Saturday, 3 April 2010

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor: First impressions. Here be spoilers.

Just a short post, this time, but I thought it only fair to state for the record my first thoughts on Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, and the first episode of the new series. Warning - Spoilers!

If I were to summarise it in one sentence, I would say "I enjoyed it, but it doesn't feel like Doctor Who." There wasn't very much to link this series to the last one, which I think was intentional to mark Steven Moffat taking over the job as Big Boss Man, making a break from the old and starting with a clean canvas. When Ecclestone regenerated into Tennant, he still had Rose, and, essentially could just carry on where he left off. Tennant regenerated alone, and it was definitely the end of one story and the beginning of another, and it feels that way. The titles are different. The Doctor is different. He's meeting a new companion. The TARDIS itself regenerates, and he even gets a new sonic screwdriver. He doesn't even wind up in London, which was featured in so many of the first 4 1/2 series that it became the main setting. This was a new series, and it will take a while to think of it as Doctor Who. No doubt when the 2005 Series One came out, older fans felt the same, but as I said in a previous post, I don't remember it enough to feel that very much.

I can't say a lot about the characters, yet, having spent only an hour with them. The Eleventh Doctor (who I can't yet think of without the number) seems like a big child - he's a new person and doesn't seem quite sure what to do with himself, very clumsy. He seems to be a mild-mannered, understated sort of man with this crazy, adventurous, carefree side just beneath the surface. And he seems very innocent - a pre-time-war version of the Doctor, without all the pain that his previous two incarnations suffered. This makes me wonder if the series is going back into a smaller scale of story. The last series just got bigger and bigger, darker and more dangerous, week by week, and now it seems to have switched back to the olden days, where the Doctor is travelling just for the fun of it. With the Tenth Doctor, though it was for the fun of it, you got the impression he was always running away from something, trying to run away from himself.

Amelia/Amy Pond was an interesting character, though, again, we don't know much about her yet. She met the Doctor when she was seven years old, and he crashed into her back garden. After trying out half of the contents of her kitchen (and spitting them out again, reminding me and mum very much of Tigger) investigating a crack in her bedroom wall, the Doctor nipped back into the Tardis to check it was regenerating properly, promised to see her in five minutes - and vanished. For twelve years.

Amelia seems to be a very lonely, unhappy little girl. She has no parents, no siblings, has moved to England from her beloved Scotland, and it's implied she's at least a bit neglected, as her aunt leaves her alone in the house when she is seven years old, and has no qualms about using the stove. I wrote in my last post that she seemed too young, but although she looks young, even as a small girl she's had to grow up fast. And the Doctor makes such an impression on her at a young age because he actually notices her and shows interest in her. (Or maybe, just maybe, because he crashlands a time machine into her back garden, opens up a crack in her bedroom wall which is also a crack in the universe, exposing a giant eyeball, then runs off again.) The adult Amy, as she now calls herself, is an independent woman, but still seems to be searching for something, possibly unable to believe it when "something" returns.

Wasn't quite sure of the aliens this time around, but certainly there were a few creepy moments: the voices through the crack in the wall, the room hidden in plain view in Amy's house that she never even knew was there, and the alien disguised as a man walking his dog... but that went a bit wrong, giving the man the dog's voice. I even found those - what were they? - little models of "the raggedy doctor" a bit creepy, but I think that was because I felt I was missing something. The TV had cut out for a moment when Amy was explaining what was meant by "the raggedy doctor." Having said that, even that name has the potential to cause nightmares.

When at the end of the episode, the Doctor confronted the aliens, telling them of all the aliens that had attempted to invade the earth before, and of what happened to them (he happened to them) he spoke so matter-of-factly. I don't think I found his way of warning them away frightening like Ecclestone's rage or Tennant's cold, quiet, fury, but there was a moment when there was a montage of all of the previous incarnations of the Doctor, and then he walked out and just said, "Hello. I'm the Doctor. Basically... run." They didn't need to be told twice. That was pretty glorious.

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