What We Can Expect from Matt Smith’s Regeneration
Guest contributor Dom Townsend takes a look.
There’s less than two weeks to go until Matt Smith graces us with his final hour on Doctor Who. It’s a sad thought, and one that has been plaguing me for a while now, and I thought it was about time we looked at what to expect from his final moments, taking into account past regenerations and Mr Moffat’s ability to make us laugh, cry, or clench our knuckles furiously while screaming at the TV in equal measure.
The first regeneration I want to consider is actually…the first one. Could it be any other? Looking at regenerations in recent years and the hype they can generate, it’s surprising to think that regeneration was only introduced as a way to ensure the continuation of the show after William Hartnell departed. Fast forward 50 years and I know that I, for one, am extremely grateful to the bright spark who thought up that idea! It’s testament to the original writers and the show itself that so many people wanted to continue Doctor Who’s legacy, and 50 years of said legacy can’t be a bad thing.
“I don’t want to go”
Now I of course can’t talk about past regenerations without at least mentioning David Tennant’s. Yes, I realise I’m moving rather quickly here, but as it is my favourite regeneration I feel it my duty to try to reinstate some sympathy for the moment, as it’s since come under fire. Controversy has built about Tennant’s farewell in the years since he uttered those heartbreaking words, ‘I don’t want to go’, but I personally feel Russell T Davies hit the nail on the head. Some may have thought it was completely out of character for the Doctor, that he was wimping out and giving a weak and cringe-worthy farewell. I disagree.
When Tennant came along I wasn’t convinced, but it took me just a few episodes before I knew that he was, and still is, my Doctor. And when he left, no one really wanted him to go, did they? I feel by writing those five simple words, RTD was not only demonstrating a new dynamic for 10 – his fear of death and his genuine love for his current personality, rather than weakness – but surely he was echoing the opinion shared by the majority of Whovians at the time: we didn’t want him to go. That’s why it has be my number one.
Time for change?
While I consider Tennant’s my personal favourite regeneration – or least favourite depending on how you look at it – for its drama, its acting and its superb emotional payoff, I believe it’s time for a change. I think we may have seen too much regeneration energy flooding our screens in recent years, and while I’ve no doubt the climax to this year’s Christmas special will spark the odd tear, it’s probably time for a little mix up. We’ve seen River regenerate twice in the last few years, and the 11th Doctor himself seemingly fell to the process (before being ‘killed’ mid-cycle) in The Impossible Astronaut. With Paul McGann and John Hurt as well, all this regeneration business, one could argue, has become a bit too familiar recently.
Is it time to introduce a new effect? I’ll admit I’m a great fan of the orange glowing energy bursting forth from the body, but could we perhaps see a more developed effect, with energy literally pouring and bursting from between folds of rippling clothing, tearing them in the process, making the moment that much more powerful and dramatic? Post your thoughts below.
A tonal difference
Another change I believe is even more important, however, is the tone. While Tennant’s Doctor was a get-stuff-done Doctor, Matt Smith, from the moment he first appeared on our screens, has been a bubbling, frothing presence, bouncing from scene to scene with childlike wonder. He is, essentially, a big kid, like many Doctors before him, but it’s his ability to reel this energy in to deliver moments of powerful subtlety that have created the most memorable of 11’s moments. After all, who can forget his first ever adventure, The Eleventh Hour, and the moment that sold him to a nation:
Hello. I’m the Doctor. Basically…run.
It’s the smug smile that rounds the line off that really epitomises Smith’s Doctor in my opinion, and I believe, rather than the emotional Doctor we saw at the climax of Tennant’s final story, we should expect a more triumphant, more accepting and perhaps through this a more powerful regeneration, and see him at his best before he tweaks his bow tie for the last time. That’s how we should remember him.
Therefore, I will be watching with baited breath and bow tie when Smith remarks his final ‘Geronimo’ with that smug smile of his, before bursting into regenerative flames. Because THAT’S how he’s going to go, isn’t it Moffat? Isn’t it..?