The Eleventh Hour

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Letting it get to you. You know what that’s called? Being alive. Best thing there is. Being alive right now is all that counts.

– “The Doctor’s Wife”

Soon, the Doctor will no longer be the Eleventh but the Twelfth. This is a bit weird because as long as I’ve been aware that New Who existed, Eleven has been there. I still remember the first episode I saw with him – “The Vampires of Venice,” a terribly cheesy story that made me think Doctor Who was stupid and ridiculous and not worth watching.

Well, I was wrong. I wish I’d begun earlier, so I could watch Eleven without spoilers, eagerly guessing what his next adventure might be. Instead, I only started watching when Matt Smith announced he was leaving the role.

Oh, well. There’s always the Twelfth to look forward to. One thing I love about the show is that the Doctor changes so often. Every few years, we get a new guy – or rather, a slightly different version of the same person. On the scale of awesome geeky things, I’d say that’s about as cool as a new Harry Potter book every year or someone discovering the lost manuscripts of J.R.R. Tolkien. (Which I just now made up.) But I’m getting off-topic. I’ll miss Eleven and wanted to write about why he’s cool, so I’ll leap right in. Geronimo!

I love Eleven for a number of reasons but it all comes down to this: he is a wonderful, even perfect combination of age and youth. I know many people would probably give that answer but I’m not concerned with being original because it really is what defines Eleven for me.

tumblr_mxcc80yrom1ru303jo1_500He has the face of, well, almost a kid, but he’s so, so old. Eleven hundred, I believe. Because I wasn’t watching Doctor Who a few years ago, I could’ve cared less when fans complained that Matt Smith would be terrible because he was only in his late twenties, the youngest actor ever cast for the role. But that was definitely a thing, and how wrong they were.

I don’t know how Matt Smith does it but he does a marvelous job of showing that Eleven is, literally, an old soul in a young man’s body. For that reason he is now one of my favorite actors. Christopher Eccleston was a fantastic (sorry) Doctor but his Ninth was only ever battle-weary and old. Meanwhile, I didn’t feel that David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor was old at all until the series four specials, by which time he was almost done.

Eleven is different. Eleven is such a bundle of contradictions. He can speak Baby, get a job in a toy store, and ponder his impending death all in one episode (“Closing Time”). He can comfort young Merry Galel then at the end of the episode stand in front of a god screaming and crying about all he’s done and all the lives he’s ruined, all the things he can never forget (“The Rings of Akhaten”). And let’s not forget “Nightmare in Silver,” where he went to an amusement park and ends up part Cyberman.

At times he’s practically a kid with his Christmas list, ridiculous love of bow ties and fezzes, and utter lack of understanding of human customs. Other times, he’s much more serious. He’s an old and often lonely man – even when he does have companions he knows they won’t be there forever and then he’ll be back where he started, a mad man with a blue box and no one to share it with.

fezzesarecoolThis lovely character is brought to us by two people. I think Eleven is one of the few good things Steven Moffat has created since becoming head writer. His stories for earlier series and earlier Doctors were brilliant but I haven’t been too pleased with anything from, well, the past three. Most of my favorite Eleven episodes weren’t written by Moffat – I’m still amazed that Neil Gaiman (who doesn’t even regularly write for Doctor Who or anything) could waltz in, pen “The Doctor’s Wife,” and end up with what is quite possibly the best episode of series six.

There is much in Eleven’s stories that I do not like, from the Ponds and series six to the sexism and Clara. But I think it’s important to separate a character from their story – my brother points out that the Sixth Doctor had terrible stories, but was actually not that bad on his own. So good job there, Moffat.

Of course, we can’t forget Matt Smith. I was going to apologize for how this post is less about just Eleven and more about Eleven-and-Matt-Smith but you know what? Eleven wouldn’t be exactly as I know and love him were it not for Smith. Characters are only that – characters – and actors must bring them to life, so it makes sense to thank Smith for playing such a wonderful Doctor. I love how alien his interpretation is. I realize that most of the Classic Doctors were played this way but in New Who, they’re usually more human.

