I have always claimed that I am not a true Doctor Who fan. I say this because (I’m seriously opening myself up to crazy negative comments here but oh well) I only really enjoy the Steven Moffat/Matt Smith Era.
Everything that came before in NuWho couldn’t quite balance the ridiculousness and the necessary human drama to be interesting or heart- wrenching.
That all changed in series five of the show, when The Doctor regenerated into his youngest form to date. It became a show that could be ridiculous, yet warm, comical, and bombastic – all at the same time. While there were some missteps along the way, I think it’s definitely the golden age of the reinvigorated Doctor Who of the new millennium.
Now, sadly, Smith’s tenure as Eleven is coming to an end. So, I figured there was no better way to ring in a new beginning than by reviewing the entirety of Smith’s run on the show (save for the final, gasp, last two episodes). Let’s get started!
Series Five of Doctor Who is all about how one views the stories they’re told. This can be seen through the idea of space fairy tale imagery and most notably the heavy use of perception filters throughout the series. So, I thought the most adequate way to appreciate Year Five was by reviewing it, plain and simple. Basically, I’m going to tell you how I perceived this series.
5×01 “The Eleventh Hour”
With his TARDIS in ruins, the newly-regenerated Doctor with the help of Amy Pond must save the world in less than twenty minutes from galactic policemen known as the Atraxi. (Episode synopsis by garykmcd of IMDB)
In the first few minutes of the show, we meet the characters that we’ll be stuck with (bad phrasing) for 2+ years. There’s The Doctor, still trying to figure out who he is as a newly formed person, and young Amelia Pond.
This first scene will always remain one of my favorites for the entirety of the next three series, and it sets up an interesting arc dynamic for the two main characters.
You’ve got this new Doctor, who’s trying to figure out what his taste buds prefer. It serves as a great metaphor for where this character is going to be going throughout the episode. He’s got some internal work to do, some thinking about how he’s going to be in this new body.
And what a body it is. Okay, I don’t mean it in a creepy “He’s so hot!” way, but in a more critical one. Smith’s performance is entirely connected to how he moves. It’s more of a gawky, clumsy performance than David Tennant offered up. So much of the character comes though in the way Smith runs, jumps, licks things he shouldn’t be licking, and shouts giddily.
Then we’ve got Amy Pond, who starts off the show as a young girl praying to Santa, and ends the episode as a young woman (Karen Gillan) who’s kind of bitter about being left behind for 12 years by her “Raggedy Doctor.”
The opening scene works as a great metaphor for Amy’s character growth as well. She’s going to be bending over backwards for this strange man for just about the rest of her life, but she’s going to be let down on more than one occasion.
One of the things I enjoy the most about Steven Moffat’s turn as showrunner is his pacing. Things move much faster when he’s in charge, and that results in an episode that is pretty much an opening scene transitioning into one long climax.
While that could be perceived as a bad thing, I don’t think it is. The episode starts off sort of slow (but even at that point it’s still engaging) and then just ramps up the tension to the breaking point. There’s literally a ticking clock element to the plot.
I’m sorry, but I’m going to find myself dipping into the metaphor pool one last time here. Really, though, it’s warranted.
This episode is the perfect metaphor for where the show is heading. It seems to always remain in a constant state of upping the ante. This could derail the show (sometimes it does) but overall, it’s a model that works for this show, especially when it’s employing true season-long arcs for the first time in NuWho history.
Closing: How about them cracks? They couldn’t possibly be all that important, could they?