When it was announced that David Tennant was leaving Doctor Who I was the first to stand up and shout that for me, there’d never be another Doctor. His last episode as the character ripped my heart out and stomped on it. Watching Tennant’s Doctor die was one of the most gut-wrenching television moments of my life. For me there will never be another Doctor. Tennant will always be the only Doctor; he’ll always be my Doctor.
But tonight, against my better judgement, I forced myself to sit down and watch this other guy. His name is Matt Smith and he’s bravely stepped into Tennant’s very big Tardis. He’ll never be Tennant and though I feel like a traitor admitting it, here’s the truth about this new Doctor: He’s the next best thing.
Matt Smith flew onto my screen tonight with the kind of energy and excitement and lust for life that in the past I’d only ever really seen in Tennant. He channeled David better than I’d ever imagined anyone else could. As time rolls on he’s sure to develop more of his own personality but as a place to start, that’s a pretty good one.
In fact despite the wonderful similarities to the previous Doctor he’s doing some of his own things. He’s more self-depricating. He’s a little more shaggy, and not just because he’s wearing the tattered remnants of Tennant’s suit for most of this first episode. He’s willing to be a little more ridiculous, he’s even more child-like, if that’s even possible. He’s also more pop-culture savvy. In just this first episode he references internet porn and advises the guy watching it to clear his browser history. Don’t worry kiddies, it’s tastefully done. But give this Doctor a couple more weeks and before you know it he’ll be running around with an iPod. He’s tech savvy, and not just alien tech savvy, but cell phones and iPods and laptops with video chat savvy. He’s not limited to just waving that sonic screwdriver about, he makes full use of the world around him.
What I’m getting at here is that Matt Smith is already on track to become a truly glorious Doctor. Any fears that the character might revert to the gloomy, leather-clad days of Christopher Eccleston or go all Twilighty and sparkly were washed away tonight. The Doctor is new, the Tardis is revitalized, and the newest Companion has all the potential in the world to become his best partner yet. Doctor Who is as fresh and revitalized as its brand new leading man. For those of you’ve who’ve never seen a Doctor Who episode, for those of you looking for a place to jump into the mythos of the greatest sci-fi character ever created, this is the perfect time to do it.
Matt Smith will never be my Doctor. When I think of the Tardis, I’ll always think of it with David Tennant racing around inside it. But he could be your Doctor. Do yourself a favor and give Matt Smith a chance to to be your Doctor Who.
Matt Smith makes his debut as Doctor Who here in the United States on BBC America, Saturday, April 17th. Don’t miss it.