New Doctor Who (spoiler-free)

Matt Smith as the Eleventh DoctorSo, the new series of Doctor Who has started and with it the reign of Matt Smith as the eleventh Doctor. I can’t believe I almost missed it. In this day of PVRs and time shifting that hardly is the earth-shattering faux pas it might have been, but still… I sort of knew the new series was coming, but I had tried to avoid getting caught up in any hype, hoping I could watch it objectively.

I knew it was on today, but I didn’t realise it was so early. I didn’t even have a Season Pass set on Tivo! Aaaaaanyhoo. Here are a few first thoughts, and in deference to all and sundry out there who haven’t yet watched it, this post shall be free of spoilers.

First of all, it was great. Anyone who was any kind of fan of the previous few seasons of the rebooted “Who” will enjoy this. Of course anyone who was a fan of the rebooted “Who” agreed that the very best of it was written by a certain Steven Moffat, who just happens to be the new controller in chief. Of course with his new great powers, comes great responsibilty and one might have had concerns about meeting the challenge of introducing a new Doctor, kick-starting the series after a year long semi-drought (only the “specials” to keep the fans going), introducing a new companion, and new Tardis even.

It was a good story, but not Moffat’s best. It recycled a few key plot elements from one of his past classics. It’s tone was noticable lighter than the “dark and scary” we have come to recognize as the signature of Moffat’s stories. However it was perfect at doing all the setting up and introduction of new characters. The new Doctor is a bit like Tennant’s doctor but a bit wackier. Also a bit more full of himself, but not in an annoying way. It may be that Matt Smith was playing the character deliberately a bit like Tennant in view of his recent regeneration (he said himself he “wasn’t cooked yet”) but if this is how the new Doctor is, I could deal with him. In short, Matt Smith has in one episode made the character his own, and only the most ardent Tennant fan-boy/girls would be complaining. As someone said on Twitter, there’s a bit of Tom Baker in him, and I can see that, a bit of an weird alien gleam in his otherwise human-like eye…

The new companion, Amy Pond, a bonny Scots red-haired hotty – what’s not to like? Jesting aside, she seems a perfect foil for Matt Smith’s new Doctor. Not as bolshy as Donna was, but independent and feisty nevertheless. The new Tardis interior is revealed, not hugely different from the previous one, but a bit more…..steampunky?

One complaint – the new music. I don’t like it. The beginning has a stupid orchestral bit to it and takes an extra few bars to get to the familiar theme. Because of this the actual best bit has been left out. You know, that bit where the melody modulates into a major key. Maybe I’ll get used to it but I don’t think so. On the plus side the visuals for the new title sequence looked good. Even the new logo (which I must confess I hated the look when I first saw it) seemed to fit in OK.

There were a few nice nods to the past history of the series and the trailers for the future epsodes look fantastic. Key enemies return (ones that you would predict, and a couple you might not) as well as possibly the return of some old friends. There was what looked like an episode set in WW2, and another with an apparent coven of female vampires (strangely NONE of them were touched by the ugly stick), as well as a few special guests such as Bill Nighy. I can’t wait for the rest of the series.

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