Revisiting Harry Potter: David Tennant is crushworthy and that is my final word on the subject

Hands up everyone who Goblet of Fire was the first book you waited for the release of. It was for me! When I finally got my greedy little hands on it, I stayed up late, late into the night reading it. Then I had nightmare after nightmare regarding snakes and KKK wizards. This was before I met my friend Nezabeth’s snakes, of course. I am now quite fond of snakes and would sort of like to have one as a pet. I wouldn’t use it to kill people like Voldemort does.

Goblet of Fire is so dark. It’s murdery from chapter one, and then there are so many little dark horrible details. You see the Dark Mark for the first time; and when Mr. Weasley talks about how the Dark Mark would appear over your house after the Death Eaters had killed someone there – that’s so evocatively creepy. And what’s good about the whole nighttime scene following the Quidditch cup is the way it makes you realize what everyday life was like when Voldemort was in power the first time. Everything’s fine, you’re camping, watching some Quidditch, playing with matches; and then abruptly, everything is very very not fine. And that’s what the English wizarding world’s life was for ten years. It sheds so much light on the way everyone reacts to the mention of Voldemort — from Mrs. Weasley’s boggart, to Crouch’s superintense crazy-eyes loathing of dark magic, to Fudge’s blank denial.

I love the way this book sets up Percy’s assholery in the next one. He is awful, and if I’m honest, I was hoping he’d die in the climactic battle. I felt like the Weasleys weren’t all going to make it, and I wanted Percy to be the one to go. It would have been lovely for him to come back, repent, then get killed. I know it would have been a smidge predictable, but so is the death we see in the sixth book, and it would be predictable in a way that would be heartbreaking to the characters and would not feel manipulative to me in the way that it feels manipulative when the person who dies instead of Percy, dies.

(I’m trying to be better about major spoilers for future books, because Meg reminded me she hasn’t read the whole series yet. Derp.)

You know what I hate about this book that isn’t its fault at all? I hate it that sometimes people in this country will say, “Who’s David Tennant?” and I am reduced to trying to get them to remember him in the fourth movie, where he has about two seconds of creepy, creepy screen time. And then my interlocutor will be like, “Oh. You have a crush on him?” I have a crush on him with the brainy specs. And getting the side-eye from Rose because he’s eating jam straight from the jar with his fingers. And this, man.

Here is the thing I can’t ever forgive Snape for. Also some stuff with Neville, but mainly this:

[Ron] forced Hermione to show Snape her teeth — she was doing her best to hide them with her hands, though this was difficult as they had now grown down past her collar. Pansy Parkinson and the other Slytherin girls were doubled up with silent giggles, pointed at Hermione from behind Snape’s back.

Snape looked coldly at Hermione, then said, “I see no difference.”

Hermione let out a whimper; her eyes filled with tears, she turned on her heel and ran, ran all the way up the corridor and out of sight.

Ugh. Seriously, it is one thing for a teenager to bully another teenager (though that is also bad!), and it is altogether another thing for a grown-ass man in a position of power to bully a fourteen-year-old girl. That is not how adult people should behave. Once when I was fifteen I went and deliberately scared the hell out of a twelve-year-old — who really deserved it because she and her snotty friends had been bullying a girl in their class who was a little slow, and I was trying to get her to stop because it was upsetting Social Sister — and I felt really guilty about that (I used my words! I didn’t, like, push her up against a wall with a knife to her throat or anything). Even though I was on the side of justice, and I was only three years older instead of twenty. Snape can go eat a bag of dicks.

Parenting Harry, Molly Weasley edition: I’ll have more on this next time I post, since Goblet of Fire is the book where Mrs. Weasley makes the full transition to being Harry’s stand-in mother. For now I would just like to compliment the letter she writes to the Dursleys asking if Harry can come to the World Cup. It’s extremely courteous and responsible-sounding. It sounds like the sort of letter my mother would have written to one of my friends’ parents when I was fourteen. Props, madam. Many props to you.

Parenting Harry, Sirius Black edition: Sirius is so great in this book. As soon as Harry writes to say his scar’s been hurting, Sirius is like, Sit tight, I’ll be there in a minute, and comes to Hogwarts from Africa or wherever and doesn’t leave for the whole rest of the book. I just love everything he does in this book. Like how every time Harry starts fretting about Sirius’s safety, Sirius gently reminds him, It’s not your job to worry about me, kid, it’s my job to worry about you. And in case you’re in doubt about whether this brand of reassurance is helpful to Harry, allow the text to support my position:

He couldn’t deny either that the idea that Sirius was much nearer was reassuring.

