Well, we finished, what is it, season 5? Of Doctor Who, of course. The first season with Matt Smith as the Doctor with one, two, one, two companions. Plus River, who remains as irritating as she was the last time we saw her. Well, nearly as irritating, anyway.
It’s a good series, this season 5. The dream logic of the whole thing held together as well as you would want for Doctor Who. It didn’t really even fall apart at the end, which is nice. Also, and this is pretty important, even though there was a good bit of weepy leave-taking, it was tied to the story, and the telling, and the characters. The acting, the story, the production standards–all very good. Yes. See it, if you can, and see it if you haven’t yet.
On the other hand, it all should be. This is, after all, The BBC, Doctor Who, and season 5 since being brought back. It should be smooth, well designed, and well executed. Also, alas, if you have seen the previous series produced since 2005, you kind of have seen season 5 even if you haven’t. I mean, yes, it’s a new Doctor, with new quirks (about which more in a bit), and a new companion(s), and all like that. But, as I’ve crabbed in the past, the one companion, a woman, is the most important pizza in the universe, and–AND–the TARDIS is key to the story. Well-worn paths. A well-told story, absolutely. But a well-worn path.
Matt Smith’s Doctor is pretty interesting. “Bow ties are cool.” Also, “Fezes are cool.” And the way he says “cool,” is pretty cool, too. But this Doctor is far from cool. He’s pretty ungainly, actually. His cool is an affectation. It’s a personality feature he wears when he remembers.
Another personality facet he pulls on when he remembers, or when it seems like an apt thing, is his crowing about being The Doctor. But it’s not, shall we say, a core feature. Like it was with David Tennant’s Doctor, who’d say that sort of thing, all self-righteous and stuff, and you and everyone knew it was true. Most notably, perhaps in the library, facing down the shadows. “You’re in the biggest library in the universe, and I’m the Doctor. Look me up.”
Perhaps the most notable expression of this sort of thing for Matt Smith’s Doctor is when he was a lodger trying to get the TARDIS to land, and wound up playing football (really, really well, by the way, or at least skillfully if not particularly in a team-mate sort of way). The captain of the team was all excited, and went on about how they were going to slaughter the opponents next week, and the Doctor said, “no, not while I’m here, no violence,” and on for a while in that vein, and then, “I’m the Doctor, The Oncoming Storm, and you were just talking about beating them in a game of football, weren’t you?”
He’s not all that… um… there, this Doctor. He’s not any more mad than any previous incarnation. He’s just as sympathetic, and empathic as the best of them. But… he can walk around and not quite hear the humans around him. And when he does hear them, he gets frustrated, and loud, and… if not exactly angry, then certainly peevish, really quickly. He has a short fuse, but not in the Tenth Doctor, I’m-going-to-give-you-one-chance sort of way. More in the sort of way that a child gets frustrated and lashes out, and then once the source of the frustration blows away, the frustration itself melts, and he goes on.
And what he goes onto is usually, eventually, anyway, the right answer. However, sometimes–particularly in the early episodes–it’s pretty emphatically not the right answer. He made the wrong choice in the space whale episode, for instance. He has to talk to himself, run through the scenario, and keep talking until he hits on the answer. Other incarnations had to do that, too, but not to the same level. And, it seems like for the eleventh, he doesn’t really know or understand the scenario until he’s done this. The others were just, oh, I don’t know, extemporizing, chatting as it were.
But, by the end of the final episode, we begin to see this Doctor really coming into his abilities, and using what he knows and what he can do to actually overcome the problems he faces rather than just getting them resolved for the moment. He has his own power now. Next season (and starting with the 2010 Christmas Special), he’ll be fully matured into himself, I think. I have hopes for the way it goes from here. So, here’s what I’m hoping for the future of Doctor Who.
- That they’ll stop running down the pizza delivery path.
- That they’ll stop letting the companion get all gooey (or, as Donna, emphatically not get gooey) (actually, this should be pretty easy, now that Amy and Rory are together and both back on the TARDIS)
- That they’ll spend more time on other planets and in different time periods
- That, and this is pretty inside baseball, they somehow rebooted the Doctor’s regenerations when the TARDIS delivered the pizza (this is pretty unlikely, I know, since there are two more regenerations to go, and it’ll make a great storyline to cope with the consequences of the Doctor’s thirteenth incarnation’s impending final death–but, the frequency with which we saw images of the previous incarnations in just thirteen episodes, and that along with the fact that every time this incarnation flashed an ID, it actually showed the first Doctor was interesting)
It’s been a good run so far, and I’m looking forward to the rest of it.