John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane
jkahane

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Thoughts on DW: "The Eleventh Hour"

Finally saw the first episode of Matt Smith's Doctor Who, "The Eleventh Hour", last night on Space. Figured I would offer my thoughts and comments here.



Overall, this first story of Matt Smith's tenure as the Doctor was like a breath of fresh air. From the opening theme music and credits to the style and feel of the story, "The Eleventh Hour" was pretty much fun to watch, and clearly showed how differenty new head honcho Steven Moffat envisions the show.

The first thing that struck me after watching "The Eleventh Hour" was the sheer faerie tale-like feel that the story had for the first half-hour or so and the final 15 minutes or so. Steven Moffat has said that he was going to do Doctor Who in this style and fashion, and it was intriguing to watch. The overgrown area behind the Pond (?) house, the new look to the TARDIS (more on that in a mo), the innocence of young Amelia Pond and the sense of wonder felt by Amy Pond, all of these contributed to this. For the most part, I loved this.

I still don't like the new theme for the series, or the opening credits. The cloud-scape just doesn't do it for me, and the theme itself has that horrible disco beat to it in the background (that comes out to the foreground). While there is some orchestral stuff to the theme, it seems to me to be a distant variation of the original music by Delia Darbyshire, and while it is recognisable as the Doctor Who theme, I wish they had gone with a closer-to-the-original sound for this, in keeping with the more classical feel that the Moffat series seems to have.

As for the story itself, "The Eleventh Hour"'s Prisoner Zero, and the Atraxi, were pretty light-weight opponents/villains for the Doctor and Amy, but that was all right. There was a strong psychological element to both, and the fact that Prisoner Zero had lived in the same house and watched Amy without her even knowing it for 12 years or so had the creepy element that I half expected in this story. That said, the multiform was a suitable foe for the first episode, as this story was really about Amelia/Amy Pond, and her growing up, albeit off camera, during the years between the Doctor's visits. There were some lovely touches to the story that had nods and homages to the previous Doctors. One of my favourite moments that harked back to the Pertwee first story, "Spearhead From Space", was the scene in the hospital where Matt's Doctor is finding/claiming his new wardrobe. The scene with Amy admiring his naked body (with seeming lust on her face) as he changed clothes brought to the fore the notion that this wasn't 1970's Doctor Who, but it also said volumes about the situation and Amy's obsession with the Doctor since the time she was a child.

Insofar as the two central characters themselves are concerned, we'll start with Matt Smith. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled with his Doctor's "Geronimo!" at the end of "The End of Time", but this first full episode saw Matt do an excellent job in his portrayal of this Doctor. While he's still a bit emo for my taste, I liked the simple costume that he adopted with elements of both the Troughton and Davison Doctor's wardrobe, and he came across at times very much in the Hartnell and Troughton vein, personality-wise. I've not quite warmed to him yet, but I see the potential in the character. From this first episode, however, it's clear that we'll be seeing a more physically active Doctor than we've had since Christopher Eccleston's, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the character develops. The relationship he has with Amy is very much adult, and there's obviously a good deal of chemistry between them.

And then there's Amy Pond. I was relieved that the whole strip-o-gram costume was explained quite succincty, and caused a few guffaws on my part with some of the interplay between her and the neighbour about her various roles, but to be honest, I haven't really warmed to her yet. This is a young woman with some interesting psychological issues to work through, partially due to the Doctor's presence in her life, but there's something else going on here. There's more to Amy Pond than meets the eye, and I'm certainly intrigued. She reminds me a lot of Susan Foreman oddly enough, because of the seeming inconsistencies about her, but there's also the Rose Tyler innocence to her. And then there's the business of her running off with the Doctor the night before her wedding. Why is she doing so, and who was she getting married to?

Finally, the TARDIS. I was gobsmacked by that one. What a beautiful new interior to the ship, even if I was snickering at the phallic symbol in the interior of the time rotor, and the fact that it reminded me of a sex toy for ladies. But the rest of the interior of the ship...the lovely art deco feel of the interior, the neat new toys and gizmos on the panels of the control console (a typewriter, for Goddess' sake!, among others). Very neat. I was a bit peeved to see the implication that sonic screwdrivers are grown by the TARDIS, but perhaps that has something to do with it's new youthful vigour and connection to the Doctor. I also remember thinking that the Doctor's seeming convulsions and heart problems during the course of the episode were somehow tied in to the TARDIS's rebuilding itself, and actually wondered whether the TARDIS has...regenerated...into a younger form. Hmm...

Some other random observations...

I will never think of fish fingers and custard again quite the same way. I actually have to wonder whether Matt Smith was eating them together in the scenes that were shown, and if not, what was the stuff on the fish fingers? Tartar sauce, coloured to look like custard?

When the Doctor confronted the Atraxi at the very end, and we saw the montage of various foes and the previous versions of the Doctor, I loved the fact that the continuity with the series prior to Eccleston was now included. Great stuff. Come to think of it, there were a good many homages in this story to previous Doctors, beyond the ones I've mentioned earlier.

While I appreciate that the Pandorica is obviously the big story arc for the season, tied in with silence and the crack in the wall (did you all see the crack in the wall at the end there?), I didn't like having the whole thing being pointed out to me through the story with a sledgehammer. I have to wonder whether it has something to do with the Weeping Angels and their origins, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Oh, geez, it suddenly occurs to me... There was that whole business with the duck pond and the Doctor's comment about why there's no ducks there, and how they Amy knows it's a duck pond. It seems to me that it's possible the pond has something do with Amy (Pond), and perhaps there's something to do there with the Pandorica. Hmm...

That said, overall a pretty good start to Matt Smith's time as the Doctor, and some intriguing personality elements and story threads that will hopefully be realized over the course of the season. Sure, there were some iffy bits to the story and all, but not bad at all.

I give it 8.5 out of 10.

Note: Edited to include the observation about the duck pond...
Tags: doctor who, review, tv hut
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