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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “The Eleventh Hour”

(tons of spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! and no comments from party poopers — this is a love fest only / previous: Season 4a, Episode 5: “The End of Time: Part Two”)

This is what I feel. Steven Moffat took another completely ordinary thing — like a kid saying “Are you my mommy?” and cemetery statuary and shadows — and turned it into something else I have to be afraid of: cracks in the wall.

I live in an 80-year-old building. The paint job in my apartment is eight years old. It’s all cracks.
Oh, and an extra secret scary room in my apartment — something else I have to worry about now. (I’ve heard that this is a common dream scenario for New Yorkers, we who live in tiny places: we dream that our apartments are bigger or weirder than they are. I’ve certainly had dreams/nightmares like that, about staircases that don’t exist in reality or nonexistent crawlspaces leading to rooms I’ve never seen before yet somehow always knew were there. And now those nightmares are gonna be worse.)

And the stuff I can just barely see out of the corner of my eye: I have to be afraid of that now, too. All thanks to this one new episode. So cheers, Moffat, for fucking up my head some more. I needed that.

Of course this is just my way of acknowledging how totally brilliant a writer Moffat is. That’s what I’m saying. I’m blown away by how well he takes the mundane and makes it terrifying. I’m amazed anew by his talent, yet not surprised, because he’s done it so well so often before.

This is what I’m surprised about: I’m already in love with Matt Smith as the Doctor.

I mean, yeah, I figured I’d love him eventually, because he’s the Doctor and I’m in love with the Doctor and I will always be in love with the Doctor. But then on the other hand David Tennant was irreplaceable, right? And Smith is too, too young to possibly pull off the 900-year-old Time Lord.

Except he isn’t. He’s nailed the riveting seductiveness of the Doctor’s:

And the charming alien goofiness:

Oh god, he’s the Doctor. He is a madman with a box. And I’m falling in love all over again.

And that’s another madly brilliant thing about Moffat’s writing in this episode. He embraces our skepticism about the new Doctor through seven-year-old Amelia, who prays to Santa Claus and accepts the utterly bizarre things she sees before her, like a crack in the wall that talks and a crashed box and the soaking-wet man who crawls out of it. She accepts that he’s there, that is, but she doesn’t accept his bullshit:

(I am in love with this kid. What a face! And how awesome would a child companion be? I know it wouldn’t work from a practical production standpoint, but the storytelling possibilities would be fantastic. It’s just what the Doctor needs: a totally fearless seven-year-old girl who won’t take any shit from him.)

And through her, Moffat makes us fall in love with the Doctor all over again. (And Smith helps, too, obviously: I don’t mean to ignore his contribution here. But this could have been disastrous if the episode weren’t so damn well written, no matter how talented Smith is.) Moffat revisits the notion he first explored in “Girl in the Fireplace,” about the child who is swept away by the idea of the Doctor — like so many of us were, if only in fantasy (and some of us a bit or even a lot older than seven). I dunno about you, but this is pretty much how Doctor Who makes me feel on the inside:

But the skepticism comes roaring back, and the Doctor has to prove himself anew to Amelia… now Amy, now all grown up. Moffat explicitly asks for us to give Smith a chance as the Doctor — just believe in him for 20 minutes, like he asks Amy to do. There’s a pun in the title of this episode, too: The Eleventh Doctor has just an hour to win us over. And by the end of that hour, of course, we are won over. And why not? Moffat also plays with the idea that Doctor Who is something just for children with Amy’s dismissal of her own former faith — “I grew up” — and the Doctor’s response: “Don’t worry, I’ll soon fix that.” He does.

It’s all very meta.

It’s also very unusual that a female character is a stand-in for the entire audience, male and female alike.

It’s genius — pure genius — on Moffat’s part to hold off on revealing the regenerated TARDIS interior until we can see it through Amy’s eyes. It’s like we’re seeing the TARDIS again for the first time.

I cried. I did. I bawled. With joy. At the feeling that I was recapturing what made me fall in love with this silly show and this silly character in the first place.

Random thoughts on “The Eleventh Hour”:

• I still don’t like the new logo. It’s too self-referential:

It’s like the question marks on the Doctor’s lapels, or the license plate on Bessie that read “Who 1.” It makes me cringe.

Oh, and I’m not crazy about the new arrangement of the theme music, either.

• I love the food sequence. Food always features pretty prominently in my Doctor Who fan fiction, because food is very important, and we hardly ever see the Doctor eat (at least, we didn’t on the classic series), and life is about food and drink and sensual things like that, and surely that would be one of the most amazing things about traveling with the Doctor: all the new stuff to eat and drink you’d come across!

If fish custard is what he’s gonna be like, though… Hopefully it’s just regeneration crisis, and he’ll settle down into something a bit less, um, disgusting.

