Television: Matt Smith Leaving Doctor Who

I know a lot of people are sad to hear that the current Doctor, played by Matt Smith, will be leaving at Christmas. And then, too, there are some who rejoice in the news. I wouldn't go so far as that myself, though there's a kind of relief in me. I feel like Smith started out promising and then sort of flatlined, was unable to give The Doctor the depth and/or character growth required to keep him interesting. It's pretty bad when the sidekicks overshadow the hero. And a lot of that is the writing and production, but some of that is the acting, too. There are many moving parts to a television show. There are actors all vying for juicy morsels of dialogue and camera time, and there are writers and directors and producers all trying to play (a) to the audience's interests, and (b) to the actors' strengths (and cover their weaknesses). It's hard work from every side.

What Smith has shown during his tenure as the 11th Doctor is that he's very good at playing capricious and manic and distracted and disorganized. What he hasn't pulled off quite so well has been anything with gravitas or, really, those lusciously dark sides of The Doctor: anger, resentment, a vengeful streak. Even his sorrow sometimes came off as shallow. And The Doctor as a character needs depth, requires so very many layers—900+ years of them. He is, perhaps, a kind of Hamlet: anxious and despairing and angry and grief-stricken, but also very sharp and smart, with a Horatio at his side and a world of potential evils surrounding him . . . Not Shakespearean, no, but he could come close, under the right set of hands.

Anyway, I wish Smith all the best and hope he finds roles that suit and/or allow him to stretch his abilities in a way that shows him to advantage.

And now people are wondering, of course, who will be lucky #12. John Hurt? I hope not. That's terrible of me, isn't it, and it's for such a superficial reason, too, because I'm sure Mr. Hurt would do wonderfully well in this kind of role; he's such a fine actor. I'm just hoping for somebody younger (Mr. Hurt has more than a decade on my father, which of course means to me that he must be positively ancient) and better looking. I mean, if I'm going to watch every week, I can at least hope there's someone worth staring at!

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