Thursday, November 21, 2013

Doctor Who Week 2013: The Eleventh Doctor - Mad Man with a Box

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and...bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.”
- The Doctor

Our lead-up to the 50th Anniversary wouldn’t be complete without looking back on the Time Lord’s current incarnation played by Matt Smith. While Jen and I took a while to warm up to the Eleventh Doctor, he has certainly had a fascinating journey thus far which will continue in Saturday’s special and conclude in this year’s Christmas special.

The Oncoming Storm

We first meet Eleven as the TARDIS is crashing to Earth. He has a much more comedic touch to his portrayal of the character than his predecessors. One of the best scenes in his run (in my opinion) is when he first meets young Amelia Pond and he demands she give him various foods as he adjusts to his new body and taste buds. This definitely cements his character as being somewhat childlike and goofy. Tossing out the yogurt and apples to make way for fish fingers and custard is absolutely hilarious. He’s also terrible with timing as evidenced by the fact he pops to get the TARDIS engines working with Amelia waiting in the yard an comes back over a decade later to find she’s all grown up.

Despite this sort of goofy side, the Doctor can also be somewhat dark. As the series progress and Eleven marches ever closer to Trenzalore and his inevitable regeneration, some of that fire and anger that we saw running under the surface with the Tenth Doctor comes through. I think we see the goofiness slip away more in series 7, leading to Amy and Rory’s departure. Part of me wonders if this darkness has filled the Doctor up because he’s been traveling alone for a while, which is never a good idea for him.

Come along, Ponds!

Aside from the back half of series 7, the Doctor traveled with two companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams. This is a first for any of the Doctor’s incarnations because from about episode4 or 5 onwards, he’s traveling with a couple. Sure he’s had multiple companions at a time but this is the first time he’s traveled with a proper romantic couple. They establish very early on that Amy is not interested romantically in the Doctor. I am actually quite happy about that because we had enough of that with Rose and Martha. I also liked that we saw just how deeply devoted to each other Rory and Amy were, especially when he waited two thousand years for her to emerge from the Pandorica.

Along with the Doctor, we witness Amy and Rory get married and anticipate starting a family. We also see the Doctor’s travels take an eventual toll on the Ponds. The Doctor pops in and out of their lives that they never really get to live normal lives. And when they are getting divorced at the start of series 7, the Doctor makes it his mission to fix them because they’re the Ponds and are supposed to be together.

Where You Need to Go

Admittedly, I have not really seen much of the Classic Era so I’m not sure how deeply they went into the TARDIS mythology back then but in series 6, we got the Neil Gaiman penned “The Doctor’s Wife” which examined the Doctor’s relationship with his time traveling police box. The essence of the TARDIS is put into a woman’s body and the Doctor gets to speak to her for the first time and she can speak back. It was a really unique episode and it allowed the TARDIS to really become its own character on the show (not that it wasn’t already).

Quite interestingly, the TARDIS explains that she doesn’t take the Doctor where he wants to go, but where he needs to go. And she says that the day he ran off with her from Galifrey, she chose him not the other way around. I thought this was a fantastic twist on the origins of the Doctor’s travels in his zany time machine. Knowing that the Doctor may not always end up where he was intending but where he’s needed I think shows a deeper connection between alien and machine.

Hello Sweetie

One of the most memorable portions of the Eleventh Doctor’s run has been his relationship with River Song. If you’ve been around the blog much, you know I am a big fan of the Doctor/River relationship. While we first meet her during Ten’s run in “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead”, she plays more prominently in his successor’s era. As the Eleventh Doctor’s journey progresses from series 5 to 7, his relationship with River evolves and deepens. I will say in the early days I was slightly annoyed that she was smarter than him, since they are traveling in roughly opposite directions in their timelines. But she quickly became one of my favorite characters to see pop up from time to time. I believe some of my initial annoyance is also attributed to the fact that Eleven lost that “smartest man in the room” quality. Even from her first meeting with Ten in the Library, I was intrigued to know what her relationship with the Doctor entailed.

Some viewers may have been upset (and I admit at first I was one of them) when it was revealed that River Song was none other than Melody Pond, Amy and Rory’s daughter. That brought a whole new level of awkwardness to the Doctor’s relationship with his companions, especially when the Doctor and River tied the knot in an alternate universe. I like to think that even though we’ve likely seen the last of River, given the goodbye she and the Doctor share at the end of “The Name of the Doctor”, she was an essential part of this incarnation. He could always count on her to back him up and their banter was always amusing. Another of my favorite scenes was in “Day of the Moon” when they are fighting the Silence back to back with a sonic screwdriver and space gun while flirting. It’s hilarious and so defines their relationship.


Here are a couple links about the Eleventh Doctor to tide you over until Saturday.

Here’s BBC America’s Eleventh Doctor page:

And here’s Matt admitting he’d prefer a different companion:

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