Monday, April 05, 2010
A Quick Word On... Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour
It opens the way most significant episodes of Doctor Who in the last few years have: a panning shot spins around the earth to show the enormity of it, the sheers SCALE of our world alone, and then it rolls in, to focus on one individual whose life is about to be changed.
It's a classic opener that's become the trademark of the now sadly departed (from the series!) Russell T. Davies, a man who really was the only one of many attempts over many years who seemed able to bring the beloved show back to our screens.
But it's with this opening scene that similarites end. Matt Smith portrays the eleventh Doctor, and along with a new face we have a new theme tune, logo, TARDIS, assistant, and an entirely new feel to the whole show. The colours even feel different, somewhat more washed out and magical, and at first it's hard not to be intimidated by them.
But there is good reason why we have faith in the process. Replacing Russell T. is the sublime Steven Moffat, who has authored all my favourite episodes so far, including The Empty Child, Silence In The Library and Blink. It is he who has written the first few episodes of the season, and his characterstic wit, and superb handling of the Doctor as a character of power and enigma shines through stunningly here. The villains of course, are once again unique, unusual, and worthy of recurrence.
And what of Smith and his new companion? Karen Gillan who plays Amy Pond takes some warming up to, but it becomes evident that she is somewhere between Donna and Rose - pretty, insecure, eager to escape her average life, but at the same time incredibly powerful and unwavering. She doesn't really get to give the role a good go in this episode, but so far there is nothing to complain about.
And Smith? Quite frankly, he's superb. He's got the perfect face for the role: noticeably young, and yet with a face marked by a wisdom far beyond his age. His personality is perfectly tuned to suit the role and make his own - much madder - version of the Doctor, yet I occasionally heard small twinges of David Tennant in his performance, a nuance not easy to pull off.
Without spoiling too much, there is a whole lot going on in a very short space of time, and the episode only just manages to resolve it all and introduce our new setting before the end. It's a classic plot though, and holds up with pride and dignity, and just occasionally classic Doctor Who special effects.
I have predicted ever since it was announced Moffat was taking the reigns that this would be the best season so far. After seeing the first taster of it, I stand by that statement. I remember in 2005 when Christopher Eccleston revived the Doctor the feeling that this was a landmark, an exciting reinvention of an ageless character happening right before my very eyes. I make no hesitation in announcing that the same is true of The Eleventh Hour, this is a new age for the Doctor, and I am hugely excited to see where it leads.
This will not be one to miss.
Lastly, The trailer for John Marsden's film version of Tomorrow, When The War Began, came out today. My initial skepticism of this Australian made movie is starting to wane, as the production value looks spectacular. What do you think?