Matt Smith is not my favorite Doctor. He is the favorite Doctor of my wife and children, but I’m a David Tennant man, through and through. I miss the 10th Doctor’s intensity and angst, his clear headedness, his maturity, and the weightiness he seemed to carry around with him. And then along comes this kid—this Matt Smith—with his child-like, scatterbrained, mad-scientist shtick.
I have to admit, Smith has grown on me, and I liked him much more in season 6 than in season 5. And he has a certain charm to him that is hard to resist. But what I have come to realize about Smith’s Doctor is that although he may not be my favorite Doctor, he is the Doctor we all need right now.
Needing a Doctor
I’m American, and although I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek, as a teenager I graduated to more cynical, darker sci-fi, like Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, and the sci-fi movies of Terry Gilliam and Andrei Tarkovsky. So I was not introduced to the Doctor until just a few years ago. But I’ve loved the new series since the first episode and have even gone back and watched numerous episodes of the classic Who.
And what I’ve come to understand about the Doctor is that, in a world of cynicism and global unrest, he gives us a reason to hope for a better future. His unrelenting faith in goodness, kindness, and our own humanity helps us stand taller so that we may become what he believes us to be.
And it is in that respect, that I say we need Matt Smith’s Doctor right now. In fact, here are 5 traits of the 11th Doctor that help us be and do better, despite swimming in a sea of uncertainty and unrest.
1. He’s Wise
All the Doctors are smart, that’s just part of being the Doctor. But Smith’s Doctor is smart in way that exudes wisdom and prudence. Being wise isn’t just about being smart, it’s about knowing how your actions and words affect others and using your experience and brains to the benefit of all, not just yourself. In a world of shortcuts and gimme-gimme-gimme attitudes, the 11th Doctor’s wisdom is an example of how we should all be when faced with difficult situations.
2. He’s Calm
Like many of us, he faces challenges every day. He’s presented with roadblocks. And (unlike many of us) he faces imminent death on a regular basis. But he faces these challenges and threats in stride. Sure he may jump around madly, make jokes, and talk to himself; but when it really counts, he’s able to focus, stay calm, and work out the solution to the problem.
3. He’s Humble (Mostly)
Everybody wants a reality show these days, but not the Doctor. He doesn’t even like being thanked for repeatedly saving the world. Granted, he has—at times—gotten a little full of himself (*ahem* “A Good Man Goes to War”), but for the most part Smith’s Doctor doesn’t want the spotlight, fame, or recognition. In fact, in the finale of season 6, he declares that he wants to slip back into the shadows and not be such a prominent figure in the universe. He simply wants to help people in trouble and spend time with the people he loves. Anything that he has to do in pursuit of that goal is merely all in a day’s work.
4. He’s Optimistic
For the Doctor, there is no problem too big. No obstacle too hard. No enemy too scary to face. And although the 10th Doctor was always happy on the outside, you always got the feeling he was uneasy and didn’t have faith in himself. The 11th Doctor, by contrast, is optimistic about everyone around him as well as himself. He believes in himself and his ability to save the world. He doesn’t believe he can make the universe a better place—he knows it—and he’ll take everyone along for the ride.
5. He’s Fun
One of the traits of the 11th Doctor that initially turned me off was his unbearable playfulness. The 9th and 10th Doctors could be fun when the situation called for it, but they had a lot more angst to work out than does 11. Smith’s Doctor seems to have a fun switch that doesn’t turn off. Even when the situation is dire and dank, he’s always got a quip or a playful way to look at the situation. Essentially, he loves life and loves living. And that is the trait that we all need more of. With wars raging, natural disasters everywhere we turn, riots in the streets, and a world-wide recession that won’t quit, our ability to love life is what will sustain us through hard times.
Smith had some pretty big shoes to fill after David Tennant left the role of the Doctor, but for all my hemming and hawing about the new kid in town (is he still new after 2 seasons?), he actually does a pretty good job. And although Tennant will always be “my” Doctor, Smith is the Doctor we all need right now. May he never lose his wisdom, calm, humility, optimism, and sense of fun. Geronimo!