In 2010 came the end of the tenth Doctor. Everyone made a big uproar about it. Tears were shed, plates were smashed, teenage girls everywhere threatened to slit their wrists. And in the end, I couldn’t give a shit. I never liked Tennant as the Doctor. I didn’t really like the stories that were told and I thought most of his companions were rubbish (Rose especially). Doctor Who simply wasn’t the show for me.
Then I heard about Matt Smith and that a new showrunner was taking over. I figured, okay, if I wanted to jump on board now was the time. It was a clean break and a great spot to start watching the show. So I did. I’d always known that Doctor Who had a healthy amount of cheese attached to it, and with that in mind I enjoyed Smith’s first official episode as the Doctor. More importantly I fell head over heels in love with his companion, Amelia Pond. I have a thing for redheads – in case you didn’t know. She was one of the larger draws in my mind.
As time went on though I began to enjoy Smith as the Doctor. He was funny, charming, and overly silly. He could also be increasingly dark and even evil depending on the moment. That push and pull of his personality was so much fun to watch. I loved how adored the Doctor was and in a way I kind of envied him. In a time where I was suffering a great deal from depression and loneliness, the idea of having a space ship that could go anywhere and anytime was incredibly appealing.
There were other characters that joined the Doctor as well. Unfortunately I couldn’t stand most of them. River Song was interesting in the beginning, the allure of what she knew and the mystery. Alas, as time went and we learned more about her she became less and less interesting. It eventually came to the point where I loathed her appearances on the show. Thankfully it seems like her time is done and the show and we won’t have to listen to her spout catchphrases and half truths anymore.
Then there’s Rory. My biggest problem with Rory is that he was only created for the purpose of keeping Amy from falling in love with the Doctor – that and being a big wimp. That first part is fine, but he had no character otherwise. He just complained a lot and always had this sour expression on. It was a bit frustrating. It wasn’t until his father appeared on the show that we got some insight into Rory. But even that was short lived.
In the end it seemed that the only character who had some development was Amy. She learned to live without her imaginary friend and stop being a “child”. It resulted in a bittersweet ending that left me quite destroyed. It was very upsetting to see Amy leave the show. She felt like an integral part of the show, as important as Matt Smith even.
Then we got a new companion. We got Clara. Clara was the “impossible girl” who kept showing up wherever the Doctor was. Unfortunately the version of her that became the Doctor’s companion, her present day incarnation, was boring. Devoid of any personality, it was frustrating to watch her try and find her footing. It didn’t help that all the episodes were separate save for the occasional mention of Clara’s nature. It wasn’t until the Christmas special that I felt we actually started to get to know Clara as a character. I imagine that’s because her mystery was over and the writers had no choice but to actually create a character. My hope is that she will continue to grow under Capaldi’s Doctor.
During Smith’s run was the 50th anniversary of the show. The episode was spectacular by all accounts. I even enjoyed Tennant’s Doctor in this episode (perhaps because he didn’t have any companions). I also enjoyed Billie Piper’s return as the Bad Wolf if only because it meant she wasn’t coming back as Rose. The episode itself was a joy. It was a great mythology episode, tying together several years of Doctor Who lore and even giving us a “secret Doctor” in the form of John Hurt. While it’s sad that Eccleston didn’t return for the episode, I very much enjoyed Hurt’s Doctor. It’s a little sad that he was only here for the one episode and it’s doubtful he’ll ever return.
Then came the fateful Christmas episode. We learned months ago that Matt Smith would be regenerating into the newest Doctor at the end of the Christmas episode. It was something that haunted me for quite some time. The fact that my favorite Doctor would be regenerating was not something I was looking forward to. I remember watching the episode, filled with anxiety while waiting for the moment everything would change. It might sound dramatic but the show does change and evolve in tone whenever the Doctor changes actors. I’ll be curious to see how things change with Capaldi’s Doctor come August.
But the episode itself was… an interesting send off. What could have easily been a two-hour special was crammed into one hour. Due to that we had a lot of answers to series long mysteries given to us in a throwaway line. It was somewhat frustrating and the whole “town called Christmas” thing was eye roll worthy. But the emotional aspect of the performances and the writing were what captured my attention. It was impossible not to view this episode as something other than Smith’s farewell episode. Because of that the whole episode had this sad feeling to it.
Then it happened. As an old man Smith’s Doctor received a burst of regeneration energy from the Time Lords, allowing him to escape death once more. When Clara found him on the TARDIS, he was young again, but the process couldn’t be stopped. This happened with Tennant’s Doctor as well when he was going to regenerate. Despite being injured by nuclear levels of radiation, Tennant’s body healed itself, making him look fine for the time being. I couldn’t help but think of the way that people seem to get better just before the end. It adds just a touch more of sadness to everything.
The final moment was what took it all away though. My dearest hope for this episode was that the last person the Doctor saw before regenerating was the first person he saw: Amelia Pond. I know it was all fanservice and stuff, but it truly was a perfect moment.
And so I bid farewell to one of my favorite television characters, by listing my top five episodes of his run.
5. Nightmare in Silver
4. Amy’s Choice
3. The Angels Take Manhattan
2. The God Complex
1. The Doctor’s Wife