04 April 2010

Doctor Who - The Eleventh Hour

Written by: Steven Moffat
Directed by: Adam Smith

(S05E01) I'm a dumbie. I'm a fool. To have any doubts about Steve Moffat and his ability to direct this series, and in Matt Smith concerning his ability to be anything close to good as The Doctor after Tennant (who is my Doctor). Minutes into "The Eleventh Hour", I was already in love. Suffice it to say, I'm immensely happy, and I'm in good spirits. Series 5 of Doctor Who looks to be one of the best - and strongest - yet. And that's saying something, taking into account my high regard of the Davies years.

The episode begins immediately after The Doctor's regeneration inside the TARDIS after "The End of Time, Part Two", with the TARDIS crashing towards Earth. It lands - or rather crashes - on the backyard of a young girl's house. Amelia Pond here name is. The Doctor is a little woozy, still 'cooking' from his regeneration, and Amelia is definitely intrigued by this weird man. She invites him inside for some apples and yogurt, and reveals to The Doctor that there's been a strange noise emanating from a crack in her wall. Unfortunately, his inspection is cut short, as the TARDIS is about to overheat, and if that happens...well, not good things will result. Five minutes, he promises young Amelia.

For some reason or another, the TARDIS arrives back 12 years later. Amelia is now Amy Pond, a grown up 20-something attractive Scottish girl whose a kissogram. Some new revelations that The Doctor has pondered: the weird sounds calling for a 'Patient Zero', yeah, well it's a prison behind the wall and they're looking for this missing prisoner which musta got through this dimension and is currently residing at the house. Turns out The Doctor's right. And now the Atraxi, the alien species looking for Patient Zero, demand the prisoner's return in 20 minutes or the Earth will be incinerated. Fun times for a newly regenerated Doctor.

Writer Steve Moffat had quite a job ahead of him. In this one episode, he had to establish the new Doctor, the new universe, the new TARDIS, the new atmosphere, new direction, new characters, and a alien threat that ties everything together. A introduction to Moffat's Doctor Who, all in 60 minutes. And he did it splendidly. From the opening minutes of a out-of-control TARDIS zipping through London to The Doctor running around outside trying to find Patient Zero and then confronting the Atraxi on top of a hospital - it's a fast-paced episode with a lot crammed in (but doesn't feel like it). Basically, it's brilliant. The dialogue ("Hello, I'm the Doctor. Basically...run."), the storyline, Moffat's ability to weave all these tasks into a coherent story without making it feel artificial or forced. One of the greatest DW scripts of the new series.

Well now, for the big decision - Matt Smith. Is he a worthy successor to David Tennant? Yes. Will he be as good as David Tennant? Too early to tell, but I can safely say Smith is my second favorite Doctor. The casting of Smith in the role was my biggest concern, and I needn't of worried. Matt fits this role perfectly, and it seems quite effortless for the actor - right off the bat, he is The Doctor. Karen Gillain as Amy Pond is equally fantastic. For the most part, her role was reactionary and didn't have many moments to shine, but I think she's going to a worthy addition to the list of Doctor companions. Plus she's hot - nothing bad in that.

Murray Gold returns to compose Series 5, and he seems to getting off with a good start. Hints of cues that have come before, with a refined Doctor theme that perfectly fits the mood and energy of this Doctor. Murray, I already want to own the CD; you're fantastic.

So what, if any, were the cons of the episode? The only thing in this basically perfect episode that I don't like, and I don't imagine me warming up to it, is the new opening theme by Murray Gold. The rest of his score is pure gold - I love the new Doctor's theme: it molds a little of the previous incarnations melodies and adds upon it. But this new theme - ugh. It's mysterious of sorts, yes; but it lacks the big 'A new episode of Doctor Who!' momentum the previous themes had. Perhaps, just perhaps, I'll begin to like it, but as of right now, I don't see that happening. However, I got no problems with the visuals: the lightning hitting the TARDIS, the bleak blue vortex of time changing to a orange-ish color, and then the appearance of the new logo - all really damn cool. Just...change the theme...

Doctor Who is back, and it's going to be a phenomenal season. If you haven't gotten on the DW bandwagon, this is a perfect time to do so - a clean slate, a new Doctor, new Companion, and new stories. I'm just giddy with excitement! And finally, I'll leave you with a phenomenal quote from the Series 5 previews:

"There's one thing you never put in a trap, if you're smart. If you have any plans about seeing tomorrow there's one thing you never ever put in a trap. Me."
- The Doctor

Little Notes:
  • I love, love, loved the scene on top of the hospital, where The Doctor confronts the Atraxi on their whole 'incinerate the Earth' plan. When the Atraxi searches Earth databanks via hologram, and recorded footage of old Time Lord foes (I recognized the Cyberman and the Sycorax) to shots of all the previous Doctors, concluding with Matt Smith's face walking through the hologram and delivering his kick-ass line. Awesomeness!
  • The Doctor opens the TARDIS doors with a snap of his finger, a reference to the two-part Series 4 adventure, "The Silence of the Library" and "Forest of the Dead." Additionally, there's a dialogue reference to "Blink", with The Doctor saying "wibbley wobbly".
  • Amy is about to get married, a running motif with Doctor Who episodes. Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and all her wedding problems from Series 3 onwards. Martha and her relationship changes - the doctor (Tony was his name?), and then Mickey (?).

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