Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Companion's Guide: The 10th Doctor

Name: The (10th) Doctor, John Smith, The Oncoming Storm
Portrayed by: David Tennant
Number of episode as the Doctor: 47
Catchphrase(s): "Allons-y!", "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
Appearance: Either a blue or brown suit, tan trench coat, red or light brown converse tennis shoes and sometimes glasses.

First Impressions
It's hard for me to gather my feelings on the 10th Doctor because they are so big and complicated. From the moment David Tennant popped up, exclaimed "new teeth, that's weird" and proceeded to crash land the Tardis back in Rose's time before passing out, I knew we were going to be fast friends. But I could never anticipate how much I was going to love him. Every episode, line of dialogue and decision made me love this 10th incarnation of the Doctor more. He maintained the same things I loved about the 9th but put his own spin on who the Doctor was and it was because of these things that the 10th Doctor became my Doctor.

The Beginning
As I mentioned above, the Doctor wakes up long enough to crash land the Tardis in Rose's time before falling into a deep sleep in "The Christmas Invasion". Of course, during this time aliens decide to invade earth and no one is there to stop it. Rose must forge on on her own, protecting the Doctor while he sleeps and her family as well as the world. Al lthe while, she is waiting for him to wake up and save the day like the man she knew and is constantly disappointed as he doesn't.

I thought this was a really clever way to address the audience's feelings about the new Doctor through his companion. Rose is having a hard time having faith in this new man that seems incapable of coming to the rescue the way the old Doctor did. As an audience we are in a similar position to Rose. The old Doctor didn't seem to let anything (including his own well being) get in the way of saving the day and all this new Doctor does is sleep. He isn't even capable of saving himself. It made us question our faith in the Doctor the way Rose questioned her faith. It was because we question him that when he wakes up and saves the day, it is the much sweeter.

I was instantly drawn to the 10th Doctor's fast talking and his interest in discovering himself all over again. Learning what type of man he had transformed into was something that interested us all. He reminded me a lot of the angry version of the 9th. He was wrathful and unforgiving when he was portrayed. It made me nervous for a few minutes until he changed into his standard brown suit and joined Rose and her family for Christmas dinner, something the old Doctor would never do. That's when I realized that we are going to get this unique blend of badass and superbly kind that is going to keep me guessing to the very end and she so did.

A New Earth
We get to see this fun side almost instantly in Rose and the Doctor's next few adventures together. He takes her to New York very far in the future. There we see that not only is the Doctor fun but he really does have the memories of the previous incarnation (and all the ones before them) when we meet an old foe. Cassandra from season 1 shows up and abducts Rose's body. Not only does the Doctor catch on very quickly that he is not dealign with Rose anymore, he refuses to help either of them until Cassandra takes over his body instead just so Rose remains safe. We get to see how very much he cares for her in this episode which put to rest my worries of whether these two actors would have the same chemistry.

This playfulness carries over into the next episode entitled "Tooth and Claw" when they traipse around with Queen Elizabeth and happen upon a real live werewolf. Instead of taking the life threatening situation seriously, they sort of rely on each other to figure things out and get away safely. They laugh the whole time and freak out about what they are seeing. The Queen finds this very distasteful and banishes them, setting up Torchwood to keep Britain safe. Because of their wreckless behavior, the institution that eventually parts them is set into motion.

Rose and the Doctor
The whole truth about the Doctor is that he is mostly definable by who he is traveling with or whether he's traveling alone. With Rose, he got to be the lovable hero. They ran around the universe, facing dangers and laughing in the same breathe because they had each other to fall back on. And while this is the Doctor with most of his companions, Rose really seemed to bring out his kinder and most joyous sides. He wanted to show her things that would amaze her and he never disappointed because she was just amazed to be with him. I really feel like during this stint with Rose, the Doctor became the romantic hero because it was clear that they both felt more for each other than they were letting on.

Casting the Doctor in that light was something new to the show and as an audience member, you can tell that they are entering into fresh unexplorable territory. It is because of his general elation to be around Rose that it made it so hard for them to be parted. The Doctor's one curse is that he will always outlive the people he loves yet he continues to try loving them anyway. In "Doomsday", he truly tries to do right by Rose, urging her to go with her family even though that means they will never see each other again and he'll go back to be lonely. He is so elated that she chose to come back and be with him. It makes her being ripped away from him even harder to bear.

The truth is, Rose's love made him a better man. He acknowledges this later when he leaves the Metacrisis Doctor in Rose's hands to mold into a better person. When the 10th Doctor is forced to say goodbye to this person he has come to love (though he may not have said it, his actions did), part of him died and there is only so much a man can take.

Martha and the Doctor
Martha posed an interesting engima because she represented the things the Doctor didn't want. She probably made the most sense for him as far as a romantic relationship was concerned. She was the smartest (as far as actual book smart) companion and had all of the traits the Doctor liked about Rose. Martha was also adventurous and fun and funny and very clever but he was still grieving over Rose and Martha was never going to measure up.

