Fifty Years of Doctor Who, Part 12: The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith
Like Matt Smith, I am at the end of my series, but endings are not really ending when they are just changes. It was something we had to learn again, when Tennant left. We were given the youngest Doctor to ever take on this role. Now, at the end of his tenure we can appropriately measure his performance. It was pretty good. It was not a flawless performance; there were moments that didn’t quite work. Characters he was not able to react too convincingly. It’s hard to be critical of a performance that I genuinely enjoy, even love. My criticism is minimal and borders on technical nit picking, so I will spare you the details. I will say, as I reflect back on his time, I have found I am more fond of his companions, and the stories, than I am of him. That was a painful realization.
Smith’s doctor is at times enigmatic. He may know more than anyone in the room, or he may be a 900 year old senior trying to text his cats. Either is possible, both are probable. His exuberant enthusiasm borders on hyperactivity and his performances never leave you the opportunity to feel bored. There are times when watching him feels as exhausting as trying to catch a weasel in a middle-school gymnasium. Smith’s largest contribution to the role was his youthful energy and enthusiasm. He never approached anything with half his hearts.
The one element of Matt Smith’s performance that I could not allow to go unmentioned was his adaptation of David Tennant’s quarks and mannerisms into his own. It was not a sudden change; he gradually changed them, allowing the part to become his own, much as Tennant did. After watching his first few episodes I was convinced he was simply mimicking, and we would be stuck with someone doing a David Tennant impression. How pleased I was to be wrong about that.
Matt Smith drove The Doctor to unbelievable heights, and weathered unprecedented lows. He grew the character to the most well known legend in the universe, and then systematically erased himself from history, with a little help from a friend of his. He found and lost a family, and we found and are about to lose a Doctor.