Thursday, January 27, 2011

Keeping His Chin Up. Early Thoughts on Matt Smith as The Tenth Doctor




THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR: MATT SMITH

Now we are at last able to get a better idea of who and how Matt Smith has shaped the character of The Doctor to suit his own talents and/or persona. For better or worse, he will be identified by people as "their Doctor" in the same way some look back to say Tom Baker or Peter Davison or even Christopher Eccleston or David Tennant.  With one season under his belt (and at least two more in the wings) how does Mr. Smith match up to the role of Doctor Smith?

From Season/Series Five, Matt Smith's Doctor is far lighter than his predecessor. Near the end of Tennant's era, the Doctor was quite dark, almost miserable in his loneliness and nihilism. Smith has made his Doctor more light-hearted, a bit more manic too. To his credit, Smith draws from the fact that The Doctor is closing in on being a thousand years old, so seeing his rather youthful face against the physicality he gives the Eleventh Doctor (hunching over, constantly rubbing his fingers) is a good take on the Doctor. He also has adopted his own catchphrase of sorts, declaring anything he likes (bow ties, fezzes, Stetsons) to be "cool". One wonders how The First Doctor could refer to anything as "cool".

Smith has given The Doctor a renewed sense of joy and fun, and most of the stories play on what appears to be his lack of understanding of Earth. How else can you rationalize his cluelessness when popping out of a cake and informing the guys at the stag party that a lovely young girl in skimpy outfit was in there before he was? The Eleventh Doctor is also a very fast speaker, much more than those who went before him. Listen to him speak: he's going ninety words a minute at times, making keeping up with him nothing if not fun.

Obviously, a full analysis of his tenure won't be possible until he takes his last bow and regenerates yet again.  I would argue his youthfulness has actually aided his take on a character as old as The Doctor. He does however, run the risk of going too far in the comedic take, so there is always that. On the whole, Matt Smith's first year is a strong sign that he could be one of the better Doctors if he tones down the idiocy.

Series/Season Five Overview

Next Story: Day of the Moon Parts 1 & 2 (The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon)

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