I think of the Doctor's days with Martha as his darkest with the exception of the ending 5 episodes when he traveled alone. During his time with Martha, he kisses her when he first meets her and though he makes it clear it was only for a distraction, he can never really get her to believe that. I think this subconciously makes him angry with Martha. He still fights to save her and loves her but only in a friendly way. In a lot of ways, he takes advantage of Martha's love, relying on her to keep him safe in "Human Nature" while he forgets his Time Lord self and falls in love with a nurse, relying on her to support them in "Blink" when they get stuck in the '60's without the Tardis and again in the two parter "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords" when the Doctor sends her out alone to spread the word about him. I talk about this in Martha's post but she is the only companion that constantly has to make her way in the world without the Doctor even though she is on the Doctor's missions. I really feel that the Doctor relies to heavily on Martha's feelings for him in these episodes (though he probably doesn't know he is) and treats her unfairly. He knows how she feels, is furious that he can't make her see that it should be different and relies heavily on her love.

Though they have fun in their adeventures, I don't like to think about the Doctor during this time too much because I can't help but feel like he was a little selfish. I think it is important that he constantly spurned her advances because we as an audience needed time to mourn for Rose with him but it does leave him a bit cold. I also think that like me, the Doctor never truly notices Martha's strength until she tells him she isn't going with him again at the end of "Last of the Time Lords". This decision allows Martha the time she needs to get over her love for him and they can finally become friends.

Donna and the Doctor
The Doctor's final companion is the one he really needed. Donna might be the one he's needed all along. If Rose gave him his kindness, Donna reminded him it's still there. Though she didn't do it as gently as Rose, Donna always made sure her Doctor knew when he was crossing the line. Things that Martha may have tried to tell him and he ignored, Donna made sure he heard. For example, in "The Fires of Pompeii" the Doctor was willing to leave the family that helped them to burn because it was a fixed point in time and he refused to listen. Donna begs him to save the family, forcing him to listen to her reason. It is because of her mercy that the family are allowed to live and it forces the Doctor to reconsider his behavior before then.

This mercy is shown to have a quick effect. In the next episode "Planet of the Ood", both the Doctor and Donna fight to free the Ood from their captives. Donna forces the Doctor to regain his compassion which makes him a better man. What he gets from Donna is a true and honest friend who is just as likely to hug him as yell at him depending on her mood and the situation. There is no sexual tension between them because neither of them are attracted to each other in that way. The Doctor begins to rely on Donna and think of her as a true friend.

It's why her parting pretty much breaks him. After just giving up Rose to the Metacrisis Doctor in "The Journey's End" and saying goodbye to the rest of his companions, the Doctor knows he must now give up his current companion. During the creation of the Metacrisis Doctor, some of the Doctor's Time Lord DNA was placed in Donna's mind giving her the knowledge of all space and time. They figure out at the same time that she can't keep all this knowledge and not burn up from the inside so even though she begs him not to, he is forced to erase every bit of himself and the Tardis from her mind.

After loosing everything but still keeping the knowledge of it all, the Doctor finally truly breaks. Donna was the one root keeping him sane but without someone there to make him be human, he gets too much in his own head. What occurs after is wandering as he tries to find a way to put himself together alone. What he ends up making isn't quite right.

The Final Days
Faced with the prophecy of his own death and still grieving for losing Donna, the Doctor sets out on his own. His slipping mind isn't truly revealed until "The Waters of Mars". With his death weighing heavily on his mind, he wanders onto a space station in Mars in the future. He realizes as he talks to the crew that this is the day the space station blows up, killing the entire crew. He knows this is a set point in time, much like his death, and he tells himself that he must walk away and let their deaths happen even though he is sure he could probably prevent some of them.

But (in my opinion) because he is so worried about dying himself, he decides to screw his rules and helps save some of the crew anyway. He reasons that he is the last of the Time Lords and that there is no reason he should have to play by their rules anymore. But he's already told the captain that she is supposed to die that day and inspire her grand daughter to go into space. That same grand daughter will be the first person to make contact with other alien races. The captain is so upset that the Doctor defies history that she tells him he was completely wrong for altering it before marching inside her home and killing herself.

The Doctor is devastasted by this act and her words. So instead of running, he goes to confront the Ood about their prophecy which leads him back to earth in "The End of Time: Part 1" and "The End of Time: Part 2". Though he is still afraid, he fights to win earth back and wins but gives up his life to save Donna' grandfather who decided to go on that adventure with him. Dying, the Doctor visits all his companions one last time, saving his first companion for last. After telling Rose she is about to have a wonderful year (since it is the year they first meet) he stumbles back into his Tardis and precedes to regenerate. Right before the yellow light takes over, he says "I don't want to go".

It's hard to put into words why I love this incarnation of the Doctor so very much. It's a combination of the depth of his emotions--how he can feel the saddest sads and the most joyous joys (and act these out brilliantly) and still go on. It's in his maniac ramblings and the way he wields his sonic screwdriver like a sword and his iconic blue or brown suit and trench coat and converse shoes. It's in the way he loved each of his companions differently and how he struggled with each and every decision he makes. Every episode with the 10th Doctor is surprising and it made me love him in a new surprising way. It is because he stumbles that made him all the more appealing. And it is because he loved that makes him unforgetable.

Great 10th Doctor Episodes:
  • New Earth
  • The Girl in the Fireplace
  • The Idiot's Lantern
  • Fear Her
  • Army of Ghosts/Doomsday
  • Gridlock
  • 42
  • Voyage of the Damned
  • Partners in Crime
  • Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
  • Midnight
  • The Stolen Earth/The Journey's End
  • The Waters of Mars
  • The End of Time: Part 1/The End of Time: Part 2
What did you think of the 10th Doctor?

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