Say what you will about the Moffat era of Who. I certainly have and will continue to do so. But you can’t deny the Doctors themselves were every bit as fantastic as their predecessors!
Picking up after the tenth Doctor’s run, the eleventh is totally different beast than his predecessor. A less consistently good one, but every bit as incredible as those that came before him. Issues with the show itself aside, eleven was still one of the best Doctors to ever grace the show!
On the surface, the eleventh Doctor is the most innocent and childish of the lot. He goes around wearing a bow tie, constantly claiming that it’s cool. He eats fish fingers with custard. At one point, he even took up a job at a toy shop!
But make no mistake. Eleven has a dark side beneath that innocence. Whenever he drops the childish act and gives voice to his rage or his sorrow, or even when he simply starts to take a situation seriously, it immediately makes you sit on edge. Young though he may seem, Eleven is the Doctor where you can most keenly feel the weight of character’s age.
Eleven has my favorite approach out of any Doctor to dealing with his problems. Whereas the third used martial arts, the seventh used deception, and the tenth used gadgets, eleven’s primary strategy was basically to say, “Talk shit, get hit!” Man turns his reputation into his primary weapon!
An example that perfectly encapsulates all of this can be found in his speech near the end of ‘The Rings of Akhaten.” When confronted with an emotion-devouring god, what’s his solution? To tell it his life story. It’s a beautiful scene and a powerful speech, one that captures everything that makes the eleventh Doctor special in just a few short minutes.
But this is where a few cracks start to appear in the Doctor’s characterization. Small ones, sure. But cracks nonetheless.
See, the Doctor knows how to interact with humans. Dude has spent more time around humans than any living human ever has. He knows how to seem normal; he even does it sometimes when he needs to fit in. When someone calls him weird, it isn’t because he doesn’t know how to seem normal. It’s that he doesn’t care; he’s that confident in himself.
While eleven still maintains that confidence, he is written to be socially oblivious. Now, it’s written that he doesn’t understand humans as to make him the butt of a joke. Such as the time he walked in on Clara’s family Christmas dinner completely naked, thinking it wouldn’t be awkward. The Doctor’s been around; he absolutely would know.
Ergo, he must have done it on purpose because he thought it would be funny.
The man bringing this version of the character to life was the young talent Matt Smith. And what a talent he was! For the youngest actor to ever play the part, he was a master of capturing just how old, sad, and tired the Doctor truly was. It was a brilliant performance from start to end.
And now, we get to talk about one of the most incredible actors to ever take the part. Even if he only did so for one episode.