Why I prefer the 11th Doctor over the 10th.

Not too long ago, thanks to the miracle of Netflix, I revived my Doctor Who fan status. When I was growing up I would watch some of the classic series as I could, whenever I caught it airing on PBS and my parents would let me stay up long enough to watch it. Mostly I watched the 4th Doctor. But after surfing around YouTube a little as a refresher, I can also say I watched some of the 3rd and 5th Doctors too. I never saw the others, but I can imagine they didn’t stray far from the vein of the ones I’m familiar with.

I was told, prior to beginning the modern series, that Doctors 9 and 10 were a better reflection of the classic series and that 11 strayed too far in “reimaging” the Doctor Who franchise. It has no respect for the old stuff, one person told me. And fans of the old series prefer the 9th and 10th Doctors, whereas new fans prefer the 11th.

Well, I’m a fan of the old stuff. And I prefer the 11th Doctor. I disagree with those previous statements, and here’s why.

Let’s take a brief look at the old stuff. Doctor Who was always cutting edge sci-fi. They built a level of creativity in the writing that had not been seen before, and was mostly unmatched during its air time. This wasn’t some “future” thing like Star Trek. It was real people going on extraordinary adventures through time and space. It was about the adventure…the journey…the experiences. And audiences lived vicariously through the Companions.

And the Doctor was our guide.

Now with the 9th and 10th Doctors I’m not saying this wasn’t the case. In fact, it was quite obvious that the writers were trying to capture the look and feel of the old stuff, just modernized. But this doesn’t get us to the essence of the show. By trying to emulate the old stuff, it failed to be cutting edge sci-fi. Sure the writing was creative, but not cutting edge. And near the end of the 10th Doctor’s tenure the writing became sloppy and predictable. The weight of the show was no longer carried by the adventure and journey, but by the shoulders of a talented, and increasingly weary, actor.

For the first time in the history of Doctor Who, the writers felt the need to flesh out the background stories of the Companions. This pushed me even further away. Suddenly I wasn’t allowed to live vicariously because the Companions claimed that right. All I could do was watch. I couldn’t be absorbed anymore.

This all changes with the 11th Doctor. Suddenly the presentation is cutting edge again. They’re taking risks with writing and plot development, a reflection of the spirit of the classic series. The Companions are strong (Finally! A strong male Companion!), but we don’t know every detail about their lives. Their backgrounds are ambiguous enough that suddenly the audience has the window open again to step in and live vicariously. And the show is about the adventure again, and not an exhibition of one man’s acting strength.

For these reasons I say the 11th Doctor is a better reflection of the Classic series. The 9th and 10th Doctors were like a truly great and professional attempt to reproduce a Broadway play from twenty years ago. But the 11th Doctor is like a full-fledged Broadway revival of that play.

No doubt most of you will disagree with me. Go ahead. Let me have it. I’m ready.

-k

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5 thoughts on “Why I prefer the 11th Doctor over the 10th.”

  1. I grew up with the first five doctors then lost interest and watched very little after that.

    Recently I’ve seen a few occasional episodes of doctor 10 and enjoyed them, and I also enjoyed the one episode I saw of Doctor 11.

    I think I prefer to enjoy my memory of the Doctors of my childhood but I wouldn’t want to go back and see them again and potentially tarnish those memories.

  2. I feel very junior here, since I only started really watching the show when Matt Smith started up. I watched bits of 9th Doctor and 10th Doctor, and liked the show, but my hubby had this bad habit of watching it when I wasn’t around. And if I couldn’t watch it with him, I wasn’t going to watch it myself.

    So when the 11th Doctor started up, we watched all the new episodes together. I’ve enjoyed it hugely, but I know very little about the series prior to this point (other than the Doctor has been and always will be the Doctor. And also Daleks.)

    Purely from a writer’s standpoint, the 11th Doctor introduced us to Weeping Angels and the Silence. Those monsters have since permeated the nerd consciousness of our culture. For that alone, I applaud them.

  3. Kessie, actually the 10th Doctor introduced us to the Weeping Angels (see the Seaon 4 episode “Blink”, which imho is one of the best Doctor Who episodes ever).

    If we’re going by just the Doctor (no other aspect of the show considered) Ten will always and forever be my favorite, I think. I love his quirky snark and the fact that he’s a bit of a dark hero. Some of my favorite episodes (Blink; Silence in the Library; Forest of the Dead) are Ten episodes.

    However, if I consider the story plots of the show and the Companions, I have to say that Eleven is the best. Ten had some good stories, but most of his were only passable, and all but Donna of his companions annoyed me as all get out. Eleven’s Companions are funny and lovable (especially Rory) and the story plots are amazing.

    And yes, I enjoy Eleven’s personality. He reminds me of one of my husband’s hyper little brothers. He’s fun, but also a little annoying. 🙂

  4. I, personally, do not like to judge a Doctor by how he is written into a story but by who he is written like.
    That sentence might not make sense at first, since I had trouble putting words to what I was thinking, but allow me to explain: I love ten’s character. Yes, I agree with how predictable the plots were and got the same feeling, at times, of not living through them but simply watching them, but his personality is my cup of tea with all the free-radicals and tannins to revive the synapses therein. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UuC_IWec2I)
    I also agree with you, dear author of the original post, that David Tennant is a talented actor who did his best with what he was given and I enjoy watching Matt Smith as well.
    I cried when ten died, of course, but while I enjoyed having him I knew it was time for him to go and it felt like the right time. He had suffered enough and it showed.
    Eleven was another breath of much needed fresh air as much as the version before him was to his previous incarnation, a new start, a new beginning and a partially new man who saunters away to do amazing things. He’s not my favorite but he does make me smile.
    Something I wonder, though…what if those who don’t have a favorite among the Doctor’s selves just haven’t seen theirs yet?

  5. Matt Smith’s time on Doctor Who was a complete and utter shambles. Terrible! Steven Moffat wrote the stupidest, most contrived stories imaginable. The 9th Doctor had some of the best Doctor Who stories ever! Take ‘Father’s Day’ for example. Incredible! Can you name one 11th Doctor story that could match that?

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