If you’re not a fan of Doctor Who, this post probably won’t mean anything to you at all. I won’t hold it against you one bit if you don’t read it.
I just learned that Matt Smith will leave the show in this year’s Christmas episode. My heart sank as I read the news earlier today. I didn’t really like him when he started playing The Doctor in 2010. I thought he was a very talented actor, but I didn’t feel like I was watching Doctor Who. I felt like I had accidentally stumbled across a wacky sitcom designed to pay homage to Doctor Who. Somehow, the tone was just wrong. It was too silly, too slapstick. Even the Tardis interior looked like a fun house. Rory, Amy, and River Song were wonderful characters, but I didn’t feel like they belonged in the same universe as Rose Tyler, Mickey Smith, and Martha Jones. (This is just my opinion and it doesn’t really mean much. I know I’m just one of ten thousand people on the internet, rambling and over-analyzing this silly old TV show.)
But I finally accepted Matt Smith as The Doctor after watching The Snowmen this past Christmas. I loved the scene when Clara boldly followed him into the Tardis … and then he turned back very slowly and grinned at her as she looked around, speechless and awestruck. At that moment, something clicked. Matt Smith really did come across as an ancient, mysterious, brilliant, lonely Time Lord. I also loved Hide and Journey to the Centre of the Tardis. I could write 50,000 words about Hide, but I’ll be kind and spare you. (By the way, I’m not saying I hated all the previous episodes. The Doctor’s Wife, written by Neil Gaiman, was a classic. And the cinematography in that episode was some of the most dazzling stuff I’ve ever seen.)
As I was saying, Matt Smith is leaving and I’m disappointed. I ride this same, miserable roller coaster every time the character regenerates. It’s just part of being a Doctor Who fan, I guess. A new actor steps in … and it takes a year or two for me to get comfortable with him playing the role … and then I really begin to like him … and then he steps out … and the whole aggravating process begins all over again.
I still remember the first time I ever saw The Doctor regenerate. I was about ten years old, sitting on the carpet in front of the TV with my face too close to the screen, watching the show on Channel 8, the PBS station in Georgia. The episode was called The Caves of Androzani. At the end, Peter Davison collapsed onto the floor of the Tardis … and wild, psychedelic designs swarmed around his face. Then he transformed into Colin Baker — a posh, dignified man with curly hair. He abruptly sat up and started talking about change.
The next morning, in Sunday School, I asked my friend Joel if he had seen it. Joel nodded emphatically and said, “Yeah! He regenerated!” Joel was much more knowledgeable about Doctor Who than I was. He often explained these concepts to me, telling me all about Daleks and Cybermen and so forth.
Anyway, it’s about to happen again soon. The fiftieth anniversary episode will air on November 23 and then, unfortunately, Matt Smith will appear as The Doctor for the last time on Christmas.
What a lousy present.
Click here to download a copy of my novel, Under the Electric Sun.