In Issue 469 of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ Steven Moffat confidently declares “The last two Doctors have been your ‘good boyfriend’ Doctors”. A statement so coffee-splutteringly controversial that your magazine’s news page will never be the same again. After dabbing your magazine with your sonic Kleenex you might decide that it is a statement worthy of further investigation.
A quick google of “What is a good boyfriend?” would surely throw up some good criteria to judge Tennant and Smith’s Doctors by and might even provide you with some goals to aspire to in your own non-Whovian life.
So what should a “good boyfriend” do?
“Be honest.” River Song’s rule number one rule is “The Doctor lies.” Not an auspicious start for our beloved Time Lord.
“Be a good listener.” It is always the Doctor who elucidates, explains and expounds. He talks, the companion just listens. But what do you expect from a thousand year old Time Lord who has done, seen and knows everything? He’s got a lot to get off his chest!
“Be supportive.” The Doctor almost always saves his companion’s life. You can’t get more supportive than that.
“Make physical contact.” To the displeasure of your classic Whovian, the Doctor and companion are always hugging and holding hands. Putting it mildly, Ten and Eleven have not been averse to the occasional smooch.
“Keep the relationship fresh.” Doctors Ten and Eleven score highly here. Your average boyfriend doesn’t take you on jaunts around the universe and into the farthest reaches of history. Your average beau might have “wheels” or even “a new motor” but he ain’t got a Tardis! And what could keep a relationship fresher than occasionally changing your face, body and whole personality?
“Give her space” Yup, that box is ticked, along with the other obvious one!
Let’s take a closer look at Ten, but not too close now girls! He may be dashing and dishy, but is he top notch boyfriend material? Would you bring home a boyfriend who eats jam with his fingers? Would you date a guy with only two suits?
Ten’s major love interest was Rose. How did he treat her? In “School Reunion” he lavishes attention not on her but on Sarah Jane and provokes a “cat-fight” between them. In “The Girl in the Fireplace” he woos Madame Pompadour, whilst leaving Rose on a spaceship with Mickey. And not once, but twice he dumps her on a beach in Norway and refuses to say that he loves her. Bad show!
The Tenth Doctor then continues his travels with love-sick Martha and inconsiderately tramples over her feelings by continually pining for Rose. When Number Ten turns human in “Human Nature”, he makes Miss Jones jealous by falling in love and having a relationship with a school nurse. He is a perfect boyfriend to her, just that he brings death and destruction to everyone and everything that she holds dear.
Now a firmly established Lothario, the Tenth Doctor marries Queen Elizabeth I in “The Day of the Doctor”, but then goes and leaves her. When they finally remeet in “The Shakespeare Code” she orders his execution, bringing a whole new meaning to losing your head for someone. Summing up, Ten is far from perfect, but then again who could resist a man who comes to save you by jumping through a mirror from another dimension astride a white horse?
What about Eleven? In their very first adventure Amy tells the Doctor that she has had to see a therapist, after the psychological damage inflicted on her by the Raggedy Man experience. In “Flesh and Stone” Amy manages to get the Doctor back to her bedroom but Eleven totally rejects her advances. He feels awkward and embarassed and is a major letdown for Amy. The Eleventh Doctor generally neglects his companion in favour of the Tardis, preferring to spend his free time with the sentient time-machine. He even calls her “sexy”!
The Eleventh Doctor marries River Song, even though he is already married to Queen Elizabeth I. Polygamy is not generally the key to a healthy relationship. What about Clara? Let’s not forget that Eleven first stalked her before they embarked on their adventures together. Not to mention appearing naked in front of her in “The Time of the Doctor”. But maybe his most heinous crime was not that he abandoned Clara on Earth, but “regenersneezing” and turning into old grump.
In conclusion we should face up to the fact that the Doctor is Gallifreyan and we shouldn’t judge him on human terms. It’s inevitable that if a mysterious stranger whisks you off in time and space, saving your life along the way, you can’t help but fall in love with him. However you can’t expect him to be an ideal partner. We have seen that Doctors Ten and Eleven certainly aren’t perfect boyfriend material, but maybe their admirers have learned to take the rough with the smooth.
Moffat’s definition of Doctors Ten and Eleven as “good boyfriends” is a little off the mark. Perhaps it is only the male psyche which interprets “a good boyfriend” as macho and squash-buckling, something similar to James Bond, a role model which a man might aspire to in his dreams. Ten and Eleven can be defined as exciting, fun and – I hate myself for saying this – fanciable, but they are only “good” in a moral sense, in that they fight for good.
Any girl expecting a “normal relationship” with these Doctors is to be seriously disappointed. It’s always going to be a bumpy ride and the Doctor will always leave you in the end. The fan girls sobbing over the dearly departed Eleventh Doctor will undoubtedly confirm this. Now with the arrival of Twelve will we have to start worrying about the fragile hearts of our mothers and grandmothers? Canoodling with Capaldi?
That I fear is the title of another post…