In this second installment of our Doctor Who countdown, we take a look at the adventures of the Eleventh Doctor. After fan-favorite Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) faded away in regeneration’s golden light with a rather emotional final plea, the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) came tumbling into our (and Amelia Pond’s) lives. As Ten was notably different from Nine (Christopher Eccleston), Eleven is notably different from Ten – and for more than just physical appearance.
With the newest season airing on tomorrow at 9PM ET on BBC America, we’re taking a look at some of the defining moments of the Eleventh Doctor:
The Eleventh Hour
The newly-regenerated Doctor crash lands in Amelia Pond’s back yard. While the TARDIS is undergoing repairs, he spends time with the young Pond, trying (rather amusingly) to figure himself out. After we get a glimpse of this flighty, whimsical side of the newest Doctor, he reappears in Amy’s (nee Amelia) life over a decade later and saves the planet from Prisoner Zero and the “shoot-first-ask-questions-later” Atraxi.
And it is here we see the real difference from his previous incarnations: the Doctor is now menacing. Nine was fierce and direct. Ten would offer salvation to his enemies, but would easily let you suffer your own poor choices. But Eleven grandstands and threatens. It wasn’t good enough for Eleven to firmly order “leave and don’t come back” (like Ten did with the Sycorax) he had to say, “Look at everything I’ve ever done. Run.” This particular personality twist is a bit polarizing among fans, but I admit I respect it. He’s a badass.
The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone
River Song and small, armed, religious contingent join the Doctor and Amy as they investigate a mountain filled with dormant Weeping Angels. As the Angels slowly revive by siphoning the energy from a crashed ship, they threaten to enslave Amy’s mind and kill the rest of the group. Naturally, the new side of the Doctor didn’t take that threat too lightly.
Once again, the Doctor channels his badass-itude as he takes another brazen stand (perfectly highlighted with Murray Gold’s score.) The last Time Lord lets the Angels know: when you threaten the Doctor, you’re in trouble; but when you threaten the Doctor’s friends, you’re dead. (Or, more accurately, erased from existence.)
Vincent and the Doctor
The Doctor isn’t all threats and showmanship. He is still the man that sees a troubled man and attempts to give him the greatest joy in his life. Despite the part of him that tells you to “basically: run,” there is a part of him that is the clever, witty mad man with a box that will intervene “if children are crying.”
When the Doctor and Amy travel back to meet Vincent van Gogh, the three find kindred ground. Despite Vincent’s deep-seated mental troubles, he falls for Amy (wouldn’t you? have you seen those legs?), and all three connect in how they view the world beyond what normal people perceive. They team up to stop a creature that only Vincent can see, and, as a reward, the Doctor brings Vincent to the present Musee d’Orsay via the TARDIS. The curator’s words about the quality of Vincent’s works brings the troubled artist a joy unlike he had ever experienced. A gift of compassion, from the Doctor.
The Pandorica Open / The Big Bang
The Pandorica, the Doctor believed, was merely a legend – a mystical box that contains the greatest threat the universe had ever seen. When the Doctor discovers the box and begins opening the locks, it seems every enemy the Doctor has ever had converges on the Pandorica. Naturally, the Doctor takes this opportunity to challenge THE ENTIRE LOT OF THEM. (This has been described by the Internet as the “biggest ‘come at me, bro’ moment in history.”)
But that’s not the only problem: The universe is fading away, one star at a time, and an exploding TARDIS is the cause. With the Pandorica acting as a blueprint for the universe (it’ll make sense if you watch it), the Doctor selflessly flies the Pandorica into the heart of the explosion to create a second big bang to reboot the universe.
And this is where, despite everything, we see that he is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the universe. The Doctor is still the hero of this story. When faced with being erased from existence at the central point of the big bang, he flies in with one final “GERONIMO!” (This is in stark contrast to Ten who, while willing to sacrifice himself to save another, left with a weak plea.)
The Doctor’s Wife
The heart of the TARDIS is stripped from the big, blue box and implanted into a woman named Idris. With the Doctor finally able to speak with “Sexy,” some hilarity ensues. But at the end of the episode, we see something we haven’t experienced before: the Eleventh Doctor cries. The body of Idris is dying and the TARDIS must return to her blue box, but neither one wants to say goodbye. As a matter of fact, the only thing the TARDIS wants to say is something she hasn’t ever been able to say before: “Hello.” (I, amazingly, have been unable to find a clip of this scene, so you’ll just have to do with the above.) It’s a moment of real love between the two of them. Companions may come and go – and their impact on the Doctor can be amazingly profound – but there has always only been one constant in the Doctor’s life: the TARDIS.
A Good Man Goes To War
If “The Doctor’s Wife” showcased real love, then “A Good Man Goes To War” shows true anger. As we’ve already made perfectly clear, this Doctor has been pretty aggressive, but it’s always been based in some sense of protectiveness over a planet or its people – an “If you want to challenge them, you’ll have to go through me” kind of attitude.
But here, he gets angry. (“I’m angry. That’s new.” ) And, for once: vicious. His entire monologue about “Colonel Runaway” is outright vengeful. He wasn’t trying to protect anyone; he simply wanted the man responsible for this crime against him and his friends to be humiliated.
When it is revealed that there is an entire group arming themselves against the Doctor — a group created because of the fear this Doctor instills — we can’t help but feel a little sympathetic for the anti-Doctor sentiment. We, as the viewers, know that his actions have ultimately been for the good of the universe, but when he gets angry, even he states “I’m not really sure what’s going to happen now.” If you were faced with a man who could make armies flee at his mere presence, wouldn’t you be afraid when he himself is so angry that he isn’t sure what’s going to happen?
In direct response to this, the Doctor realizes he has been far too noticable of late and must drop off the grid at the very end of the sixth series. And when the seventh series begins tomorrow night, we’ll see just how far he’s willing to go to rein it all in.