Tuesday, June 4, 2013

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye...

The Eleventh (For Now) Doctor:
"I've done enough damage.
My work here is done..."

It is now official: Matt Smith will be leaving Doctor Who in the 2013 Christmas Special, and I say...

LET THE DOOR HIT YOU
ON THE WAY OUT!

This little blurb won't be about who will replace Smith (I'm not keen on a woman...I reject the idea of Time Lords being hermaphrodites).  Instead, I want to take up a few minutes of your time to issue my own thoughts as to how Smith's interpretation of the Doctor has led to the virtual collapse of a once-brilliant show into a sad parody of itself.

In many things, the decline of Doctor Who is not all Smith's fault.  The writing, in particular Series/Season Seven, has been dreadful.  I look over Smith's tenure from The Eleventh Hour to The Name of the Doctor, and the highest score he has earned has been an 8/10.  This occurred four times (The Eleventh Hour, Amy's Choice, Cold Blood Parts 1 & 2, and Night Terrors, with The Doctor's Wife inching towards an 8/10--currently undecided).  However, Series/Season Seven of Doctor Who, starting at Asylum of the Daleks all the way down to The Name of the Doctor, has an average score of 2.6. 

Let me repeat that: the average score for the last 14 episodes is 2.6!

AVERAGE!

In his entire tenure, the average Smith score has been 3.9...OK, let's round up to 4. Minus the "50th" Anniversary Special and the Christmas Special (his final turns as the Doctor), the Eleventh Doctor stories as a whole couldn't even get to above average. 

Incidentally, the lowest Smith score?  Try 1/10, which occurred amazingly four times as well (The Curse of the Black Spot, The God Complex, Closing Time, and Nightmare in Silver). 



Somewhere, a village is missing
its idiot organ grinder monkey...
Conversely, the five other Doctors whose stories I've reviewed (First, Second, Ninth, and the first seasons of the Third and Tenth) have all except for Ten managed at least one 10/10 story.  In each of their tenures there was at least ONE brilliant story that will rank among the greatest Doctor Who stories of all time.  Smith's Era sadly does not have any that will be so lofty.  

I have completed (though not finished formally reviewing) the seventh season/series of the Classic Doctor Who, which was Jon Pertwee's debut season.  Want to know his Series/Season Seven average score?

9.75.

So, to recap:

Seventh Series/Season of Classic Doctor Who Average Score: 9.75
Seventh Series/Season of Revived Doctor Who Average Score: 2.6

As I said, the writing has pretty much damned the Smith Who Era to being an abyss of silliness.  Nonsensical story arcs that focused more on the Companions (It's All About AMY!  Series/Season Six revolved around River Song: her Death, Transfiguration and Wedding!  Series/Season Seven was about Clara "The Impossible Girl"!) than on the Doctor.  The Doctor at times being sidelined to give River or the same-sex bestiality of Silurian Madame Vastra & her Cock-ney chambermaid Jenny the spotlight.  Any issue the Doctor faces being resolved most of the time by flashing the sonic screwdriver (it slices, it dices, it cures non-humans of toxic baths.  If there was a problem/Yo! Sonic Screwdriver'll solve it). 

Matt Smith is an actor who was given a part to play and I'm convinced he played it to the best of his ability.  However, my anger is directed towards how Smith interpreted the Doctor.

The Eleventh Doctor was not someone who actually solved any dilemma he found himself in, at least not with what is suppose to be his keen mind.  Eight times out of ten he would whip out his handy-dandy sonic screwdriver and use that to fix the issue.  The other two times?  Well, either the Companion (usually River) would jump in to resolve the issue, and/or the situation would work itself out with little to no help from him.

How else to explain RAIN/TEARS bringing down The Snowmen?  

Instead, Smith portrayed him as a bumbling idiot, someone more interested in his bow ties and fezzes than in saving lives.  His goofy dance at Amy and Rory's wedding (right down to him waving his arms above his head in synchronicity) still haunts my nightmares.  Rather than be a man of action or intelligence or warmth (like the Third, Fourth, or Fifth Doctor respectively), the Eleventh was one who not only behaved but appear to think like a child.

A side note: Smith may have thought he was taking inspiration from the 'Cosmic Hobo' the Second Doctor was, but we always knew that his slightly bumbling persona was a front to fool his enemies.  The same couldn't be said of the Eleventh.  While the Second Doctor may have been lighter than the First, you'd never see HIM riding a motorcycle up a building as Eleven did in The Bells of Saint John.  Now that was just stupid (something none of the Doctor until Smith was). 




