My initial idea for this column was to list the top 11 episodes of the 11th Doctor. But I had such a hard time nailing down the list to just 11 episodes, that I decided to instead make a list of the 11 moments from Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor. Matt brought such a unique and quirky element to the role that nearly 8 months following his announcement he would be leaving the role, I am still trying to digest the fact that the 11th Doctor is no more. He brought so many magical moments and memories to the role that I will surely miss. But just to keep things fair and impartial, as with every form of entertainment, the show is not perfect. Sure the good absolutely outweighs the bad, but there were a few clunkers in there during the Matt Smith tenure. Few and far between, so with that I am making a list of the 3 worst episodes of his tenure and then the 8 elements from the show that I will miss from his reign as the mad man with a blue box.
3. THE VAMPIRES OF VENICE (Series 5, Episode 6) – This episode from Matt Smith’s first season as the Doctor is not really all that bad, but measured up to the rest of Series 5 it does not hold up. Series 5 was near perfection with the exception of this episode in which the Doctor travels to 16th century Venice and battles a race of vampire fish. Yes, the main villains for this one were vampire fish. And if that was not bad enough, what made this episode cringe worthy was the fact the CGI effects in this episode were really bad. The plot was solid, as the vampire fish want to change over the female humans in Venice to their race so they can repopulate, as they are dying out. OK I am down with that, but man oh man were the CGI effects brutal in this one. Also the first episode to feature Rory Williams as one of the Doctor’s traveling companions so that should be enough to save the episode, but again, the CGI effects of the vampire fish were almost embarrassing.
2. CURSE OF THE BLACK SPOT (Series 6, Episode 3) – This one should have been called the Curse of the Previous Episodes. Because this one had the unfortunate task of following up The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon, which were the Series 6 premieres. That 2-part storyline arc ranks up there as the best episodes of the Matt Smith tenure so with that, they followed up with this episode in which the Doctor and his companions land on a 17th century pirate ship and it’s not a pirates life for them, us, or anybody else watching this episode. More than anything this episode was BORING. A complete snooze fest made worse by the fact it followed 2 of the best episodes the show has ever produced.
1. THE DOCTOR, THE WIDOW AND THE WARDROBE (2011 Christmas Special) – Just like Curse of the Black Spot, this one has the unenviable task of being compared to previous Christmas specials of the Doctor Who universe, and there is no comparison. Not only is it the worst episode of the Matt Smith tenure, it’s the worst Christmas special of any doctor since the show has been re-booted. And just like Curse of the Black Spot, this one is completely and utterly boring. It’s the Doctor Who take on the classic Narnia books and I will admit I am not a fan of those books or movies. So the episode already had one strike against it before I even watched it. And then the story was SO BORING that it made Curse of the Black Spot seem like it was the Rebel Attack on the Death Star in comparison. Amy and Rory are not even in this episode until the end, and the Doctor’s so called adventures with the family featured in this episode was like watching paint dry. I had no emotional investment if he saved Christmas for this family or not. I could have cared less. I call Bah Humbug on this episode!
Now that you know that I have some journalistic integrity and do not think that everything in the Doctor Who universe is aces and spades, lets move on to the 8 moments that I will miss most of all from the 11th Doctor. Even with the 3 clunkers I detailed above, Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor is my favorite Doctor. I never thought I would say that but then again I thought nobody would ever top Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor, and then David Tennant hit it out of the park with the 10th Doctor. Matt Smith had enormous shoes to fill and immense pressure but he not only hit it out of the park, he hit a grand slam with the 11th Doctor.
And these are the reasons why….
8. FISH FINGERS AND CUSTARD – When the 11th Doctor crashes into the garden, or yard for us American folks, of seven year old Amy Pond, he has just re-generated and as such he is ‘not done yet’. He has a new personality he is adjusting too. And also a new sense of taste. He’s hungry but does not know what he likes. As he says, new mouth, new rules. Amy gives him an apple, yogurt, fries him bacon, and boils him some beans. All of which he spits out all over the floor! He even tries some basic bread and butter that he throws out of the house. She offers him carrots and the Doctor calls her insane! And then he realizes what he wants. FISH FINGERS AND CUSTARD! And it all ends with him having a serious conversation with the seven year old Amy Pond about the mysterious crack in her wall. All while he dips his fish fingers into the custard. I knew right then and there with the first episode of Matt Smith’s tenure we were all in for a wild ride with the quirkiness and sense of adventure he would bring to the table. But at the same time be able to bring that quirkiness into serious mode in the snap of a second!
7. I WEAR A FEZ NOW – What hero in any universe, whether it be Marvel or DC would be caught dead wearing a Fez? Only the 11th Doctor! The first time he has it on his head in front of River Song she point blank asks him what the hell do you have on your head? And he answers her as only he can. I wear a fez now because fezzes are cool! Of course his companions do not agree. Amy rips the fez off his head, throws it in the air, and River Song blasts it with a gun. The joke would continue with him wearing a Stetson in the Impossible Astronaut. Why? Because he wears a Stetson now because Steston’s are cool. Once again River Song disagrees and blasts it off his head with a gun blast. When I went to the Wizard World comic convention last year in Philadelphia the FEZ WAS EVERYWHERE. Vendors were even selling them! Doctor Who was without question the number one personality at the convention last year, and the FEZ was a big reason.
