Matt Smith: My Doctor – Part 2: Series 5
Guest contributors K-Ci Williams and Luke Gwalchmai continue their Matt Smith retrospective.
The time is approaching, so we shall press on by taking a look back at Series 5. First I would like to welcome Luke Gwalchmai to the Writer’s Table, and as of now we will be collaborating on this series.
Following the stunning debut story, The Eleventh Hour (See the article covering that here), Series 5 continued with another strong twelve episodes. Let’s take a look at one key aspect we enjoyed from each story…
The Beast Below
Matt is on top form here, his right to be in the role seems to have solidified (had it not in The Eleventh Hour?) One part that is truly beautiful is when the Doctor has three choices: continue to torture the Star Whale; essentially kill the UK; or kill the Star Whale.
“And then I find a new name ’cause I won’t be the Doctor anymore.”
This is a wonderfully written and aptly acted scene, a hollow reminder of what the Doctor did in the Time War. This is a hard decision, each choice has a tragic fate; the Doctor can’t sit and watch the Star Whale be tortured, nor can he kill. Ultimately, this was a tremendously enjoyable story
Victory of the Daleks
It seems more like a right of passage to prove whether Smith truly is the Doctor, where unless you’ve faced the Daleks you can’t be attested to play him. Matt shines with the Daleks, as he does with Ian McNeice as Winston Churchill. A key moment signifies the Doctor’s hatred for his all-time enemies:
“You are everything I despise… I am the Doctor and you are the Daleks!”
It’s a chilling passage, something that Smith musters deep from within to legitimise the Doctor’s true feelings for the Daleks. Time and time again, you feel what sort of Doctor Smith’s will be, and you can’t deny that Gatiss has a knack for pulling off historicals – see An Adventure in Space and Time.
The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone
The Weeping Angels are Smith’s favourite Who monsters, and rightly so – they were the first ones he faced in filming order. He continues a streak of a great portrayal, demonstrating a more gripping and sinister Doctor when pushed over the edge:
“There’s one thing you never ever put in a trap… me”
Now being called a ‘Matt Smith Mini Speech,’ this was a key moment for Smith’s ability to show a charming Doctor, but also a slightly darker, more vengeful and serious Doctor. The Angels seem to press his buttons, and it’s no doubt that River Song does as well. Matt can play off Alex Kingston splendidly, they share chemistry that bursts on screen – hence why their dynamic spans three series.
The Vampires of Venice
As part of a wonderful story, there’s another hollow reminder about the life that the Doctor leads in his travels. Rosanna Calvieri and her children die out, with no female species left to reproduce offspring for survival, so the Doctor is left with more blood on his hands:
“Tell me Doctor, can your conscience carry the weight of another dead race?”
It’s a moment that’s reminiscent of Rose, where she finds that there’s a constant friend of the Doctor that always follows him, no matter where he goes: death. This is a key moment that reminds us of the fate of some civilisations where the Doctor has been involved. Again, Smith can portray this stunned Doctor with the drop of a hat.
The concept for this story had great merits, and allowed a change of scenery while postulating an eerie atmosphere, a suited mystery. Additionally, we get major development for Amy, but also for the Doctor. Matt Smith’s first series is full of subtle reminders that he is a flawed hero.
“The Dream Lord was me. It feeds on everything dark in you”
This is a key moment for the Doctor, where he interacts with the darkness inside him. Matt plays off Toby Jones as the Dream Lord excellently, and it can be argued that he’s at his absolute best when pitted against someone like him, such as River Song or even the psychic pollinated evil side to his character.
The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood
Matt’s Doctor goes through a lot in these episodes, he loses Amy as she is dragged underground, he has to stop a potential inter-species war between humans and the Silurians. Then, near the end of the episode, Rory is shot by a Silurian, and to make matters worse, he is absorbed by the crack in time and is erased from existence! And the greater losses that were still to come. Sometimes silence says it all, and the Doctor’s expression is a mixture of confusion and horror as he realises that the cracks in time are a result of the TARDIS exploding. Matt pulls off this scene brilliantly, as he is able to convey the right emotions only using a look, no words were necessary.
Vincent and the Doctor
“One of the greatest men who ever lived.”
In a scene that definitely tugs on the heartstrings, the Doctor shows Vincent that his art will be celebrated, and that he will be remembered centuries after he has passed on. Vincent is shown that he will never be forgotten. This really shows the Eleventh Doctor’s caring nature. And in this episode Matt portrays the Doctor during one of his kindest hours. He ends the episode by giving hope to one of the greatest painters who ever lived and he is able to help Amy to see that even though Vincent killed himself, making him happy for even one moment is something to be proud of.
This is the episode where the Eleventh Doctor is truly taken out of his comfort zone. In The Lodger Matt really shows off just how alien his Doctor is, it’s a superb performance. He manages to earn Craig’s trust and by the end of the episode, he has managed to bag himself a very good mate. To me, this episode really showcases how much the Eleventh Doctor differs from the Tenth Doctor; the Tenth Doctor always seemed more capable of blending in. Whereas the Eleventh Doctor never seems to quite manage to fully make himself seem human From the start Craig thinks there’s something weird about him, but it’s also this eccentricity that seems to make Craig like him.
The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
The scene where the Doctor is talking to a sleeping young Amelia Pond is one of the most emotional scenes of the entire series. Here the Doctor appears to be defeated, he is about to seal himself off from the rest of the universe forever, he would just be a dream. It is a fantastically delivered speech by Matt Smith. There is a clue to how he’ll be restored earlier in the story; “and if something can be remembered, it can come back”. This really shows how much of a genius the Eleventh Doctor is, and it is a brilliant plan (something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue), and it is perfectly executed.
Note: Matt Smith’s Christmas specials will be covered in their own article.
Defining Moment of Series 5
The defining moment for Matt Smith’s Doctor in Series 5 is undoubtedly the Pandorica Speech, with a mass of the Doctor’s oldest foes setting course for Stonehenge to form an alliance to save the universe. It’s where you see Smith at the height of his portrayal in the role, he really is the Doctor!
Next time we take a look at the stories from Series 6. Let us know in the comments which of the Series 5 stories you felt saw Matt’s performance hit a high.