Matt Smith leaving “Doctor Who” at Christmas, Internet asks for tissue
The BBC announced officially this weekend that Matt Smith, current star of Doctor Who, will be leaving the series in the Christmas episode.
Both Matt and showrunner Steven Moffat have already been quoted heaping glowing praise on each other, and rightly so. Doctor Who fandom has already kicked into overdrive, showering tumblr and other blog pages with a deluge of tribute graphics, please to remain, and other spontaneous eruptions of raw emotion.
Doctor Who fans will now once again pass through the seven stages of grief, a process that some have never experienced, being new to the show, some have already seen once or twice, or for older fans (raises hand), seven, eight, or as many as eleven times.
One of the most amazing things about Doctor Who is this process of regeneration. While other actors have been replaced on television shows, Doctor Who invented a process that made it a part of the narrative. Time Lords, the Doctor’s people, have the ability to completely rejuvenate themselves in times of extreme trauma, completely reborn, with a new body and a new personalty. It allows the show to not only move on past the departure of its star, but forge into brand new directions.
Along with the regeneration process will be an equally traditional series of events:
The news media will kick the rumor mills into high gear – Names will be floated, denials will be made, and actors will play coy, taking advantage of the publicity to get their name in the sun.
The betting will begin – Gambling is legal in the UK, and the local bookies have traditionally taken wagers on the identity of the new Doctor. And the aforementioned media will report the current oddsmaking, as if it has some connection to reality. As in the rumor mill, new names will emerge and rise and fall in the rankings, and it’ll be a delight to watch.Unless you’ve put money down, in which case it’ll be harrowing.
The discussions about making The Doctor a woman will re-emerge – So too making him black, or Asian, or any of the other “types” of people a character can be. Both Mike Gold and Yr obt svt. have discussed the recurring meme, more about the fervor and hysteria around it.
The fans will swear blind it will never be as good as (insert name here) – Nothing is ever as good as what you have now, or if you are older (just leaves hand in air), than what you had when you were younger. Each Doctor was perfect, and nobody can ever replace him, until about five minutes into the first new episode when the new guy grabs you and rubs your tummy with his acting and makes you forget the last guy’s name for a moment. The show will careen off in a new direction, just like a trip in the TARDIS itself, and the trip will be thrilling and terrifying, and ultimately satisfying.
Someone’s life will never be the same again – Moffat has it right – “Somewhere out there right now – all unknowing, just going about their business – is someone who’s about to become the Doctor“. The show was popular during its original run, but now it’s dead center in popular culture, and the person selected to play The Doctor will shoot to super-stardom before a frame’s been shot. Matt Smith has already taken advantage of the opportunities the role has afforded him – he’s currently filming Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut How to Make a Monster, and plans to direct himself.
With six months to go before the final Smith adventure airs, and several weeks before it starts filming, fandom will be filled with many emotions, a rampant desire to learn new details, and will spent a great deal of time trying to separate reality from fantasy. Moffat and the BBC will begin the arduous process of choosing the actor to entrust with their golden franchise (if, indeed, they haven’t already started…or even finished), all the time trying to ride the line between keeping it all a secret and letting just enough details slip to keep the media hungry.
There may be an important wrinkle to the new Doctor’s story that may take the show in a dramatic direction. Matt’s Doctor is the eleventh regeneration, but events at the end of the final episode of the series suggest that there’s one more to be accounted for. John Hurt was revealed to be playing The Doctor as well, and fans has surmised he may be (have been) a regeneration between Eight (Paul McGann) and Nine (Christopher Eccleston). If so, even though Matt’s calls himself the eleventh Doctor, he’d be the twelfth…and the next one would be the thirteenth. According to the show’s history, a Time Lord can only regenerate twelve times, for a total of thirteen bodies, which would make the next Doctor…the last.
Which will likely never occur. Russell T. Davies has already said that when the time to get around that little plot device that seemed SO far away when they came up with it decades ago, “I’m sure someone will wave the Amulet of Zog and sort it all out”. But it’ll be the process to get to that eventual happy end that will make the show all the more exciting,.