The Seventh Doctor and the Pandorica

I recently ran across this little gem again. It’s from DragonCon in 2011, where Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor) reads the Eleventh’s Pandorica speech.

While there wasn’t anything truly bad about Matt Smith’s original version, I find myself thinking that this speech is really better for the Seventh Doctor. McCoy’s era really emphasized the Doctor’s manipulative side. His companion was Ace, and she called him Professor for a reason: he made everything into a teaching opportunity. And sometimes he’d see nothing wrong with putting her in harm’s way without telling her, simply because HE knew what was going on.

Basically, he was the first Doctor who really showed off the bastard side. I think (along with others) that it was a reaction to Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor. Sometimes it came off well, though — and this would be one of them.

Like with any incarnation, there were good and bad things. (Well, except for the Fourth Doctor . . . there was nothing bad about the Fourth. Nothing. Any attempt to claim otherwise is heresy.) The Seventh Doctor era was very cynical, not just because of McCoy’s performance but rather baked right into the stories themselves. A lot of it was present both before and after, but it seemed so very obvious with those stories.

And yet the Doctor was still the Doctor, fighting against evil no matter how little faith one might find in the universe. The Seventh Doctor was, of all of the incarnations, the most like Sherlock Holmes: tired of people, yet fascinated by them; manipulative and cynical, but pausing to help others be more than what they are; convinced of the ever-present nature of evil, and yet with a firm belief in right and wrong.

The Pandorica story is all about manipulation, fascination, the past (literally) running into the present, and what exactly makes up morality. It would have made a better storyline for the Seventh Doctor. Not because Matt Smith wasn’t capable of handling it (obviously he was), but because it was just so perfectly suited to McCoy’s interpretation. It’s nice to get a little peek into a parallel universe where something like that did in fact happen.

About Matthew Bowman

Matthew Bowman is a traditionally-minded Catholic convert and freelance science fiction and fantasy editor, which means that he's in high demand in a small population. Fortunately, he loves talking about stories. And Catholicism. And history. And philosophy. And lots of other stuff.
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