Doctor Who Profile: Matt Smith

Jason O’Toole

Credit: BBC

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As someone whose favorite Doctor is David Tennant, the tenth doctor, I was not excited to see him replaced by Matt Smith, the eleventh. However, I will be the first to admit Smith was a fantastic addition to the many great actors to play the titular time traveler over the years. His opening episode, The Eleventh Hour,  takes away the TARDIS and the Sonic Screwdriver to show us that the Doctor is more than just tech. Without his tools, he still manages to save the world from total annihilation. A prisoner has escaped from an alien prison and fled to Earth. The jailers, the Atraxi, order him to surrender, and if he doesn’t they will destroy the planet. The Doctor manages to trick the prisoner into revealing himself to the Atraxi with his brains and help from his new companions, Amy and Rory. The final moments were when I was completely sold on Matt Smith’s take on the Doctor. He is calm, confident and embodies the very thing we have come to expect from the time traveling hero. When it comes to aliens, getting them to leave is good, showing them why they should never come back is better. He shows us why he is the right man for the job, while still paying homage to all those that have come before. Check out this amazing moment in the video below.

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During his three seasons playing the Doctor, Smith was joined by amazing companions Amy Pond and her husband Rory Williams, Clara Oswald and occasionally another time traveler River Song, who would later go on to be the Doctor’s wife, yes you read that right. Amy and Rory had a fantastic story arc that leads them to their wedding day and beyond as they travel the stars with the Doctor. Eventually, they have their first child, a girl they name Melody. She was conceived in the TARDIS and is thus granted the regeneration powers the Doctor also possesses. Along their journey it is revealed that Melody Pond is actually River Song. River was conditioned from birth to kill the Doctor, which she eventually does. This breaks her mind conditioning and she ends up giving up all her regeneration's to save his life. She realizes that she had taken from this universe a great man, and it is in this moment that she falls in love with him. Their relationship continues to evolve as we say goodbye to the Ponds and say hello to Clara Oswald, the impossible girl. Clara, as it turns out, has actually been a part of the Doctor’s entire 900 year life. Her destiny is to always point the Doctor in the right direction, essentially acting as a guide to him throughout his many adventures. Clara would stay with Smith all the way through to his regeneration.

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After his three season tenure as the character, Smith’s run came to a close in two fantastic specials, The Day Of The Doctor and The Time Of The Doctor. The former served as the 50th anniversary special, airing 50 years to day from the first episode of the series back in 1963. This special brought together Tennant and Smith along with a previously unknown regeneration, the War Doctor, played by John Hurt. Hurt’s version, it turns out, fought in the Time War, a great war between the Time Lords and the Daleks. The War Doctor is the version that wiped out his people to save the universe. This episode changes the history of the series without changing anything. The universe will believe that the Time War claimed both species and Gallifrey will be saved and hidden in a pocket dimension. The thing that makes this all work is one simple moment where they all realize the only version that will remember this is the eleventh. The War Doctor and the tenth are out of sync with their timelines, preventing them from retaining the information that Gallifrey has been saved. This plot point carries over into Smith’s final episode as the titular character, The Time Of The Doctor. He finds himself on the planet he will die on, Trenzalore. The Doctor is out of lives and has to stay here to defend a crack in reality that turns out to be Gallifrey trying to return to the universe. All the Doctor’s enemies unite to make sure that when this happens they can once again destroy them. It appears the Doctor is out of time until Clara pleads with the Time Lords through the crack to help him saying, “If you love him, and you should, help him. Help him change the future.” The Time Lords decide to help him and give him a new regeneration cycle. From the first episode to this last, Smith does a fantastic job bringing the time traveler to life. Matt Smith’s final moments as the Doctor brought a tear to my eye. He leaves us with a touching reminder of why he deserves his spot among the greats. Check out this beautiful scene below and check out my profile on Peter Capaldi here.

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