Plus:

Harry thought of Sirius, and the tight, tense knot in his chest seemed to ease slightly.

Aw, Harry. Aw sweetie. You are brave and great and you deserve the nicest, coolest, helpfullest parents in all the land.

I also super love about Sirius Black that he — unlike everyone damn else — is straight with Harry about what’s going on. Honestly, the other adults in Harry’s life err way way way on the side of babying him and keeping him in the dark, to Harry’s ultimate detriment. I think it’s great that Sirius doesn’t try this on with him. He hedges everything with a lot of, Dumbledore’s looking out for you, I’m here looking out for you, but still he doesn’t try to hide it from Harry that there are some scary, bad things going on and Harry needs to be cautious. And — again, unlike some of the other adults in Harry’s life — he’s respectful of the fact that Harry’s pretty capable for a person of his age. Viz. this letter:

I know better than anyone that you can look after yourself, and while you’re around Dumbledore and Moody I don’t think anyone will be able to hurt you. However, someone seems to be having a good try. Entering you in that tournament would have been very risky, especially right under Dumbledore’s nose.

Be on the watch, Harry. I still want to hear about anything unusual.

(emphasis mine)

I love it when people are respectful of Harry (see also, everything Dumbledore says to and about him in the last few chapters of this book). Remember how maddening it was as a kid when grown-ups would assume you didn’t know anything and weren’t capable of doing anything just because you were young? And how they would act like the really valid points you were making (like “I fought off Voldemort two years in a row like a damn champ”) were not worth their time to think about just by virtue of the fact that you were younger than they were? And if you, like, alphabetized a filing cabinet correctly it was like the adults had witnessed a miracle? So, I like it that Sirius, without stepping back from his plans to do what he can to help and protect Harry, also acknowledges that Harry is braver and awesomer than regular fourteen-year-olds. Because he is, and he deserves credit. He fought Voldemort off two years in a row like a damn champ.

I’ve noticed a lot of anger with Ron flying around this readathon. Do I need to do a big Defense of Ron post? Is that a thing that needs to happen? Or can we just be satisfied with asking where on earth you think Harry would be without Ron. He’d be curled up in a ball on the floor of the Gryffindor common room. FOREVER.

As a final note, don’t you love how happy Harry looks on the cover of this book? He’s like, I’ve got this golden egg! Hooray! I guess you can make the case that this picture portrays the moment at which he’s just finished the first task, but really, it’s kind of misleading as to the actual contents of the book. Because Harry spends most of this book miserable and scared.

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42 thoughts on “Revisiting Harry Potter: David Tennant is crushworthy and that is my final word on the subject

  1. This is one that I think badly needed editing. There’s a lot of fantastic stuff in it, but really, it goes on for WAAAAY too long. The Harry Potter series had really taken off by that time, and Bloomsbury were obviously really timid about asking her to cut stuff out. I don’t tend to re-read it as a result. Snape is a git in this book, I agree. He’s never really grown up, has he? There are some fantastic bits in Order of the Phoenix where Harry sees how awful James was to him, so I can see how he’d never want to see James Potter again, but he’s evidently not mature enough to see Harry as a separate person entirely (I can’t wait for your commentary on OOTP, by the way!).

    • I don’t mind its being LONG but I do mind the story not making much sense. I never had any problem with the books being long, although I do wish Grawp hadn’t been in the fifth book because that was insanely dull to me.

  2. I have some personal experience living in a town with supposed adults who were awful to me and not blaming their children for it, so I have always thought Snape went too far with that. Although yesterday I was reminded that one of the people who continues to be a git to me raised a child who stole my son’s stuffed animal when they were in preschool, so maybe I should be more like Snape!
    I didn’t know Tennant before I saw him in this movie doing the snakey tongue thing. Now I am watching him as the tenth doctor and he is so great. Very pretty and with an extremely mobile and expressive face.

  3. “Here is the thing I can’t ever forgive Snape for.” Yup. That. That right there. Jackass asshole Snape. I do not like him.

    I’m…not mad at Ron? I think his behavior makes sense. I mean, sure, he could try to put himself in Harry’s shoes all the time, but who does that with their friends? No one. Ron is awesome.

    DAVID TENNANT FOR FOREVER. That is a handsome man.

