“Everything’s got to end sometime; otherwise nothing would ever get started.”
– The Doctor
In the spring of 2008 I finally took a coworker’s advice and started watching episodes of a little British sci-fi series called Doctor Who. I started from the beginning of the reboot and I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started, but it didn’t take long for me to be completely hooked on the adventures of the Ninth Doctor and Rose. I would come home from work at 11 p.m. or later and not be able to go to sleep until I had seen at least one (most likely two) episodes of Doctor Who. Christopher Eccleston was fantastic, and even though I knew he would only be in the first series, I loved his portrayal of the Doctor and didn’t want to see him go. I was in tears by the end of “The Parting of the Ways.” I had heard David Tennant (whom I hadn’t yet connected to Harry Potter) was even more brilliant than Eccleston, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Like a typical American I didn’t understand how you could base a show around a single character, let the audience grow attached to that character, then change him just like that.
Tennant won me over by the end of “The Christmas Invasion” and once I started “New Earth” I knew he would be my Doctor. It seemed as though he was born to play this role; he made being the Doctor seem so natural and effortless. During Tennant’s time as the Doctor we saw many companions come and go, losing Rose and Donna were the hardest for me. I had finally caught up to the American viewings on the Sci-Fi channel (before it’s ridiculous name change) and was able to watch the series four finale with the rest of America (at least, with those who hadn’t downloaded and watched already).
And then came the confirmation of news I thought I never wanted to hear: David Tennant was leaving Doctor Who. I was heartbroken. He was my Doctor. He couldn’t leave. I couldn’t say goodbye. I held off watching both parts of the “End of Time” for several weeks because I just wasn’t ready to accept that he was gone. And when I finally watched it, the Doctor’s farewell tour was just as difficult as I had imagined. His final words, “I don’t want to go,” echoed what a lot of fans were feeling in that moment. And then suddenly, in a burst of light, he was gone; replaced by this gangly guy that didn’t look nearly old enough to be the Doctor.
I loved David Tennant so much in the role that I thought I would never be able to warm up to Matt Smith, but I’ve learned that there’s this funny thing that happens when you’re a fan of Doctor Who and a Doctor you love regenerates. In the beginning there’s this feeling of trepidation and concern that the new actor won’t be up to performing the role as well as those who have gone before, and you were so enamored with the previous Doctor that you really don’t want to see him go. Then suddenly one day you realize that the Doctor hasn’t changed at all, at least not really. While his face has changed, and some aspects of his personality may seem different, deep down he’s still the same Doctor he always has been and you really do love the new Doctor just as much as the old.
Matt Smith kind of snuck up on me. It took a little longer than with Tennant (nearly two years longer), and I don’t even know when it was that I really started to love him, I just remember watching the repeat of “A Christmas Carol” before “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe” aired and realizing that he really was an excellent Doctor. Tennant would always be my Doctor, but Smith now holds a special place in my heart as well.
Even before I realized how much I loved his Doctor, Smith continually impressed me with how well he was able to capture the age of the Doctor; despite being the youngest actor to play the role he really made you believe he was the oldest. He brought a lot of energy and charm to the role, as well as a lot of depth and emotion. He introduced us to the Girl Who Waited, the Last Centurion and the Impossible Girl and don’t forget Craig and Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All. He fought the Silence, Daleks, Cybermen and many more. He married River Song and saved her parents’ marriage. And he won over fans every step of the way.
The hardest part of being a fan of this show is knowing you will be saying goodbye to actors you love over and over again. But at the same time, this is also one of the most wonderful aspects of this show. While it’s heartbreaking to think that next year I’ll be watching a completely new Doctor, it’ll be exciting to see what that person brings to the role and in what ways he is different, yet the same old Doctor. Saying goodbye is hard, but we get to meet new people and the story continues, it doesn’t have to end just because one person’s time in the TARDIS is over.
Thank you, Matt Smith for making me fall in love with the Eleventh Doctor and showing me that change isn’t always a bad thing.
In the words of Amelia Pond, “Raggedy Man … Goodbye.”