Matt Smith managed to make the eleventh Doctor both world-weary and child-like. Now it’s time for a change.
Confession: when I first saw the promo shots for the eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, a few years back, my first thought was: why the hell are they casting this too-young beanpole as the Doctor? No one could top David Tennant. I figured Steven Moffat was swinging for the younger demos, acting skills be damned.
And… I was wrong. From the first scenes with a young Amy Pond, where he’s sampling custard and fish fingers, I got it. Matt Smith was using his age (or lack of) to bring a different quality to the Doctor.
Sticking with the relaunched series, Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor was haunted and zany. But Eccleston only stuck around for one season. Then came Tennant as the tenth. He redefined the Doctor. Tennant was so assured in the role; he filled it out completely. I still insist that the season with Donna Noble is the best, and the episodes where we first meet River Song are the pinnacle of Doctor Who, both in terms of acting and writing.
But back to Matt Smith. No actor wants to do Doctor Who forever, apparently, so when Tennant moved on, Smith came aboard. Slowly I warmed to him. But the episode where I truly became a Matt Smith fan was the two-parter The Rebel Flesh/Almost People, where Smith played two versions of the Doctor. Each was the same, yet distinct. Subtle but brilliant.
There’s so much to say about Smith’s incarnation of the Doctor. I loved the River Song arc. I felt his loss when Amy Pond was separated from him forever. And I understood that Smith’s doctor could be the man so dangerous that hordes would try to destroy him in A Good Man Goes to War.
Goodbye Matt Smith, and number eleven. It’s been great.