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Zeke 04-08-2010 10:23 AM

Doctor Who: The Smithening
So the Eleventh Doctor's adventures have now begun! Took me by surprise -- I assumed the wait would be at least six months.

"The Eleventh Hour" (cute, Stephen) is a new beginning in several ways. We've got a new Doctor, played by Matt Smith; a new companion, Amy, with a new supporting cast (it's a safe bet we'll see them again); a whole new TARDIS interior since the Tenth Doctor decided to trash the place; a new look-and-feel (title sequence, onscreen fonts and such); and a new head honcho, Stephen Moffat.

I'm guessing not much will change with Moffat's takeover. It's like when Brannon Braga became Voyager's showrunner in Season 5 -- he'd already been writing half the episodes for years, so it wasn't some wild change in direction. Moffat wrote many of the Tenth Doctor's defining episodes, and his style is a lot like RTD's. (He lacks some of Davies' bad habits, but he has some of his own to make up for it.) In fact, so far I find the Eleventh Doctor too much like the Tenth, especially his dialogue. But he's bound to grow out of it.

More from me later, perhaps. What did you folks think?

Chancellor Valium 04-08-2010 09:19 PM

Well, it wins the Most Eggy Curate's Egg Since Human Nature Award...

More seriously, there's more good about this than bad, and it feels like this is the first time I can say that in five years.

Which is not to say it was without flaws. The food scene was far, far, far, far too long (really, one line would have sufficed), there was rather too much trite 'action' (cf: the completely pointless TARDIS flying sequence, the silly 'rewind'), the ultimate resolution negated the solution to the crisis point, the subsidiary characters were still rather dull (not to mention unnecessary - hopefully we won't see much more of them, but this is NuWho), and there was still a peculiar imbalance between slightly sickly 'emotion' and over-the-top action-sequences, and really, really naked "scare-the-kiddies" stuff - and I mean by that that it makes a Bob Holmes script look subtle.

And the series is still seemingly being written around big stunts/CGI effects. Oh, and the new theme and title sequence are appalling. Truly appalling. I also really object to cod metatextuality - you've just shown me the Doctor saving the world and how it's done - I don't need a supporting character to repeat it back to me - funnily enough, the audience aren't that stupid, and it's just annoying.

Murray Gold's awful music is still around, too, although toned down a bit in places, and Amy I have a horrible feeling is going to turn into another contrived love-interest for the Doctor.

That being said, Smith is far better in handling the role than Tennant was, Amy came across as an actually intelligent and vaguely interesting character (and, for that matter, was more than a patronising stereotype), the plot had a fair amount of logic coherence behind it (in that point A led to point C in an orderly fashion - if this was an RTD script, everything would have been hand-waved with the sonic screwdriver and lots of people crying), the plot, for that matter, was resolved without the sonic screwdriver, and there were some nice touches of genuine originality on show - the spaceship design in particular I thought was nice, and the enemy on this occasion was vaguely novel (not terribly, mind).

It was also a post-regeneration story, and these have a tendency to be rather weak. This isn't too shabby as an example of one, though it's no classic.

Two-and-a-half Spearheads out of 5.

Since I'm the semi-annoying Classic Who obsessive around here, I'll also draw attention to the BBC website's Ebooks section, which contains a few of the more prized (and rare) volumes from the 90s. I'd recommend Lungbarrow and The Sands of Time, but there's a few decent ones there.

Edit: Spoiler-free review/preview of The Beast Below at Den of Geek, and three preview clips of the same episode over at Blogtor Who.

PointyHairedJedi 06-27-2010 11:45 AM

Well he's all right, you know, he's all right. Looking back at Tennant, and Ecclestone, I'd have to peg Tennant as the weakest of the new Doctors (though he had his moments). I think I see a touch of the alien in Smith's performance thus far of the sort that made the likes of Tom Baker and Pat Troughton such good Doctors. Lets hope it stays that way, without getting into the worst excesses of "Look at how angsty I am" of Tennant's tenure.

Also, for reference, if you ever have wondered what an Inverness accent sounds like, Karen Gillan has a pretty good example. I'm quite glad they didn't force her to change it.

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