Sad news from the BBC this past weekend: Matt Smith has announced he’s leaving Doctor Who. (Read the details here.) This really is too bad; I totally enjoy his portrayal of the Doctor.
Smith is the 11th incarnation of the mysterious Time Lord, and he brought a bit of whimsy that had been missing for a while. When I first began watching Doctor Who way back in my youth, it was during Tom Baker’s run as the 4th Doctor. For many, many years he was my favorite by a landslide, but three seasons with Matt Smith have seen a shrinking of the lead Baker holds. Sometimes I even found myself thinking I liked him better than Baker—I think it’s the youth. It makes 11 just a little bit softer than 4, maybe a bit more accessible. I like that in a Time Lord.
Of course, I have to be completely honest and say that this past season has been my least favorite for Smith, primarily because of the change of companions. When Amy and Rory left last year, it was obvious something special left with them. Doctor Who is not exactly an ensemble show; there is no doubt about who the star is. Even so, the balance required to make the chemistry work right with the characters is delicate, and if the Doctor’s traveling companion isn’t quite right, it can be hard to fully enjoy the adventures. The newest companion, Clara, is mostly fine, but not quite there, and I think that’s a fairly widespread opinion. I can’t help but wonder if Smith would be hanging around a while longer if Karen Gillian and Arthur Darvill (the Amy/Rory actors) had stayed with the show.
Anyway, the hunt will be on now for number 12, and while I have confidence in the showrunners, there’s no denying that change is hard. Heck, remember my favorite is still the guy seven regenerations back. Still, it’s always sort of interesting to see what happens and how the new face plays out; I’m sure this time will be no different. But I’m still going to miss the young man who could realistically portray an alien approximately a thousand years old and even make bowties cool.