Sunday, 23 May 2010

On 23.5.10 by KieronMoore in , ,    2 comments

As the new series of Doctor Who passed the pivotal episode 8 mark yesterday (8, it's like, 2 cubed, can't beat that for significance), I thought now would be a good time to blog about my thoughts on the series so far. Well, either that or I've been meaning to do this since around episode 4 (2 squared, see the pattern?) and just haven't got around to it until today, the one Sunday where I have an exam the Monday immediately afterwards.

Overall, I've been loving the series so far. In my opinion, Matt Smith is a lot better than David Tennant. Tennant is a great actor but Smith's Doctor is more eccentric and alien. The anger bubbling below the surface of the Eleventh Doctor is more crazed and sudden than the dull angst of the Tenth. Here's someone who won't keep stopping to cry about the loss of Rose 'most important chav in the universe' Tyler. His mannerisms, voice and even costume are also improvements; connotations of his eccentricity and superiority, whereas Tennant's sometimes felt like he was trying to be too cool and "one of the guys". In fact, I like Matt Smith's Doctor so much that I was extremely tempted when I saw a life-sized cardboard cut out of him in a shop. Only the practicality of carrying it on the bus home prevented me.

The quality of the writing has also improved. It seems that Steven Moffat puts a lot more thought into giving his series a strong plot that all fits together; the storyline about the Doctor investigating Amy's crack (sorry) is proving a more interesting story arc than previous attempts like Bad Wolf and will most likely have a better resolution than "companion inexplicably becomes God and causes everything". I also very much like the character development going on with Amy and Rory; having the companion's
fiancé on board adds a fresh new dynamic to the show that's different to what has been attempted before. I've also got to give credit to the new team of directors, Adam Smith especially. It seems that the production quality has dramatically increased since the RTD era, which is remarkable considering that the budget went down. The variety of interesting camera shots Adam Smith presents is worthy of high praise, especially that lovely zigzagging track through the Delirium Archive in The Time of Angels and his David Fincher moment of the Doctor's recalled memories of the village green in The Eleventh Hour.

The Eleventh Hour was a very strong opener to the series and remains one of my favourite episodes ever. Moffat is at his best here and the story benefits from the extra time it is allowed.

Unfortunately, Moffat's writing was not quite as good on The Beast Below, but it was still a very good episode. The somewhat steampunk aesthetic of Starship UK was very nicely done. However, the episode seemed a tad rushed, as some of the guest characters could have done with some more screen time and it would have been great to have seen some more of Starship UK.

This criticism also applies to Victory of the Daleks. I'm afraid to say that this was the weakest episode of the series so far. Mark Gatiss's writing just didn't really have that much depth, as Churchill didn't do much or become emotionally affected by the events - he seemed there for the sole purpose of having the 'token early in series historical figure'. Also, the viewer was meant to care about that woman in the bunker whose husband died, but I bet less than 1% of the viewers even remembered her name (it was Blanche, I'm in the intelligent/really nerdy percentile). Actually, was it her boyfriend? Her fiancé, maybe? See! Maybe a bit more screen time would have solved this problem. And then there was the Daleks. Oh, the Daleks. I can't say I like the new models, which have been inspired by the Teletubbies (might as well put screens on the front and go for the full effect). I prefer the RTD-era look, the shape and colours were more threatening, but, hey, the BBC have to sell merchandise somehow!

Now, I loved Blink but didn't think the Weeping Angels should return. They seemed like the kind of villains that work best as one-offs, but I changed my mind after The Time of Angels, it was a brilliant episode! Moffat pulled it off by doing a totally different type of story with them - the Alien/Aliens comparison he used was perfectly appropriate.
I nearly missed Flesh and Stone due to a crazy suicidal druggie going on an automobile rampage in the car park of Hebden Bridge Co-Op and causing a minor dent in my dad's car and at least 2 others, but on the up side, after all insurance and police chappies were informed of the incident, it was another excellent episode. Overall, this two-part story was good enough to rival The Eleventh Hour as my favourite story so far. I don't understand why some people don't like two-parters; they're much better paced and so allow for a stronger, deeper story. Initially, I thought I'd noticed a continuity error at the scene where the Doctor had the jacket on despite previously losing it, but, looking closely at that scene, his watch and even his mood seem to change as well - is this a clever plot device that will be explored in the finalé? Exciting! The changing length of his hair was definitely a silly error, though.

The Vampires of Venice was another strong episode, if not original or exceptional enough to place it among the best. Venice is a beautiful city and it was great to see it shown well in Doctor Who, albeit actually filmed in Croatia. The resolution seemed a bit rushed, with it not really clear what happened to the fishy boys in the canals.

Amy's Choice wasn't as good as Moffat's episodes but I consider it to be the best non-Moffat episode in the series so far. It developed the TARDIS trio's characters effectively and reassured me that there is a reason for my fear of old people. Now it's only my fear of young people and my fear of people that are irrational. Toby Jones was great as the Dream Lord and I love the manically clumsy side to Matt Smith's Doctor as here he knocks an old lady off a roof with a lamp. What next, hitting a Dalek with a comically large spanner? Oh.

I'm usually optimistic about Doctor Who, but my expectations for The Hungry Earth were set to low, fearing that the Silurians would be a bit... rubbish. However, I liked it more than I expected, as the creepy atmosphere worked brilliantly, and the episode had some lovely colours in it. I like lovely colours. I still don't like the look of the Silurians - some more lizardy frills would have improved them and I really don't know why they weren't given some reptilian contact lenses. Also, unusual sex appeal aside, why would a female reptile have breasts? On the other hand, when you consider that the original Silurians had naturally evolved ray guns in their heads, modern Doctor Who is, by comparison, scientifically plausible. A plus side of this episode was that it seemed to make the viewers care more for the guest characters, giving them more emotional depth than say, that dude who blew himself up in The Vampires of Venice and the aforementioned "that woman" in Victory of the Daleks, this despite Meera Syal's less than fully convincing acting. The cliffhanger could have been better; revealing that there was a whole civilisation of Homo Reptilia under the Earth worked in theory, but the reveal could have been more dramatic. Perhaps the scene of Amy about to be vivisected (not dissected, as her fellow captive wrongly called it) would have made a better final scene. Also, despite this being part of a two-parter, it could actually have benefited from being slightly longer. I say that because of the deleted scene shown on Doctor Who Confidential of the Doctor and Amy discussing Rory while walking towards the "big mining thing". This was a lovely little scene which, as well as looking great, would have added to the wonderful character arc and it's a shame that they cut it.

Overall, I'm very much enjoying this series of Doctor Who. The story, main characters and directing are superb and I look forward very much to the rest of the series, as well as the Adventure Games. Free video games are never a bad thing! I'd only suggest that the BBC allow longer episodes in future series.


  1. Mostly agree with you. Amy's Choice and The Eleventh Hour have been my favourite.

    Your very picky though. You complain about 'dissection' e.t.c. Your problem with a programme about a 900 year old time lord is scientific terminology. Oh dear.

    Finally, the 'David Fincher' shot in The Eleventh Hour remains one of my favourite shots. EVER.

  2. The "dissection" comment wasn't really a complaint. It makes sense for the character who said it not to know the difference; he's a miner, not a scientist. (But now I think about it, what if kids learn the wrong meanings of words from Doctor Who? That would be bad.)