We don’t like you! You’re not David Tennant! Well that didn’t last long – within one episode you fell in love with a very different Doctor. A funny, awkward, geeky, old-but-young Doctor who loved fish fingers with custard of all things. As first appearances go I think Steven Moffat gave Matt Smith the best possible chance to follow on from David he could and Matt took it.
The interaction between him and young Amelia Pond is great. The combination of funny, sweet, poignant and just plain mad worked really well and Matt looked right at home in the part. I think he had the potential to take the madman in a box to a new level but something happened when Steven Moffat took over that pulled the show backwards towards the programme it had been during the classic era of Who. Moffat is a great writer – of that there is no doubt – but the way he made every single thing matter from companions with too much connection to the Doctor (which I’ll come to in a minute) to the story arcs that were convoluted when they needn’t have been.
While this set of blogs is about the Doctor’s greatest moments since 2005, it is fair to say that things became overly complicated and there was a point where both me and Jake were wondering what was going on. I’m all for intelligent TV, but if you constantly try to surprise your audience with twists in every episode or two then it reduces the connection you feel as a viewer. Consider Rose, Martha, Donna and even Wilf as the companions, their first role was to be the eyes, ears and mind of the audience in the show and as much as they were involved or tied into the story they were always he “everyman” character until the end of series episodes when they would usually go above and beyond the usual role: Rose as Bad Wolf, Martha as the Doctor’s Missionary on Earth, The Doctor Donna. Up those points though they had been the human heart in the alien world. For Me Steven Moffat pushed Amy, Rory and now Clara so deep into the mythology of the programme we the audience became somewhat detached from the show.
Doctor Who for me has always been about going on adventures and adventures coming to earth – there have been a real lack of Earth based episodes in the three years Matt has been at the Tardis controls. Again it’s that link that allows us access as the Doctor has always spent time here on Earth protecting us and of late there have been fewer episodes that, as a child, you could imagine the Tardis appearing at the end of your road. Also the obsession with the Second World War is being overplayed there are other points in the UK’s history worth examining. Matt is a good actor; he might not have the range of Tennant, but he can deliver good performances and was a very likable Doctor so why hasn’t it really worked?
That aside this episode stands out as being a great example of the funny, scary and plain weird episode that Doctor Who does best – not to mention great performances from Olivia Coleman, Annette Crosbie and Caitlin Blackwood as the young Amy. The monster is by-the-by and in most introductory episodes it’s not about the baddies it’s about the Doctor establishing himself, but for me Smith never quite clicked in the way he did in this episode.
An example of history and future combining for the Doctor:
Next Time: Vincent and the Doctor