For we Doctor Who-vians, losing David Tennant was akin to saying goodbye to a best friend. The years we spent together were some of the finest years of our lives, filled with Cybermen, Daleks, blue suits, questionable love connections and lots and lots of running.
But as this first Tennant-less season comes to an end, it is with a huge sigh of relief that I say it was all for the best.
I really must qualify my love for DT before I get into this, lest you think I took his absence lightly. This is not the case. Tennant’s Doctor, the Tenth Doctor, was My Doctor. Though I grew up watching Baker and Davison on PBS, it was the Tennant era that made me fall deeply in love and become the kind of fan I am now. Throughout his tenure (or, Ten-ure, rather. OW, don’t hit!) I laughed, cried and shouted, “Fuck, quit it with the Daleks already.” But I loved unconditionally.
Then he left. And it hurt. It hurt a lot. During the second half of “The End of Time” I cried harder than I have when I’ve lost relatives. I was a sniffling sobbing shitbag mess disaster. And I was sorry to see him ago. I loved him. And I approached this new Eleventh Doctor with trepidation and caution.
Then I watched his first episode. And holy shit.
Matt Smith is simply excellent. Funny, dark, smart, quick and while Tennant was all these things, Smith’s made the character all his own. The reasons for this are twofold: 1) Matt Smith is a tremendous performer and 2) Steven Moffat is brilliant.
You see, David Tennant, for all the awesome he was and is, had one big thunderhead above him, and that was a Welshman by the name of Russell T. Davies. Apparently when you’re about to insult RTD, you’re supposed to drop a big load of props all over the floor so that apparently your insult slips and slides about like Buster Keaton in a banana peel factory. So I will give him his due, because he really did bring the show back, making it a cultural icon for a whole new generation and finally gaining it some popularity in the States. But once you get past those important accolades, one thing is abundantly clear: RTD was a pretty shitty writer.
The best of the Tenth Doctor era were all written by others. The worst episodes and worst characters were all written by the show’s lord and savior, RTD. Episodes like “Voyage of the Damned” and “Love and Monsters” (arguably the worst episode of any television show ever), aliens like the Slitheen and the idiotic fart jokes that came with them, characters like that American fuckwad in “Dalek” and episodes like “Voyage of the Damned” and “Love and Monsters” (I just cannot state enough how abysmal those were), painfully reach-y sexual innuendos, awful awful one-dimensionally evil villains, these were all pure RTD creations. And they sucked. So hard.
And don’t get me started on Rose Tyler.
Rose Tyler started out perfectly fine. A perfect vessel story, a perfectly nice girl with good moments. Some of the best moments of her run involved her wonderful friendship with the Doctor. In fact, my favorite episodes of the entire new series, the two-parter “The Impossible Planet”/”The Satan Pit,” hints at her desire for more and his feelings of love for his companion. But it was left open enough that silly old me thought his “love” for her was of a friendly nature, one of admiration for her sense of adventure and fascination at the universe. Because we really weren’t given any sense that the Doctor, a somewhat aloof, if not asexual, being for his whole televised life, had romantic feelings for her.
Apparently, I was wrong.
In what is basically a good finale with two horrendous moments, the Doctor winds up being cloned. Clone Doctor is part human, meaning he has one heart and the ability to age (by the by, was it ever stated that his two hearts were what kept him ageless in the first place? Why would one heart stop that? He’s still part Time Lord). He chooses to spend this life making out with Rose Tyler, whose boyfriend, the perfectly nice and serviceable Mickey Smith, trapped himself in another dimension to be with.
This was complete bullshit, and turned our Doctor’s emo-ness up to 11.
Season Two Doctor would have grabbed Season Four/the final DT season specials Doctor by the Chuck Taylor strings and slapped him silly for being such a pussy. He cried … so much. And that’s what made me ready to say goodbye in “The End of Time,” even though I was crying right along with him. I should cry. I’m a measly human. The Doctor doesn’t cry. He’s supposed to be better than that.
This Doctor is.
Eleven hasn’t cried once. Thank Jesus. The Doctor is once again strong and awesome, and we have Steven Moffat to thank for that.
Steven Moffat is responsible for the best episodes of the pre-Smith run. “The Girl in the Fireplace” was spectacular and “Blink” is very much one of the best episodes of television I’ve ever seen. Moffat is also responsible for Coupling, which I loved (even Season Four so screw you and the Lesbian Spank Inferno you rode in on). And because of him, this past season was the single most consistent Who series of all.
Every single episode was at least good (“Victory of the Daleks” really threw off the curve; sans that every episode would be at least great). The characters fully-fleshed and well-written, especially the villains, a wonderfully lovable side-companion (Rory is greater than everyone else on the planet; remember this), the companion finally not balls-crazy in love with the Doctor/sad old maid (sorry, Donna, know that I love you) and no fucking crying Doctor. A fantastic season with a fantastic arc and fantastic characters, all of which remind me why I love Doctor Who as much as I do.
The season finale, “The Big Bang,” airs this Saturday on BBC America. Not that I already watched it through illegal means or anything, but it’s amazing. Watch and love.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.