Now that I have watched Seasons 1-9 of the new Doctor Who TV series, I would like to write about the diversity in the 4 Doctors that I have watched grow and regenerate before my eyes. The first Doctor that I met was number 9, aka Christopher Eccleston, he is fresh out of the war on Gallifrey and is said to have PTSD from the actions that took place while fighting in this war. Eccleston’s portrayal of the Doctor was supposed to be aimed at the 21st audience, this is seen by his attire, which was a leather jack and black jeans, or black leather pants. He shows people his many personalities by being the hero in the first scene when we meet him, by saving Rose from the plastic army. We learn to love him as he learns to love Rose and we cry for him as he becomes emotional when he saves Rose’s life in the final moments before he regenerates into David Tennant. David Tennant becomes our beloved 10th Doctor and unlike Eccleston, Tennant ends up staying for 3 seasons. We finally get to see his personality through the choice of his clothing, which is a suit and his tan detective coat. This shows that he’s more curious about the world and the universe. This brought on more weird and supernatural episodes and we learn more and more of Tennant’s Doctor’s personality. Tennant portrays the Doctor as charismatic and charming whose likable and easygoing, most days, but it can easily be turned into fury and outrage when he is double-crossed. He also gives off this “years of sadness” vibe, which is reiterated when he regenerates into Matt Smith, by crying and saying he “doesn’t want to go.”
Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor version is a bit unique and crazy. This is seen by his different style change which is also a suit, but picks up different colored bowties. He is also different as he is the first Doctor to travel with 2 companions whom are in a developing relationship, and eventually seen as married, and they have a daughter whom turns out to be married to the 12th Doctor in her past and their future. His characteristics include being quick-tempered, but a compassionate man who uses his youthful appearance which differs with his more discerning and world-weary temperament. This temperament leads into crazy adventures and eventually causes him to get trapped on a planet and eventually die from old age, but gets granted a new regeneration cycle by the Time Lords, leading to him regenerating into Peter Capaldi. Peter Capaldi is the most boring seasons that I have watched out of all the other Doctors. He is also clothed differently in a mostly navy two-pieced suit. He is different from the other’s as he is older than the others we have seen and he portrays the Doctor as a “spiky”, brusque, contemplative, and pragmatic, he also tends to conceal his emotions especially if faced with tough and sometimes ruthless decisions.
As you can see the New Who has shown us many different personalities, faces, and costumes. These details may seem small, but they make up who we have begun to see as the Doctor. This also causes for very diverse and unique portrayals of the Doctor, as you can see in the examples above.
As somebody entirely new to the show before this class, I didn’t really understand the fervent support or disdain of either Matt Smith or David Tennant as The Doctor in the show. I just saw this debate as two sides of the same coin; they’re both playing the Doctor, what’s the big deal? However, after watching the show, I am beginning to understand the debate.David Tennant was such a well loved actor in his portrayal of the Doctor, but Matt Smith is also no pushover. I am still on the fence about which I like better, but here are some of the pros and cons of David Tennant vs. Matt Smith.
My first argument in favor of David Tennant would have to be his character arc and portrayal of the writing given to him. The tenth Doctor would not have been an easy role at all; he is at times gritty, witty, and over the top just plain weird. Watching the growth and change of his character through multiple companions shows a lot of care and effort on Tennant’s part. From Rose all the way to Donna, we see a total change in how the Doctor acts. His acting ability is superb. Another point in favor of Tennant is all of the interesting arcs that we are taken on with him, to his love story with Rose all the way to the epic battle against the Daleks with all of his companions by his side. The tenth Doctor is just plain cool in the stories that are told through him. One negative of Tennant’s run that I would add is some of the companion development. He is often cold, angry, and dismissive of his companions when they first meet, which really turned me off of his character. Overall, David Tennant’s Doctor was truly amazing and was just what the show needed.
With a run like Tennant’s Matt Smith had a lot on his plate. I think the transition between Doctors was seamless and cool; Matt Smith was perfectly cast for the role he was to play. I understand how some may feel the transition was rocky, but some people are going to believe that no matter what with the attachment many fans had to David Tennant’s Doctor. Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor is just cool! He’s got an air about him that he is not to be trifled with, with dramatic monologues in nearly every episode. I’m also a huge fan of his style; again, it’s just cool. I can definitely see the merits of both actors in their roles as the Doctor, and I have to say that I really enjoy both of them, but for different reasons. I appreciate both Matt and David in portraying a character that I am coming to appreciate more and more.
