Category: Matt Smith

moonbase01For my most recent reviews of Doctor Who Classic at The A.V. Club, please visit Click on season numbers to browse individual episodes.

To see the reviews in publication order, it’s easiest to start at my staff page at The newest material is at the top of the list.

TV Club: Doctor Who, “The Girl Who Waited”

Hi folks—first off, if you’re wondering, no, Keith has not regenerated. I’m just filling in for a week while he’s off fighting crime, or perhaps committing crime, or whatever he’s up to. If you’re following the Doctor Who Classic writeups where I normally hang out, we’re pushing coverage of “The Aztecs” back a week to Sept. 18 to accommodate this shift. It’s 47 years old; it’ll wait for “The Girl Who Waited.”

The best thing about traveling with the Doctor is that he’s pretty much making it all up as he goes along. He always has been, in all his incarnations, ever since he stole the TARDIS in the first place. He bounces around time and space essentially at random, usually with no more solid plan in mind than seeing what fantastic new horizon appears each time he lands. Those guys on Star Trek are always talking about diplomatic missions and border patrols to explain why they’re traveling around, but on Doctor Who, you don’t need a reason, you just go. It’s the pure spirit of adventure, pure curiosity, that motivates him, and what’s more fun than that? That’s shown to great effect here by the opening scene of “The Girl Who Waited,” in which a typically ebullient Eleventh Doctor talks up the wonders of (but sadly for me, not the spelling of) Apulapuchia, or perhaps Appleapplechia, or perhaps Apoo-lapoo-chia, the second-greatest vacation planet in the known universe.

Originally published Sept. 10, 2011 on Read the complete article.

Primer: Doctor Who

Primer is The A.V. Club’s ongoing series of beginners’ guides to pop culture’s most notable subjects: filmmakers, music styles, literary genres, and whatever else interests us—and hopefully you. This week: The rise and fall and rise again of Britain’s venerable science-fiction series Doctor Who.

Doctor Who 101

An icon of modern British culture and the longest-running science-fiction TV show in history, Doctor Who has never been more popular than it is today, thanks to producer Russell T. Davies, whose revitalization of the series returns this month under the aegis of new producer Steven Moffatt. Matt Smith, taking over the title role from David Tennant, will become the 11th actor to officially play the time-traveling wanderer.

The original series ran for 26 seasons, each consisting of several feature-length serials broken into half-hour episodes with cliffhanger endings. No matter who’s playing the lead, the basic premise has been essentially the same since the show’s debut: A mysterious, eccentric alien known only as The Doctor (not “Doctor Who,” in spite of the title) travels through time and space having adventures and fighting evil. He’s usually accompanied by one or two humans picked up along the way. They journey with him in a time machine called a TARDIS, which looks like a blue phone booth. If grievously wounded (especially by that fatal condition “actor-quits-itis”), he can regenerate his entire body, gaining a new face, a new personality, and a new name at the top of the cast list in the credits. This has also given the show an easy way to make more sweeping stylistic changes to evolve with changing times, and a way to correct elements after they go stale or otherwise become unworkable. In fact, it’s become expected that a regeneration of The Doctor will also regenerate the whole show. (Fans generally know each Doctor by the order in which they were introduced, so William Hartnell, who originated the role, is the First Doctor, and newcomer Matt Smith is the Eleventh.)

Originally published on April 8, 2010. Read the complete article.

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