Despite the passing of time, it seems that some people just can’t deal with change.
Over 12 months after the accouncement of the casting of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and several weeks after his first appearance, hardcore David Tennant fans (I’m reluctant to call them Doctor Who fans) continue to cry from the prams, their spat-out dummies lying on the pavement several streets away.
David Tennant is a superb actor and brought to us a Tenth Doctor of such wit and verve that we didn’t want him to ever leave. We’ve recently had it confirmed that he wasn’t certain himself at one point, and we all wonder what might have been had the 2010 series of Doctor Who featured the Tenth Doctor meeting Amy Pond and having adventures with Van Gogh, River Song and meeting more Weeping Angels.
Yet it was not to be.
Tennant instead opted against working under Steven Moffat as showrunner, announced his departure live on TV and broke the hearts of millions of boys and girls. That was in October 2008, giving plenty of time for those likely to be affected to come to terms with the impending regeneration that subsequently informed the storylines of each episode since.
Instead, Matt Smith was announced in early 2009 as the next Doctor – his casting met with a barrage of reaction (such as “he’s too young/ugly/not David Tennant”) from the press and fans alike who generally agreed that having seen Smith in various productions on TV and stage that he shoudl certainly be given a chance.
A new Doctor was bound to upset hardcore David Tennant fans at this stage, yet even 7 months later as shooting began on season 31 there was outcry across the Doctor Who fandom online. Despite plenty of warning.
What is particularly odd about the whole overreaction to Matt Smith’s appearance as the Eleventh Doctor in the closing moments of The End of Time, Part Two is that he was being criticised in some quarters for not being David Tennant – a plainly ridiculous criticism!
Matt Smith is going to be a huge success as the Doctor – Steven Moffat has a long history of being involved in successful series that have had more than their fair share of perfect casting and there really is no reason to suppose that Doctor Who will be any different.
At the end of the day, Doctor Who has survived in its various forms through the love of the people involved with producing it coupled with the concept of regeneration. Both of these involve change.
So why not embrace it?
Researching 5 years of articles on Kasterborous this morning (for a special project) I was surprised to find so much opposition to the casting of David Tennant back in 2005. Similarly, a bit of research on Google will find various “informed commentators” dismissing Christopher Eccleston’s casting as a “mistake” – and who can forget the fuss caused by Billie Piper’s transition from pop star to TARDIS traveller?
Whether you like it or not, Matt Smith IS the Doctor – preview trailer footage looks impressive, the show is now being lead by Steven Moffat, a man who has won awards for his Doctor Who work and his various comedy work and Doctor Who Magazine is about to unveil an amazing new look.
No one can judge Matt Smith on a minute of screen time, any more than they could with David Tennant’s first few moments, discovery of new teeth and his subsequent “hopping for your life”.
The jury isn’t even out on this one – they’re enjoying nibbles in the hotel after the case was dropped.