Saturday, April 03, 2010

Doctor Who - "The Eleventh Hour" (5x01)

After a while where I didn't have any shows I was really excited to watch week to week, it's getting to be an embarrasment of riches with Lost, Breaking Bad (which I'm still working on catching up on, but will be weekly soon), soon Treme and today the new season of Doctor Who, featuring a new Doctor and new producer. I didn't enjoy the first episode quite as much as the rest of the internet, but I think it's a strong introduction to the character, stronger than either of the new companion introductions from RTD's run. And, even if the main plot never quite came together, there's enough great moments along the way to make it a solid episode.

While it was frustrating to have the show take nearly two years off between series, I think it made it easier to transition to the new Doctor. Tennant's run was decidedly closed off by the epic “Journey's End,” and laid to a gentle sleep over the course of the five specials. I was still very sad to see him go at the end of “The End of Time,” but it felt appropriate and I was emotionally ready to move on. The closure those specials provided made it clear that we had reached the end of one story, and this series is the beginning of another.

And, I think Matt Smith did a great job of keeping consistent with the character we'd seen under Eccleston and Tennant (as well as the previous guys), but not feeling derivative. He seems a slight bit edgier than Tennant, a bit more prickly, but still with that same joy for life. After one episode, I accept and believe him as the Doctor, and that's perhaps the greatest thing this episode could achieve.

Similarly, I really like Amy Pond, and am curious to see how their relationship develops. I feel like Davies did all variations of the Doctor/companion in love, so I'm not sure where their relationship will go and how it will develop. The obvious set up is for some kind of love triangle, or at least emotion triangle, between the Doctor, Amy and Rory, but we'll see how that goes. I'm assuming that he will not return her to her wedding morning as promised and that will be a source of conflict.

In terms of specifics about the episode, I think the opening sequence worked really well, and had a great fairy tale quality. It brought us into the world of the new Doctor and set up Amy's personality and their chemistry. The thing that didn't work for me was the conceit of the door that you could only see out of the corner of your eye, it feels like a retread of previous Moffat ideas, like the statues from “Blink.”

And, the A story of the attacking aliens and coma people didn't do too much for me. It felt like things took a while to get rolling again after the opening, like we were one step ahead of the characters for most of it. There were some fun gags and character beats, but I never really felt the enormity of the threat. I know it's a season premiere and it's not time for an operatic epic conflict yet, but this one felt really flat for most of the episode.

Things picked up with the great moment of the Doctor slamming the fire engine ladder through the window and tricking the Multi-Form alien into exposing itself. And then the final scene on the roof was a fantastic declaration of purpose. As a viewer who's been through several doctors now, the montage of old doctors, punctuated by Eleven walking through and claiming his identity was the high point of the episode.

And, the final beats in the Tardis were really strong as well. The new design looks great, and it left me eager to see what happens next. So far, I didn't feel the same emotional charge as in the best of RTD's episodes, but it's early going, and the trailer for the rest of the season looks fantastic. I'm on board with the new Doctor and am looking forward to having the show finally back on a weekly basis.


suncore598 said...

Did you get the feeling that the Eleventh Doctor was lying to Amy about there being no reason for him choosing her as his new companion other than him being the lonely? Maybe there's a connection between her and the mysterious crack in space-time.

Patrick said...

That's definitely possible. It seemed like he crashed there by accident, but Amy having a larger purpose was definitely implied. I'm eager to see how that develops, and how they'll do it in a different way than Rose's Bad Wolf destiny from the first season.

malpractice said...

i still have to watch the last Tennant season and the specials but i am looking foward to the new season. It will be a fun DVR catch-up when i get to it.

Patrick said...

You've got to watch that last Tennant season, it's amazing, the most consistent the show's been to date. Will Moffat top it? I don't know, it'll be pretty tough to do. The specials are solid as well.

Mr.Evil said...

The episode was pretty good, but wasn't as surprising as I wanted to be. I wanted Smith to be as different from Tennant as Craig was from Brosnan, but so far he's been pretty Tennantish. The episode itself was very similar to the ones from RTD era, only less campy, over the top and without annoying plot holes. It's still my favourite show on television, but I would like to change a little bit.

Patrick said...

I'd agree that he's very Tennantish, and, while I liked the episode, I think it may have been overpraised a bit online, considering it both retreaded a lot of previous Moffat beats and ideas, and wasn't very different from your standard RTD era episode.

As I said in the review, I thought Smith did a good job of stepping in to the role and making us accept him as the character, but the episode as a whole was a bit hit and miss.