Christopher Eccleston set the stage of incorporating more diversity in the Doctor Who reboot being from the northern part of the United Kingdom. This was extremely diverse for the UK because everyone is to try to be posh and speak like the Queen does because that gives them status both economically and socially. Otherwise the Doctor is still a white British male who isn’t ginger yet. Though the Ninth Doctor didn’t seem to bring anything back from previous versions he rather built a new persona. The only thing he brought back was his know it all attitude that he carried otherwise the clothing was ‘normal’ for the Doctor. Nine was very rebellious and seemed to be trying to move on from any connection to his past.
David Tennant being Scottish brought an even broader audience because he is a more popular actor who brought more viewers. Though still not ginger the Tenth Doctor brought a new style of acting and clothing. Ten went back to an odd outfit with a suit, long coat, and converse but it is still not as out there as a long scarf or a celery stalk. He did however, bring back a lot of the fifth Doctor with the glasses and they each dash around but appreciate beauty in the things around them. They each also stand with their hands in their pockets in tense situations which gives a casual appearance. Ten also aligned with the First Doctor in his final days by becoming selfish and trying to avoid regeneration and moving on.
Matt Smith brought a youthful feel being the youngest Doctor ever cast. This many would say is an age chosen by the Doctor to hide an old weary soul. Smith portrays the Doctor a lot like the second Doctor because he is goofy, can be physically awkward, and his love of hats. This Smith has credited to being that the Second Doctor was the Doctor of the stories he watched after being cast due to not having Doctor Who while growing up. Eleven also kept a suit but had sand boots instead of converse and later adopted spectacles for a few episodes to go with Five and Ten. Smith when cast as the Doctor wasn’t well known but this role brought him to fame.
Peter Capaldi again being Scottish brought some variety to the Doctor. Capaldi is the oldest doctor cast other than John Hurt who only has appeared a few times playing the War Doctor. The show did play some on Capaldi being from Glasgow with Clara making a few jokes here and there. Twelve being older than his two previous incarnations showed that he is accepting the maturity that he showed in his earliest incarnations. In season eight Twelve had a style that reflected the Third Doctor with a look almost of a magician. And in season nine he adopts a ‘disheveled “cosmic hobo”’ look like the Second Doctor. However, he shares a lot of traits with the Third Doctor like the love of invention and a sense of flamboyance with dramatic pointing or poses.
Jodi Whittaker being female also brings another sense of diversity into the Doctors incarnations. However, she is still white so maybe the 14th Doctor will be a person of color. In her outfit, she adopts the stripes of the Fourth Doctor on her shirt, the long coat of the Tenth and Fourth Doctor, the boots and suspenders of the Eleventh Doctor, and high waisted trousers like the Second Doctor. So overall most of her look comes from previous incarnations. But still not ginger! So, we will see where the Thirteenth Doctor takes us and how she acts compared to her previous incarnations.
In S5E10, the 11th Doctor and his companion Amy travel back in time to figure out why strange creature is hiding in one of Van Gogh’s paintings. The episode does have some scenes that are more focused towards taking the creature out, but there also some scenes when the focus was on Van Gogh’s mental health. Specifically, Amy is very concerned for Van Gogh’s mental health while the Doctor is concerned but also knows that he cannot do too much to change history. The Doctor realize that Van Gogh is a troubled soul, but also the Doctor cannot say or do anything to Van Gogh to disrupt history. However, Amy does not see the situation through the Doctor’s perspective. This is where the problem comes in. Amy tries to figure out why Vincent van Gogh feels the way he does. Amy starts to build a friendship with Van Gogh, and he mistakes this friendship for love. Here is where I have a problem: even though, Amy is a good person and making sure someone is alright is fine. Despite this trait, the episode portrays Amy’s kindness as a cause of Vincent van Gogh’s downfall. It is evident that Amy is a caring person, but because she wanted to make sure that Van Gogh was okay, she ended up being a part of someone’s ultimate end. When the Doctor and Amy left Van Gogh without warning, Van Gogh felt abandoned by his friends. This might be me reaching for a reason to make Amy the villain, but she unwillingly made a mentally ill person attached to her all while knowing that she would have to return to her time period and leave Van Gogh behind.
