An appraisal of Matt Smith on the eve of Doctor Who season 6
|FEATURES - TV|
Aneka's still not convinced...
It was 1st January 2010 when 26-year-old (at that time) Matt Smith first graced our TV screens amidst chaotic circumstances and a crashing TARDIS. Speculation bubbled among fans as to how on earth this actor in his late twenties could compete with legendary Time Lords such as Tom Baker or David Tennant. The few minutes of Smith where he checks out his new self and deals with the self-destructing TARDIS, shouting out ‘Geronimo’, managed to convince some viewers, yet disappoint others.
Nevertheless, that’s the Doctor Who pattern, isn’t it? You adore one Doctor - and are totally disheartened when he leaves - and raise an eyebrow at the sight of the new one. Then two weeks later, you’re into the new as well. Ad nauseum.
I remember watching Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor back in 2005 as a teenager, and snorted at the sight of the then 34-year-old Tennant clad in Eccleston’s black leather attire. However, after three episodes, like the majority of the public, I was captured by the Scotsman’s talent.
It 's been fourteen months since Tennant's departure and Smith's adoption of the mantle. In that time, has Matt Smith finally captivated us with the old Time Lord charm - or has he yet a long way to go?
Let’s start off with the Tenth Doctor. During Series 2-4 and the Doctor Who specials, Tennant re-engaged the audience with his good looks and comical acting, but some of the episodes from head scribe Russell T. Davies were badly-written; even that didn’t undermine public appreciation for Tennant’s talent, which got him quickly to the top of the 'All Time Best Doctors' list. For example, Tennant’s last episode ever is a strong case for this, since there were far better Doctor Who finale episodes than 'The End of Time'. Nevertheless, while putting up with the confusing and slow-paced episode, Tennant made it worth watching, despite criticism of being 'too human' - which is perhaps worth looking into...
Throughout his reign, no matter which or how many villains he encounters, the Tenth Doctor always – and I mean always – offers one chance for his opponent to take before actually taking matters into his own hands. For example, 'The Runaway Bride'; the Empress of Racnoss is offered such a chance before she throws it away. Surely, when you think about it, there are very few (if any) human beings who would willingly offer their nemeses so many chances before actually taking actual control of the situation. But does that make the Tenth Doctor’s personality human or not so human, considering Tennant's constant fascination at new discoveries and creatures, rambling about random things and always referring to us as ‘humans’,..? That seems pretty 'alien'..
When Smith popped on to the screens in a burning TARDIS, his approach was far different from Tennant's. Instead of having Tennant raising his eyebrows and confident in solving every dilemma with a joyful and energetic approach, Smith seems to be much more relaxed, but also less jolly and happy about facing challenges and problems. In his first episode, little Amy tugs the Eleventh Doctor to show him the cracks in her wall. When he sees them, he examines them in a sober and mature manner - preferable to Tennant’s overly-joyous approach.
In each episode, the Eleventh Doctor manages to integrate with the rest of the characters and then, half an hour into the story, they get along well with each other. This is quite different to Tennant’s constant haughty remarks about ‘little humans’ – a bit of a child-like scolding, don’t you think?
Similar to his predecessor, Smith wields an eccentric personality trait that ties him to the original concept of the Doctor, continuing with the non-sequiturs and earning himself the epithet ‘weird’ - which could be the reason why we may begin to warm to him just as we did to the previous Doctors.
All that notwithstanding, at the close of a Matt Smith Doctor Who episode, I cannot feel that satisfaction with the show that I used to. Perhaps, Smith does not have what it takes to sway loyal Who viewers to his side..? Perhaps season six will decide the 'floating voters'.
Smith’s Doctor is quite similar to the Tenth. However, both actors have their own styles of the eccentric time-traveller. While Tennant revelled in his glee at certain (usually challenging) situations, Smith takes the sombre ‘I can do it’ approach. Matt Smith has managed to shoot the arrow well, but perhaps not as far as Tennant did in his three years of TARDIS travelling. After all, the guy is the youngest actor to portray our Gallifrean hero, and we have only seen one series yet...
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