It’s time for a new Doctor.
Lots of people are speculating about who the next Doctor will be, but before we can get to that, I think we need to talk about what we’re letting go of and what direction that character is pointing us.
Matt Smith was a great incarnation who had to come in at the end of the brilliant run of the most beloved Doctor ever.
He played a wonderful Doctor from the very first moment, combining Tennant’s frenetic zaniness with a child-like enthusiasm all his own. It worked. It doesn’t anymore. Let’s look at why.
3. He’s Outlived the Character
Steven Moffat did something very specific when he took over as head writer for Doctor Who: He chose to create a Doctor who felt, in a lot of ways, brand new. Part of the fun of new incarnations is letting them test out their new bodies and personalities. David Tennant spent 15 minutes realizing he was rude, in love with Rose and not a ginger.
Matt Smith’s Doctor, however, took this quirk to a whole new level. His incarnation has been quite literally taken by surprise by every emotion, sensation, interaction and taste he’s experienced. One of his first scenes involves him trying to figure out what food he enjoys and realizing he hates everything. Smith’s Doctor is a wonderful juxtaposition. He has the hard facts and knowledge of a 900 year-old time god, but when it comes to experiencing sensations, he’s brand new.
It was wonderful to watch this at first. Witnessing his discomfort concerning physical intimacy was hilarious and watching him quiver with excitement when a new emotion hit him brought a freshness to the role that hadn’t been there before. He was still old and tired and sad, but at the same time he was young and excited and new.
But it’s been awhile now.
I have no idea how much time actually passed in seasons 6 and 7 for Matt Smith’s Doctor. He spent a lot of time alone, and purports himself to be around 1100 these days. So the thing is, with all that time spent, it no longer makes sense for him to be excitable and surprised by life.
That brings us to…
2. He’s Out of Things to Do
I’ve mentioned previously that Moffat’s Whoniverse is problematically clever. He’s ambitious in his story arcs and enjoys twists that don’t always pan out. When he started, he balanced that with emotional relationships, though. The Doctor and Amy’s initial meeting sparked a powerful bond based on their similar emotional maturity levels.She grew up and he didn’t, and that made for an interesting relationship. Rather than being the ageless god, he was Peter Pan, who would remain exactly the same and flit off to have adventures and never hold down a single responsibility. Amy, like Wendy, chose to stay behind and have a real, full, human life. That was an interesting dynamic.
On top of that you had the fantastic Mrs. Robinson dance going with River Song, which just recently reached its natural conclusion. We finally saw the Doctor take charge in the relationship. He kissed the crap out of his wife when it wasn’t to save the world, turn back time or any other such bullshit.
Matt Smith’s Doctor is all grown up and has nothing left to do. His wife is dead, he’s finally reached sexual maturity, and his daughter/companion is gone forever. A Doctor in limbo is no Doctor at all, and Moffat knew that when he wrote the most recent Christmas Special. The Doctor was up in the clouds, waiting to become interesting again.
Which leads me to my final point…
1. There’s No Fucking Point to Clara
Tell me one thing about Clara that doesn’t involve the Doctor.
I liked Clara when we first met her as the brilliant captive on the Dalek prison world. She was smarter and more knowledgeable than the Doctor and I was so ready for that. I wanted to see him have to try to keep up with someone. By the time we got to her modern incarnation, though, there was nothing really special about her. She’s just…good. She’s a good person who saves the Doctor’s life all the time but who has no extraordinary experiences, skills or quirks. What is there about her that makes her unique?
I hate Amy, but Amy at least had character traits. She had a past that was all fucked up because of the Doctor, a tough exterior, a bratty sense of self-entitlement and relationships outside of the TARDIS. Clara takes care of children with no personalities and has a dead mother. THAT IS ALL I KNOW.
Matt Smith cannot remain the Doctor if his companion is just an intellectual curiosity. His Doctor is needy and requires attention and an audience and someone who loves him. Ideally, his character would seek out another child and try to remedy the mistakes he’d made by actually acting as a parent and failing hilariously. I personally would like to see him take on a commanding professional who is either military or technically-minded. Those would bring out interesting things. But if the best we can get from his story line now is a (sexy) mysterious person puzzle, then it’s time for someone new.