Category Archives: Doctor Who

11 of Matt Smith’s Best Doctor Who Moments

I’ll miss Matt Smith. I make no bones about that. I’ve said before that he’s my favourite Doctor. He’s a young actor but played the Doctor very old. And very honest. Whether he was playing the Doctor’s childish glee, his bottomless rage or his unfathomable regret, you believed every moment. Smith never seemed to act. He just was.

So, to say goodbye, here are my favourite moments of Matt Smith’s Doctor. (Spoiler alert, by the way!)

1. “I am definitely a madman with a box.” The Eleventh Hour

The moment I decided Smith was my Doctor. It encompasses everything you love about the Doctor and it’s delivered with promise and a grin.

2. “Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All” Closing Time

The Doctor speaks baby. Of course he does. And when he speaks to a baby named Alfie, he reveals that Alfie prefers to be known as Stormageddon. Fantastic name and delivered so matter-of-fact.

He speaks horse too.

3. “No-one human has anything to say to me today.” The Beast Below

The first of Matt Smith’s angry moments. The Doctor’s just discovered that humans are torturing a space whale so they can ride it. His rage is palpable and he almost seems personally betrayed, as if he’s been let down by this behaviour. I wouldn’t want to upset him after seeing this.

Doctor Who made fezzes so cool they made it onto action figures.4. “It’s a fez. I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.” The Big Bang

Matt Smith’s Doctor had a tragic sense of fashion that you couldn’t help but love. Fezzes. Stetsons. And, of course, bow ties. All of these were cool, according to him. No-one around him seems to agree, but fezzes kept popping up nonetheless.

5. “The universe doesn’t care.” The Snowmen

The Doctor retreats after losing Amy and Rory. To be honest, this idea bored me a little. It’s been done before and it doesn’t last long (the format of the programme doesn’t leave much space for reclusive Doctors). But Smith saved it. He seemed honestly bitter, hurt, even laughing at his pain. I believed in his retreat and I believed in his return.

6. Good Things and Bad Things Vincent and the Doctor

“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.”

This whole episode is filled with lovely moments and it’s not just Smith that shines. But this little speech tops it off. It’s been a sweet episode and a very sad episode. And just when you get a bit too sad, Smith delivers these lines. And you feel good again.

7. “Oh, I always rip out the last page of a book. Then it doesn’t have to end. I hate endings!” The Angels Take Manhattan

Given that this episode is Amy and Rory’s last, this is beautifully prophetic. Many actors might try to add import or gravitas to these lines but Smith delivers it with a casual, throwaway energy. It gives the words all the more impact. That he’s desecrating a book is almost forgivable. Almost.

8. Finding out he has to go to Trenzalore The Name of the Doctor

The Doctor realises he has no choice but to go to the planet where his grave lies. Watch it. Just kills me.

9. “I’m not running away from things, I am running to them. Before they flare and fade forever.” Power of Three

The only logical reason why Smith never seems to be still. He portrays the infinite curiosity and enthusiasm for everything that the Doctor embodies. The universe is full of incredible things and Smith’s Doctor is excited by all of it.

10. “You’re always here to me. And I always listen. And I can always see you.” The Name of the Doctor

River Song was a fantastic addition under David Tennant’s tenure, but she shone with Smith. Their relationship developed so quickly but so believably. And, at the last, Smith shows just how much the Doctor really cares for her.

I thought of plenty more. I wanted to go back and rewatch his entire run. I still might. His madcap energy was a joy to watch, his darker moments never failed to move. Even in the worst episodes Smith had a great moment and he made the best episodes his own. So the last moment could only be Smith’s farewell speech, because it felt like he was talking to us and it’s certainly how we’ll feel about him.

11. “I will always remember when the Doctor was me.” The Time of the Doctor

Matt Smith takes off his bow tie for the last time.

Review: Day of the Doctor

In case you’ve been living under a rock, this year is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. So there’s been a bit of a celebration on the old BBC all culminating in the special episode The Day of the Doctor. And it was pretty darned good. (Warning: spoilers ahead!)

The last time I wrote about Doctor Who I was bemoaning the sorry mess that was the last series. There wasn’t any mess in this episode. The Day of the Doctor was pretty solid, with two plots running side by side. A missing version of the Doctor (named the War Doctor and played by John Hurt) is just about to destroy Gallifrey and wipe out his own race, the Time Lords, in order to prevent a war that will engulf the universe. And the Zygons are trying to take over the Earth. Doctors War, Ten (David Tennant) and Eleven (Matt Smith) all get tangled up in events and manage to save the day. All of them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. The ending. What an enormous cheat. The Time War has been a big part of the revamped Doctor since he was brought back to our screens in 2005. Having to commit genocide on his own people gave him a darkness and a weariness to him. He was haunted. He was a survivor. It motivated everything he did.

“Not any more!” says Moffat. “Look, we did some timey-wimey stuff and it just looked like he killed everyone. But they’re all safe really.”

I hate retcons. They’re a flipping cheat. And the Doctor’s been cheating far too much lately.

One other gripe was Billie Piper’s appearance; it seemed gratuitous to me. She had no real need to be there. It didn’t make an awful lot of sense and it seemed like she was being shoe-horned in so the BBC had something else to build hype about.

