Apparently, demons run when a good man goes to war, and the Doctor has been cast in the role of platonic good man, except when he’s not and he’s really the monster under the bed you should be afraid of. But I don’t buy it. The stylistic and character changes between Davies era new Who and Moffat era Who make a monstrous Eleven hard to accept. Did it not seem odd to anyone else that “the oncoming storm” was not uttered once, yet this is preciously the Doctor the war* is supposedly being fought against.
When Eleven declares at the end of the Eleventh Hour that the Atraxi should “look him up” and he declares that earth is protected, the aim seemed to be to make a clear link between Ten and Eleven. In “Forest of the Dead” Ten makes a similar statement to the Vashta Narada inhabiting proper Dave’s space suit to also look him up. And when he says these words, I believe the hint of menace behind them, because in the “Christmas Invasion” we learned just what kind of man he was, which was then only further established in “The Runaway Bride” when Donna initially refuses to travel with him because she was afraid of him and what he is easily capable of.
In the spirit of full disclosure here, I am an unabashed Ten fangirl and willing to accept that my willingness to believe the Doctor as a Shiva-esque savior/destroyer on my preference for Ten, but Eleven’s menace doesn’t ring true for me. He’s too much the raggedy doctor who thinks bow ties are cool and fish sticks and custard are the bee’s knees. The way Smith inhabits the role is much too playful and jaunty for “I am the Doctor – fear me” speechifying and grandstanding. I didn’t buy it in the “Pandorica Opens” and I don’t buy it now. Though this is super awesome.
Of course, Eleven is brilliant, he’s the Doctor, but he’s childlike as well, infused with a more palpable sense of awe and wonder at the universe that both Nine and Ten lacked because they were jaded and suffering from post-traumatic I-destroyed-my-entire-race stress disorder. The final conclusion of angsty and broken Doctor comes in the “Waters of Mars,” when he flouts tradition,** attempts to change history to save innocent lives, and claims the mantel “Time Lord Victorious,” until he’s brought back to himself when Adelaide commits suicide and thus restores the proper timeline. This moment paves the way for the quiet (comparatively speaking) sacrifice he makes in “The End of Time” to save Wilfred and allows Eleven to burst on the scene and joyously exclaim “Geronimo”! ***
There’s a wide-eyed innocence that Smith brings to his portrayal of the Doctor that should be taken advantage of more. I was hoping the fairytale elements would be more about wonder, adventure, friendship, and the things that go bump in the night. I’d much rather seen little Amelia Pond’s adventures with the Doctor through time and space. Instead she was quickly transformed into sexy Amy Pond kiss-o-gram girl in a mini-skirt and pouty lips.**** Instead of fairy-tale wonder and enchantment, we’re getting needlessly convoluted and complex story-lines whose lone purpose seems to be dazzling the audience with the Moffat’s ability to confuse the audience.
Now we’ve had to endure a half-season of set-up for an end game that isn’t completely clear and in which I have less interest. The flesh already feels like a convenient crutch to be trotted out time and again for gotcha moments. If it turns out the Doctor we saw killed in “The Impossible Astronaut” was another flesh copy, I won’t be all that surprised. I do love River Song and hope her story doesn’t get ruined.
* About which we know very little at all.
** Or the laws of the universe – it’s hard to tell sometimes with Time Lords.
*** The scene in “A Good Man Goes to War” when Madame Kovarian explains that he’s been duped (again) is illustrative of Eleven’s naivety. He looked stunned and perplexed – how could a 900-year-old Time Lord be this dupable?
**** I could rant more about the overly sexualized representation of Amy, but I’ll refrain for the moment and direct you here instead.