EPCON 2012:
Nice kid, but probably never seen
any Doctor Who pre-Rose...
The Eleventh Doctor truly at times didn't seem to realize or understand what was going on.  For example, when River "lands the TARDIS without the familiar whooshing sound", he is told it is because "you leave the parking brakes on".  He could argue that HE'S been flying the TARDIS for hundreds of years and should know what he was doing.  He could state that previous Companions who could operate the TARDIS better than he (namely, fellow Time Lord Romana) had similarly landed it with the whooshing sound.  He could even point out that other Time Lords (The Master, the Rani, the Meddling Monk) all had TARDISes that made the exact same sound. 

Instead, he somewhat meekly, like a two-year-old, just pouts about how he likes that sound.  In effect, he's being shown up and being portrayed as an imbecile who isn't as smart as his Companion.

Even worse, NuWho fans like young Brandon here will accept this as Canon without even bothering to discover that said whooshing sound was there deliberately.  Instead, should they ever attempt to watch anything from An Unearthly Child to Survival (or the Doctor Who television movie) all they'll think is, 'Silly Doctor.  You've left the parking brake on.'

(However, if they listen to other Time Lords' TARDISes, they may wonder why ALL of them 'leave the parking brake on, so there yet may be hope).


Leaving aside the fact that A.) River was given this bit to show how much smarter she was than the Doctor and B.) this 'joke' was quickly forgotten since the whooshing sound is still around, Smith's entire interpretation of the Doctor does something dangerous: it opens the character to becoming an object of ridicule than of admiration.  One can't take seriously a lead character who grins like an idiot, wears funny things just because the mood strikes him sans rhyme or reason, and especially is shown to not be the smartest person in the room.

I imagine that few NuWho cosplay participants would appear dressed as the First-Third Doctors because whatever their flaws, one could take them seriously.  The Fourth's scarf is too tempting to resist, but besides that what do most Who cosplay figures dress like?  We get plenty of Tenth Doctors (the outfit is pretty easy) and Eleventh Doctors (after all, aren't we all suppose to laugh at the man with the bow tie, fez, and mop). 

EPCON 2012:
Nothing River would enjoy more
than a little girl-on-girl action...
This is one of my big beefs with what Matt Smith did with the Doctor: he turned him into a joke.  Our heroes are suppose to be people/beings we take seriously, whom we can rally round for protection and wisdom.  What kind of protection and wisdom can come from someone who in Nightmare in Silver jumps up and down like a child screaming about his Golden Ticket?  This childish behavior of the Eleventh Doctor is one of the things that I looked upon with anger.

I stand by my position that Smith started out well, but soon degenerated into a joke.  He was goofy.  He was deferential to others to almost solve the problem for him.  When all else fails, use the sonic screwdriver. 

There are just so many awful moments with Smith's Doctor.  There was the time he suggested he was attempting to seduce roly-poly Craig Owen in Closing Time, the episode where our rotund hero said of his defeat of the Cybermen, "I blew 'em up with love".   There was the time when facing off against pirates in The Curse of the Black Spot he seemed almost giddy at meeting pirates rather than in the danger they posed for him and his Companions.  What about when he pulled out a lightsaber-type thing from the front of his pants versus Rory's flashlight/torch (allowing Rory to complain that "the Doctor's was bigger than his") in Vampires of Venice.  Then when the Doctor burst out of the cake at Rory's bachelor party and babbling about the 'nice girl' that had been inside said cake in same episode. Then there was when he crashed through the chimney and began again babbling on about "Jeff" (aka Santa Claus) in A Christmas Carol

It was Smith's inability to make his Doctor into someone who A.) was serious in any way and B.) intelligent in any way, who was more a bumbler and perhaps insane that made his Doctor a simply dreadful figure.

You can have a funny Doctor.  Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor has his recorder, but he didn't rely on either the screwdriver or his Companions to solve the problem.  Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor was unabashedly eccentric, but he also was deadly serious when the situation called for it.  The Doctor, until now, wasn't a goofball.  He just played idiot...Smith's Doctor IS Idiot.

Now that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who (presumably for greener pastures and bigger stardom), I for my part am so glad he's going (and wish he could take Steven Moffat with him).  I started out as a Smith defender, but seeing him turn the Doctor into a joke, into a blithering buffoon (the fezzes, the River-fixation, the "But My GOLDEN TICKET!"), into someone who inspired more irritation than inspiration, I found myself not only hating Matt Smith but actually hating the Doctor and Doctor Who

Matt Smith was only part of the problem.  With him gone I pray that we will return to a Doctor who uses his intelligence rather than his screwdriver, who relies on his Companions but does not defer to them, who can be light but can also be serious.

In short, I want MY Doctor back, not this clown...

Good-bye, Smithy-boy.  And may the next regeneration be better than the insufferable one you turned out to be...

EPCON 2012
At least he dealt with
River Song only once.
Lucky guy...

1 comment:

  1. While Smith started out well, and even had his moments i agree with you. i just think the problem was more with moffat than smith.

    ReplyDelete

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