“Change it had to come, we knew it all along” – The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
“I don’t want to go” – David Tennant’s last line as the Doctor in “The End of Time, Pt. 2
In 1966, William Hartnell did something which probably should have killed Doctor Who in its infancy – he decided to leave the show (or was forced to leave). He, after all, played the Doctor. So, it’s kind of hard to do Doctor Who without, I don’t know, the freakin’ Doctor! The obvious solution was to recast the role, which is exactly what they did. However, they devised the most ingenious in-show explanation for recasting in the history of television – when he’s close to dying the Doctor can simply heal himself, but as a part of the process his entire body is altered meaning in the end he looks (and sounds) like a completely different person. With that stroke of brilliance, a cycle of abuse was begun.
Of course, this is a cycle of abuse into which Doctor Who fans freely enter. Enjoyment of the show is contingent upon active suppression of the knowledge that at some point, sooner than you’d like, the guy playing the Doctor is going to leave. Actors simply lease the role of the Doctor before returning it to the dealer (BBC) who then lease it out to a new guy. It is a completely bonkers system, but it is also what keeps the show from ever growing stale. It also means fans of the show are constantly having their hearts broken.
The latest heart break came this past weekend when Matt Smith confirmed long-simmering rumors that he was indeed leaving the show, with his last episode set to be the 2013 Christmas special. Tears have been shed. However, this is nothing new. We were just in this same position in 2009 with David Tennant, and since the average amount of time an actor stays in the role is 3 seasons we’ll probably be right back here again in 2017. However, breakups don’t necessarily feel any better just because you’ve had a lot of them, and that’s what this feels like each time – a breakup. There are five stages of grief one goes through in real life in such a situation. Doctor Who fans go through it as well, just far lower stakes.
Here is one fan’s five stages of grief in reaction to the news of David Tennant leaving. Below are five potential stages of grief in reaction to Matt Smith leaving. This is meant to be a bit of a laugh, this list. As such, there are quite a few exaggerations meant for comedic effect:
What kind of sick jokes is this? Matt Smith is never leaving this role. You hear me world – never! Why on Earth would he want to leave? It’s the role of a lifetime. He’s said as much himself. Furthermore, on multiple occasions he’s said he’d have to be crazy to leave the role behind. So, obviously he’s gone crazy, and his giant imaginary rabbit friend Harvey talked him into this. Poor Smith isn’t responsible for his actions at this point. There should be like a questionnaire he has to answer before the BBC will accept his resignation from the show. If he answers yes to the “Did a giant, talking mischievous rabbit aid in your reaching the conclusion to leave the show?” question then his decision is invalidated. Also, he’s pretty stone cold crazy, which might be a larger concern.
David Tennant was better. There, I said it. We were all thinking it. It’s always been true. Matt Smith wants to leave then nuts to him. He was never fit to wear David Tennant’s tiny suit! Plus, the show has been going downhill ever since “The Wedding of River Song,” and Moffat made the Doctor a rather creepy stalker this past half-season with Clara. Smith should just get out of here already.
So, Matt…you said some things, such as, “I’m not doing the show anymore.” I said some things (see above). We both know we weren’t in our right mind, especially if that no good don jon bastard rabbit Harvey had something to do with this. I’m willing to let bygones be bygones if you are. So, let’s stop all of this nonsense about you leaving the show.
Look, I get it. The BBC let you out of its sights for a second, and nobody was there to stop you from staring into Ryan Gosling‘s abs. Next thing any of us know you are off in the US filming Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut How to Catch a Monster. However, it is a long accepted fact that Gosling’s abs have a hypnotic quality. Just ask your fellow Brit Andrew Garfield. He’ll gladly tell you about the behavioral therapy he’s had to take girlfriend Emma Stone to after her two times working with Gosling had left her unable to cope if not constantly around Gosling. We’ve all been hypnotized, too, the power of Gosling’s abs directing our attention away from how he, as an actor, has basically just one solitary facial expression (which worked perfectly in Drive; not so much everywhere else). But he is a liar. Whatever tall tales he’s told you about the many Hollywood film roles he’ll help you get are no good filthy lies. Trust us, you don’t know him like we do.
You what will cheer you up? A sonic screwdriver and a Fez. I just need one more season fix. Hollywood will still be there next year. I won’t stop you. Maybe the wizard Gosling will be able to wield some magic after all. However, he doesn’t have to do so for you now. If you come back I promise I’ll stop mocking your odd choice in hats, and never say another bad thing about the show (even when it really, really pisses me off). Scout’s honor. Well, not in the sense that I was ever actually a boy scout, but you get the idea.
Journal Entry #1: I don’t think Matt went for my bargain. Apparently, one fan in the US promising to not say bad things about the show wasn’t enough for him. I was never a real match for the wizard Gosling and mischievous Harvey that have combined to poison Smith’s mind. Urge to stay in bed and do nothing rising.
Journal Entry #2: It’s been three days since I’ve seen the sun. I have now re-watched every Matt Smith episode two times. My three dogs, Fez, Geronimo, and Come Along Pond, appear to be plotting their escape. I am bumming them out.
Journal Entry #3: My best friend just tried to remind me that David Tennant was thought to be irreplaceable and look at where we are now. Moffat is the one who picked Matt Smith. Whoever he picks next could be just as good if not better. I cried, and when he asked why I explained that all that means is we’ll have to say goodbye to that person someday as well.
Journal Entry #4: Very, very not good. Apparently, my week of Matt Smith mourning was not covered under religious bereavement (as I had claimed) thus meaning my leave from work has not been excused.
“What happened to ‘acceptance’?” you ask. Well, there is nothing to accept here – clearly Matt Smith isn’t really leaving the show. I just don’t accept that. I’m like George’s one-time girlfriend on Seinfeld who refused to accept his attempt to break up with her so the two continued dating because George had no idea how to respond to a girlfriend who refused to break-up. No, Matt Smith. I don’t accept this. You are not leaving.
In truth, as part of this cycle for Doctor Who fans acceptance usually does not come until after the new Doctor has had a couple of episodes. Once the new guy reaches the point where he does something so awesome fans have to admit, “The last guy couldn’t have done that any better,” is when acceptance truly sets in. We are a long way removed from that. So, yeah, Matt Smith – acceptance is a while away.
Wow, when I started writing this I truly and completely did not expect this to turn into the Harvey and Ryan Gosling show, yet that’s where I ended up going with it. I hope you had a good laugh (or a couple), or at least enjoyed the picture of Gosling from Crazy Stupid Love. Of course, now that I am done with the joking I remember the reality – Matt Smith is leaving – and get all sad again. Couldn’t a giant imaginary rabbit have tricked him into it? That’d be so much easier.
Comments. You. Comments. You. Comments…what aren’t you getting? Leave a comment if you so desire.
In All Seriousness, Will Matt Smith’s Era Be Remembered Fondly After the Rather Poor Season 7? These People Don’t Think So…Unless the 50th Anniversary and Christmas Specials are As Good as “The Name of the Doctor”
- Matt Smith leaving Doctor Who – but was his era any good? (metro.co.uk)
- Matt Smith: the rise and fall of the hipster Doctor (newstatesman.com)