“Everything’s gotta end sometime otherwise nothing would ever get started.” And with that the door closes slowly on the Eleventh Doctor. Just yesterday British born actor Matt Smith announced that he was leaving the role that made him famous after four years of playing the titular Time Lord. Smith took over the job back in 2010 and had huge shoes to fill in for seeing as the Tenth incarnation of the Time Lord, David Tennant, was the huge fan favorite. Smith took the daunting task head on at the young age of 26. After his debut episode, “The Eleventh Hour”, Smith took on the dubious title of youngest actor to play the Time Lord from Gallifrey.
“It’s been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go…” Smith was quoted as saying in his farewell to the BBC.
“Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me. The way he’d turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry – I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero – often at the same time – and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently. And even better than that, given the pressures of this extraordinary show, he is one of the nicest and hardest-working people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Whatever we threw at him – sometimes literally – his behaviour was always worthy of the Doctor. Great actors always know when it’s time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break as we say goodbye to number 11. Thank you Matt – bow ties were never cooler.” Show runner Steven Moffat expressed his feelings towards the man he eventually hand picked to play the Doctor.
Just a handful of days ago the rumor mill cited that Smith was leaving on Christmas and that the 12th Doctor would be introduced, and then the finale, “The Name of the Doctor” aired and the BBC said that Smith was signed on to do an eighth series, his fourth full series of the progamme. But alas as June first hit Smith actually bowed out. While it remains to be the utmost truth that he is leaving to see if he can get his young feet in the Hollywood door or if it’s due to the same reasons as both Tennant and the 9th Doctor, Christopher Eccleston did in order to avoid being typecast. The speculation begins as to who will replace the Time Lord in the TARDIS alongside the impossible girl, Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna Louise-Coleman) in the next series. Stay tuned for any and all Who updates here as they come.
And now that I did my actual reporting it’s time for my opinion part of the article. I can’t say that I was a fan of the program when they rebooted it back in 2005. I can’t say I got into it before Smith actually took over. But what I can say is that from the time I started watching it I became a Whovian. I had just finished catching up on several shows and was feeling quite bored and wanting something fresh. I remember visiting Topless Robot one day and there it was a trailer for the fifth series of Doctor Who. I had heard of it before, but never actually knew what it was.
So here I watched the trailer, and I liked it, the whole kit and kaboodle. So I checked out the previous four seasons. It was finals week and that was a bad idea to do that, watch every single episode from the reboot. It was love at first viewing. Well it was a bit of a challenge trucking through the 9th Doctor. But then there was 10. So dreamy and perfect, in a non homo way of course. Tennant was my first Doctor, in part because I accidentally watched season 2 first and ignored season one but then went back and watched season 1 then 2 then 3 then 4 and the specials. But Tennant wasn’t my Doctor, as much as I want to say that he was it was all because I had watched him after he was gone, like he was a ghost.
Let me describe what I mean when I use the phrase my Doctor. I consider your first Doctor to be the one who is on the show when you first start watching it, the current Doctor when you become part of the Who culture. Seeing as it was in flux as the End of Time had just ended and the Eleventh Hour was just about to air I would say they both classify as my Doctor, so that would make some sense. I resented Smith for the first six or so episodes because he was not David Tennant. When the seventh episode of the fifth season entitled Amy’s Choice was viewed that was when I began to warm up to Smith.
His portrayal of the Doctor was different than both Tennant and Eccleston’s but in a way just as good. Smith seemed to bring the fun out in the character while Tennant managed to be more fun in the way he talked as compared to his acting. Smith’s attire screamed a rebellious youth and that was the charm he brought to the show. It will be missed regardless. Each actor brings something new and different to the character. It’s the way it works and while at first I hated Smith for not being Tennant or even being remotely close in the end I loved him for being him. What made Smith different was his approach. Memorable scenes from his run stand out, his speech in the second episode of the second half of this season was a powerful romp through the emotions of a 900 year old plus Time Lord. The season’s finale also stands as a stark reminder that Doctor Who is not just about the visuals and the story telling but the heart and soul that is placed into it by the actors themselves. I know it sounds quite silly but this show has packed more emotional moments in it’s seven plus seasons than some shows ever have. There were tense moments throughout Smith’s run where I actually teared up.
And while it may seem like an easier task to replace Smith than Tennant let’s look at the big picture here. The sad and truthful part is this, while Tennant may be more loved amongst the long time fans (maybe Tom Baker’s Fourth takes away votes) but it was Smith who was there when the program reached audiences far across the world. As the show’s popularity soared in the last four years it was Smith who was the pioneer. Remember the first episode that was filmed here in America? That was Matt Smith and not Tennant. And it is with heavy hearts that on Christmas day I will bid farewell to the raggedy man, the man who made bow ties cool, the man who wears more fezzes than Morroco Mole, and my Doctor. I’m sorry if this opinion part seemed to drag on seeing as it was more of a feels kind of piece and yes I did use the word feels as in to describe emotions but it is a little over the place, it seems even taking the large chunk of time off to just think about what I wanted to say in the op-ed part didn’t help. Hah! Well let’s hope that 12 is half as good as 10 and 11 because following those two will be a challenge and a half, but WHO is up for it?