6. HELLO ANGEL BOB – Time of the Angels and Flesh & Stone are two of the scariest episodes the show has ever produced, along with the episodes Blink and the Angels Take Manhattan. It is no coincidence all of those feature the Weeping Angels as the main villains. And the dynamic between the 11th Doctor and Angel Bob was both scary as all hell and funny at the same time, which is a tribute to the acting ability of Matt Smith. The angels killed one of the church’s army cadets by the name of Bob in this episode and use his consciousness to correspondent with the Doctor. REAL CREEPY! And at the same time you find yourself laughing out loud when the Doctor continues the conversation with Hello Angel Bob!
5. VINCENT AND THE DOCTOR – The Doctor and Amy travel back in time and meet up with famous Vincent van Gogh. Without question the most emotional episode of Matt Smith’s tenure. Amy wants so desperately to change the fate of the suicidal van Gogh and even convinces the Doctor to bring van Gogh to the present in which the misunderstood painter finally realizes his work will mean something one day as everybody in his own time think he is a bum and his paintings are worthless. Vincent stares in amazement as all his paintings in the gallery as the curator of the museum tells him (without knowing who he is) that van Gogh was one of the greatest human beings to ever grace the Earth. Vincent is in tears, and watching this episode, he was not alone.
Amy is smiling from ear to ear while the Doctor sits back and lets Vincent hear about how wonderful he is but just with a sad smirk on this face, almost foretelling on what is to come. They bring van Gogh back to his time and then the Doctor and Amy return to the museum as Amy wants to see all the new paintings that he would have done since they changed his life. But no new paintings as he still committed suicide like he originally did. Amy does not understand but the Doctor tells her that van Gogh was a mix of good and bad things, but he assures Amy that the 2 of them added to his pile of good things but sometimes it’s not enough. A real heart breaker, tear jerker, and just an emotional masterpiece.
4. THE PANDORICA – The legend of the Pandorica is that is a prison for the most feared individual in the universe. The Doctor investigates only to find out it’s a trap. Yes the Pandorica exists and yes it houses the most feared individual in the universe. But what he did not realize that to his own enemies the most feared man out there is none other than himself! All the classic Doctor Who villains team up to bring the Doctor down, the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Autons, and new adversaries like the crack in the universe. But the moment that it all came together for me was when the Doctor figured out he is the most feared man in the universe, he shouts out to all his enemies with confidence that yes he is, and all of them have tried and none of them have succeeded. So bring your best shot! It’s that confidence that also makes me believe that although he is young in appearance he is old at heart and Matt Smith played this double edged sword to perfection during his tenure as the mad man from Gallifrey!
3. HELLO SWEETIE – Oh River Song! Yes she debuted with the 10th Doctor but he did not know who she was even though she knew everything about him, including his real name! But how? Because both the Doctor and River Song are time travelers with a twist. They are meeting each other in opposite directions. So the first time he meets her (as the 10th Doctor) is the last time that River will see him. The Doctor she is more familiar with in her timeline is the 11th Doctor. And every episode in which River Song appeared is a magical experience as the chemistry between the 2 of them cannot be matched. Always looking out for one another, but always bickering like an old married couple. I could go into more detail about the married couple comment, but as River would say…..SPOILERS!
2. THE GIRL WHO WAITED – Amy Pond was the companion of companions. Her and the Doctor together was nothing short of brilliant. It all came full circle, from when she met him for the first time as a seven year old, until the next time she saw him 12 years later in the Eleventh Hour, to her wedding day with Rory Williams, to the both of them traveling thru space and time with the Doctor, to her heart wrenching final episode that devastates the Doctor in the Angels Take Manhattan, and finally in the 11th Doctor’s final moments when he hallucinates a final farewell to the first person that saw the 11th Doctor, his precious Amy Pond, the girl who waited.
1. BOW TIES ARE COOL – When you think of the 4th Doctor you think of the long scarf. When you think of the 5th Doctor you think of him wearing a celery stick as lapel on his jacket. When you think of the 10th Doctor you think of him wearing tennis shoes with his blue suit. And when you think of the 11th Doctor you think of the bow tie. Why? BECAUSE BOW TIES ARE COOL. Matt Smith was the youngest person ever to be handed the role of the mad man in a blue box. But with the simplicity of him having an addiction to wearing bow ties and pairing that up with a tweed jacket you got the sense that although he looks young he is so much older with the scars of adventures he has been involved in for over 800 years. Just like the TARDIS is bigger on the inside, Matt Smith’s Doctor is older on the inside.
I can not overstate how much just him wearing a standard bow tie made that come across. No matter how many aliens, companions, or other characters in the Doctor Who universe ask him why he is wearing a bow tie he always tells them because BOW TIES ARE COOL. And the last 5 minutes of his last episode, when he gives a speech that comes across as a eulogy for his 11th Doctor, the one moment that sticks out more than anything is when he undoes the bow tie and drops it to the ground of the TARDIS. It was an earthquake of emotions when that bow tie hit the ground. It was right then and there I fully realized that the 11th Doctor was no more. Such a powerful moment with the simplest of dress accessories, which will be missed. Why? BECAUSE BOW TIES ARE COOL. My text tone on my phone is BOW TIES ARE COOL. Why? Because BOW TIES ARE COOL.
Karen Gillan, of course better known to the Doctor Who universe as Amy Pond, has been announced for the Wizard World convention in Philadelphia for this June! Also the Moondog will have big news in the coming weeks in regards to a special project that I will be doing with Mike Joy. Stay tuned for those developments. Oh and one more time – BOW TIES ARE COOL!