Where were you four years ago today? Probably glued to the tv just like I was. After all it was the debut of a new Doctor. We mark the anniversary of Matt Smith’s first episode today and I hope you will indulge me as I reminisce for a moment.
I’ll start by saying that I was a big Tennant fan. The day that his final episode aired, I walked around in a state of dread befitting someone who actually lost a loved one, not merely mourning the changing of a fictional character. The End of Time was a bit of a disappointment for me, but that’s neither here nor there. What does matter is that I thought nobody could ever replace him. He was going to be The Doctor. The definitive article, as his most popular predecessor once said. Fans of the classic series may love to argue and discuss who’s their favourite from the first of the Doctor’s eight regenerations, but there was no doubt in my mind that Tennant was going to be the New Who Doctor that went down in history as the most beloved.
So with great trepidation I sat on the couch as The Eleventh Hour started. I had already seen some stills from it online and was in a foul mood. That new companion was dressed like a police officer. That’s ridiculous, she’s going to be arrogant and bossy and hard to get along with. I just knew that I wasn’t going to like her. And Matt Smith? Seriously, I have socks older than him. How can he possibly be better than Tennant?
The show started up and I was immediately hooked. Just from that opening scene with young Amelia Pond and the crack in her wall. The slapstick comedy of the Doctor walking into a tree. Fish fingers and custard. By the time we moved forward and got to the real gist of the story I was already warming up to the new guy. What sealed it for me is Steven Moffat’s writing. You can complain all you want about his jiggery pokery later on in the series, but he writes one hell of a heroic Doctor. Just look at the “is this planet protected?” speech from the end of the episode. When we see all the previous incarnations of the Doctor flash across the screen and then Smith steps through the hologram of Tennant to introduce himself as the Doctor? BAM! I jumped off the couch, fist pumping the air. That’s one hell of an introduction. From that moment Matt Smith was my favourite New Who doctor and he has been for the last four years. Oh and that annoying police officer companion? Yes she was arrogant, bossy and hard to get along with, but that didn’t stop me from loving her and her husband.
So what did I learn from my Tennant to Smith experience? Not to prejudge what will come. Maybe Capaldi will blow away Smith, you never know. Looks like we will find out in this fall.