After having waited for what has felt like an eternity, here’s just a few thoughts on tonight’ s episode of Doctor Who, “The Eleventh Hour,” the first new episode of series 5, and the first to properly feature the new Doctor, the new companion, the new TARDIS and new sonic screwdriver and new titles and themes and new everything!
Actually, I don’t want to say a whole lot about this episode. Partly because I’m still in shock from it, of sorts, and part because I want to reserve thoughts for next week’s episode. But what I can tell you about tonight’s episode is that it’s good. Really good. A bit cheesy and silly in places, but also dark and epic in other places.
It literally starts moments after where we last saw the Doctor, having just regenerated from David Tennant/The Tenth Doctor into Matt Smith/The Eleventh Doctor, and now the TARDIS, which is wild and out of control and on fire is spiriting over London at ludicrous speed! And the Doctor is hanging out the side, clinging for dear life!
From there he eventually crashes in the back yard of a little Scottish girl in an English village, Amelia Pond, the girl who has a name like something out of a fairy tale. Boy, does she ever. The fearless little girl helps this strange man sort out his cravings (apples, yogurt, bacon, beans, and toast don’t work, but fish sticks dipped in custard do) and then he helps her investigate the only thing that does scare her: the mysterious ever growing crack in her bedroom’s wall.
From there, the Doctor heads into the TARDIS, needing to fly it five minutes into the future to sort out it’s damaged engines, but doesn’t return til 12 years later. Amy Pond’s all grown up and hot, but has suffered from years from the damage inflicted on her by her “imaginary friend,” the Doctor, and the potential adventures she never got to share with him. Oh, and now Amy’s a kissogram girl, which is both exactly what it sounds like, and also cutesy Brit talk for a stripper.
I’ll stop there, but the story proceeds in classic opening season style for Doctor Who: There’s an alien prisoner on the loose in the house, and a hidden room in Amy’s house. The Doctor’s TARDIS is broken, and soon so is his sonic screwdriver. He’s still going through the pangs of regeneration, still unaware even of what he looks like, and on top of it, he was 20 minutes to save the Earth from being incinerated.
The episode reminded me quite a bit of series 3’s “Smith And Jones” in that the story was good, but not great, but it was a proper romp of an adventure, and the interplay and introductions between the characters were fantastic. Amy goes off for adventures in time and space with the Doctor on the eve of her wedding to her male nurse boyfriend, and you can tell that that’s going to have dark consequences as the season progresses. Nice cameo by Patrick Moore, as well. The “arc words” seeded into this series will seemingly be “Silence will fall” and something called “the Pandorica.” How gloriously sci fi. I like how Moffat is firing on all his own cylinders, but also keeping the things from Russell T. Davies’ tenure that really worked.
…except for the new title/credits sequence. The visuals aren’t terrible, but what they’ve done to the theme song is fucking atrocious. The bombast is gone. The excitement and thrill of that music smashing to life has been replaced with… a casio demo for something not terribly interesting. Glad that they didn’t actually go with the old school giant image of Matt Smith’s head floating there in the vortex.
As for Matt Smith’s Doctor… Not bad, not terrible at all. He’s still growing on me, aided by the fact that I think that Matt Smith genuinely appears to be a weird and awkward person and the writing that supports him is still pretty amazing. The sequence in which we’re reintroduced to the character of the titular Time Lord himself only to have Smith literally burst through and take his place among his predecessors worked as beautifully as it should’ve. I’m sure I’ll have more to say as this series floats on.
But before I go… My crazy theory about the “new spin” on the Doctor/companion relationship this year: I believe we’re going to see the Doctor, for the first time ever, develop an unrequited crush on Amy Pond. I know I certainly would were I in his suspenders/braces and bow tie.