actually speak that way. Furthermore, again, the character's not actually English; he's an eccentric alien who is imitating God knows what random accent inclinations his Time Lord brain decided on.
So the accent itself has never, ever distracted to me. It's just part of the charm and quirk of the character. It's no more odd or any less a part of the performance than Smith holding his arms up as he walks or doing that little grinding motion with his lower jaw. It's a character quirk. Tennant had to do an accent, so he made the best of it. It's ridiculous and it suits Ten in that.
But I just have a hard time believing that the occasional moments where he slips into a bit of Scotch for a few words are really all that world-breaking as a viewer. What, does it make you go, "Ah-HA! Now I'm reminded that this person isn't really English after all!" Because sorry but... the character he's playing isn't English to begin with. If anything, I should think the Doctor is one role where it shouldn't matter one bit if your accent slips since it's a made up accent to begin with. And it's just certainly not remotely bad acting. It just isn't.
The only time a bad accent (or foreign language as well) really get in the way of acting is when:
1) An actor isn't comfortable speaking in their fake accent or language and is clearly focusing on that so much that they neglect to just exist moment to moment as their character. You see them seize up, you can see them start 'acting' instead of just 'being'. This happens the whole first half of Firefly any time someone has to say something in Chinese. The actors freeze for a moment and seriously halt everything they're doing because they are so clearly suddenly not their characters but rather actors going, "Oh crap, oh crap I hope I pronounce this right because this is a tonal language and it matters!"
2) An actor is aiming for a specific accent because their character is supposed to be from a certain place. If they sound inauthentic, it destroys the illusion that the person is actually from that place and makes it awfully hard to buy their performance, no matter how good the rest is. We're not talking about a slip here and there. We're talking about a uniformly bad accent that is just rotten through and through. Even if Tennant were playing someone from London, his accent wouldn't be that bad to be that distracting. But he's not. So he has zero obligation to stick to a realistic portrayal of that accent, and it doesn't make any sense that a slip out of it would be so distracting as to class him as a bad actor.
Oh, they won't come right out and say that it's because it's Scottish. They're not that daft. But look, I've seen David Tennant in an enormous number of British productions, and the number of times he's been allowed to keep his natural accent is staggeringly small. There remains a bias, conscious or not, against such an accent. Also, Sylvester McCoy's accent was their edgy foray in the 80s into showing how inclusive they could be. But his accent is actually rather a posh Scots accent. Tennant's is much more Glasgow region middle class. Much thicker and muddier.
From this article, the precise official reasoning:
It's not the official word. It's the subtext. Northern English was okay. A heavy London accent is ok (which, as Tennant mentions, is by no means 'not regional', it's extremely distinctive in fact and not shared nationwide by any means). Both of those are thick accents. But they're thick English accents, so it's all right, that's deemed more 'general'. Because in the minds of the English, the default British citizen is a white English guy. Just as in the minds of most Americans the default American is a white midwestern guy.
I'm not even suggesting this is conscious or some plot by RTD. I'm just saying that there's a deeply rooted linguistic bias in existence in the UK and on the BBC. And I know that in that time period there was a heavy push to try to show just how linguistically (and otherwise) diverse the BBC could be. They were obviously quite proud of themselves for having a south London shop girl and a black British kid running around with the Doctor.
But from my observation, this diversity seems to pretty much stay within England. How often in NuWho have we been to Scotland, once? Wales? Northern Ireland? Even Amy Pond, the most prominent Scottish character on the show, lived in England. And we only really finally got a Scot in there because we got a Scottish showrunner.
I haven't the slightest clue where you get the impression that you've made even a remotely humiliating or impressive argument of any kind. You've been entirely unpersuasive, but I do like a chance to further explore some of the issues related to language, accents, acting, and the show because they're all things I enjoy. I'll take any chance to muse about things like this and have enjoyed talking with various people about the relationship between accents and acting.
But regardless, I could honestly care less what you think of me, and I didn't bring up my language aptitude to show off. I should think that was pretty clear. I was specifically asked by caedus how it was that I was able to tell certain actors were faking accents when most people seemed unable to hear it. I gave a specific example of telltale signs to look for. But at the end of the day, I have to admit that the real source of my noticing these things is my mind, and it's not something that can be taught or replicated. I mentioned it by way of answering a question, not showing off. I wouldn't have brought it up otherwise. I don't particularly care if anyone thinks it's impressive or not. It's a fact, nothing more.
And there is literally no way you could possibly humiliate me in this area. You are welcome to your opinions and disagreements. That's totally fine. But if your aim is to make me feel like I don't know very much about either accents or television production... Honestly, you're barking up the wrong tree, mate.
Does Torchwood count?
No! You can't just relegate an entire country to a spinoff series!
It's a bit of a consolation prize, yeah.
It may never get old
**** right as I'm heading to bed of course.
I still say that ghost looks like Jim Carrey.