Doctor Who: 5 Reasons the Tenth Doctor Wasn't All That Great

Categories: Doctor Who
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He Never Has a Plan
Seriously, name an example of a great plan in a Tenth Doctor episode. There isn't one. There's never a moment like you get with Eleven where you realize that he's been playing a misdirection game the whole time. Matt Smith's Doctor was a Machiavellian trickster, whereas Eccleston's Doctor approached situations like a soldier assessing the situation on the ground and reacting accordingly.

Ten, though, most of the time his solution to a problem is to pretend to be drunk or clumsy or silly, push a lot of buttons, and run away from the boom. He shares an M.O. with Bugs Bunny. His innate gift for quick thinking usually saves the day, but it's never planned that way. He's not a chessmaster. He's more like an idiot savant that has no idea what he's doing.

Flashback
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The Curse of The Time Lords Blah Blah Blah
People call Eleven emo, but by the Sash of Rassilon Ten just never let up with the existential angst. It was always "The curse of the Time Lords" this and "I'm alone in the universe" that (Ironically, he is the only modern Doctor to actually gets to meet other Time Lords outside of "Day of the Doctor"). In short, he was an Anne Rice vampire.

It just never seemed like he enjoyed being able to travel all of space and time doing whatever he pleased very much. There was always something burdensome to him in doing it and it makes me wonder if he wouldn't have been happier stuck on Earth like Three working with UNIT or something. As Eleven said of his Tardis control room, it was his grunge phase and the whining gets really old after a while.

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He Refused to Change
If I was going to compare the Tenth Doctor to any other figure in pop culture it would be Morpheus from Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Ancient and eternal? Check. Angsty? Check. Powerful? Check. Bad with girlfriends? Double check. Most of all, unwilling to accept change in himself to meet the changing world? Write that man a big old novelty check.

Not only does Ten waste an entire regeneration cycle just to stay as himself at one point, he actively resists his own regeneration so long that the resulting energy blows up the Tardis. Even his last words, the famous "I don't want to go", are in a way a renunciation of everything The Doctor stands for.

Nine went out with a compliment, chagrin, and regret at not having done more with his best friend. Eleven mused on the nature of a person's evolution, and welcomed his passing. Even the War Doctor recognized that his life and purpose were wearing a bit thin, and went into regeneration smiling and ready.

Ten alone of the modern Doctors had to be dragged kicking and screaming into his new form, and all because over the course of his life he never changed, never learned anything, and never really grew.

In the end I still like the Tenth Doctor a lot. Three of my top ten episodes are Ten's, but looking back on it now I'm not sure he deserves to so high in everyone's ranking.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.


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30 comments
mr.mervyn
mr.mervyn

The 10th is seriously flawed. The article quite persuasively and eloquently sums up some of his most serious flaws: he's chaotic, over-the-top, full of himself and almost pathologically incapable of letting go - which is, quite ironically, precisely what he is repeatedly forced to do. 

Gotta say I quite disagree with the one about companions, though - he treats poor Martha pretty badly but I think he's got quite a strong bond with all of his companions - and cares about them deeply.

He hates being the 10th just as much as he loves it. The only thing as profound as his affections are his grudges.

He's also clearly at least borderline bipolar.

He's the Time Lord Victorious.

And that is precisely why he *rocks*.

(Morpheus happens to be one of the awesomest characters in modern fantasy, by the way...:-))


I can see how Tenny might not be someone's fave and I understand why - but the amount of affection and appreciation he gets is IMHO well-deserved.

Selena
Selena

I would have to agree with you, I mean, he gets WAYY too much hype, and to be honest he's kind of boring, but I think the point was that he found that he loved humans and desperately wanted to be one. He wanted to be one so bad it tormented its soul, until one day he said this:


"I suppose..in the end..they break my heart."


He has TWO hearts. TWO. It takes a lot to forget a simple fact like that.. 