If he’s not sure what kind of food the new him likes, it makes me wonder what else would be different about his new body. Like, would he be ticklish in different places? I bet he would be…

• Speaking of regeneration… Smith is basically third-generation Doctor. I was just watching one of the extras on the DVD of “Logopolis,” Tom Baker’s last episode, a bit from a talk show with an interview with Peter Davison, after he was cast as Baker’s replacement but before he actually started shooting. And Davison is talking about how he was 12 when Doctor Who debuted in 1963, so he’d seen William Hartnell but that he felt like Patrick Troughton was “his” Doctor. Matt Smith wasn’t even born when Peter Davison did that talk show — Smith wouldn’t be born till Davison was in his second year as the Doctor. That’s just… wow.

• Hey, wait… The crack in the dimensions? The escaped prisoner? The spiky spaceships? It’s Buckaroo Banzai!

Right?

• Twenty minutes to the end of the world? Well, as Ianto Jones said, the world’s always ending…

• American tourist alert!

You can always spot the American tourists in Europe by their matching track suits. It’s sorta frightening, actually. The best way to be an American abroad in Europe and be mistaken for a local is not to dress like this.

• Such a sad-looking dog, doncha think?

• The Doctor got poor Fermat killed before he could write down his proof? Oh, Doctor…

• There’s something a bit screwball in the Doctor and Amy’s relationship:

It’ll be nice if that can be maintained.

• Never before, I believe, has a new Doctor spent almost his entire first episode wearing his predecessor’s clothes:

Rarely before have we seen Time Lord nipples:

Amy Pond is too going to watch the Doctor change his clothes:

Amy likes naked Doctor.

Amy has grown up.

• Are we gonna get to see, at some point, what that new badge is on the TARDIS door?

• A new sonic screwdriver! And it’s green!

This can mean only one thing: there’s a new battery-operated doodad the BBC can sell to us crazy Whovians.

• I’m guessing that Myth computers are going to play a role in this season:

Like how the Atmos logo started showing up in Donna’s season before it became a plot factor.

This, too, will surely be a recurring theme this year: “The universe is cracked. The Pandoric will open. Silence will fall.”

• Oo, and who was Amy about to marry two years later? Rory? Or perhaps Jeff took the Doctor’s advice to, blimey, “get a girlfriend”?

• The new TARDIS is very 1930s, ain’t it?

Very sort of Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds, perhaps…

• This is me, still waiting for the Doctor after all these years:

If Amy Pond waiting 14 years is long enough, what about me? I’ve been waiting 25 years for the Doctor to show up. When does my turn come?

• Great quotes:

“I’m the Doctor. Do everything I tell you, don’t ask stupid questions, and don’t wander off.” –the Doctor

“What’s wrong with me? Why can’t you give me any decent food? You’re Scottish: fry something.” –the Doctor

“Beans are evil. Bad bad beans.” –the Doctor (I concur)

“I’m the Doctor, I’m worse than everybody’s aunt.” –the Doctor

(next: Episode 2: “The Beast Below”)


MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
  • BBQ Platypus

    That thing about an evil crack appearing in a wall was very scary to me especially, but I couldn’t really pin down why.

    Then I realized: It’s REMARKABLY similar to a nightmare I had when I was five, when a crack in a wall started talking. Then it turned into a door, and I opened it and got sucked into a black abyss covered in pitch and tar while the evil voice laughed and laughed.

    Steven Moffat knows what my nightmares are.

  • BBQ Platypus

    And it was a RECURRING nightmare, too. It was always different – I’d be walking around different hallways to start with, but that was ALWAYS how it ended.

    And on a related note, judging from the trailer, the next episode is going to be terrifying. Like piss-your-pants terrifying.

  • The logo on the door is for St John Ambulance, a UK medical charity that provides emergency cover at football matches, village fetes and so on.

    http://www.sja.org.uk/sja

    Moffat is copying a feature of Peter Cushing’s movie Tardis, which also had it.

    And, oh yeah, I have totally reneged on my plan to avoid fans’ reviews this season. It seems they’re not full of griping about Smith at all; quite the opposite in fact. I’m glad you loved the episode. Looking forward to your take on the next 12.

  • Scott

    The sticker on the box, I believe, is a logo for St. John’s Ambulance, part of the British emergency services; it’s a callback to the very first TARDIS prop, which was based on actual police boxes containing this logo.

  • Hank Graham

    Did you notice that the crack is visible in the picture you’ve posted of the doctor with the very 1930’s device? Just sayin’.

    And my favorite line was:

    “Amy Pond, there’s something about me you’d better understand, because it’s important and one day, your life may depend on it. I am definitely a mad man with a box.”

  • XCanuck

    And speaking of cracks in the wall, let’s not forget The Hobbit, where a crack in the wall in the back of the cave our heroes were sleeping in opened up, and (iirc) goblins came out and captured everyone.

    *shudder*

    …now I’ve got to try to sleep tonight…

  • Keith

    I’m very excited about the rest of the season! Well done all around. Think it’s going to be fun watching Smith and Gillian, lots of potential here. Many great lines and scenes in the episode.

