A narrative. A very fangirl-esque narrative.
I came to Doctor Who a few years late. I think the 4th series was airing, and I’d actually seen Torchwood first because I heard James Marsters was in it. I’d never gotten into the idea of “Doctor Who” but after liking Torchwood, I decided to give it a shot.
They say you never forget your first Doctor. And from the moment he showed up in a basement full of living mannequins, Christopher Eccleston was my Doctor. I loved his grin, his charm, and his enthusiasm for things. He was also a dark Doctor, haunted and scarred by his past. I wasn’t keen on Rose, but I loved him so much that I didn’t care. That first series was wonderful — “Father’s Day,” “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”, “Bad Wolf”/”The Parting of the Ways.” Genius.
And then it was over. I looked at David Tennant, looked back at Eccleston, and decided that I just didn’t think this was going to work out. I even gave him a shot, watching the first part of “New Earth,” before I shut it off. Pity I didn’t keep going, actually, because that was a pretty good ep.
After a year or so, I was ready to give Tennant another chance. He wasn’t the Doctor any more, things felt more…finite. I also knew he had two non-Rose companions in the 3rd & 4th series. And all his series’ were out on DVD & available at my local library. So with some misgivings, I checked out Series 2.
The first three eps were fine, I wasn’t grabbed, but I liked him enough to keep watching. Then came a trifecta, “The Girl in the Fireplace,” which was hauntingly beautiful (I could write another post about the genius of Stephen Moffat compared to RTD) and showcased Tennant’s talents for humor and pathos, followed by “Rise of the Cybermen”/”The Age of Steel.” The Cybermen episodes did something I never expected—they opened a place in my heart for Rose.
Rose was more loveable in that pair of episodes, more relatable, than I’d ever seen her before. And whether the Doctor and Rose had had that connection in previous episodes and it just became apparent here or whether something about this episode really turned that around, this is when I began to feel ok with the idea of their having a deeper connection. And the end of Series 2 actually broke my heart, which I wasn’t expecting. After so many years, I’d been completely spoiled on it.
From having seen all of Torchwood, I was on board with Martha-as-companion. And she worked. I wasn’t blown away by the first 7 episodes. They were fun, but not special. At this point, I liked Tennant but he wasn’t yet my Doctor. I could appreciate him, but I still loved Eccleston. He was my first.
I decided to work on cleaning up my crafting supplies while watching the 8th & 9th episodes of Series 3—”Human Nature” and “Family of Blood.” Instead, I spent all my time on the floor gawking at the screen. That’s the afternoon when Tennant began edging out Eccleston in my heart. As a human, he was tragically beautiful. And as the Doctor, he was every bit as dark and tormented as the Doctor I loved. Then came “Blink,” which didn’t have too much Tennant but was thoroughly genius, and then the trio of series-finale episodes. Seeing the Doctor go up against the Master made me care about him in a way I didn’t want to admit.
After the third series, I’d probably still have told you that Eccleston was my Doctor. And I was afraid I’d love Tennant less with Donna at his side. We’d seen them together before and I couldn’t imagine liking her. Again, I was wrong. I think the 4th series has more of my favorite 10th Doctor episodes than the other two combined, and Donna became my favorite companion by far (and her granddad made a great co-companion). Perhaps it was because we saw her grow so much, or the changes she made to the Doctor, I’m not sure. I cried at the end of the last episode.
And I cried again, a few nights ago, when we finally got around to watching the specials and said goodbye to Tennant. “The End of Time” was a masterful piece and Wilfred a wonderful substitute-companion. And I cried again. I cried because the Doctor didn’t want to die and because even though I really hope to love Matt Smith soon, I realized how incredibly sad I was that he was going to be gone.
That’s when I knew that Tennant had become my Doctor. I’ll always love Eccleston’s Doctor too, especially in those favorite first-series eps I mentioned. But Tennant is now “The Doctor” to me. It was time for a change for everyone. The change fit well with his losses and his grief. And I hear the new one is quite good. But still…I can’t help feeling like I’ve lost my Doctor.
Who’s your Doctor? Was it your first or your last? And did Tennant grow on you the way he did on me?
So, funny enough, I went back and watched the first season again and the first time Eccleston said “Fantastic” and smiled…I lost my heart to him all over again. I have a lot more appreciation for Tennant than when I began and I really do love him as The Doctor. But I think Eccleston will always be my Doctor, even if I don’t always remember it. Still, I think this post really reflects the progress of my watching the series.