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therose3347
therose3347

I view 9, 10, and 11 as The Doctors stages of grief from losing so much, I think ten was the depressed stage, so the same points against ten are what's for him. The Doctor is always pompous so that means nothing to me. after losing everything he didn't want to be close to people however the doctor has always been a lonely person and likes people so he ends up with them anyway. he doesn't want to change because of the major change he already went through also he saw other Time Lords and maybe he wanted to stay the same because he wanted to keep the memory fresh and not scrambled up, even though they were not the best memories. he may have been a bit afraid even. Also, my favourite doctor is 5. ;P

geekgirl096
geekgirl096

There are a  lot of great persuasive points in this article, but if you think about it they couldn't be more wrong. 

dravenfan
dravenfan

Yes, he puts a negative spin on a lot of qualities that also have a plus side. And I disagree with the way the author says he treats his companions! Totally! He LOVED Rose, he had no choice but to send her to the alternate universe. Yes, he broke Martha's heart, but that wasn't really his fault if he didn't see her that way. And HIS best friend, Donna-he had no choice with her either.And losing her broke HIS heart.
Also I don't think he was nearly as arrogant as 9. Ten loved humans. And if anything he was super clever and able to think on his feet-who needs a plan?
And not wanting to change-he was HAPPY in that regeneration-as happy as a being who thought he destroyed his home planet could be anyway. He felt responsible for the death of a whole race. Gee, wonder why he's angsty? I would think less of a Doctor who hadn't that sorrow at the base of his being.

Anyway, I could go on, but it's late and I'm tired. Ten is my Doctor, 11 is my secondary fave, and 9 is my "training wheels" Doctor-Eccleston taught me to love the show and the IDEA of the character of the Doctor. But Ten made me love the Doctor himself-and 11 charmed me into loving a whole new side. So off the bed for this Whovian! Allons-y and Geronimo!

Carolynn Fisher Waites
Carolynn Fisher Waites

A lot of the author's arguments against #10 are the reason why he is my favorite Doctor. :-)

Wilf
Wilf

"Ten wasn't that great..."


Stick those lies back in your lying mouthhole and choke on your lying  lies, Jef. I found your other "F" right here, buddy.

Melissa Roome Muston
Melissa Roome Muston

The author of this article is very convincing with his writing but his points are just flat out wrong. I totally agree with what Douglas said above. The guys opionions are far fetched and missing the point. Tennant will always be a fan favorite and he totally deserves to be.

jimmywinter15
jimmywinter15

In my opinion, Tenth was in his 'teenage years'. He struggles with himself, puts on an act of pomposity to cover it up, and is scared to death by forming long term attachments to his companions. He hates feeling the way he does deep down and he constantly rages a war with himself. He distracts himself by being 'silly' and having no plan. Tenth is the closet to humanity in this regeneration. His feelings, actions and consequences are as complicated as a human's. Timelords as a species have always shown coldness and contempt towards most civilizations throughout space and time and you could say that his arrogance comes from there. However I do not. I believe this is more of a human trait than anything else.

Not only that he has a deep and profound problem to the fact that he is 'alone in the universe', he is also hides the fact that deep down he thinks he is the biggest hypocrite in the universe, since he committed mass genocide and is subsequently the cause of his loneliness. He tries to combat these seriously deep seeded emotions by making sure nothing ever happens that-way again and also by taking on companions. They are not just a comfort or company, they are his key to sanity. 


That is why Ten will always remain in my heart. In some ways I feel I relate to him throughout his lifespan. Maybe I am bi-est.

Becky Maywald
Becky Maywald

I got tired of Tennant toward the end. I wasn't so sure about Matt Smith at first, but I ended up liking him better than Tennant.

Brent Tisdale
Brent Tisdale

Dave is my man. I was big into 4 (Tom Baker) as a kid, and I still put Dave as my #1 Dr.

Douglas Mangum
Douglas Mangum

What a load of rubbish! Tennant's Tenth Doctor (and the writers who wrote for his series) are a major part of the reason why DW is so strong now, closing in on a decade into its second incarnation (heh). The points the author made may or may not be entirely factual (they are certainly opinion and thus entirely debatable), but they somehow manage to miss the silence of the forest for the trees. Picking on points of character (which let us remember were scripted for Tennant, not some inherent quality) ignores both the overall picture and also the quality Tennant infused into his character, the latter of which was considerable. I've seen people try to do the same thing in picking apart T. Baker's Fourth Doctor and his perceived flaws, but for similar reasons (good writing and a great performance in the role) Baker remains a perennial favorite. If the idea behind this article was to try to sway opinion against Tennant and his iteration of The Doctor then I suspect the author will have as much luck in the attempt as have those Tom Baker detractors.

Alfonso Israel
Alfonso Israel

No, he is my doctor, though I like the 11th better, the 10th was great

xtom.james
xtom.james

Okay: His companions weren't treated as disposable, on the contrary he treated them as individuals with their own lives. He didn't dispose of his companions he let them move on. In a way they dispose of him. 

