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TV Review: Doctor Who – The Eleventh Hour

23 April 2010 by Phantom Troublemaker No Comment

Thanks to the fact that David Tennant was kind enough to end his run as everybody’s favorite Time Lord with a series of awesome episodes that were ultimately pretty big downers, I was way more excited for this new Doctor than I would have expected. As great as Tennant’s final telemovies are, they were kind of exhausting to watch, what with the pall of his imminent departure hanging over them.

I was at work for the actual premiere, but thanks to our handy-dandy DVR I was able to watch the episode with Mrs. Troublemaker when I got home Sunday morning.

And it fucking ruled.

As you should all know by now, I don’t do spoilers, but here’s a basic outline of what went down:

The episode kicks off right where The End of Time left off, with the TARDIS careening out-of-control through the sky; only now our hero is hanging out of the entryway, sonic screwdriver in hand, trying to regain control of the craft and the situation in general. It sort of almost completely fails to work, as he crash lands in somebody’s backyard.

This is where we get a bit of a first look at Matt Smith’s Doctor chops, so to speak. After meeting the little girl inhabiting the house behind which the Doctor crashed, we get a hilarious sequence revolving around the usual adjustment period following a regeneration. We soon get to the point where the Doctor has twenty minutes to save the Earth, and that’s where Matt Smith puts on his shit-kickers, so to speak.

I would like to make the point that a new Doctor’s first episode is not necessarily the best indicator of a new actor’s potential for Doctorhood. Part of the brilliance of the whole regeneration plot device is that it provides an entire episode for the new incarnation to be somewhat silly and disarming, giving the audience time to adjust to the new appearance and the actor time to win us over. After the awesomeness that was The Eleventh Hour, everybody should be ready to love Matt Smith as the new Doctor, but it is still up to him to keep that love.

So anyway, throughout the course of the episode shenanigans ensue (most of them very cleverly done) and we get to know our new companion, Amy Pond. I would like to go ahead and get the fact that she is a smokin’ hot redhead with legs that God never intended to get this far South out of the way and move onto how great Karen Gillan the actress is in the role. She has Rose’s vulnerability, Martha’s wit and Donna’s venom; while maintaining her own individuality. The companion is frequently the cornerstone of “New Doctor” episodes, and Gillan handles the duties exceedingly well. Sure, it’s a tough act following the legacy of great Doctors, but no matter who takes the role, it is still the same character with the same history. Regardless of the face, there is a certain respect built into the role. The companions have an entirely different situation. They have to make us accept and like a completely new character, one we have no predisposition towards. Whatever people may claim, everybody wants to like a new Doctor.
The new companion is a far harder sell. Gillan handled herself well in this first outing.

As the episode nears its conclusion, we get the Doctor’s trademark cleverness under fire and a slightly overwrought but fun solution to the problem at hand. Pay close attention to the climax of the story, as you get a look at old enemies (likely a hint of things to come) and past incarnations of the Doctor, followed by Smith’s dramatic and satisfying official claim to the title. You’ll get nerd chills, I promise.

After the Doctor saves the day and rights a wrong, we get a look at the new TARDIS interior (it spent the whole episode healing itself) and the Doctor’s new, significantly less-bulky sonic screwdriver. The new TARDIS set is a vast improvement over the previous one, and I didn’t even recognize the flaws of the old one until I saw this one. In the classic series, we saw so much more than the control room. There were corridors, living quarters and even a garden. During the Eccleston/Tennant run, there was not even a hint of such things. Now, there are visible staircases and doorways visible in the control room, clearly leading to other areas of the craft. This, along with the Doctor’s suggestion that there might even be a swimming pool in there somewhere, give the TARDIS back some of the personality it has been lacking since 2005, despite being more clearly portrayed as a living thing. I’m praying we get a new playset out of this one. I missed out on the last one and one of the old Dapol toys from the classic series goes for over a hundred bucks, so that’s right out.

I wouldn’t change anything about The Eleventh Hour and plan to watch it again when I get home Monday morning, which means episode one of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor gets a very solid:

5 out of 5 Fishsticks Dipped in Custard

Until next time, stay creepy

-Phantom

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