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December 19, 2014

Doctor Who? Matt Smith, That's Who

by Chris Jancelewicz, posted Apr 14th 2010 2:33AM


The Doctor is back, and he's a lot younger than his predecessors.

26-year-old British actor Matt Smith is the eleventh person to take on the intergalactic Time Lord role on 'Doctor Who'; he joins a long line of acclaimed thespians, including David Tennant (who just hung up his Doctor trenchcoat last year), Chris Eccleston, and the legendary Tom Baker, who played Doctor from 1974 to 1981. While Smith looks strangely like a hybrid of Eccleston and Tennant, he brings a youthful energy all his own to the sci-fi show.

The Doctor is back, and he's a lot younger than his predecessors.

26-year-old British actor Matt Smith is the eleventh person to take on the intergalactic Time Lord role on 'Doctor Who'; he joins a long line of acclaimed thespians, including David Tennant (who just hung up his Doctor trenchcoat last year), Chris Eccleston, and the legendary Tom Baker, who played Doctor from 1974 to 1981. While Smith looks strangely like a hybrid of Eccleston and Tennant, he brings a youthful energy all his own to the sci-fi show.

'Doctor Who' is set to launch its latest season on April 17, this time without famed sci-fi writer/producer/creator Russell T. Davies behind the scenes. The BBC has tapped Steven Moffat to take charge, who is known for penning some of the best episodes of 'Doctor Who'. After seeing an interview-via-Skype with Moffat, it's apparent that the dry British wit is not lost. At all. "He's good-looking in a weird sort of way," says Moffat of Matt Smith. "He has cartoon hair. How could you not cast him?"

Indeed, Smith's Doctor is a tad cartoonish -- he has gangly limbs flailing each and every way, he often wears a sheepish grin, and he seems to fall or bump into things a lot. But he pairs this slapstick routine with an occasional seriousness, in a way acting as his own foil. Smith is a breath of fresh air from Tennant, whose open-mouthed stare into space become grating after a few seasons.



Despite some initial trepidation as I sat down to watch the first episode 'The Eleventh Hour' , Smith began to grow on me after about 10 minutes. We meet him as the TARDIS (his time machine, an acronym for Time and Relative Dimensions of Space) crashes into a little girl's backyard, and immediately he's in mystery-solving, world-saving mode, which, for those of you not in the know, is pretty much what The Doctor's all about.

"He is still the same man, but I think my Doctor is a bit more reckless; he's a thrill-seeker and addicted to time travel," says Smith. "He is the mad buffoon genius who saves the world because he's got a great heart, spirit, and soul -- but he also doesn't suffer fools."

The casting of Smith, which on the surface seems to be merely a freshening of the show roster, may in fact be a re-freshening of the whole franchise. The BBC knows that it has a winner in 'Doctor Who', based on the rabid UK fan base and the burgeoning North American following -- so why not sex it up? Other sci-fi shows, like the epic failure 'Star Trek: Enterprise', underground smash hit 'Battlestar Galactica' and the dark, desolate 'Stargate: Universe' are all clear examples of the sexing-up of the genre. The casts are younger, buffer, and there seems to be an epidemic of shirtlessness in space, if we're to believe what we see. Even Smith's shirt comes off in the 'Doctor Who' premiere.

Moffat didn't forget the male fans, of course. Paired with Smith is his female companion (a 'Doctor Who' staple) Amy Pond, played by the beautiful Karen Gillan. I dare postulate that she may be the sexiest of all the companions, ever, and I don't think it was a casting-by-chance. It feels like the whole show has been put through a Hollywood gloss machine -- it's even been abbreviated, like 'SGU' or 'BSG', into 'DW'.

This gentle nudge into easy marketing territory bodes well for the new 'Doctor Who'. Matt Smith is also the perfect figurehead for the re-vamping of the show's image. Goofy yet serious, boyish yet manly, Smith may just make the show more accessible to sci-fi fans who never gave it the chance. Prepare for an influx of new Whovians.

'Doctor Who', starring Matt Smith, premieres on Space and SyFy at 9 PM ET on April 17.

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