From Anti-Fan to Super-Fan: The Discovery of Doctor Who (Part Four)

I’d rather discuss an issue very familiar to every Doctor Who fan: Who is the best Doctor? Now, I’m no expert, and I’m not going to say I am or act like one. I haven’t seen the old series, so my view is only based on the new series.

I don’t think the question is ‘Who was/is the best doctor’ but ‘Which actor do you think portrayed The Doctor’s character the best?’ Let’s be honest – the only person who could really say which actor played The Doctor the best, is Sydney Newman, the man who created the original ‘Doctor Who’ series in 1963, or his co-creators C.E Webber and Donald Wilson. But they’re all gone. That’s why I think as fans, we can only ever make finalised statements which apply to us. The only people who could ever say who was the best doctor is those who created The Doctor themselves.

I think every actor in the new series has done the best they could, and for that we should be grateful. It’s a big pair of shoes actors have to fit into, and there is so much on the line – so many critics, so much pressure and so many expectations to get the character right. For me, all of them (so far) were brilliant.

Watching the very first episode with Christopher Eccleston made me want to continue. I think he was great and set the stage for the episodes and seasons to come. His sudden and relatively quickly departure for me was devastating – to me, he was the first doctor, so I had already developed an affinity for him. If things went better behind the scenes, I think he would’ve been brilliant. Nevertheless, he had made me love The Doctor enough to continue on.

David Tennant (the tenth doctor)… Also known to many as ‘The Best Doctor‘. At first, I was angry Eccleston had left, and looked at Tennant as an imposter. But there was one line which earned by respect:

“…These human beings. Consider their potential. From the day they arrive on the planet and blinking step into the sun. There is more to see, that can ever be seen… More to do, that… No – hold on… Sorry, that’s the Lion King.

And that was it. He’d won my heart over. Journeying with him through 3 seasons was a blast. He captured the essence of The Doctor, established by Eccleston in Season 1, took that and ran with it, adding his own flair but doing it well. I knew he would eventually leave, but it was worth it. Worth the heartbreak of the last episode in Season 4, with his last line, “I don’t want to go.” It was as if Tennant was finishing up the relationships he and Eccleston made with all the companions we loved dearly in order to get closure and say a final goodbye, for his ‘death’ marked not only the end of his own time on the show, but the end of an amazing writer and therefore, the beginning of a new one. And when a writer of a TV Series changes, the atmosphere shifts, and as fans, we can definitely sense something has changed. But for me, this change soon disintegrated and I came to appreciate Steven Moffat after Russell T Davis left.

Then, there was Matt Smith, the eleventh doctor. To be honest, I had heard from friends that he was the least favourite, and felt quite sceptic when he showed up. I had just seen Tennant regenerate into Smith, and decided to continue watching, to find that 1) The theme song changed (again), 2) the opening theme changed and 3) the logo changed. I hated it, and then realised Season 5 meant new writers and a new producer. What I didn’t understand, is why it was so different. It made it obvious that there had been a drastic change behind the scenes, and you’d think they wouldn’t do such a thing to keep fans happy. Nevertheless, I continued to watch and, to my surprise, found that I was beginning to enjoy watching Matt Smith in action. I was thrown off once again when the TARDIS and The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver changed (even though I knew it would happen because the TARDIS was on fire and River Song had the future sonic screwdriver in Season 4), but it still annoyed me. But, I was surprised by Smith’s replication of The Doctor and felt he captured Tennant’s doctor very well. I think Tennant’s doctor was very emotional, and Smith’s doctor lost a little bit of this, but it wasn’t a problem at all. It stopped him from doing stupid things, like falling for random women (like that Kylie Minogue episode… Yes, I’m Australian, but seriously? It was the first episode I fast-forwarded, and I NEVER do that watching Doctor Who… Just… *facepalm*). It could just be me and my traumatised mind after losing Tennant, but in some angles, I noticed that Smith looked like Tennant with slightly longer hair… Don’t you think?
I honestly thought that Smith did a great job as the character and don’t see why some people are said otherwise. I think his portrayal of the Doctor is slightly more cheeky and more flirty compared to Eccleston and Tennant, but this might relate to past events from the lives of the Doctor’s from the old series, in which case, I have nothing more to say, as I’m no expert. For me, Matt Smith’s doctor was easy to love, funny, awkward and entertaining and I thought he did a wonderful job. And, dare I say it, at times I felt I preferred him more than Tennant! Hence why I felt just as heartbroken losing him as when Tennant left.

And finally, the twelveth doctor (the impossible Doctor who defied all rules of regeneration), Mr Peter Capaldi! When I had been flicking through TV channels and saw Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi was playing The Doctor in the episode I watched. And I thought he had this serious kind of funny which I liked – I think that was why I chose to continue watching it. After his regeneration from Smith, I felt so sorry for him when Clara couldn’t connect with him because of his change (but we have Smith to thank for that in the end). I think Capaldi has done (and is doing) an equally great job as the actors before him, and saying how great he is would just be repeating myself. I feel as if Capaldi’s doctor might resemble the Doctors in the old series better because he looks older than the recent Doctors (Eccleston, Tennant, Smith). I also like how he makes references from the old series as if he prefers the old way because he’s older than his previous regenerations. I found that because Capaldi’s doctor is older, he doesn’t act like he’s young – he doesn’t run around flirting with women and hugging people and getting all over-excited – he doesn’t like women quickly and offer them to travel with him like Tennant (that Kylie Minogue episode really did scar me), and he isn’t as over-friendly and outgoing as Smith’s doctor is, but he’s still The Doctor – instead of joking about all the time, he now does things in a serious way that somehow are still funny. I think what matters the most, however, is that Capaldi’s doctor made me realise that The Doctor will always be The Doctor, no matter how different he looks. He can get lost along the way, but the core element that makes The Doctor who he is never changes, and I think every actor to play him has illustrated this well.

So, my point? I can’t say who the best doctor is, because so far I’ve seen four different men portray one character, and each actor did a brilliant job. As a person starting the show from the new series, Eccleston made be fall in love with The Doctor, laid the foundations and paved the way for Tennant to portray a version of The Doctor who we valued so much so that we all felt completely heart-broken when he left, earning him the well-known title of ‘the best doctor’. But when Tennant was side by side with Smith, I surprisingly preferred Smith. I think he did a great job after Tennant despite, what I think, was a sad loss for many Doctor Who fans at the time. Smith was brilliant and did a wonderful job making Clara (and the audience!) fall in love with him once again despite his regeneration. Capaldi took the role as The Doctor and did a brilliant job… Or should I say, is doing a brilliant job. (I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us!)

So, to Eccleston, Tennant, Smith and Capaldi, well done you clever boys! And remember – you played the Doctor wonderfully!


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