Well, the series has just finished its first part and Matt Smith is due to appear in twenty one more episodes at least, so I thought that as an avid watcher of the Doctor ever since its revival with Christopher Eccleston that I’d share my thoughts on the latest run. Firstly, I will go over every episode in order, as this seems the most logical approach and then any remaining thoughts will be discussed. Of course, I highly recommend you actually watch the episodes first as they are far more enjoyable when approached fresh.
——BEWARE, HERE BE SPOILERS DEARIE——–
The series couldn’t really have started with a bigger bang, as the first thing we see is the Doctor dead. Shot by an unknown assailant, I initially hoped this mystery would be solved in the first two parter. What it did, however, was set an overall ark for the series, with a genuine problem to be solved. That is one of the genuine joys of a time travelling narrative, the ability to show an event that will happen and have everyone work to prevent it, even though it seems certain. This episode also had the introduction of the Silence, a monster hinted at in the previous series. They are quite frankly a wonderful but terrifying idea that ironically is unforgettable, the second episode’s moments with the tallying and the blinking palms were beautifully executed storytelling and really drew you in. My only faults with this episode were the moon landing they chose to shoe horn in (though I imagine a reason will be provided later) and the cliff hanger which was followed by a three month gap. Those thing aside though, this was a good start to the series and made me hungry for more.
The third episode was the weakest in this series by quite a long way and was a very typical stand alone episode where all threads would be wrapped up after the allotted forty five minutes. The main appeal of this episode seemed to be the celebrities and the story suffered because of this I think. The idea is a good one, that of a medical drone being forced to help those who can recover on their own, but the tired ghost story aspect of it was not well done. This was a mostly boring episode with a few moments that were quite good, but overall, very weak.
I was having my doubts about the series at this point and a lot of my hopes rested on the next episode. I had heard beforehand that it was written by Neil Gaiman and the title was The Doctor’s Wife. I had thought through a few theories of my own, but none of them were right and how glad I was. This episode was an absolute joy and is almost certainly my favourite ever Doctor Who episode. The idea of making the Tardis speak and flirt with the Doctor was a joy to watch and allowed Smith to give an outstanding almost straight performance to her mad woman. I also thoroughly enjoyed the extra scenes within the Tardis and House was a great villain. It was funny, frightening, finely executed and fantastic, the fourth episode was a perfect fit for the middle of a series. My hopes and expectations peaked and while I didn’t expect this to be beaten, I did now have faith in Moffat, after having my doubts and was willing to go with him on the journey.
The next pair were again founded on a great idea but not as well executed as the latter. I really enjoyed the idea of having exact copies of yourself, a subject that the fiction book I was reading at the time was also concerned with, but there was a lot of trimming that could have been perfected. The characters in the factory were all fairly stereotypical and it was only Jennifer who had any depth. The men of the facility were very flat and completely uninteresting, making their deaths just part of the plot. It was left to Smith with his duplicate Doctor to take control and steer the episode. I must confess however that I did not see the end coming, though did predict early on that she was pregnant somewhere.
The final episode, while flawed, was very enjoyable. The fast pace kept you from caring too much about the plot holes and I just had fun on the ride. It was very weak in places, with the war being too short with some characters being almost non entities. I was glad that Rory got his moment to shine though and the final twist was a relief. I must admit to not being a big fan of River Song, so to know that the relationship with the Doctor is merely paternal is a relief, as I always thought he could do better. I did think she played the reveal moment very well and I’m now excited for what the four of them will do next.
The Doctor is fast becoming one of the best I’ve seen. At the start of the series I was worried that the catchphrases would continue without end, as there were a lot of references to things being cool. This was just a first lesson reminder however, and although other reminders were made, there were no further hats and not many cool references. The emotional side was seen far more and Smith did it very well, making us really get to grips with the Doctor. Though this series has been really quite dark, the Doctor has not been and this iteration is far lighter. He has moments of weakness, but underneath it all you can tell he’s a madman in a box who wants to help people get along.
The companions as well, as there are two this series, have also been fantastic. Amy started off a bit weak but became stronger as she was thrown into more difficulty. Rory however has been a great and consistent character, one I shall miss when his time to move on ends. Having a married couple on board has come as a relief from the problems that Martha’s pining for the Doctor brought. It has meant we still have all the romantic moments, with the rescue of Amy at the end being a great one, but do not have the Doctor being liked by someone we feel is less than deserving.
Despite some weak moments and a few plot holes, this has been one of the most enjoyable series so far. The driving narrative has led to a different feel to the show and its more intelligent approach has paid off. The cast have performed well and Moffat has proven that he’s a far better lead writer than Davies ever was. If the second half matches this, then I will be completely satisfied.
What do you think, what did you like, hate and what do you think is to come? Leave your comments below.