Matt Smith may not make for the most handsome incarnation of the Doctor  (he’s no David Tennant or John Barrowman or even Arthur Darvill) but that doesn’t matter. Just look at Four and the generation (hi, dad) who insists he is the Doctor – they didn’t care that he had a mop of hair and eyes that bugged out of his head. Matt Smith’s looks / actions actually work out in favor of him, I think.

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B EPISODE2

Oh, I like his sense of humor and his voice and the way he shows emotions but what I really love is – well, the way he moves, I guess. This might sound weird and will be difficult to describe, but I’ll do my best. He has this strange ability to be simultaneously awkward and graceful. In “Let’s Kill Hitler” he dances around like a goofy kid and then falls flat on his face like the dying Time Lord he is. When he’s excited he scurries around the TARDIS happily, his gangly limbs going every which way as he pokes that button and pulls that lever.

I’m probably not making any sense but I guess what I’m trying to say is that actions are perhaps even more important than words. Anyone can deliver a few lines but I think it takes a lot of talent to show me how a character feels using one’s eyes, or the way one walks, or whatever. I really enjoy watching Matt Smith – he can do the old man / little boy thing without saying a word.

Eleven hates endings and I never know how to write them, so I’ll conclude by saying… wow. That I like Doctor Who surprises me a little but what surprises me more is that I like Eleven. For some reason I thought I would hate him and now he is quite possibly my second favorite. (This changes depending which Ten episode I’ve seen recently.) He’s a neat character and I wish he weren’t leaving, but I’m excited for Twelve too – I started watching so I’d be caught up in time to see Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.

Tonight I think I’m going to see his first episode, “The Eleventh Hour.” I am a silly person who enjoys being emotional about fictional characters. Are you the same way? What do you think about the Eleventh Doctor?

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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12 Responses to The Eleventh Hour

  1. matttblack42 says:

    Eleven is my favorite Doctor, though to be fair, I always prefer the current Doctor over the rest. I’m sure 12 (13?) will be my favorite soon enough.

    Have you watched Sherlock yet? It might change your mind about Moffat, and if it doesn’t, you can rest easy knowing that he only writes one episode a season.

  2. You’ve basically captured my exact feelings about Eleven. He’s not my favourite (though I’d say that at the moment he’s my favourite New Series Doctor), but I do love him, and agree with just about all the points you made.
    And yes, the graceful-awkwardness. I don’t know what Eleven would be without the graceful-awkwardness.
    *has nothing else to say* XP

  3. themagicviolinist says:

    I love Eleven. 🙂 Ten is still my favorite (he was a fantastic actor and had fantastic chemistry with Rose), but Eleven is great in a different way. While Ten gave you pathetic puppy-dog faces, loneliness, and heart-wrenching moments (*cough* “Doomsday” *cough*) along with his happier times, Eleven was goofy. He had bowties, the fez, the fish fingers and custard, etc. One of my favorite episodes with him in it is “Closing Time.” I burst out laughing so many times throughout that episode, I had to rewind so I could hear the bits I missed. I loved his mannerisms, time with him and River, and despite your issues with the Ponds, you can’t say he wasn’t more of a family man than the others. Nine and Ten always traveled with one companion, while Eleven was rarely without two. I loved that there were three people in the Tardis, sometimes even four when River was around, and that he even tried (keyword being “tried” here) to check in with Amy and Rory’s life back on Earth in 2012 in “The Power of Three.” He was so much happier than Nine and Ten. 🙂 (But I haven’t gotten to Clara yet–I only just finished “Angels Take Manhattan”–so no spoilers about that!)

    • nevillegirl says:

      (Whoops, didn’t see this until just now!)

      I think Eleven has now dropped down to my fifth favorite (after Nine, Ten, Three, and Four) but I still like him. I DID like the “family in the TARDIS” thing – I just didn’t like the personalities of the family members *coughcough* Amy and Rory *coughcough* themselves.

      What do you think about Clara?

      • themagicviolinist says:

        I haven’t been able to watch any episodes with her because the DVDs haven’t come in the mail yet. 😛 They should be here any day now . . .

    • nevillegirl says:

      Oh. In that case, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on series seven soon, human scum! You will learn about the glory of the Sontaran empire!

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