Saturday, April 17, 2010

This Week in Doctor Who - 4/17/10

After that awesome screening and Q&A, it's time to finally review the latest Doctor Who episode! And remember, this is coming after seeing it not only in the theater, but television as well:

Sure, we're getting it two weeks later than the UK; sucks, but, two weeks is better than two months, a year, and so on. Point is, the new series of Doctor Who is here and whether you want to call it Series 5, Series One, Season 31, the 2010 Series, whatever, you better damn well be excited because this episode was brilliant!

Episode 1 - "The Eleventh Hour"

Where shall we begin? The episode literally takes place right after "The End of Time," with our newly regenerated Doctor (Matt Smith) falling recklessly back to Earth in his damaged TARDIS, unable to fully recover from the regeneration. But before landing, I should mention, we're treated to the brand new series opening and theme, which took some getting used to, but the more I think about it, the more I liked it. And after all that, the TARDIS lands, at a house where a young girl lives, and she's been praying for someone to come fix a mysterious crack in her wall. But the Doctor can't fix it at this time, because much like himself, the TARDIS needs to recover as well, and he needs to leave before the problem can be remedied.

When he returns, however, he finds out he's been away much longer than he realized, 12 years, and that little girl is now a full grown woman, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), who is currently working as a kissogram (look it up). Upset by the Doctor ditching her for so, she's very reluctant to start trusting this mystery man that's come back into her life, even if it's in the face of global destruction. There's more obviously, much more, considering this is a 65 minute episode as opposed to the usual forty or so minutes, but despite this being two weeks after the spoiler zone, I still don't need to transcribe the whole episode.

But, I will talk about the new Doctor; and I'll tell you this much, if you had any doubts in Matt Smith taking over the role of the Doctor after David Tennant's great run, lose them now, because he's FANTASTIC. He's a slightly like Tennant, but a bit more goofy, I haven't seen too much of classic Who, so it's hard to place specifics on those Doctors but, in his Eleventh incarnation, he's still very much The Doctor. There's a great scene near the end of the episode, where the Atraxi (the supporting "enemies" of this episode) scans through data of Earth, and it goes through a bunch of clips from old and new Doctor Who, even showing the previous ten Doctors, and then Smith emerges through it all, and it's so so brilliant.

Amy is great as well; in her older self she doesn't immediately fall and trust the Doctor like Rose or Martha, she actually has some spunk and personality which was nice, but it seems like she still has a lot of character development left (the cliffhanger ending says a lot). And then there's the writing, there's such a huge difference between Steven Moffat's and Russell T. Davies' writing. The episode has some really great storytelling, and there's a big focus on the show being more of a time-traveling fairy tale more so than a science fiction tale. Even the filming style is different than the previous series, it's much more dramatic and cinematic, and it works so damn well. The CGI still isn't the greatest, but it's improved over what we've seen before. Oh, and the soundtrack is fantastic, just in case I forget to praise... y'know, everything.

"The Eleventh Hour" is a great start to this new Smith/Moffat era of Doctor Who. I mean, it's definitely my new favorite Doctor Who episode, since "Blink" (which was of course, also written by Steven Moffat), and I'm already loving Matt Smith as the Doctor. Sure the story may not be the most inventive, and there are some holes, but if this episode is any hint at what's to expect for the rest of this season, count me in, and count yourself in as well.

Overall Score: 9.5/10

I know, I feel like these Seals of Approval are just being handed out left and right recently, but this episode is just so damn good not to give it a high mark. It may seem a bit unfair, I mean, it is just the first episode in long line of more to come, for all I know they could be even better. Also, being the first in a brand new series, which unlike the last 3 series, makes it almost as accessible to new viewers as it is to long time fans. It's not open-ended like the Series 1 premiere, "Rose," as this is directly after "The End of Time," but if you've missed Doctor Who up until now, now's the perfect time to get into this wonderful series.

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