If you had asked me who my favorite Doctor was in high school when I first started watching Dr. Who, I would have told you what any teenage girl first introduced to Dr. Who would have told you: David Tennant. I mean…what girl wasn’t taken in by 10’s adorable charm? Tennant was funny, cute, and an excellent actor. It was going to be hard to imagine Dr. Who without him.
But if you had asked me in college who my favorite Doctor was, I would have told you Matt Smith. I was not prepared to like the 11th doctor, based on my undying loyalty to Tennant, but Matt Smith completely won me over. His Doctor was, too, funny, cute, and adorable. And Smith is also an excellent actor. His performance was amazing, and he truly proved that his Doctor could be as good as Tennant’s.
But upon watching Dr. Who again–third time, I know, I have issue problems–my favorite Doctor is Eccleston.
Eccleston is often overlooked and even forgotten when people think about all of the Doctors since the reincarnation of the British television show, even though he was the first. People got so swept away by Tennant and Smith, and Eccleston was only the Doctor for one season while Tennant stayed for three, that it became easy to forget Eccleston. But I think the main reason Eccleston was forgotten was because Dr. Who became a “fandom”. It became part of the geek world, a world mostly run by fan girls who like their men handsome, British, and adorable.
Eccleston is indeed British, but few fangirls would classify him as handsome, at least traditionally. And even fewer would label him adorable. But that’s why I love him so much as the Doctor. Eccleston’s Doctor is not adorable. Yes, he’s fun and adventurous and has a quirky sense of humor, but he’s not adorable. At times he’s dangerous and angry and unpredictable. Eccleston is the one actor who shows us that the Doctor is capable of dark things. He shows us the pain and anger that comes from losing your entire planet, all the people you love, and the loneliness that can plague the Doctor.
Even though I love shows like Joss Whedon’s Firefly or J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek reboot, I’m not much of a sci-fi person. I can only handle so much of aliens and UFOs and campy British television. It’s why I can’t binge watch Doctor Who–eventually I need a break from BBC special effects. But I love Doctor Who so much because the show is built on deep, heavy, palatable emotions. I mean, the whole premise of the show reeks of painful feelings: a man who has lost everything he loves–his family, his home, his people, his planet–is doomed to travel throughout time and space alone. I mean, that alone gives me so many feels. Of course, there are good feelings–the love the Doctor has for Rose, his friendship with Donna, his happiness with Amy and Rory. But at the end of the day, the Doctor has to say goodbye to his companions and continue alone.
Eccleston, better than any of the Doctors, captures the raw emotions of the Doctor. He’s the only one who seems truly dangerous, who can show in his face the anger festering under the surface. He gave the Doctor a bit of a dark side, and he reminded viewers of everything the Doctor had lost. That is why I love him so much, and why 9 is my favorite Doctor.
(Also, you never forget your first Doctor.)
(And 9 loved Rose first.)