The first full season of Matt Smith as the Doctor finishes with a sequence of episodes called “The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang.” The Doctor, Amy, Rory, and River Song are in Europe during the peak of the Roman Empire; an extraterrestrial prison, also known as the Pandorica, has manifested through the manipulation of Amy’s childhood. The Pandorica intended to house the most dangerous being in the universe. The twist of the episode is that the prison is for the Doctor. This is the first time the Doctor is portrayed as the likeable villain.
The Doctors greatest enemies from throughout all of time have teamed up in order to stop the Doctor for the last time. The audience gets to see how dangerous the Doctor appears to his enemies; his enemies go to great lengths to stop him. I personally love the idea of the Doctor being an “anti-hero.” It adds a different dimension to the Time Lord; he now is seen as a villain in a sense. It also adds a new layer to the motives of his enemies. For example, in this episode the Daleks are much more interested in stopping the Doctor than they are in eliminating humanity and taking over the entire universe.
Another instance in which we see the way people fear the Doctor is in the episodes, “A Good Man Goes to War,” and “Let’s Kill Hitler.” A group of people steal Amy and Rory’s baby because there were traces of Time Lord in its DNA. They condition the baby to be a weapon, and everything comes to fruition in “Let’s Kill Hitler” when River Song, who is Rory and Amy’s baby, attempts to kill the Doctor, saying it’s her mission in life. Over the course of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor, the fear in which the Doctor instills in people manifests in brutal attempts to stop him. The Doctor may not be a stereotypical anti-hero, but in the eyes of his enemies, he’s their most dangerous villain in all the universe.
Before I had watched an episode with the eleventh doctor, I had already decided that I was not going to like him because I was just starting to get used to the tenth doctor. It took me quite a while to get used to David Tennant as the Doctor, so I assumed it would also take me a while to like Matt Smith as the Doctor. However, I really enjoyed the Matt Smith as the Doctor from the first episode I watched with him in it. I found the bit with him trying to find food that he liked to be very funny and I liked the way he interacted with Amelia. From all the mixed opinions I had heard about Smith, I was happily surprised with his performance.
The main reason I think I like Smith from the very beginning was because I enjoyed the plot of the episode and how episodes after that continued to connect with the first episode of the season. The episode was interesting and kept me invested through the entirety of it. I liked the new characters, and I liked the new Doctor’s quirkiness.
I think a large reason why I did not like Tennant right away, like I did Smith, was because I did not at all like the first episode that Tennant was in. I found the plot to be somewhat silly and boring and I did not like how different his personality seemed to be from Eccleston’s, because I really enjoyed him as the Doctor.
If I had to choose, I would say that Smith is my favorite Doctor so far and a lot of this has to do with his supporting cast. Amy is a good companion and I really like that Rory comes along to travel with her and the Doctor. Rory is a great character and, in my opinion, is the perfect combination of silly, oblivious, and somewhat intelligent.
In one of David Tennant’s final adventures, a team of his most famed companions/allies is formed. The team consisting of Harriet Jones, Rose Tyler, Jack Harkness, Sarah Jane Smith, and Martha Jones come together to aid the Doctor in stopping the end of the world. This gallery of characters were iconic during the adventures of previous incarnations of the Doctor and Tennant’s edition of the Time Lord. Their presence in “The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s End” helps provide a storybook ending to Tennant’s run as the Doctor, but is it’s unfair to the characters that the viewers grew to love during the tenth Doctor’s adventures.
Rose Tyler traveled with both Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant’s version of the Doctor. She added continuity to a somewhat abrupt change to the iconic role. She anchored Tennant in the first few episodes of season two, and she also gave the viewer some continuity within the show. At the end of Tennant’s run, we are given closing points for Rose, Jack, Sarah Jane, Martha, and Donna. This bookend for the series was beneficial in that it gave the show a “mini-reboot,” but it hurt the show in that the eleventh Doctor didn’t have a continuity point from the tenth Doctor, and seemed very lost in his first adventure.
Rose was a dynamic character that the viewers already knew, and this made assimilating the new Doctor much simpler. In Matt Smith’s first episode, he acknowledges his former versions of himself, but not his former companions. This feels out of character for the Doctor, and it hurts the chance for these former companions to appear alongside the eleventh regeneration of the Doctor. Without watching ahead, I think this is a disservice to the characters that travelled with Ten, and it also hurts the mythology of the famous television show.