Why Matt Smith's Doctor "Deserved Better"

Matt Smith has been one of the most engaging actors ever to play that ageless time traveler on Doctor Who — but if he'd been given better, weightier material to work with, he might have been the best Doctor of all, argues a new article in The Atlantic.

It's hard to argue with any of the cogent analysis in Ted B. Kissell's essay, which points to the problems with Matt Smith's stories that we've all noticed over the years. Smith's Doctor is a swaggering bully who loves to make shouty speeches about his own greatness. He withholds information from his own companions for no good reason. He cheats death (and any other sort of consequences) on a regular basis, thanks to handy reset-buttons and magic-wandery.

A couple of choice quotes:

The entirety of Season Six is when Moffat's fascination for plot twists and open-ended mysteries (in our house, we describe this unfortunate tendency as "plotty-wotty") took over the show, and the whole product suffered....

There are just never any consequences for any main characters in Moffat'sDoctor Who. Every apparent sacrifice, tragic loss, or moral compromise is invalidated by some kind of reset button, with no physical or psychological cost. The "loss" of the Ponds was so nonsensical that it doesn't even count. They got to live full lives together in the past, but the Doctor could never go back and see them again? It's insulting. Why not have the two of them make a meaningful sacrifice and actually, you know, die? Whose feelings is Moffat trying to spare here?

The main point that Kissell drives at is that Smith would have been a better lead actor if he'd had to play real consequences, instead of having a pocket full of Get-Out-of-Jail-Free cards. I don't have much to add here — except that maybe we should have more villains who have goals of their own, unrelated to the Doctor. The best villains have their own desires and objectives, and the hero just happens to get in their way.

Anyway, the whole essay is depressing, but worth reading. [The Atlantic]