But Hurt, Tennant and Smith shine too brightly for these flaws to really be seen. Smith, of course, is on his usual fine form. Tennant was a pleasure to watch again. And the two of them played their differences very well. Sometimes they were similar to comic effect, others at polar opposites to dramatic effect. Excellent stuff.

Hurt, of course, was always going to steal the show. And he was definitely the highlight. The War Doctor was what everyone wanted to see and Hurt delivered an excellent performance. He could have been a one-note character, simply playing the tragedy of the genocide he’s about to commit. But he was many things: wise, grumpy, tired, even funny. Whilst Tennant and Smith romp about, he asks them, “Must you speak like children?” Despite playing the old, tired warrior, he was still recognisable as the Doctor. He had his clever ideas and he even romped a little himself at the end.

And, despite my problems with the ending, it did address my gripe with the last series: the story, although it contained a few odd tangents, was strong. A beginning, a middle and an end. Whilst not appropriate for a first-time or even casual viewer, it was a self-contained story. And it does open new doors for the next series. It will be interesting to see where the hunt for Gallifrey takes the Doctor.

In short, if you’re a fan, you’ll love it. If you’re a casual viewer, you’ll enjoy it but need to visit Wikipedia afterwards to figure it all out. If you’ve never watched Who before, do not start here! Go watch series five. It’s the best one.

What did you think of Day of the Doctor? Leave me a comment and let me know?

Why Doctor Who Needs Arcs Again

First things first: Matt Smith is my favourite Doctor. There, I said it. Smith is the Doctor I always wanted him to be: energetic bordering on wild, eccentric bordering on crazy, funny and weird and dark. The finale to Series Seven proved to me how great Smith is: he has a moment where he cries and it’s just perfect. (Check it out here, it’s number eight of 11 of Matt Smith’s best moments.

But, that said, this series has been a bloody shambles and the finale fell flat because the preceding episodes hadn’t earned it.

Be warned: this post is spoiler-heavy.

You have to buy your epic moments

Series Five was an almost perfect series. With a new Doctor, showrunner and companion it could have alienated the fans. But Amy Pond was the first and best impossible girl; her and her cracks in the universe were there from episode one. And each episode expanded on both of them, teasing out the mystery. Pieces of broken TARDIS, memories of Rory and refugee aliens kept popping up. There were plenty of stand-alone episodes, but they all managed to tip their hat to the arc.

So when it culminated in the epic finale, you were invested. You were desperate to know the answer to the questions you’d been teased with. You felt the losses and the sacrifices. It deserved its big moments. It deserved its deep emotion. Because the arc had paid for them.

The lack of an arc left Series Seven weak

New companion Clara is an impossible girl too, popping up over and over throughout history. But her mystery barely got a line or two each week.

The Great Intelligence claims that the Doctor continually thwarts him and that is why he wants revenge. But he only appeared twice this series.

Trenzalore has been built up in preceding series as a sort of end game for the Doctor. He must never go there. Terrible consequences will ensue if he does and villains have wreaked enormous evils to ensure that he doesn’t. Didn’t get a mention in Series Seven.

Then Moffat writes an epic finale where Clara’s mystery is solved, the Great Intelligence wreaks his revenge and the Doctor is forced to go to Trenzalore.

You can’t build an epic finale on stand-alone episodes

So the finale fell flat. An ending built on an uncared-for mystery, a villain’s third appearance and a concept that’s gone unmentioned since Series Six. And it’s such a shame, because it was a waste of so many good ideas: the remains of the Doctor as temporal scar tissue; the enormous, dead TARDIS; the dream conference call. Plus the treat of Alex Kingston, whose very presence injects life and wit and sauce. And the revelation of John Hurt as the Doctor was the best teaser I’ve ever seen ever. Ever.

But it wasn’t an ending. It wasn’t a close to the series. It was just another episode. Because no-one had raised any stakes, built any tension or left the audience desperate for resolution to any burning questions. The finale hadn’t earnt its epic moments. So they were empty. Hollow. Just like the villain.

Arcs aren’t anathema to casual viewing

Continuity always suffers on television because it sits at odds with jumping on points. Showrunners don’t want any potential new viewers to be put off by back story. So they gravitate to stand-alones. (It’s also why comics are always being retconned.) But if each episode stands like the proverbial cheese, why tune in next week? Why not skip a few weeks? After all, you won’t miss anything, will you?

Series Five had stand-alones. But they hinted at the arc. They left you with a question at the end of the episode that meant you’d tune in next week. Not one episode of Series Seven left me desperate to watch the next. Because there was no continuation. I knew next week would be something completely different. Unconnected. That it would carry as much consequence as this week.

That won’t keep an audience. If a viewer doesn’t feel like they have to watch the next episode, it’s only a matter of time before they find something else to watch. Turning Doctor Who into a montage of disconnected stories will be the death of it.

In short, Moffat needs to up his game. Series Five was fantastic. Series Six was good. But Series Seven started weak and got weaker. And if Series Eight doesn’t have any consequential storytelling then I’ll start losing interest. I’m sure I won’t be alone. I’ll try to keep watching. But, no matter how good Matt Smith is, one day I’ll just forget to tune in.

And that will be very sad.