My First was Tom Baker. He had a sweet, mischievous smile, big hair, a big coat, a long scarf, and a tendency to offer lollies to strangers. To this day, I can never see a Bassett’s Jelly Baby without thinking of him.
He had the most wonderful companions. Leela. Romana. K-9. Some shit ones too, but I don’t remember them. And an episode in which the Big Bad turned out to be an enormous, ridiculous puppet snake. Alright, so my memory is cloudy, but the basic point remains. You never forget your First.
Eventually, this long-serving and much-loved doctor was replaced by a younger actor and a less self-assured characterisation. After a couple of episodes I forgave this. The antique cricketing whites helped. In time I came to love Peter Davison in his own right. He just wasn’t the First.
After Davison, I stopped watching. Like everyone else. I do understand there are some people so unfortunately aged that Colin Baker or Sylvester McCoy was their First, and for them I can only grieve. We’re sorry, kind of. In a ‘rather you than us’ kind of way.
My daughter’s First was David Tennant. Well, yeah, there was Christopher Ecclestone, but that doesn’t count. Over too fast, and though occasionally fondly remembered, never with the visceral attachment of the First. Basically, Tennant was her doctor from ages ten to thirteen.
So I was intrigued on two levels to watch this much-loved long-serving drop-dead-gorgeous doctor being replaced by a younger actor, and it seems a less self-assured characterisation. Would I like this new guy, and more to the point, would she?
Surprisingly, it turned out I barely noticed him. It seemed very important that I notice the legs of this hot, spirited red-headed chick, and when you put it like that (i.e. you frame a shot so it contains his face, and the back of her seamed-stocking-clad thigh) who am I to refuse? And that’s pretty much been my impression: that Matt Smith’s been blown off the small screen by Karen Gillan. Feel free to disagree.
And my daughter? Like pretty much every time I worry about formative experiences for her, she’s unphased. She likes her new Doctor. She doesn’t mind that the old one’s gone. (I’m still buying her a door poster of David Tennant for her birthday. Yes, it’s for her.) The only thing that seemed to make a major impression on the kids was the sight of Weeping Angels in the series trailer at the end, which made even my fifteen year old boy spontaneously gasp. Bless you, Steven Moffat, you really know how to scare the crap out of children.
So much for bringing you a new generation of deep thinking on Doctor Who. My son did comment that Matt Smith’s Doctor seems gentler, softer. The word going through my head was “doughy”. I am currently reserving judgement until we’ve seen some more of him. With Steven Moffat writing him (killer shadows, gas masks, statues, AND Captain Jack Harkness) how far wrong could it possibly go? And no matter how bad it gets, there’s always Amy Pond.