  4. Someone ruined Sirius Black to me. I think it was in the books? But I might be wrong, ’cause the amount of fanfiction I read between every book’s publication was dismal and I’m guessing half of my memories of Sirius Black are fandom creations. But, you know, that fight in which someone said to Sirius he should stop thinking of Harry as another-chance-with-James (not in a romantic sense, mind you)? Did that happen? Anyway, real or not, all the straightforward-ness and awesome parenting fell flat for me afterwards, ’cause I was continuously thinking “he’s not treating Harry as an adult, but thinking of himself as a teenager.” And it sucked.

    Uhm… Am I thinking of Remus? Man, I really should join in and reread the series.

    • That’s a fair point, though given that Sirius has actually had little chance to grow up in the time during which he’s been in Azkaban might explain that. However, I think that whatever his motivations for treating Harry more like an adult than any of the other adults around him do, Harry appreciates it. Frankly, if I was in appalling danger, I’d be pretty narked with people who told me constantly that I wasn’t, that I didn’t need to know the details and that they would look after me.

      I don’t get the David Tennant love, but I know a lot of people who do. He’s been narrating a super charming and eye-opening documentary series about penguins lately, and his voice is very appealing, I have to say.

      • Yeah, I agree. And it’s funny, ’cause even if I think Sirius Black is way too damaged to take care of a kid, even a clever one like Harry, and even if Severus Snape is a complete asshole in this book (and clearly unfit to be a TEACHER, Albus Dumbledore, what were you thinking), I still find them very compelling. Rowling did a superb job with the characterization of these two, I think.

      • Yeah, I mean, that’s a thing that comes up in the fifth book, and I think it’s a fair criticism. I’m going to think about that more when I get to the third book and see how I feel about it. I think I will still be on Sirius’s side though! I love him!

        (Snape does not deserve to be a teacher. He is awful.)

  5. I love David Tennant for a lot of reasons, and this is just one of them. I think you make some great points about Sirius, and think that he was probably the most honest person Harry had to count on, which makes him a hero in my book. And Snape…is a weasel. That is all.

  6. I forgot to write about Snape’s MASSIVE jackassery in that scene with Hermione cos wtf?? What is that? He is an ADULT and a teacher no less. He is the authority figure for all of those kids and he taunts Hermione, for her appearance, in front of her peers.

    “Sirius gently reminds him, It’s not your job to worry about me, kid, it’s my job to worry about you.” AWWWWW Sirius

  7. You don’t need to defend Ron, at least not to me! I love the entire trinity of awesome. I mean, not ‘at all times’ but pretty much, on the whole, I love them alllll.

    “Snape can go eat a bag of dicks.” Correct. But I still forgive him in the end. I have feelings about him.

  8. So, I just spend the last half hour watching David Tennant Doctor Who clips. Thanks. (No really, thanks – it’s made my morning much more enjoyable. Now I’m just disappointed I can’t find full episodes on youtube. Maybe I will have to watch some Duck Patrol instead.)

    I love Ron! I don’t understand all the Ron hate – he’s my favourite of the trio! He’s so loyal (expect, you know, when he’s not) and provides great comedic relief. You’re right – Harry wouldn’t have gone far without Ron.

    • You are welcome! There are full episodes on Netflix you know!

      I think I was overestimating the Ron hate. I think it was just people criticizing him for small particular things, and I became anxious that everyone was mad at him on a global level. But it sounds like they aren’t really. Phew.

  9. Sorry, I’m sure you wrote some really interesting stuff in there but the second you mentioned David Tennant I started daydreaming about our wedding day and the rest is sort of a blur…!

    Aaaaand then you defend Ron and I’m back. I love Ron, and I completely understand why he reacts the way he did (although I hate when any of the three fight) and you’re so right about Harry being a ball of nothing without Ron there. So I don’t need a defence of Ron post to be on his side, but you should absolutely right one anyway!

  10. I totally agree about Percy. Yes, let him apologize, but that’s it. No more.

    Rooooose! She makes me so sad because I loved her so much and then she came back but forgot her accent and had a lisp instead and that made it even worse. I forget what I’m supposed to be talking about.

    Oh, Harry. Right. Normally I don’t like Ron, but I was totally with him in this section. He’s not necessarily being reasonable, but he’s being unreasonable in a totally understandable way and just needs some time to figure out what he’s feeling and what’s important to him. HARRY on the other hand – (ducks).

    • I cry all the tears when Rose goes. Rose Rose Rose.

      WHOA. Woman. WHOA. You BETTER duck. Harry is great and I will get in a fight about him.

  11. We seem to all be in agreement that THAT WAS ONE TOO FAR, SNAPE. Siriusly. Especially because Hermione’s father didn’t mess up your shit in school.

