Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Old New Doctor Who: The Final Chapters

The first Doctor Who story starring Matt Smith, with Steven Moffat as the new head writer and showrunner, has just aired in the UK to high ratings plus generally positive press and fan reaction. This series starts on BBC America on April 17. I won’t be seeing it in all its glory for awhile, as BBC America is on a pricey tier of our cable system, and even the lower tiers aren’t worth what they charge. But I have seen this ep on YouTube. It was fun, though there wasn’t much new about it. It could well be that for me the magic is gone, at least for awhile.

This fairly tepid response is actually an improvement on my expectations. I didn’t much like the promos, the new costumes, the new logo, even what Moffat and Smith say about the changes. And I’m not crazy about the new theme or opening animation, nor the new TARDIS interior. I didn’t even like the first few minutes of Matt Smith (regenerating from David Tennant) in the last Special of last year, in which he acts daft, kisses his knee while standing up (presumably to show us he’s younger than Tennant and more flexible) and yells “Geronimo!” which I find tin-eared and offensive.

Apparently that’s a typical response for an 8 year old, who never likes the new Doctor at first. I’m a bit older than that, which may be part of the problem—a 26 year old Doctor with a teenage companion is increasingly difficult for me to relate to, especially after the dashing mercurial maturity of Tennant and—in his own way—Chris Eccleston. I’ll probably watch on YouTube anyway for awhile. Matt Smith seems a fine actor, and Moffat wrote some of my favorite episodes, so maybe I’m just being cranky and I’ll come around. But I don’t have the same good feeling about it I had from the first episode of the new Who, and the first David Tennant moments after regeneration.

But it’s fine even if I’m stuck in the past for awhile because there’s lots to absorb from the past four seasons plus. Particularly since I’ve got the final two seasons and the last specials on DVD, and intend on getting the first two seasons when I can. Plus I’ve just finished reading the 700-plus pages of Russell Davies-Ben Cook book on the 4th season and the specials, The Writer’s Tale:The Final Chapters. [text continues after photos]

1 comment:

liminalD said...

Yeah, I watched 'The Eleventh Hour' on YouTube too, as I live on the other side of the world from the UK and we're not likely to get it for a while yet here in New Zealand.

I felt the first twenty minutes of the show, with the Doctor first meeting young Amelia Pond, was quite brilliat, and I'd happily watch it again and again... the dialogue was just so rich, and the moment the Doctor said "Must be a hell of a scary crack in your wall," I was smitten, I think I'll like him just fine.

The twenty minutes to save the world, however, was downright irksome. I know it wasn't the focus of the episode, but it was just too fast and frantic with the dialogue rattled off at machine gun speed. I was left thinking, 'What the hell just happened?' and 'Who the hell were those people?'

On top of that, I can totally see that in Amy, the 'Moff Messiah' (as one RTD hater dubbed him) is cannibalising elements of his own previous creations, I see a lot of Madame de Pompadour in his treatment of the new companion, and a lot of the original Sally Sparrow from Moffat's short story that 'Blink' was based on, 'What I Did In My Holidays, By Sally Sparrow.' But hey, there was a fair bit of Rose in Donna, so I guess it's to be expected.

Overall, I don't think it lived up to the hype, but perhaps it never could, what with all those people trashing what RTD did and insisting that Moffat was going to 'save' Doctor Who. Like you, I wasn't too impressed with the new opening sequence and theme, and I'm not sure I like the 'younger' feel of the show overall, but I'm going to reserve my judgement for now, at least until we've seen the two-part River Song/Weeping Angels story mid-season. Then we'll know if Moffat really is as clever as everyone seems to think he is, or whether he's just another one trick pony