I had had a particularly rough day at work when I got home that night to do my usual nightly routine of searching entertainment websites to devour news or search for potential article ideas. When I glanced at the lead story on EW.com my day quickly became twice as rough.
It was a bit of news I was not expecting, unprepared for and even though I knew would happen one day was somewhat devastated by – Matt Smith announced he would be leaving “Doctor Who” at the end of the year.
It’s not unusual for Doctors to come and go. Smith has played The Doctor for 42 episodes or three seasons – about the average life span of a Doctor. But, the thing that makes Smith’s upcoming departure from the long-running British science fiction series so hard is that he’s my Doctor.
Everybody has “their” Doctor – their favorite one – oftentimes the one that introduced them to the series, as Smith did with me. There are “Doctor Who” fans out there who still pine for David Tennant, the tenth and previous Doctor, three and a half years after he left the show. I feel like it’s possible this could be my reaction to Smith leaving the show. I just hope it doesn’t unfairly affect the way I feel about whichever poor soul is tasked with following Smith as the Twelfth Doctor, the way some people did with Smith following Tennant.
Just under a year ago I embarked upon “Doctor Who” – after previously giving it a brief shot and it not capturing me for some idiotic reason – because I knew so many friends and critics who raved about it. I started this time around with the season seven (Smith’s third) premiere “Asylum of the Daleks” and there was something about Smith’s acting that appealed to me and as I quickly began to binge-watch his episodes two and sometimes three at a time – running through much of his tenure in mere weeks – I quickly realized he was one of today’s finest actors with a tour de force performance that could range from laugh out loud funny to Shakespearian-like seriousness in a matter of seconds. I know that shows like “Doctor Who” are never taken seriously, for some asinine reason, but it’s almost a crime that Matt Smith has never been nominated for an Emmy Award.
With Smith’s brilliantly quirky performance and under the words and guidance of show-runner Steven Moffat the Eleventh Doctor has truly become one of the finest characters in television history. And, that’s one of the greatest things about the character of The Doctor – every time he regenerates he is effectively in many ways born anew, with not just a new appearance, but also a new personality and a new style among other things. This is why the show has thrived for 50 years, but it’s also why I have slight doubts if the show will ever be the same to me again. I fear I may miss too much things that are unique or particular to Smith’s Doctor, many of my favorite aspects of the show, like his unique quirk, his bowtie (because bowties are cool) and that devilish smile of his.
However, I know from watching the episodes of Tennant and Christopher Eccleston before him – I watched the show backwards – that the show somehow and incredibly stays strong regardless of who plays The Doctor. Yet it’s something that fans – no matter who their favorite Doctor is – incessantly worry about until the next Doctor’s debut because The Doctor is television sacred ground.
The next Doctor will probably work his way into our hearts like those that came before him (or her), hopefully sooner than later. For some he’ll even be their reason for watching and will become “their” Doctor. When the time comes for his debut I’m sure I’ll be hesitantly excited for the things to come. Until then, though, I’ll mourn the impending loss of Matt Smith, but will be relieved by the thought of knowing that just like with companion Amy Pond, he’ll always be my Doctor.
“Doctor Who” can be seen locally on Conway Corp. Channel 103.