    Ron gets the short end of ALL the sticks. THAT IS NOT A WAND JOKE. Man, these books are way filthier than I remember. All that to say, I love you, Ronald Weasley. I’ll be your Hermione.

  12. Poor Ron. I was frustrated through their entire fight but NOT because I held it against Ron (I love Ron!) but because it is just SO STRESSFUL when they are not talking, and also because Harry is all “Hermione’s not as a good as Ron” even though she’s freaking saving his skin multiple times over, and getting bullied by a teacher because of it (b/c it was Harry and Malfoy’s fight that caused said teeth growth with said awful Snape comments), and she just needs MORE CREDIT.

    Rant over. I love Ron, but I love them all most when they are on the same side. It breaks my heart when HRH fight.

    • Oh, he doesn’t mean Hermione isn’t as good as Ron in life, he just means she’s not as fun to hang out with. And that’s just true! I had a Hermioneish friend in school, and I loved her to shreds and still do, but sometimes you need a break from all the studying and you need to skive off and make poop jokes and eat chocolate. Facts.

  13. Snape hate. Ugh, that man is, well, an ass. Who says stuff like that!? And to a kid!?

    Sirius does deserve more love in this book. I liked that he treated Harry like an adult, even when everyone else thought that to protect him, they needed to keep things from him. Telling him what and who were after him was being the adult in that situation. Props to Sirius for stepping up there. Although, I do like how Molly steps up and becomes him mom of sorts. It’s sweet and Harry needs someone like that.

    I always forget David Tennant is in this movie and every time I watch it and he shows up I’m like, “It’s the Doctor!” I love that feeling every single time. I so love David Tennant.

    I always thought of The Goblet of Fire as my least favorite book but after re-reading it a few years ago, I realized how much I liked it. A revelation if you will. It’s still not my favorite but I like it a lot more than I thought I did.

    • I always like it more than I think I did when I reread it. It’s not nearly as unfun to read as Chamber of Secrets is for me. The plot doesn’t hang together awfully well, but the book is still fun and great.

  14. I am curious to know if there was an actual incident of alphabetizing a filing cabinet and adults being amazed, or was that a hypothetical?

    • It was hypotheticalish. I just remember when I used to do stuff at Daddy’s work and whatnot, people would act astonished that I wasn’t dumb. Or if I was reading a long book! Grown-ups used to ask me, “Are you reading that? Wow, that is a long book!” I realize now they were making awkward conversation-with-a-kid conversation, but at the time I thought it meant they thought kids were all dumb.

  15. Anyone who requires persuasion about either the crushworthiness of David Tennant or the general worthiness of Ron Weasley is JUST NOT WORTH YOUR TIME. (I’m not doing the HP readalong, but I just had to weigh in in those points.)

  16. I have sneaking sympathy for Snape, actually. I think he’s one of those people who just can’t not be awful because they’re always on the defensive. He probably said that to Hermione in the spirit of “Oh, no, you can’t see that zit at all, it’s tiny.” I realize I am in the extremely small minority on this, though.

    Sirius is my favorite character in any of the books.

    When Jeanne says above that David Tennant has a “mobile and expressive face,” that is what I always say about him. That he’s a marvelous actor and that I LOVE HIS FACE.

  17. Ah, my Ron. I get frustrated with both him and Harry when they blow up at each other like that. I love them so and I just want them to get along! When they start talking to each other again and Hermione bursts into tears and calls them both stupid — yes, this.

  18. I loved Snape doing that. Not because, inreallife, if would be in any way okay, but because it makes him such a deliciously revolting character. Where would the Potter books be without Snape? Boring, is where they would be. Also, his horribleness made me certain that Snape had Stuff Going On, and I love it when hints of that emerge. I kind of love how so many of Rowlings’s characters are still working out Issues From Childhood. In some ways, the childlike Hagrid is the one who has resolved his issues most effectively;

  19. Yeah, this was the one we first waited for. And I actually loved it, despite the length. There was so much in it that it was okay by me. And as for David Tennant… Have I ever told you I saw him in the flesh and blood? He was filming in my college. I was having tea with some former students who’d come back for a visit and the lone male in the room just mentioned that DT was outside. He was MOWN DOWN in the subsequent rush for the window. DT is sort of prettier in real life, and more fragile-looking, but zingy with charismatic electricity.

    • I agree! Absolutely no arguments about the length. And v. interested in this David Tennant sighting. What movie? He looks quite fragile on camera — just very very very thin — so not surprised about that.

    • Which is fair enough, I guess? But makes me sad because he’s so great and a lot of people JUST know him from HP4 where he is far from his most awesome.

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