Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Doctor Who Review: The Eleventh Hour

So after the mess that was The End of Time, especially the ending where we see the Doctor doesn’t want to change, it was hardly going to be an easy job getting viewers to like the new Doctor. Add to that a change of companion, production team and Tardis, and you’ve got yourself quite a challenge. Is this a challenge that The Eleventh Hour succeeds in though? Well, let’s take a look.

This episode starts with a little girl calling for help, and the Doctor arriving. This really brings us back to the basic idea as the Doctor as just a man who helps people, without all the baggage of him being a lonely god and a destroyer of worlds brought to us courtesy of Russell T. Davies. It makes it simple and easy for us to get a hold of. If you’d never watched the show before, this would be a great place to jump on. It also allows for two things to take place in the plot; the post-regeneration without a companion and the introduction of Amy Pond. Normally the changes between actors have a companion with them so that the audience can understand that this is the same man, and see the problems of accepting this with his friends. We don’t have that here; instead there is a little girl. She accepts the Doctor and so that’s a good cue for the viewers to accept him too. Also, it allows us to have the Doctor act in strange post-regeneration ways without the new companion running away thinking he’s mad. The idea of the young Amy and her having to wait until she’s older gives a new spin on the meeting of the companion and allows for greater development in later episodes.

The main plot is relatively simple, alien prisoner on Earth; if he’s not found then prison guards will destroy Earth. There is not in that which would be confusing, and this allows us to get to know the new cast without getting distracted. How this simple plot plays out though is brilliantly detailed though, with the small parts of Jeff and his Gran providing great amounts of humour; the strange Prisoner Zero giving a new and unique villain (if not the most visually impressive) and many other things that it would take far too long to go into. You might as well just go and watch it instead. This is a very well made and interesting story, of the best from Matt Smith’s run, and would have worked well even if it had not been a regeneration story, unlike certain others (The Christmas Invasion).

The two jobs of this episode were to tell a good story and introduce us to the new cast. It worked on the first, but did it pull off the second? Yes. We get to see all the different aspects of the new Doctor, from his childlike silliness with Amelia, to his stern hard will with the Atraxi. It provides a large range of emotion and action for the new Doctor, Matt Smith to play with. And he does it fantastically. Can the same be said for Karen Gillan? Yes, but to a lesser degree. She gets a lot to do here and a lot of different emotions to convey, but most of them just end up being shouty. This is a problem that I’ll look at more in other episodes of this series, but Karen Gillan really doesn’t hit her stride until series 6, and in series 5, she just seems to be loud and shout a lot. That’s not to say she’s awful, but next to Matt Smith, who is a far better actor, it’s sometimes a little off putting. However Amy Pond is well written, Karen is very attractive and she’s not the worst companion ever, so it’s still fun to watch her.

Overall this episode succeeds in all the tasks set for it and not only does it introduce us and make us like the new Tardis crew, it also tells a brilliant story to boot. One of the best.


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