January 8, 2014

Goodbye, 11

"And now it's time for one last bow, like all your other selves. Eleven's hour is over now, the clock is striking Twelve's."


I wasn't ready for Matt Smith to go anywhere. He wasn't the first Doctor I watched, but he quickly became my Doctor. Though he was the youngest actor to take on the role, his eyes looked older than anyone else's. He could switch from goofy to serious in a flash and when he did, oh my stars, the weariness and age that showed in his eyes was enough to punch you in the gut. He was the Doctor who got married, who opened the Pandorica, who met the personification of the TARDIS, who helped save Gallifrey from destruction, and who ended a cycle of regenerations. Yeah, he kept busy in series 5-7.

But, the 11th Doctor didn't get the ending he deserved. Or even an amazing final season.
He was Moffat-ed.

Despite my enthusiastic feelings for my Doctor, by the time the end of series 7 came around, I didn't care. Episodes sat on my TiVo for weeks, and in fact, I haven't even watched all of them. I skipped to the finale so I could know what Clara was and hoped it would make her more likable. Meh. It wasn't the acting that turned me off, it was the overall tone and writing. Steven Moffat doesn't seem to have anyone around to tell him no more. No more.

I appreciate the success Doctor Who has had under his lead. The series is more popular in the United States now than it has ever been. I don't expect Moffat is going anywhere or that things will change, but I'm not giving up hope. Hope that we can get past manic episodes that seem to be unrelated but always have underlying connections that you just won't believe when they're revealed. Past a Doctor who bullies enemies instead of working things out in a different way. Past companions who are a problems to solve instead of people.

The Time of the Doctor didn't fuel my optimism. It was like they sat down in a room and said, "we want to put all of the 11th Doctor's enemies into one episode; what ridiculousness can we pull together to make that happen?" Though it had some solid scenes and dialogue (Handles! my heart!) , the 11th Doctor's finale mostly felt like a highlights reel of his time as the Doctor. And not a funny one that would get a million hits on YouTube either. It felt slapdash and too packed with too many winks to have any resonance. There was so much to process that by the end, I was a tiny bit grateful it was over.

All that said, the 11th Doctor's regeneration moment was the best of the modern series. It was a slow build up leading to the quick change into Peter Capaldi, and Smith had a moving farewell with Amy Pond, a memorable goodbye speech, and the scene of his bow tie unfurling and falling to the ground was artful - it's burned into my brain. Much more suitable for a character who knows change is inevitable and that he is only regenerating and not dying - moreso than David Tennant's "I don't want to go."

And I'll take those last few moments and cling to them. Just like I'll curate the time of the 11th Doctor (I'LL BE THE GREAT CURATOR) and keep my favorite episodes close. I can't pretend each episode was flawless - not even close. But I'll hold onto the good moments. The moments when Smith was my Doctor - whether he was gleefully riding dinosaurs on a spaceship, brightening Vincent van Gogh's day, telling the Atraxi to run, or flapping his arms about in an endearing fashion - those are the times I'll put at the top of the shelf. I'll leave my gripes about Moffat and Clara and in-your-face clever plots on the bottom to gather dust and be forgotten. Because at the end of the day, 11 is my Doctor and I will miss him.

37 comments:

  1. As someone still missing HIS Doctor (10 for me), I respect this post a lot. And I feel the main reason I never signed on fully to Smith was the level of absurdity they were willing to broach to tell a story. I loved the actor, but so many story events left me underwhelmed (River's 'history,' for example).

    As for the ending, the episode was a wash, for several reasons. Some of them were personal, so I'll avoid them. I wasn't happy with the regeneration for two reasons: first, they seemed to have a moment earlier when it would have been completely acceptable to have the change. I LOVED the tie drop, but could have done without the slightly creepy Pond moment.

    And then Peter Capaldi, who I'm excited by initially, was a complete CREEPER as soon as he showed up! I'm hoping that will change quickly, but it was an odd choice for an intro.

    Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on 12!

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