Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Imagine How Hard Typing This Post Was When Your "d" Button Is Busted
So, that's the first season of the rebooted Doctor Who done and dusted, and if I could summarise it in a sentence, it'd be OBE for Steven Moffat, please.
If I was looking for an easy job in TV, Doctor Who would be about the last I'd look at. It's a family drama with an explicitly kid-pleasing remit, thanks to the vast sales of Cyberman masks etc. that have so delighted the BBC, yet it has a fanatical fanboy following who demand the show stays true to its roots. The new series' producers had to follow collossal success on a much-reduced budget with an all-new and unknown cast.
As a series it was mixed, with some weak episodes and some triumphs, but the overall standard was high and there was something for everyone - enough self-referential nudges to keep the hardcore following happy, with enough running around and monsters to entertain the kids; leggy Scottish hottie for the Dads and enough flashbang and snappy dialogue to entertain everyone else. Some thoughts, in no particular order -
- If you've followed the series for years, Matt Smith knocks the spots off David Tennant in the lead role. Smith's Doctor is the first convincingly alien effort since Tom Baker - in his element with technobabble and time-travel, but incapable of making smalltalk and as awkward as a priest in a knocking shop with social situations. He does gravitas with intelligence; emotion without mawkishness and comedy without mugging like a twat; all areas in which his predecessor struggled.
- That said, it may take at least another series for the public to warm to him. Bluntly, the problem is that Tennant's Doctor was Mr. Sex Appeal McCool, all Sonic the Hedgehog spikes, panache and photogenic posing. Smith's Doctor is a giant, ungainly dork and a woeful geek in a bowtie.
Smith's take on the role is in character, clearly inspired by the Doctors of the sixties and seventies. Unfortunately, I have a horrible suspicion that the public found the action hero version easier to swallow.
- Season opener The Eleventh Hour was by far the best episode and perhaps the finest slice of popular entertainment on the Beeb for years. It was hugely charming, quirky and gripping, pulling off the distinctly new trick of being compelling and fast-paced without having the characters run about like dafties for the entire episode. If you didn't like the rooftop scene where Smith states his claim to the role, this series is not for you.
- Victory of the Daleks was the weakest episode, being much more in the running-about-daft while things explode vein. For that reason, I expect it'll be the one that kids bug their parents to watch again; I can't see the sweet-but-soppy Vincent Van Gogh episode troubling too many front rooms throughout the country. Victory will be the one that shifts action figures for the BBC and stumps up the cash for the next series.
- Ah, the cash. The BBC need to get their finger out here, because this show pulls in gigantic revenue for the Corporation and the last series was notably cheaper than previous ones at times. You have to speculate to accumulate, guys.
- A couple of episodes - The Beast Below, Vampires of Venice, The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood - were a bit Doctor Who by numbers. That said, they were snappy and professionally done, and wasn't a single one anywhere near as bad as, say, that Godawful one with Peter Kay. Or that one with the little girl and the Olympics. Plus, while many of the stories contained the much-lamented pish-science and plot holes, none of them featured an ancient, midget Doctor being restored in Christlike glory by the populace of Earth wishing really hard.
- I like Alex Kingston, but she could dial it back a bit on the ham acting. Just saying.
- Finally, the series produced one absolute star, and that was Caitlin Blackwood as young Amy Pond. Funny, bold and cute as a button. "You're Scottish - fry something!"
Best bits: "I kept biting them"; The Doctor stepping through the image of all his predecessors to formally introduce himself; "What in the name of sanity have you got on your head?"; Jumping out of the stripper's cake at the stag do; Interrogating the Silurian prisoner in the church basement. Rory's inept swordfight with the giant space-fish geezer; The cast realise they're surrounded by an army of murderous alien statues; "This isn't going to be big on dignity!"; Amy disbelievingly touches the pile of dust that her fiancee just became; Menaced by an alien on a TV screen; The Pandorica opens to unexpectedly reveal the leading lady.
More, please - lots more.