Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Greatest Hits

So I hate the new theme song. Let's just get that out of the way, first. The negativity. Because I am a geek and therefore on some level cannot be happy unless I have something to grouse about. I hate the new theme song. Beyond that, when "Silence in the Library" came out back in 08, and Steven Moffat was announced to be Dr Who's new show-runner, some fans worried that he'd rather run out of ideas. The squareness gun, the 51st-century setting, the "Everybody Lives" moment. (So far no one has died in a Moffat story save from old age, still, unless you count River and company, which the message of "Forest of the Dead" seems to philosophically contradict. Ie: Everybody Lives, Even When They Don't.) And "The Eleventh Hour" certainly keeps up this tradition of running through previous Greatest Hits of The Doctor, especially those from Moffat's stories. Amy's story is much like poor Reinette's in "The Girl in the Fireplace;" the aliens-talking-through-anything-with-speakers is the same as "The Doctor Dances;" and the central conflict of the episode--an alien prisoner loose on Earth being pursued by some pretty draconian aliens--is pretty much the exact storyline of Russel Davies' season-3 opener, "Smith and Jones."

But who the hell cares about plot? This is Doctor Who! There are monsters every week; that's not important. What's important is how our hero and his companion react to those monsters. Much more importantly, this is a new Doctor story, and there's only one question: How'd he do?

I'll admit I was put off by his youth. When the announcement was made, when the first publicity photos hit the air, I was a bit miffed. He's younger than I am, for God's sake. I am older than the Doctor, now. That's just not right. Not right at all.

However, I'm pleased to inform that my petty first impressions were entirely unfounded. Smith knocks it out of the park. And the script gives him ample opportunity to do so. There are a few lines which sound as though they could have been written for Tennant, but Smith does the one thing, the most crucial thing in this role: he makes it his own.

Favorite line: "Do you know when adults tell you everything's going to be fine and you're pretty sure they're lying?"
"Everything's going to be fine."

Just the reading of that line is fantastic. Smith takes to the role with energy and authority and absolute commitment. And he moves, the way he moves, all awkward and gangly, in direct contrast to Tennant's bounding about the place and Eccleston's stalking swagger. (Which was awesome, don't get me wrong. Awesome.)

Bit of trivia: This is the third time the Doctor has stolen his clothes from a hospital.

I quite like the new companion, Amy. With "Rose" in 2005 we got reintroduced to the Doctor through his companion's eyes, and it happens the same here, only with a slightly different, fractured-fairy-tale spin. He becomes an imaginary friend, a story she tells herself then forgets was ever real, until he comes back. This is the kind of thing Steven Moffat has been doing extremely well in his Doctor Who stories these past five years. I'm entirely confident that the next five years will be utterly brilliant. I can't wait.

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