Last Saturday, the BBC announced that the Eleventh Doctor was hanging up his fez and bowtie. Matt Smith will leave Doctor Who during the 2013 Christmas special, regenerating into the next incarnation of the Time Lord. Hints have abounded for almost a year that the strain of being The Doctor was wearing on Smith, and his recent entry into Hollywood via How to Catch a Monster has ensured he will likely follow Christopher Eccleston's path towards feature film star.
Goodbye, Mr. Smith. I for one will miss you a great deal.
I have no desire to follow the example of my other Whovian pop culture critic colleagues and give you a list of who I think the next Doctor will be. For the sake of weighing in I'm hoping for Rupert Grint, Idris Elba, or Harry Lloyd, but I'm sure those are all wrong. Instead, I'll quote Steven Moffat.
"Somewhere out there right now - all unknowing, just going about their business - is someone who's about to become the Doctor."
Which is Zygonpoop, of course. The chances of the role having not already been cast is less than zero. There's a man, or hell maybe a woman, who is about to enter a world they've never dreamed of. To that actor, I dedicate this list.
You Will Talk About This For the Rest of Your Life: During Comicpalooza I had the chance to speak a fair amount with Frazer Hines, who played the Second Doctor's companion Jamie McCrimmon. I also watched a panel with Ian McNiece, who played Winston Churchill in but two episodes of the modern series. Both men had no shortages of people desperate to pump them about any and every aspect of their experiences with Doctor Who.
No matter what else you do after this, Doctor Who will define you. It will be mentioned in your obituary. If you win an Academy Award, or dedicate your life to fighting AIDS in Africa, or walk on the moon, you will always be The Doctor. Forever. The show is older than all three modern actors who have played the lead, and there is no shortage of people from all across Earth's last fifty years of history who have been touched by the series. You can never, ever let it go. Especially because...
You Will Have to Be Nice to Crazy People For the Rest of Your Life, Too: I have a love/hate relationship with comic convention panels. Sometimes you hear questions from the audience that astound you and teach you something you have never known. Other times lunatics grab the mic and shoot word bullets at the heads of the actors and writers.
You have no choice. You have to treat them equally, or end up in the same hot water John Simms did. And hell, meaning no disrespect to Mr. Simms or the role at all, he was just The Master. Yet he still, clearly, had people come up to him that were a little too intense to deal with. The reason is because there is a level of fandom that happens because some people have led lives where something like Star Trek or comic books or Doctor Who is the only reliable constant.
It's like this... say you wanted to be a nurse. It's a noble, well-paying profession, but it comes with a certain amount of getting pooped on or taking the occasional gut full of projectile vomit to the face. Nonetheless, that's what you sign up for, and you can't complain. Being The Doctor is exactly like that. You make a lot of people's lives better, but some of them are nuts that lash out.