Sunday, January 23, 2011

Doctor Who Series 5 is Near-Perfect: Part 4

Here we go. The fourth part in my four part blog about why I believe Series 5 of Doctor Who is Near-Perfect. It doesn't have completely to do with the fact that the Matt Smith Doctor-age is like a giant puzzle and it doesn't have completely to do with the fact that I think Matt Smith is a better Doctor than David Tennant, although it has to do with both.

...and half of you have stopped reading already.

Really? I think Matt Smith is a better Doctor than David Tennant?

What is this Whovian blasphemy? Let me explain.

Now, I loved David Tennant as The Doctor and as I said in Part 3, David Tennant is one of the most amazing actors I have ever had the pleasure of watching perform. He was great in his version of Hamelt (which I am 4/5ths of the way through. What? It's long.) and even wonderful in the, what, fourteen seconds he was in "Harry Potter". But as The Doctor, he was...human.

Tennant could play angry and he could play a heartbreaking sad attitude as well. Sure, he would always talk about the misfortunes and the wonders of humanity but at the same time, he held many of the ideas, thought pattens, and consciousness of a human. Albeit, a human genius, but a human nonetheless.

Smith's Doctor has the alien-like aura to him which he brings to the screen in an amazing way. He's youthful, bright, bubbly soul, and he's not as self-centered. He's clumsy and funny, and he even makes a lot of mistakes. Which, oddly enough, makes him a better Doctor.

In the very first episode of Series 5 where The Doctor needs to find Prisoner Zero, he's without a fully working TARDIS, his sonic screwdriver gets busted, and he's in a tiny town with nothing more than "a Post Office, which is closed!" All of the classic Doctor trademarks gone, and he has twenty minutes to ward off the destruction of the planet Earth. He tries something, it fails. He tries something else, it also fails. He seems to have no way out. And then he comes through when he notices tiny, tiny things wrong. With nothing more than a cellular phone, The Doctor comes through.

Now, the first time I watched that episode, something felt off and I didn't know why. I knew that I was beginning to like Smith's acting but I was firm to the belief that Tennant would always be my Doctor. And to an extent, he always will be, but something was different about Smith.

In "The Beast Below", Smith's Doctor showed anger towards the human, "Nobody human has anything to say to me today!" but he also showed selflessness. In "Victor y of the Daleks", he was able to keep his humor firm but still poignant by shouting at a Dalek, while brandishing a biscuit, “All right, it’s a Jammy Dodger, but I was promised tea!” And in each episode along the way, The Doctor shows a new side of himself. Sometimes completely alien, and sometimes compassionately overwhelmed with feelings of longing towards humans. Which, still, to be fair, is very alien.

And as I watched Smith's episodes, I realized what felt "off" to be about Matt Smith. He was alien. He made mistakes. He had a real sense of humor, to himself and others thought he was odd. He didn't aim to change the course of time "unless there were children crying", and he sure as heck didn't have a God-complex. His performance was much lighter than Tennant, with the ability to go just as dark. "Hello, I'm the Doctor," he warned the Atraxi in the premiere. ""

Ooh, still gives me chills.

Then, as I was watching Smith's Series 5 play out, I realized how each episode was a puzzle piece that fit together. In Eccleston's Series and the begging of Tennant's, Bad Wolf played a part in most of the episodes much like the Time Crack in Smith's episodes. But by the end, we find out that "Bad Wolf" was created by Rose to lead herself there. But there are a lot of inconsistencies and gaps in the story where the viewer forgets about Bad Wolf and then when it's explained, it's kind of a flash in the pan reaction. Like, that was it?

Smith's episodes are much more consistent. The Time Crack is shown in nearly every episode and even plays a large role in half of them. The viewer never forgets about the Time Crack and is constantly learning more about it. Each episode fits together like parts of a well-oiled machine. If you miss an episode, you miss important information. And even more-so, Series 5 and Series 6 will be linked together by "Silence will fall". Rather than rebooting a story-arc every Series, I think this continuous theme is something wonderful.

So, in closing, David Tennat will always be my first Doctor, but I believe Matt Smith is a better Doctor.

Now, please. Put your pitchforks away and talk amongst yourselves in the comments. I'm curious as to what you guys feel.

Go back and read: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3



  1. David Tennant is definitely my favorite, but Matt Smith hasn't had that much time to impress me yet. #weshallsee

  2. As I've been re-watching Tennant's run, I keep finding those 'human' qualities, and it bothers me. A few fandom speculations point to the reason being that he felt such feelings for Rose/she saved him from the emo-after-the-War-and-he-became-obsessed-with-her-for-it that he imprinted himself upon her when he regenerated and that's why they're quite similar. He even talks like her. I can see that, and it makes sense.

    The God-complex. Augh, the God-complex. I have so many mixed feelings about it, but it was ultimately the human-ness of the Doctor that caused him to lose it towards the end. Too much power for someone who no longer had Time Lord rules to answer to, only the Shadow Proclamation, but I think he knew he could take them. It drove him mad, and I think that's why Smith's Doctor is so alien now. In some ways his subconscious knows that he can't regenerate into something so human or he'll go crazy again.

    Or, Moffat knew that many of the fans were tired of angst!Doctor and wrote Smith's character accordingly.

    I like Matt's performance as a two-sided coin: one moment he's childlike and insightful ("Big shiny lighty things have my name written all over them. Well, give me time and a crayon."), but the other is this calmly dark genius who could snap his fingers and you'd be dead while he just smirks and swaggers off. He's just out of touch with humanity enough to see the only way to rid the English starship of its problems is to kill the star whale, but that's why he's got Amy (and later Rory) along: to remind him that sometimes there's a simple answer rather than a hugely complicated, genius-concocted answer.

    Whew. /soapbox

  3. Personally, Tennant is my Doctor. I love him and his portrayal of the Doctor, although I am willing to accept that this may be because we've spent so much more time with him as the Doctor- We've only seen one series each of Eccleston and Smith.

    That being said, my liking of Matt Smith has grown throughout series 5 significantly. I did not think there was any way he could compare to Tennant, but I've been pleasantly surprised so far. We've all just been so used to Tennant's portrayal that it was difficult to remember that each Doctor is basically a different person, with different personality quirks and habits.

    I enjoyed this post, though! First time I've visited your blog :)

  4. *applause for Travis*
    Yes, Tennant is and always will be my Doctor, but Smith is doing a stellar job, bringing more to the character of the Doctor.
    - Jason

  5. I feel like Smith's Doctor is more..Doctor-y? He at least portrays the Doctor the way I see him...only messing with time "when he sees children crying." Tennant was just too...angry? Yeah, I think angry is the right word. The way I like to put it is that Tennant's Doctor was possibly my favorite character in Doctor Who, but Smith is my favorite Doctor (so far). /Sideways