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Review: The Eleventh Hour


The Eleventh Hour is the first episode in the 31st Season of Doctor Who.

Review

There is something magical about a new Doctor. Undoubtedly because the regeneration trick created so long ago to allow William Hartnell to leave also enables the show itself to regenerate along with its main character and here, it’s all change; Stephen Moffat takes over as head writer, Matt Smith stars as the new Doctor and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, the new companion. Throw in a new TARDIS, a brand new sonic screwdriver and new title credits and music, and there’s not a lot left from the previous era.

And that’s a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved David Tennant as the Doctor but after seeing “The Eleventh Hour” my heart weeps for the fact that his Doctor didn’t have the same opportunity to get such a clean slate when he began.

I loved the story. OK, maybe my very big writer-crush on Stephen Moffat may mean that I am a tad biased but seriously, this was a great story. It had all the elements of a brilliant fairy-tale; a magic time-travelling box appearing at the bottom of the garden, monsters hiding in the corner of your eye, and the Doctor riding to the rescue with only his genius to save the day. If I have one issue with the story, it’s more to do with the slight niggle that children may think running away with a strange man in a blue box is fine. I pity the parents having to explain to their kids that a real life stranger promising to show them his TARDIS is probably not going to really be the guy from Doctor Who.

I love the hints of what’s to come with the cracks in the universe and the “silence will fall” stuff. It was telegraphed a little too clearly for me but I remind myself what is clear for me maybe isn’t to the seven year old kid hiding behind the sofa. Speaking of which, this story is wonderfully creepy in that respect, especially the scene with Amy in the room she had never noticed when Prisoner Zero is hiding behind her back. The story ends up with this perfect mix of horror, humor and the fantastical.

The most fantastical thing, of course, is the Doctor himself. I hadn’t been overly impressed with the brief outing of Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor in “The End of Time” but I have to admit that I loved him here. His Doctor is a beguiling mix of mad genius, charming buffoon and action hero; a hand of steel in a velveteen glove. Smith acts his socks off because I come away absolutely believing that he is a dangerous 900 year-old plus Time Lord who aliens really don’t want to mess with. So long as the ‘geronimos’ are kept to a minimum, I think I’ll be very happy with Smith’s Doctor.

There are a lot of great moments: the Doctor and Amelia before he opens the crack in the wall, the speech to Jeff (and the internet history remark that follows), the arrival by fire engine to save the day. But the big WOW moment is the scene with the Atraxi on the roof of the hospital as the Doctor confronts them for threatening the Earth, which is underscored by some brilliant music. The faces of the previous incarnations of the Doctor flicker across the screen as tribute is paid to the show’s history before it unequivocally declares it’s a new era as the Eleventh Doctor steps through and declares “I’m the Doctor.” I may have whooped for joy at that point.

It’s a shame in some respects that the same honoring of the previous companions can’t be done because Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond is a good addition to their ranks too. I love that we see her story from a child to a young adult; she’s gutsy, not afraid to stand up to the Doctor but vulnerable. I loved Amy locking him into the car by his tie (please don’t try that at home either, kids) and the way she happily looked on at him getting naked. She kind of embodies all the things that I’ve loved about Rose, Martha and Donna combined. I’m a little concerned Rory is going to be the new Mickey but overall, I think the introduction of her has been the best of any of the companions since the show rebooted in 2005.

This really is another reboot. Apart from changes behind the scenes and in front of the camera on the personnel front, the TARDIS has been overhauled, and so too the sonic screwdriver. The new look TARDIS may grow on me but I love that this Doctor seems to view the TARDIS as a living creature and not just as a method of transport. His reaction on seeing the new TARDIS may not have been mine but sold me on his love for her. The opening titles and music have also changed and I can’t say I’m as enthralled with them as much as I am with the rest of the reboot. In fact, this is probably my major complaint.

And in saying that only the opening credits are at the top of my complaint list – well, I think that speaks for how great the rest of the episode really was. A magical start; I loved it, and I’m certain I’m not the only one wishing that a certain TARDIS would appear at the bottom of my garden.

Previously published on Geek Speak Magazine.

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