Two: Pompous...eh, maybe a tad arrogant at times but really just a loner. And you would be too if you had to deal with the emotional floodgates of a 700+ year old time lord who still thinks he killed his entire race. 

Three: Oh he has plenty of plans, they don't always go correctly, but he has plans. Last of the Time Lords was a great plan, which surprisingly worked. What about Smith and Jones? Partner's In Crime? Human Nature? Blink?

I think that you're confusing type of encounter with planning ahead. The Tenth Doctor was sort of the vacation doctor, he's on vacation away from the time war etc. It's just that work keeps calling him on his cell phone interrupting the vacation. 

Heck, he even planned the metacrisis to a certain degree. 

Four:Again, until you're a 700 year old timelord with the weight of killing your entire race on your shoulders I don't think you can complain here. At least he's talking through his PTSD with his companions. 

Five:Refused to Change? Are you kidding me? He's the one Doctor in the new series that changed the most. He went from being reckless to humble to God Raging to Tourist. Think about the difference between the Tenth Doctor in Day of the Doctor who is canoodling with the queen of England and the Tenth Doctor in The Runaway Bride. If you do you'd see two very different Tenth Doctors. 

RamonLP4
RamonLP4

Now, don't get me wrong. I love Jef''s articles. I love all the Doctor articles. What I'm addressing today is the fact that on any given list of favorite Doctor Who articles this is hardly tops.  ;)


Meh, I think you kind of push your points a bit past their weight.  You kind of lost me right off the bat at the Disposable Companions argument.  "He leaves one in alternate dimension, breaks the heart of another, and erases himself from the memory of third." is a bit reductionist isn't it?  I mean, if anyone read that and never saw the show, they'd think he was a pretty awful person but you know that there was a lot more to it than what you wrote in that sentence and that right there is kind of the big problem with this piece.  

Normally I enjoy these Who columns but this one is kind of a listicle along the lines of "10 Reasons why the Beatles aren't that great."


DocInaBox
DocInaBox

... So... You say that ten wasn't that good... by listing his actual character flaws. From what i'm reading, you would have preferred him if he was a perfect super genius with no flaws whatsoever. You can say you dont like ten. Lots of people dont like ten. But dont go saying that the reason why he's not a great doctor is the fact that he has flaws. That's just poor reasoning. Everyone has flaws. It's good storytelling to have a character with actual flaws in their personality. otherwise the story would get boring and repetitive. 

1: He Treats His Companions as Disposable.

What. In sam hill. makes you think that he considers them Disposable? Rose was /trapped/ in another dimension, not left there. The result of which further broke his already shattered heart (time war). His Friendship with Martha put her at risk because the Master targeted her. Not his fault, and she chose to leave he would have kept traveling with her if she wanted to stay. And Donna. Dont think for a moment that He wanted that. He goes on a Companion strike for years because of what happened to Donna. She was his Best friend.

2: He is Very Pompous

EVERY doctor was arrogant in some way. this is like saying you dont like One soda because of the carbonation but then like all the other sodas in the isle. You cant have Soda without Carbonation just how you cant have a doctor without arrogance.

3: He Never Has a Plan

CHARACTER. DYNAMIC. Simple as that. part of his charm was his instinct and quick thinking skills. This entire section points out his basic personality that made him a different doctor than the rest.  

4: Curse of the Timelords.

Soo... You complain.. because he's affected by the trauma in his past?That he has to constantly leave behind people that he cares about? The doctor has always had to force himself to leave his loved ones so he doesn't have to watch them grow old and die. this goes back to one of the basic traits that makes up every doctor. Eccleston was the Doctor born from war, Tennant was the Doctor forced to Remeber all that he had done, Smith was the one who Tried to Forget it all. He "whined" about it because it deeply affected him. It was his cross to bear. And he would 'display' that cross to try to keep people safe and away from him. 

5: He never Changed

Another part of his character dynamic. Ten was the doctor most concerned with his looks. One thing that his character featured, especially at the end, was the fact that he didnt want to die. 'The Doctor' would live on, but Ten saw it as that version of himself dying and he 'didnt want to go'. Essentially, you are blaming him for not wanting to die.

And you cant say that he never changed or learned anything. The loss of rose changed him, and he promised himself to not love another companion. He knew Martha loved him, but he wouldnt love her back for that reason. And because of that, he just wanted a companion as a friend, and that was donna. After Donna, he wouldnt take another companion because he had learned his lesson.

