The New Classic Doctor

Alphaville.

I don’t consider myself a Whovian. When the words, “Doctor” and “Who”, are uttered in close proximity, I am more likely to think of Cindy-Lou Who from the timeless Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, than the now 50-year old BBC Time Lord.   

However, I like to think of myself as a casual but particularly excitable fan. Thanks to Netflix I was able to watch the series completely out of sequence and then re-watch it in sequence and then sort of “build my own season” by watching just my favorite episodes. Though it has yet to add Matt Smith’s final season (Season 7), you can watch all of the episodes leading up to Season Seven and selected “Classic Doctor Who” episodes.

Netflix’s omission of the 11th Doctor’s final season and the prohibitive cost of cable haven’t kept me from getting caught up in the hoopla surrounding the Doctor’s 50th Anniversary, Matt Smith’s final episode as the 11th Doctor, and Peter Capald’s first episode as the 12th Doctor. I borrowed Season Seven parts 1 and 2 from my local library (The DVDs start with this funny and effective ad for BBC America) and I bought the 50th Anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor, and Matt Smith’s last episode, The Time of the Doctor, online at Amazon.

For the most part, I agree with The Telegraph reviews by Ben Lawrence and Tim Martin. I agree with Lawrence that in the 50th Anniversary episode “was fascinating to see how Matt Smith and David Tennant interacted. Both fine actors, they are also very different. Tennant is edgy and mercurial, likely to turn on a pin. Smith is gentler, with a boyish eccentricity and other-worldly strangeness. They sparred terrifically with a fair amount of trademark humour.”

The Day of the Doctor takes place at the moment the War Doctor (John Hurt) readies himself to ignite a bomb that will destroy the entire Dalek race as well as everyone on his home planet. In Doctor Who jargon, this is an inevitable “fixed point in time” that cannot be altered because the consequences would be catastrophic. This fixed point burdens the Doctor through his succeeding incarnations. Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor — the regeneration immediately after the War Doctor — struggles to maintain the humor that is so essential in preserving his humanity. This struggle is touched upon in the episode, “The Doctor Dances”.

The marathon that David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor ran from episode to episode can be interpreted as symptomatic of someone running from his past when you think of his “edgy and mercurial” behavior. And finally, Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor with his “boyish eccentricity” is the culmination of years (centuries?) of emotional avoidance. At one point in The Day of the Doctor a frustrated War Doctor says something to the effect of “What have I done that is so terrible that my later regenerations don’t want to grow up?”

Tim Martin was correct in his assessment of The Time of the Doctor. The fact that it was Matt Smith’s last episode as the Doctor was among the reasons I bought the episode. But it wasn’t the main reason. I bought the episode on Amazon because I really enjoyed the 50th Anniversary episode and wanted to see what happened next.

Emergency Awesome has an informative rundown of what fans can expect from the new Doctor. He says the new Doctor will be like classic Doctor: “dark and amazing.” I am excited to see the “darker” Doctor in action. There have been several clips on YouTube of Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman filming a scene for Season Eight.

This one is my favorite because it begins with a segment of the two stars signing autographs and taking pictures with fans (and both stars and fans seem to be relishing the experience):

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