For decades, nerds have been plagued with a seemingly simple question. A question whose answer haunts us late into the night when insomnia has taken hold.
Who is your favorite Doctor?
In my experience this causes one of two reactions. First is the unintentional outburst of word vomit leaving the questioner covered in slimy rainbows of glee. The second is the slow creeping sweat across the brow, the deep rooted knowledge that he is my doctor, and yet there is no explaining why. This tiny question can set you up as friend or foe, lead to hours of arguments, or bring you to your new best friend. Choose wisely.
Sometimes the answer is simple: He’s attractive, he’s snarky, he’s the one I started on. I, however, find it more difficult to pin point. Having started with the New Who reboot, I began watching with Nine (Christopher Eccleston), but fell in love with my Doctor a short season later. Ten (David Tennant) connected to me more strongly than any other incarnation of the Doctor thus far. The tricky question then becomes, why?
Part of it, I believe, has to do with balance. Nine was an intense ride of dark doom and self-loathing. Valid as these are as character traits, I found his lack of concern for others jarring. Yes he grew and changed through the series, but his sassy jokes and snarky interactions weren’t quite enough to imprint on me. Towards the end of the season I grew more attached, but then Ten arrived and things changed.
With this entirely new Doctor the audience quickly adjusted to a happier demeanor sprinkled with rage, despair, and love. Ten starts off quoting The Lion King in his first full episode.
Later he talks about Harry Potter. How do I resist such seductive geekery? Through Ten’s first season, the audience experiences his exploration of the human condition. Ironically enough it is the Doctor’s alien nature that highlights our own humanity and draws us into his character. One of the strongest examples is the two part episode Human Nature/The Family of Blood. Falling in love, acts of bravery, and the raw anguish of fear not only show David Tennant’s skill as an actor, but bring us deeper into the Doctor’s heart.
Earlier, in The Satan Pit, we see the hopeful side of this new Doctor. His belief in Rose not only made the shippers of Ten/Rose squeal with glee, but we learn that the Doctor has grown, slowly forgiving himself for the genocide of the Time Lords. It is in these small human moments that we see the Doctor as approachable, similar to us in a way he’d be sure to deny. Let us not forget that there is a reason that he returns to Earth so often, and although he calls humans “stupid apes” at times, I believe he sees his own people in our species.
Fast forward to Doomsday and I barely feel it necessary to touch on the sorrow we felt with Ten in this episode. Is there anything more painful than the loss of a loved one? When I watched this I had been alone at home while my husband was deployed overseas. I have to admit that the cathartic reach of this scene has stuck with me long past my husband’s safe return.
With the progression of Ten we continue to see his connections with other- my favorite being his partner-in-crime friendship with Donna. But there are other aspects to examine outside of Ten’s emotional range.
Age is another reality to take into consideration. Although not unattractive, Eccleston was a little beyond my usual reach of perspective dream guys. Tennant was in the perfect age range for my taste, and since the show was presenting him as a love interest, naturally I was inclined to follow suit. Having a thing for skinny nerd boys anyway, I was at the writer’s mercy.
Now if age was a factor in my decision, why wasn’t I more in tune with Eleven, who nearly matched me in years? Balance. Eleven was childlike, bouncy, uncoordinated, and honestly came across as someone I wouldn’t trust to open a jar of pickles without help. His mannerisms won over a huge audience, but unfortunately I was quickly disenchanted with his new personality.
There is nothing to be gained in ranting over my dislike of Eleven and his interactions with Amy Pond. As previously mentioned, these topics can thrust an individual into hours of conflict- conflict that I have already experienced, and has not yet swayed me to the charm of the eleventh Doctor.
Multiple arguments span the entire internet on who was better and why. Personal taste is just that, personal. In the end I will not be able to convince anyone of my view with well-placed references or quotes supporting my opinion. Perhaps I loved the era of Ten simply because it hit closer to home. I was alone, frightened for my husband’s safety, and dealing with intense anxiety and depression. Ten went through increasingly painful experiences, yet continued to move forward. Was it inspiration that drew me in or the obscure relatability? Or did I simply think he was “slim… and a little bit foxy”? Whatever the reason, Ten became my favorite, and will remain so.
Doctor Who has changed, and will continue to change as long as it exists. The ability to switch out the main actor at unknown intervals keeps the show fresh and the audience enthralled. Although I was fonder of Russell T. Davis’ writing style, I’m pleased that audiences haven’t lost interest. I admit that I look forward to the eventual end of Moffat’s reign, but that is a rant for another day. Regardless of what I think of the new Doctors or the new writer, I’d hate to see one of the best sci-fi series taken off the air… again.
In the most recent change, choosing Peter Capaldi for Twelve caused a stir in some of the younger audience, but I was thrilled. After the immature antics of Eleven I was ready to bring back the darkness in the Doctor, and so far Twelve has delivered. Although he may never measure up to my devoted love of Ten, I still look forward to how the Doctor will progress in year to come.
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