David Tennant (10th) has always, and probably forever will be, my favourite incarnation of the Doctor. It was the season finale of Season 2 that started my lifelong love for the show, and my love continued right up until he regenerated. After I had seen Tennant's era, I watched the previous incarnation (and first Doctor in its return in 2005), Christopher Eccleston not long after and adored him too.
After most of my childhood having had him as my Doctor, 10 was taken from me. He didn’t want to go, and in sauntered Matt Smith. My broken heart aside, I always thought Matt Smith was a fine actor. He played a good Doctor. I thought after his earlier seasons, he began to find his feet. The reality was, it was me that found my feet with him.
As much as I had complaints with some of the creative choices in his tenure (and in some cases still do), I grew to love 11. I appreciated a different dynamic he had with companions and his own brand awkward, out-of-touch eccentricity. It wasn’t until too late that I was also sad to see him go.
However, as I started to disagree more and more with the way the show was being written. More and more of the episodes had disappointing concepts and episodes in my eyes. So I fell out of love with the show. I had grown frustrated that the show was losing its touch and seemed to dash my hopes at every turn. Granted, there were some good episodes I enjoyed, but they were not enough to keep me hooked.
I didn’t finish both of Peter Capaldi’s (12th Doctor) seasons, even though he turned out a great performance as the Doctor. I tried the most recent Doctor, Jodie Whittaker’s era (13th) But after The Witchfinders (S11, Ep8), I decided to stop watching. The fact that we now have a female incarnation of The Doctor is beyond my wildest childhood dreams. Yet still I felt disillusioned. I lost the desire to keep watching. I thought that I’d outgrown my childhood love.
Over the past six months, however, I have had an epiphany. My mental health had grown worse over the past three years, and I was desperate to cling to anything that brought me joy, especially with a global pandemic looming over our heads. So I'd go back and watch some fun shows I used to love as a kid to a better time.
After a year of putting off watching it, I realised that Doctor Who had a place in my life again. My adult brain was cynical and disenchanted. I’d spent so much time overanalysing its many radical shifts and flaws and resented them.
But what is this show without reinvention? Just as the Doctor regenerates, so does each series. Each Doctor, as does each show runner, leaves their own unique mark on the show. Without this change, the show would not have endured so long and would not have captured the imaginations of fans even after over a decade of hiatus. What was formerly seen as a campy embarrassment by the BBC is now one of their best loved flagship shows. It’s not that I have outgrown the show. I've outgrown how intensely seriously I've taken it.
By no means am I suggesting that you stop criticizing the show completely, or unquestioningly absorb the content coming from the idiot’s lantern. It is art that is there to be engaged with, and the discussion is part of the fun. It’s these discussions that made my Twitter feed a better place to inhabit back when I had it. But we need to stop getting frustrated to the point where we have personal, hurtful jabs at the actors, writers, show runners and any other fan who disagrees with you. We can’t forget the joy the show brings to us and how it inspires and fascinates us. At the end of the day, it’s a fun little television show we fell in love with as children and can still love as grownups. Let’s keep it that way.
I'm thinking about using the blog to review both classic and reboot Dr Who episodes as a nice reprieve from writing my novels. What episodes do you suggest I start with? What do you think about the show? Who is your favorite incarnation of the Doctor? Chat to me through my Facebook (Jen Hughes- Writing) or Instagram (@jenhugheswriting).