I've never really written something that isn't in someway political so this is a first for me and to start something brand new with a subject I adore does make me very happy, what makes me sad however is the title I have to give this particular piece. With Matt Smith leaving it seems fitting for me to give my own critique of the show. Doctor Who is without doubt one of my favourite television shows and I want to make clear I am a fan of the show and a fan of the character not one of those obsessive fan girls who can never get over David Tennant having left the role.
The 2010 - 2013 era marked something brand new in the show. Both show-runner, Russell T Davies and tenth Doctor actor, David Tennant took their leave from the show to be replaced by Steven Moffat and new actor Matt Smith. The show is about evolution and of course it was exciting to have a new and for the most part unheard of actor take on the iconic role and Steven Moffat was an intelligent choice to have take on the role as show-runner, this is a man who has given us some of the best ever episodes of the 2005 - 10 era. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace and Blink were all penned by Moffat and are undeniably some of the very best episodes of that time.
Unlike with the Christopher Eccleston and Tennant eras where I find it difficult to pinpoint episodes I didn't like, with Smith I struggle to say honestly say that there were episodes I really enjoyed. Of course there were some that were excellent but for the most part I have to say I have felt consistently let down and disappointed. For the first few episodes of series five I put it down to Smith finding his feet in the role or me just getting used to the new take. Evidently Eccleston and Tennant had been very "human" Doctors and Smith's approach was aiming for the more Tom Baker style which was a very alien Doctor. The personality quirks; "Fezzes are cool" and "Geronimo" always felt to me like they were over emphasising the point, I get it already, he's very different to what has come before. As the series went on this approach continued to not sit well with me, whereas the previous actors could portray human emotion and human connection so well I never got that impression from Smith. Yes the Doctor is and has always been a "mad man with a box" the Smith approach never caught my imagination in the way that it should have done.
In series six there was the anticipation built up around A Good Man Goes To War where we warned that the Doctor would lose his cool and finally get angry. Once again the audience was let down, the anger expressed failed in comparison to the anger demonstrated by the previous incarnations in most episodes. With Tennant the anger was evident and he was a master of facial expressions, the anger could be seen written all over his face and his performance had a gravity to it. The series three episode, The Family of Blood was the perfect illustration of "the fury of a Time Lord" where our hero without even saying a word dished out the worst possible punishment to the villains of the piece. Tennant's Doctor didn't have to say a word, he was able to express himself just by the look he gave. The Doctor is a man who has suffered great loss and tragedy as well as being a man who has the guilt of genocide on his back, whereas previous actors could pull that off Smith's Doctor is a bumbling child who fails to portray that loss.
Another flaw in this era came with River Song, portrayed by the brilliant Alex Kingston. When she was first introduced in 2008 it was said she would in the future be the most important woman in the Doctor's life. It's a shame Smith could never portray that on screen. We got more of a connection between the tenth Doctor and River in two episodes when neither the Doctor or the audience knew who she was in the Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. For me it always felt she dominated in the performance stakes and Smith never quite matched up.
The blame of course cannot be entirely put onto the acting of Matt Smith. A major let down has been the writing. I am not one of these people who felt the stories were too complicated and the show needed to dumb down, if I wanted dumb/waste of time I'd watch The Only Way Is Essex. What the show became was convoluted and so far out there that it lost any sense of realism. As odd as it sounds to say this about a sci-fi television show when I watched the show from 2005 - 09 I almost felt that it was more believable, I could believe the dilemmas the characters faced, I could believe the love story between the Doctor and Rose, I could believe the transformation of Donna. The drama balanced out well with the science fiction elements and the audience gravitated towards the drama, when Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) left as a regular at the end of series two, the episode finale, Doomsday saw it's peak in viewership in the last few scenes when Rose said her heart wrenching goodbye to the Doctor. The stories under Smith lost the human face and the human factor. I find it hard to put my finger elegantly on it but what I have felt from the Smith/Moffat era has not been right at all.
Having said all of this I watch the show religiously, I have my tickets for the 50th Anniversary episode booked and I wait with the anticipation of a child waiting for Christmas Day. As far as the future is concerned I cannot wait to see where Peter Capaldi takes the character. The show is about evolution, while this era has not grabbed me in the same way previous Doctors has I look forward to show moving on as always has through the time vortex and beyond.