It’s only five more days until “The Time of the Doctor” airs on Christmas day. Everyone knows that this is the end of the Eleventh Doctor, that the whole Trenzalore storyline is coming to a close, and that’s all anyone can talk about. How’s he going to die? How are they going to explain the Doctor breaking the 12-regeneration limit? One question that won’t be answered for another eight months or so is what is the new Doctor going to be like?
At least for me, the excitement for this episode isn’t anywhere near as high as it was for “The Day of the Doctor.” In fact, I didn’t even realize we were within a week of the broadcast day. The thing that’s keeping me thinking about the episode is all of the postings on Facebook: hardly an hour goes by without something about the upcoming special being posted to my feed. I believe my lack of enthusiasm stems from my general apathy towards the Eleventh Doctor. While I always love regeneration episodes, because it’s the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, the loss of the Eleventh Doctor is not affecting me the way it did for the Ninth or Tenth Doctor.
However, I have been thinking about it, and I have to admit, I do really like the Eleventh Doctor.
If you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning (and I know you haven’t; no one reads my blog), you know that after loving the Tenth Doctor so much, the Eleventh Doctor was a major disappointment to me. He seemed so random in his actions and reactions, difficult to follow and not possessed of the air of command that other Doctors had in times of stress. I wasn’t fond of the series 5 through 7, though I started warming up to the Doctor by the end. It took me quite a while to figure out who the Doctor really was – a child who’s also a twelve-hundred-year-old wise alien – and once I figured that out, I started to enjoy him.
Re-evaluating now, I actually like the Eleventh Doctor. I wouldn’t put him in my top three Doctors, but he’s great. He’s different from what I like in my Doctors, but “different” isn’t necessarily “bad.” Eleven is almost slapstick funny, but still the Doctor: clever, compassionate, ready to fight for what is right. Matt Smith plays him with incredible precision: though the Doctor develops and grows over his three seasons and changes radically after Amy and Rory leave, his core personality traits – his mercurial moods, his gangling movements, his quick mind jumping from detail to detail – stay constant. The Eleventh Doctor is the Eleventh Doctor whether he’s in his tweed jacket, his purple frock, or even a monk’s garb.
I think part of what kept me from liking Eleven was the fact that I prefer the series 1-4 writing over the series 5-7 writing. In Eleven’s time, the stories were very convoluted, choosing to shoot for complex plots developed during the first and last few episodes in a season with (often terrible) filler episodes in between. I prefer to have a lighter story overall that’s brought to the fore only during the last few episodes of the season, and I think in general, the writing for individual episodes of the series 2-4 was a lot better. (Note: While Christopher Eccleston was fantastic as the Ninth Doctor, in general, the writing in his episodes was terrible overall. Only a couple of his episodes were really good.) In the good episodes of series 5-7, Eleven is a delight to watch.
While I am looking forward to meeting Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and am dreading the continuation of overly-complicated stories, I am going to miss the Eleventh Doctor. Thanks, Mr. Smith, for a splendid run!