I have been a fan of the show since the late 1970’s and have liked all of the Doctors to one degree or another. The era I enjoyed the most of the classic series was Peter Davison’s time in the box. I liked the innocence he seems to experience.. As if it was all new to this Doctor. He was finally beginning to become a character rather than the caricature that he had started to become in Tom Baker’s last season. I should say at this point, I am a fan of Mr Baker’s version, I just felt that his last season didn’t work very well.
With the new revived series in 2005, we were treated to a slightly darker Doctor, but not in the way that modern revisions of classic properties generally go. This darkness was earned, not just imposed. This Doctor cared about those around him, but carried in himself a coldness and distance from everybody. With David Tennant the Doctor relaxed and began to enjoy his life in a way we have never seen before.
And now there is Matt Smith. He so effectively mixes the past eccentricities of the other versions, that for the first time in the series history, we really feel the Doctor’s age. Never mind we still don’t really know how old he is. Even in the new series, they have been giving us contradictory info. He is an old soul finally, but we see him gain a sense of utter joy and wonder at everything around him. That combined with a growing awareness that he is getting older, nothing explicitly stated in the show, just my own impression of the character. That is one of the things that Smith has done. A performance so deeply nuanced that everyone watching brings something with them that seems to be directed to just them.
The stories from Matt’s first season were uneven, the new season so far, even more so. But this season in particular hits high notes so powerful, that even the non arc episodes end up with moments to love. Being a Neil Gaiman fan, I was so pleased that the story he contributed to this season was good, I was almost giddy. Adding to that was the huge helping of fan service, making the most geeky fun the series has been since it’s return. The very old (the messaging devices from The War Games) to the much newer (the Eccleston/Tennant control room) made this a great geek-gasm. It is interesting to me that in all the chatter about the most recent episode The Rebel Flesh, that no one has made mention of the obvious possibility that this story has a connection to the opening story of the season and it’s still unresolved death scene. Don’t worry, no spoilers.
I have not offered anything new to the huge wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing that is Doctor Who, I just wanted to spend a few minutes appreciating something that fills me with the same feeling it did 30+ years ago. Better even than that really, because now the show allows me the warm glow of nostalgia, something I didn’t feel a lot of in my teen years.