David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

quick thoughts: DOCTOR WHO, "The Eleventh Hour"

The episode has an increased runtime over the standard, but it doesn't feel bloated in the slightest; it's all meat. A really strong debut for the new cast and crew under showrunner Steven Moffat, with some wonderful character moments, an excellent new Doctor and companion, and just the right level of scope: a story of a globe-spanning threat that plays out entirely in a small English village. If you're thinking "Hey, Jon Pertwee did that kind of thing all the time," that's exactly right. The new series goes back to basics while staying refreshingly new, and borrows from the best of the classic and RTD-era series while bringing in a few new gimmicks.

There are Doctors who grow on you and Doctors who nail it out of the box. Right now, I'm leaning toward Smith being one of the latter. We'll see how his portrayal evolves over the course of Series Fnarg; to be fair, he had an advantage over Tennant in that Smith's episodes are airing out of filming order, which means he's had more time to experiment and review the results than Tennant had when he started. Tennant's performance evolved quite a bit after "The Christmas Invasion;" Smith's first episode puts Eleven on much firmer ground. He's quite good, too; while he can certainly dash around and do physical shtick (his awkward post-regenerative walk is great), it's worth looking at several of his big scenes and realizing just how often Smith's choice is to stand still. During the big confrontation with Prisoner Zero at the end, Tennant would have been dashing all over the place; Eccleston would have used his posture; both of them would have been louder. Smith -- holds it. And it's a good, very effective choice. He's a bit more thoughtful Doctor than his immediate predecessors, and that'll be interesting to see.

Karen Gillan is very good as Amy Pond, though it's odd that Amy made a better impression on me as a character in the first fifteen minutes of the show, when she was a child. Grown-up Amy will have to grow on me a little. I liked her, but she's quite different from young Amy, and I just loved young Amy to pieces. It's funny how the ideal companion for the Doctor, really, is a child. It's true, though, and every kid who ever watched the show and wished they could travel with the Doctor was rooting for Amy to get in the TARDIS and go. I know, because I was, and I did. Grown-up Amy is a character I could find interesting; young Amy is a character I identified with to a surprising degree.

While I have huge respect for Russell T. Davies and everything he accomplished, I think the change in production staff will be good for the show. "The Eleventh Hour" felt more like DOCTOR WHO than any of the specials in the last year did. Davies kept trying to go bigger, do more, go epic, and that stuff can be exciting. But at base Doctor Who is a kids' show, and while its universe-spanning sense of wonder is key to the show's success, it's often at its most fun when it's dealing with stuff that's a little intimate, a little close to home, a little reflective of the world of a child. The classic show had that kind of intimacy; so did RTD's era, at its best. I hope Moffat plays to those strengths.

All in all, a solid hour of entertainment, a promising start, and a bundle of fun. Let's see where it goes from here.

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Tags: doctor who

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