You can only watch a show for the first time Once. And in this series of Exploring Doctor Who, I have shared my thoughts and opinions after watching the Netflix available existing content for each of the classic Doctors. My first post fully explored the First three and partially explored #4. My Second post examined Doctors 4-6. Doctor Seven played by Sylvester McCoy was the first to get his own blog, followed by Nine and Ten. This journey, started in early September, has taken me a few months, and has put me through an emotional wringer. Now, this edition of Exploring Doctor Who takes us on a journey to the most recent incarnation of the Doctor: #11, played by Matt Smith. (Note: I haven’t finished watching Season 7 yet, I’ve only made it a few episodes into the most recent season, and will be watching Angels Take Manhattan later tonight).
I want to start off by talking about the Doctor, immediately after he regenerated into this face. I’ve just been through the traumatic emotional wringer of seeing Doctor Ten regenerate. Doctor 10 put this regeneration off as long as he could, holding in the radiation so he could give parting gifts to all his helpful companions (except Rose, who, as I believe I already said, got the best parting gift of all). He has a VIOLENT regeneration, causing a lot of damage to the TARDIS and her control room. I’m crying, I’m tearful, I don’t know how I’m going to like this new fellow. Then, he delivers the line…”I’m a Girl!!!!!” That was the line that let me know that Matt Smith was going to be okay.
Then, Crashing, Geronimo, and Amelia Pond.
Amelia Pond meets a newly regenerated Doctor, a man who keeps reminding people, “I’m still new.” And he’s starving. Of course he is: Regeneration must take a lot of energy, burn a lot of calories. I mean, #10 needed a cup of tea to get better from post-regeneration sickness, but 11? He had to have Fish Fingers and Custard. Apples, bacon, bread, beans? All rubbish. I’m thinking he was starving also because, in all the stress of what he’d gone through just prior to regenerating, I doubt Doctor 10 took the time to eat. He was starving!
Doctor 11 is simultaneously Old and Young. At times, Doctor 11 really shows that he is an old man. He’s a 900+ year old in the body of a late 20-something, so hearing this young man say “Delete your internet history” is kinda funny, as is his SHOCK when Amy Pond tells him her job was as a Kiss-o-gram. However, he still holds on to wonder, mystery, and sense of adventure. He still writes Christmas lists. He gets to be a cowboy, an astronaut, and meets Dinosaurs! Doctor 11 babbles while he thinks, rambles his tangents and thought processes while he tries to figure out the situation of whatever is happening.
Doctor 11 makes honest attempts at fitting in to Human society; with Craig Owens, he attempts all the “normal human stuff” like playing sports. Doctor 11 does not laugh, he giggles. When Amy kisses him prior to her wedding, he rushes away to talk with Rory, not even realizing that telling a man “Your fiancee just kissed me” was a rude thing to do. He fixes it, taking them off on a whirlwind romantic wedding present. Later, when he discovers River’s true Identity (more on that later), and finds out that he’d been snogging his best friend’s daughter, whom he’d just met as an infant not even a few minutes before, he almost blushes as he runs off to find her.
Yes, let’s look at the relationship between the Doctor and the Ponds.
Amy waited for the Doctor for years, even convinced she was crazy. She cared about the Doctor, had a small crush on him, but ultimately, Rory was her man. Rory waited 2,000 years for her, as a plastic automaton, defending her in the Pandorica. And, when time restarted, and Amy managed to bring her family back from wherever they’d gone, she remembered the Doctor enough to bring him back. She waited for close to 40 years in an alternate time loop world for the doctor, ultimately sacrificing her older self so that she could still have happy younger memories. Rory sometimes plays second fiddle to the Doctor, and in at least one episode, Amy has to make a decision between the two. The Doctor seems to respect their marriage boundaries: he asks Rory’s permission before hugging Amy.
Unlike with many other companions, the Doctor frequently drops Rory and Amy off to live their lives. Perhaps this is so they can spend some “quality married time” together. With Rose, there was a sense of ‘hey, let’s go visit your Mum,’ and Martha ‘Hey, we happen to be in London’ or Donna ‘Yeah, I’m gonna try to help you keep your family out of this, this Doctor picks the Ponds up at random, takes them on adventures, then drops them off at home. The Ponds and the Doctor have a weird codependent relationship. Doctor 10 needed companions to stop him from doing bad things. Doctor 11 needs companions to get into trouble with him. I think a large part of the Doctor’s relationship with the Ponds is just trying to let them be the Ponds; he got them a house, Rory’s dream car, and helped them establish a great little home. He even helped save their marriage. Because the Doctor needs the Ponds, or the idea of the Ponds, so he can get through his adventures alone (or perhaps, he did that for River, keeping her parents together for her sake).
Now, on to River. When Amy suspected she was pregnant, she didn’t tell her husband first, she told The Doctor. She was afraid her child would be screwy because of being conceived in the TARDIS, and her instinct was right. He consistently scans her body with the TARDIS, finding her in a state of “pregnant” and “not pregnant” at the same time. He figured out, early on, that she’d been kidnapped for her child. He knew, somehow, when she was in labor, constantly telling her to breathe. And he saved Amy. Though he didn’t save the baby, he knew she’d be okay. Because all along, that baby was River.
River Song. He met her as #10 the day she died, and rescued her because he knew that somehow, in the future, that the woman would come to mean the world to him, enough that he would tell her his name. She’s a mystery, something he can’t figure out. And he’s intrigued by her. He hate her, he loves her, he flirts with her. When they have his first kiss with her, she realizes this, when he tells her. She’s surprised he reacted weirdly; it’s evident from her reaction that she’d kissed him before, and he’d enjoyed it. He took her out of prison, spent many adventures, birthdays, and dates with her. Possibly even had some “quality married time” with her. Okay, so yes, it was a Robot Doctor that married River, but he was in the Robot, he was in control of what the Robot said, so he married her.
Perhaps many of those solo, Pond-free adventures were so he could have “quality married time” with River. After all, who wants the in-laws tagging along on a date night? (I love my mother-in-law, she’s one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met, but even still… Yeah. Not taking her out when I go on a date with Anexandros!)
I’m about to watch Angels in Manhattan and I am sad already.
Would I do this again? Abso-freakin-loutely! I’m mad at myself for not starting to watch Doctor Who years ago, actually.
Do I have a favorite doctor? no. That’s not even a fair question. Picking a favorite doctor is like picking a favorite book, child, or dog. Can’t do it.