“I am the Doctor, dammit!”

As is always the case with a new Doctor (and with a new companion), we viewers are a little uneasy at first. We’re used to the other guy, and this guy looks different, sounds different, acts different. Is he really the Doctor, or just some guy who’s dressed funny, has a warbling stick, and a blue box?

With Matt Smith’s Doctor (of which I have now seen about 4 episodes of his first season), we seem to be getting hit over the head rather a lot that this is–YES, this is–the Doctor. And he’ll tell you so. Repeatedly, and, weirdly, unnecessarily. In pretty much every episode since the 1960’s there has to be a scene where the Doctor says, “I’m the Doctor, and this is Amy (or Susan, or Sarah Jane, or Harry, or Rose, or whoever).” They’ve just dropped in out of the sky, after all. The people they’re helping deserve to be able to call them something. And, usually, there’s a set piece where someone wants a proper name (rather than a title) for the Doctor. This is a reasonable request, and is pretty much ignored. Increasingly, since 2005, however, the Doctor has been running into people who know him, either by reputation or because they actually do know him. Indeed, in two of the four episodes of this season, the Doctor is in the situation of the episode because someone called him in.

All this is OK, I suppose. I mean, it’s the story-teller’s option for how to get things going. But, now here’s the weird part I mentioned earlier, as the Doctor has been increasingly well known by people he might not be expected to be recognised by, he has been increasingly given to making speeches about how he’s the Doctor. He’s the protector of Earth, humanity as it expands throughout the universe, the downtrodden, able to derail, defeat, and destroy those who get in his way, how he is not bound by the rules unless he wishes to be, and so on and so forth.

This sort of speech has been happening since Christopher Eccleston, it happened more and more with David Tennant–especially toward the end of his run–and it has already started happening with Matt Smith, only four episodes in (and I’m only half way through the–presumably–first weeping angels story line of this Doctor). Now, with David Tennant, as his time in the role progressed, the Doctor underwent a lot of experiences, and it became increasingly necessary for the Doctor to unveil his capability. And his capability is truly phenominal. He’s a Time Lord, after all. And, as a rogue Time Lord, he’s had experiences, and had to develop skills close to unique among Time Lords. But still, I don’t recall pre-2005 versions of the Doctor constantly making such a big deal of it.

3 thoughts on ““I am the Doctor, dammit!””

  1. Ok, I'll bite. Prior to the 2005 reboot this was a crappy little series. Not to rip on the quality, but it was an underfunded, extremely long running show that did things on the cheap. I think the Doctor bragginess is asserting that the show does matter, and the doctor is important because the show is important. There's a huge difference in the quality of the show from its past incarnation, and I imagine a lowly creature like a writer wants to assert that.

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  2. I agree with the writer wanting to assert themselves. But I do have to say, completely unbidden, I started up a similar line of conversation about the same topic. So, it merits notice, at the very least, that people are noticing an increasing self-awareness exercise in the episodes. At least in our household.

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  3. The production values on the current run are higher, there's no doubt about that. But I don't think that anyone seriously doubts the importance of the show or of the character. I also suspect that after 10 regenerations of the character (and five years back on TV) anyone doubts that this is the Doctor, or needs to have the nature of the character (and the back story that's motivated much of his behavior these last five years) hammered on in every single episode.

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