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Feature Article: The Ninth, Tenth, & Eleventh Doctors

NOTE: The following is an opinion article. It reflects ONLY the views of the author, and not the views of The Gallifrey Times, the BBC, or anyone else but the writer of the article. Thank you, and enjoy your reading.

Well, it’s about time for The Gallifrey Times to have a bit of an opinion. And you know what? I’m just the newbie to do it.

After a bit of deliberating, I decided that the best (and most popular) idea would be an analysis of each of the three Doctors we’ve seen since the shows revival in 2005. All of these characters have their strengths and faults, just as they have their good and bad qualities. Whether it be in personality, preference, style of clothing, (Bow-ties are exceptionally cool) or way they act in general, I’m here to compare them all. At the end, I will add the bit that makes this an opinion and say who I think comes out on top as the best Doctor of the revival. But, as I said, it’s my opinion. Not a fact. If you disagree you may voice your disapproval, but keep it civil. Now, onwards and upwards!

The Ninth Doctor – Christopher Eccleston (2005 – 2006)

After the 1996 movie didn’t take off as planned, Doctor Who did little more than inspire foggy memories about what was once a great show. But to fans of the classic series, it was over and done with. For they they knew, it was never coming back. And for a while, they were right. After numerous attempts at a revival had failed, all hope seemed lost.

But then there was Eccelston.

Christopher Ecceslton was a British actor who had a history of acting already, and when cast as the Doctor he was truly a force to be reckoned with. But with every show, there does come and end. Was Doctor Who ready to die, or could Eccelston breathe new life into the series? After all, the show has so much history, so much continuity, and so much of a reputation. Could one man successfully revive a show that another had failed at?

The answer, as you know, is a yes.

When it comes to revivals, the first episode is extremely crucial. You have to mind your audience, remember the past, and still have a fresh look on things without seeming cheap. Since the show had been off the air for almost a decade, the producers were already in uncharted territory when they decided to bring it back. The show had ended abruptly, and the movie wasn’t exactly a closure, so they really had the freedom to go anywhere they wanted. With that kind of power, it’s so easy to make a mistake.

But none were made.

Eccelston’s Doctor was a completely new character from what we’d seen. Previously, the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) had only just been introduced. If the series were to continue as it had ended, we might be seeing a totally different Who now, or we might be seeing none at all. In order to sever ties with the past, but still stay somewhat connected, the Ninth Doctor was introduced to the audience as the Doctors newest “self”.

As for how he was different…

Eccelston’s Doctor was incredibly dark. With little to no mercy for someone he truly believed to be wrong, he was the only Doctor from the new series who actually participated in what the other Doctors seemed to stand against: Fighting.

When Cassandra was drying up, The Doctor stood by and, despite the protests of Rose, let the last human become extinct. In the episode “Dalek“, the Doctor is fully prepared to destroy the last Dalek, and if it weren’t for Rose, he would have done it.

But at the same time, Eccelston’s Doctor showed a compassion to his companion that no other Doctor ever seemed to show. For the first time, the bond between the Doctor and his companion was getting to be deeper than most of the previous relationships.

Eccelston set the stage for the show to make its comeback, and he did it well. When he left, the next Doctor who entered the fray had large shoes to fill. After all, part of the Doctors charm is that he never stays the same. But would the next change be better or worse?

The Tenth Doctor – David Tennant (2005 – 2010)

At the end of the Ninth Doctor episode The Parting of Ways” we were given a brief glimpse of the next Doctor who would take the stage and own the TARDIS. Lanky, wild-haired, and charming in a lot of different ways, the Tenth Doctor was a promising change from the occasional darkness that was the Ninth Doctor.

For most of “The Christmas Invasion“, the Doctor was asleep and recovering from his recent regeneration. As such, the only true bit we had with David Tennant was looking to be wasted. During the time he was awake, he was eccentric, wild, and witty. But in such short spurts, we couldn’t be sure this was the personality we were going to be promised. Later on in the episode, When Tennant’s Doctor is awake and ready to fight, he makes it a point to say that he doesn’t know who he is personality-wise. When the Doctor regenerates, his whole being changes. Not just his look, but his manner, drive, and quirks. Although he did fight with gusto in this episode, with Tennant’s Doctor we were handed the peaceful, pacifistic Doctor again.

That’s not to say Tennant didn’t have a dark side.

In “The Runaway Bride” Tennant’s Doctor was again show to have no mercy to people who he deemed truly evil. However, where Rose could not persuade Eccelston’s Doctor, Donna Noble was able to bring Tennant’s Doctor down to a more human and rational level.

Despite being so against fighting, the Doctor had no shortage of it. He tried to hold back whenever he could, often trying to bluff his way to victory by saying he’ll destroy something (The Poison Sky), but at times he was proven to actually still have soldier-like qualities (The Doctors Daughter).

By far the quirkiest of the Doctors up to that point, Tennant’s Doctor was loved by many. When it was finally time to regenerate, nobody could be sure what would come next. After Tennant had blown everyone away with a bigger Doctor than anyone could have hoped for, people weren’t so sure that anyone would be able to size up to a man that large…

The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith (2010 – Present)

After a series of Tennant being Tennant followed by 2 series of Tennant building up the next Doctor, we finally saw the face of the newest man to take up the mantle of the Time Lord Victorious. It was only for a few minutes at the very end of “The End of Time: Part Two” but the feeling the viewer got from seeing the future of the show, even for a minute or two, is so tremendous that it made almost every Whovian want to see this new Doctor in action.

