New Who

Since we don’t have iPads to write about this side of the Atlantic, I’ll have to make do with the other obligatory blog post topic of the day: the arrival of the Eleventh Doctor.

“You’re Scottish. Fry something.”

“I’m still cooking.”

“I’m the Doctor. I’m worse than anybody’s aunt.”

“Twenty minutes to save the world. And all I’ve got is a Post Office. And it’s closed.”

“I’m the Doctor. Basically: run.”

Some great quotes and lines in this one.

Overall a LOT to take in, especially if you’re microanalysing the new guy for the first half hour as I was. I finally realised that Doctor XI was a complete success near the end, around when he assembles his new outfit, because at that point I realised I’d totally forgotten to even study his performance for the second half of the episode. There was no need: Matt Smith just *was* the Doctor.

I’m more surprised by how much I love the new companion, something that I hadn’t even thought about beforehand. Karen Gillan was terrific; and what a complex and deep backstory this episode gave her character in the process. That scene with Amelia with her little packed suitcase sitting in the garden was just heartbreaking.

On one level this was very much the crash-bang season opener that Russell T Davies made his own, and that Steven Moffat (until now the “impact player” able to do one smash hit story a season) hasn’t had to do. Moffat pulled it off extremely well, on the surface very much in the style of RTD and indeed I wonder how much they intended the show to feel like a seamless transition from the Tennant/RTD era, with Smith even sounding like Tennant at times. The final showdown especially was very similar to Tennant’s début against the Sycorax – although these aliens were far more savvy, taking the hint and running for the hills rather than Tennant’s first adversaries’ attempt to double cross and fight.

Some great ideas that will have children’s imaginations in overdrive this week: the crack in the wall, the “out of the corner of your eye” alien, the multiform giving rise to some truly chilling images (the barking man; those teeth on the woman and children); the Doctor’s-eye view of the village green. It gave this real intelligence and depth, just a shame it got buried somewhat under the co-opting of Men in Black and Independence Day plots for its more prominent themes.

The only downsides? Well, some of the CGI was shaky, frankly. The new title sequence was also a little low rent (some nasty clichéd lightning forks). The incidental music in the episode continued to be too strident at times, and felt rather out of place, like an RTD holdover in a new Who world.

And then there’s the new theme tune. When I first heard it, I almost choked and certainly hated it immediately. Since then, I’ve heard it a few times more and I’m bizarrely already doing a complete 180 and finding I’m really loving it. I guess it’s like Marmite.

Or fish fingers and custard.

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  1. andrewlewin

    Addendum on the subject of the new Who theme:

    I have to say, I really like it now having listened to it quite a few times, but it does take some getting used to.

    It’s very clever, restoring some of the original classic Derbyshire arrangement of the Hartnell to Baker years, while retaining some of orchestral feel of the RTD era, but then adding something wholly new on top as well.

    There’s a Gothic feel to it, of the haunted house variety, the startling opening rearrangement seemingly seeking to raise the tension in an almost Universal horror score sense. And all of this is on top of a near techno undertrack that massively speeds up the track to add excitement.

    It’s probably trying to do way too much all at once, to be honest, meaning that it can be a bit too much to take and verging on becoming a bit of a mess.

    But what it does do is makes the theme something strikingly original and weird again, after five years of being a pretty conventional orchestral arrangement. I can admire it for that, and that’ll do while I’m learning to love it.




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