I've now seen the new Doctor, Matt Smith, in three episodes, those being "The Eleventh Hour,", "Flesh and Bone," and "The Time of Angels." The weeping angels episodes I saw on BBC One at a friend's house while doing laundry, and somehow I missed the beginning of "The Time of Angels" both times. However I doubt seeing those few minutes would change my disappointment.
While Mr. Smith talks as quickly as David Tennant did, and is perhaps even goofier, he also lacks the confidence that the Tenth Doctor had. When David Tennant looked at a companion (or an alien enemy!) with compassion I didn't doubt for one second his sincerity. David Tennant was the Doctor. I didn't sit there thinking "My, good acting job!" while watching David Tennant, (or Chris Eccleston, for that matter). The problem with Matt Smith is that I see him acting. He acts like the Doctor, rather than being the Doctor.
In the original BBC promo photos of Matt Smith standing by the TARDIS, he was wearing a leather jacket and jeans, tennies and touseled hair. This has been replaced with suspenders, business shirt and bow tie, though the Doctor still has the messiest hair on TV. I'm sure this change was made in order to appeal to the older viewers, as much as I'm sure that the casting of the youngest Doctor yet was made to appeal to the younger viewers. So the producers think that Young Doctor + Old Funky Clothes = good ratings. Wrong! And I do find it faintly insulting. I don't think it's a good idea to be condescending, do you?
I think Matt Smith has his work cut out for him, and some of the directing isn't helping. Perhaps the most bothersome are the extreme close-ups that are shot whenever the Doctor is supposed to be showing some concern for his companion, or anyone else for that matter. I don't think the camera being 3 inches from their faces (this can be scarier than any monster in high def) will make us feel that he cares any more for his companion than he can possibly show from a normal camera range. Remember when the Doctor held his daughter as she died? We didn't need his face a micron away from her face to show his concern. Tennant is a top-notch actor who could show us vulnerability, grief, and a steel core all at once with just one look. I don't see this ability in Matt Smith, I'm sorry. And you can't make up for that by having him shoving his face practically up everyone's nose.
And what was that weird moment with Jeff in the first episode? A quasi-gay moment? What is this, Torchwood?
So poor Matt Smith is playing catch-up and I think he needs to truly find who the Doctor is for himself. He needs to learn to BE the Doctor, not ACT LIKE the Doctor.
On the other hand, Karen Gillan as Amelia Pond is really a breath of fresh air! I love her! First of all she's a very good actress, and second of all she's Scottish. It helps a lot to keep the Scottish connection going, and no doubt that had a role in her being cast for the part. But I don't care. She does a great job. And it helps that she's slightly pissed off with the Doctor, which is as it should be and keeps him on his toes.
I might as well air all my gripes about the shows that I've seen so far, so let's get on with what bothers me about the Weeping Angels episodes.
First, making Dr. River Song be an evil person? HELLO??? You'd think the producers had never made the library episodes! This is almost as wrong as Spock kissing Uhura in the latest (bad) Star Trek movie: it's just WRONG.
Secondly, the Weeping Angels have now been stripped of their charm and freakiness. "Blink" is one of my absolute favorite episodes of all time. Now instead of looking at stone statues with a little wariness and a shudder, I pass them by without qualm. Weeping Angels don't kill people, they don't have world domination ambitions, and they don't have spaceships. They are mysterious and spooky and have been around for centuries. At least that's how they were in "Blink." Now they've been relegated to the ranks of all the other monsters that try to eat/kill humans, you know, the ones that don't have the complexity or history of the Daleks or the Cybermen.
All that being said, I'll still watch the show when I can. My choices right now are to go to a friend's house who lives in town and who can get cable, or to download episodes from iTunes. The latter takes up an enormous amount of disk space, which I don't really have, so I may opt for the last option, which is waiting for the show to come out on DVD and getting the episodes from Netflix.
I love Dr. Who. I've watched it since I was a kid. I own the David Tennant sonic screwdriver and yes, it's in my purse everywhere I go! (Kids love it when I "fix" things with it.)
So I'll keep watching, but at the same time, I hope that Matt Smith and the new crew in Cardiff get the hang of this soon!