When Matt Smith achieved the role, he became the youngest man to play the Doctor, taking the title from the previous holder, the man who played the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison). While Smith’s portrayal shared the same quirkiness as Tennant’s Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor derived the same hidden dark side the Ninth incarnation seemed to showcase. Though a mystery, he was still The Doctor. And the Doctor is always full of mysteries.

Joining him on his wibbly escapades this time, was Amy Pond. A small girl who the Doctor promised to return to soon, only fulfilling the promise twelve years after making it. Later on, her husband Rory joins the “Merry Marching Time Brigade” (a name of my own creation, by the way) and becomes a central point for both his own development of character as well as Amy’s. Though they had a rough patch at the start, with Amy first being love stricken with The Doctor himself, they eventually realise that them being together was truly the right thing.

This Doctor didn’t particularly enjoy fighting, but didn’t hesitate to retaliate if provoked. He also was very aware of his own destructive nature, and often used it as a tool for intimidation. I perfect example that showcases that notion, is the Series 6 episode, “The Doctor’s Wife“. If anyone thought that the Doctor had forgiven himself for causing the Time War, or had forgotten altogether, this episode proved them wrong.

When the Doctor discovered the sinister ways of the living planet “House”, he says one line that reminds the TARDIS-devouring planet who he should really fear.

House says he has killed hundreds of Time Lords in his lifespan. The Doctor, unimpressed with House’s achievement, simply says, “I’ve killed them all.”

At that moment, fans realized that the happy-go-lucky Doctor they has seen the most up to this point was still a very tormented and tragic soul.

But, for every Doctor, there is a following. And for every following, there is a reason for doing so. So, as promised, here is my personal opinion on which Doctor is the best of the three mentioned. I repeat, this is an opinion only representative of MYSELF. So, don’t feel that you have to agree. For the sake of fairness, though, I will support my claim with my own personal feelings. Onwards!

Copper’s Favorite Incarnation of the Doctor From the Current Run of Doctor Who is: The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith)

Yes, I know this is commonly an unpopular opinion to have, but before you go on and start stating the reasons why you dislike Matt Smith, allow me to explain why.

First, a bit of an observation:

When it comes to Matt Smith and the Eleventh Doctor, most of the fan base is split pretty evenly down the middle. On one side, you have people who embrace this incarnation and enjoy, tolerate, or don’t have an opinion of the shows direction with Matt Smith. On the other side, you have those who watch the show begrudgingly, hating every bit of film that they are using on this horrid actor. Often times, the people in the latter half wish for Tennant to return as the Doctor.

Now, that’s not a bad thing. It’s completely fine to want a previous actor to reprise the role and return. That’s a common feeling for MOST shows with different main characters. However, the same people that make this claim are often the same people who are unaware of the reason Tennant left in the first place. Is wasn’t because the BBC didn’t want him, he didn’t overstay his welcome, and it wasn’t because his contract ran out. The BBC would have been happy to let him continue time traveling, but what mattered most was what Tennant himself wanted. And in an honorable show of generosity, he opted to leave the role of his own accord.

When you play a role as big and as iconic as The Doctor, it’s easy to get lost in the character. And with a character as memorable as The Doctor, it can be hard to shake the following you gain in the role. Tennant was largely praised in the persona, and when he left, few people actually took the time to understand why. They were sad that the most well-played incarnation was being left behind.

While I understand that sentimentality, think of the opportunity he allowed many other people to have. I enjoy Matt Smith immensely and wouldn’t change the casting choice for the world. but before he was chosen, there were so many possibilities of actors that could be the next big thing. And while it would be hard to measure up to Tennant’s level of success, the man let someone have a go. He actually gave up the role for someone else to enjoy. And that, no matter what anyone says, takes a great deal of integrity to do.

Now, Matt Smith is my favorite for many reasons. For one, he’s quirky enough that I can believe he’s not perfect and all-knowing like an old time travelling alien would be, and that’s fantastic. If the Doctor were a flawless character, he’d be impossible to relate to. When Matt Smith took the role, he brought the Doctor down to a more visibly human level, and thus made him more accessible to connect with. We can get to know our hero, and we can feel what he feels without having to place ourselves in impossible situations to feel what he is going through.

Also, the companions the Doctor was given during this era were, for the first time, truly along for the ride. The Doctor wouldn’t accept Amy’s interest in him, eventually leading her to falling back in love with Rory and them being married. Before this point, every extended companion the Doctor has had since 2005 has been female, and interested in the Doctor (save for one). With the exception of Donna, The Doctor and his female companions have always shared at least a small level of romantic interest, the most prominent being with Rose Tyler. For a man who can and has lived much longer than a normal human will, having a love interest is dangerous.

With Amy and Rory, the Doctor has an understanding female on one side, and a still-developing male character that he can trust with the harder tasks. And for the first time, The Doctor can focus more on the journey instead of his companions feelings.

All of these factors and more lend to my overall favoritism of Matt Smith’s Doctor. When I look for characters to root for, I try to find a level of emotional connection, believability, and a sense of warmth that comes from the character being played as you would have imagined it.

While Tennant and Eccelston are still very great Doctors I just didn’t feel as drawn to them as I did with Smith. Plus, a fez is always a plus. I like the fez.

Well, there you have it. A recap, reiteration, and reason why I enjoy who I enjoy. If you have any particular comments to share, or points you’d like to bring up, feel free to do so. Just don’t bash anything I have said, as it is all my opinion.

Until next time!


Actor images from Wacko Media.