To wrap it up. You can have a Favorite doctor. I honestly dont care which one it is. You can say you dont like him because of his personality. But dont present it as a fact, saying he wasnt that great because of his character flaws.

KevinCV9386
KevinCV9386

I don't deny you make good points, however you can hardly hold Ten accountable for "not having a plan" when that's pretty much how the Doctor operates regardless of what incarnation he's in. Hell, even Seven, the Doctor most renowned for being a chessmaster and making overly elaborate schemes had to do a measure of improvisation to make sure those "plans" went the way he wanted them to.

Other than that, I still like Ten in spite of the issues you've listed, and I'm very glad you didn't just use this as a way to scapegoat Russell T. Davies, which I've seen some people *cough*Welshy from TGWTG*cough* do far too often. Thank you for being more reasonable than them, at least.

whoman69
whoman69

This is one of those arguments where the author presents several "facts" that are not backed up and expected to be accepted as fact.  While its true that Martha Jones and Donna Noble lasted only one season, I would hardly call them throwaways or insinuate that 10 couldn't wait to get rid of them.  Martha left because she realized the Doctor would never see her in the same light as Rose.  That ship sailed when John Smith fell in love with Joan Redfern.  10 was also very broken up when Donna had to have his memory of him erased, much like Jamie and Zoe in the 2nd Doctor's run.  I would also dismiss the notion that 10 simply issued orders and did not care about the opinions of his companions.  He was always compliment them and saw a brilliance in Donna that she did not see in herself.  When it all comes down to it, the Doctor's job is always to save the day.  I would say the role of the companions has greatly expanded from the days when a Liz Shaw was booted from the show in favor of the more standard damsel in distress Jo Grant.  Sarah Jane went from an independent 70s woman to a screaming accident waiting to be rescued.  Even Leela and Ace learned to be more ladylike.  It almost got to be like a Superman comic where we are waiting to see what kind of danger the Man of Steel was going to rescue Lois Lane from.  10 is the progression from 9, the man who was responsible for killing his own people.  9 saw himself as a danger to everyone.  Death followed him everywhere.  10 brought life back into the equation.  That came at a price.  The Doctor would go overboard when life was threatened.  Without the Time Lords to reign him in, he often acted as a law unto his own.  You did not want to get the 10th Doctor angry.  He had to be taken down a peg as happened at the end of "The Waters of Mars" where the Doctor found there were repercussions when one plays God.  11 picked up on that and often had to be taken down by his companions and reminded that he couldn't just do what he wants just because he can.  I get the feeling that had any of the new Doctor's been presented with touching the two wires together to destroy the Daleks, all of them would have done so. 

solastine
solastine

Hates ten and praises eleven several times through out the article..


Yup, this person really doesn't understand the doctor one bit. Seriously go back to tumblr with this crap.

C051n3blu3
C051n3blu3

Fantastic.  At first I was going to flame this article, but after I was done I couldn't be angry.  I think a lot of the love 10 gets is due to the fact that there were more stories written for him than 9 and when it came time for Tennant to regenerate, many could not let go. He also has some of the best episodes in the Nu-Who run, so that may be the reason he has engendered so much good will.  Also chalk it up to the fact that Russle T. Davies (who was the one who brought it back in the first place) wrote better dialogue than Moffat did thought Moffat is good with complex plotting.  But RTD is better with the intimate moments, like the time he tries to explain to Martha why they probably won't be an item.  Seeing the Doctor's speak well written  dialogue, even if his doing something cowardly and petulant, create a (false) sense of trust in 10.  It was always him to said "And I'm sorry...I'm so so sorry" more often than any other Doctor when he has to do something terrible.  

oddjob35
oddjob35

nice article, some very persuasive points, especially about ten's lack of personal growth


oddjob35
oddjob35

wow nice article, you make some very persuasive points


JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@mr.mervyn I did recently look back over this, and I'll say one thing for Ten; it was that fear of change that made you care when he died so much. 

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@Wilf Speaking as someone that gets paid to watch and talk about Doctor Who... you're taking this WAY too seriously. Also, calling a Doctor "not the best" is not the same as calling him crap. Dial it down some, huh?

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@KevinCV9386 To be fair, a lot of people consider these to be things that make him a better Doctor, which is a valid point of view. Thanks for the comment!

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@solastine "Now, don't get me wrong. I love the Tenth Doctor", and "Three of my top ten stories are Ten stories".

But nice try. Thanks.

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