A Mad Man With a Box: The Matt Smith+Steven Moffat Era of Doctor Who Begins

-by Amy Yen

It begins with a blue box, crashing through the night sky over London, past the London Eye, where Rose Tyler had to point out to Nine where the Nestene Consciousness hid, past Big Ben, where Captain Jack Harkness parked his stolen Chula spaceship, landing finally in the garden of little Amelia Pond. Amelia Pond, with her red hair & red jacket, who finds magic in her garden. It’s a fairy tale, you see, & it’s irresistible.

After the never-ending indulgence that was David Tennant’s exit from Doctor Who, “The Eleventh Hour,” the series 5 premiere & first full adventure with Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor & Steven Moffat running the show, was a breath of fresh air. It was funny & it was scary, it was dark & it was touching. It was magical & wonderful in the way that Doctor Who is when it’s at its best.

What was brilliant about Matt Smith’s performance in this story is there are just enough moments where Eleven sounds like Ten, like you can actually hear David Tennant speaking those words, & it reassures you that this is the Doctor we know & love (love the little “What? What?? WHAT?!?” & even the “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey” callbacks). At the same time, Moffat clearly took great pains to make sure he was different, a new man, & this was infinitely helped by the fact that, unlike “The Christmas Invasion,” the Doctor was up & about through his entire regeneration cycle, with only minimal reminders that he’s “still cooking.”

I loved that Steven Moffat obviously wanted to pay homage to the history of the show with this, his reinvention of it. What a fantastic extended sequence at the end, detailing the Doctor’s long, intimate involvement with Planet Earth, cleverly disguised in a plot device that also conveniently shows what kind of man Eleven is (answer: a confident one, & a righteous one), as well as paying tribute to Doctors One through Ten that came before him.

It can’t be said enough how impressive it is to introduce both a new Doctor & a new companion in the same episode. And yes, I loved Amy Pond. I loved her story, I love that she & the Doctor have this history that goes back almost her whole life (it reminded me a lot of Madame de Pompadour in “The Girl in the Fireplace“). I loved her spirit & her skepticism. I loved that she instantly loved the Doctor. I think from the moment he bent down to meet her eye & told her she  could trust him, she loved him. Then of course, he didn’t come back for 12 years & I imagine she hated him, but it didn’t last. I like the twist with her wedding.

Other notes from “The Eleventh Hour”:

  • With all that’s been made of it, I find Amy Pond’s profession pretty inconsequential. All that you can say about it is it’s not a career, she won’t be missing anything from it by leaving, she is not Doctor Martha Jones. I think it’s interesting that Moffat made her almost purposely unattached, with no family, really, except for Rory. I think Ten’s companions’ families were hit or miss & while it’s interesting to flesh out the companion’s connections to Earth, it’s not, in the end, what the story is supposed to be about.
  • Rory, of course, is the other crucial difference between Amy Pond & Ten’s companions. I love that they made Rory kind of awesome & involved in the action. He was certainly not Mickey Smith as we first met him, a fool who took two series to become a hero. If you’ve heard anything about this series, you know Rory may end up in the TARDIS yet, which is really intriguing to me.
  • Liked the new opening credits, it was same enough…but a little grown up.
  • Eleven’s Rules for Being a Good Companion: “Do everything I tell you, don’t ask stupid questions & don’t wander off.” Yeah, good luck with that.
  • The food craving sequence was funny, but it was also probably my least favorite part of the episode. I thought it went on way too long & more importantly, it was too early in the episode to be wasting time like that.
  • I thought it was very smart to make the monster of the week, Prisoner Zero, genuinely creepy. There’s something so unsettling about the multi-forms the monster took, the man+the dog, the woman+the two little girls, just flat out CREEPY. And little Amelia Pond & the Doctor? Just wrong, that was. The giant eyeball was creepy also, although the creepiest part was when the eyeball was darting in the TV set in the background of the scene. Inexplicable why it’s a human eyeball, but I’ll let that slide.
  • “The final score: no TARDIS, no screwdriver, two minutes to spare…who the man??!” HA!

2 Responses

  1. […] Who series 5 premieres on BBC America this Saturday, April 17 at 9pm ET. Be sure to check out my review for the premiere episode, “The Eleventh Hour” also (spoiler warning remains in effect […]

  2. HEY PPLS!! im 12 yrs old n i LOVE doctor who!! its the coolest show ever, its beta than merlin, harry potter, twilight and Avatar all together!! i cant wait for the next series! i get to watch it b4 any 1 else coz my dad just downloads it with his wierd…USB thingo with a card thing…yeh…

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