    I do wish the first part of the opening theme was more well defined, that’s the part I like the best and it seems a bit muddled in this incarnation.

    “I’m the Doctor, I’m worse than everybody’s aunt.” This was my favorite line. Can’t wait to see the next episode. Another awesome Doctor Who episode review by MaryAnn too.

  • Rob

    I was going to say, but a few people beat me to it, the St John’s Ambulance symbol was on Hartnell’s TARDIS, originally. I believe police box’s has such things, I imagine, as they weren’t just a place you could call the police for assistance, but could also get medical aid, too. Maybe even from… a Doctor :)

  • Isobel

    Keith, completely agree about the music, the da da da dum bit at the beginning of the old music was great.

    My favourite line/s was the lead up to ‘man eats fish custard’ and that as none as that had scared Miss Amelia Pond the crack in her wall must indeed have been very scary.

    I’m so surprised (and very glad) that I liked Matt Smith so much. I really was expecting, like MaryAnn, to really have to take some time to warm up to him. Instead, kabam! thought he was fabulous.

    Do we think the Grandma (from One Foot in the Grave) and her porn watching grandson are going to be recurring characters? Also interesting that we’ve got another companion with a boyfriend (or fiance, in Amy’s case – she’s totally going to miss her wedding, though). Not sure if she was still with wet Rory or with someone else (maybe Jeff like MaryAnn suggested). Hmm.

  • Man, this episode was so great. In my humble opinion, Stephen Moffat pwns Russell T Davies every time.

    I’m so excited that this show can now be the brilliant show it should have been for the last four seasons.

  • Chris

    I have to say, I’m a fan of Karen Gillan so far, as well as Matt Smith. She has a Donnaness to her that I’m hoping stays with her. I’ll be interested to see her first reaction to being really in the shit, rather than the “intro” stuff.

  • Leslie Carr

    If Amy Pond waiting 14 years is long enough, what about me? I’ve been waiting 25 years for the Doctor to show up.

    Bitten any good psychiatrists recently?

  • It’s worth noting that Donna and Amy/Ameila as companions really represent the changing face of the fan, and, thus, are probably easier to identify with by the audience.

    Companions had previously been stumbled into, shown something extraordinary, and then asked: “Would you like to see more?”

    But Donna and Amy are different, because us fans are different. They both catch a glimpse of the Doctor and his amazing life at a point where they are going through a transformation, but then lose him (for one reason or another).

    Then, at the start of the season that features them, they meet him again. And the question no longer really needs to be asked (though it is). It’s the Companion who now begins the metaphorical dialog with: “I’ve been waiting for you, Doctor.”

    I think for those who saw and loved the original series, and then was forced to go without him for many years until the revival with the new series one, this sort of mentality is much easier to sympathize with and subsequently enjoy.

    Just my two bits about that, though.

  • RyanT

    Loved the episode. Loved Matt Smith. Love Karen Gillan. Like you, I knew the love would come eventually. Didn’t realize it was going to be in the first episode. Though really, why did any of us ever have our doubts? Pure malarkey.

    And this was NOT an easy episode to write. Moffat not only had to serve us a serviceable plot, but he had to basically introduce all of us to the Doctor again (and his companion). With so much to do, he even had time to pay tribute to the past with that montage of Doctors past. Truly brilliantly well done.

    One of my first reactions though other than me loving everything and everyone was what you said, about Moffat making mundane things scary. I tweeted right after the episode about how I’m now scared ALL the time…blinking, statues, shadows, libraries, clocks, cracks on the wall, things out of the corner of my eye. Stop it Moffat! And by stop it, I mean MORE PLEASE.

    And finally, that girl… gah! To see her in her with her coat and suitcase waiting for the Doctor? Wow. One of my favorite scenes ever.

  • i just want to go on the record that, lazarus-like, i have arisen from my Chaise Lounge of Despair(tm) at DT’s leaving. i’m neither as drunk nor chocolate stuff as i had threatened either. i think… i think… i love the Doctor again. matt smith and moffat have made it impossible to stay sunk in the depths. damn them. i was looking forward to being inconsolable for months at least.

    now, i’m looking forward to the next episode. eagerly.

  • Mo

    BBQ Platypus: I’ll see you your evil crack in the wall nightmares (I think I’ve had a few) and raise you a recurring childhood nightmare of being chased through an ancient, maze-like, marble-clad library by living shadows that would stop your heart dead if they touched you. I think Mr. Moffat has been spying on many of our childhood nightmares. The mentality of his monsters is exactly like the things that used to creep across my ceiling when I was seven and couldn’t sleep. I spent many nights huddled under the covers wishing I was somewhere else at that age.

    But of course Doctor Who itself lends itself to that. My most terrifying recurring nightmare was of a wooden box on top of a hill about the size and shape of an outhouse (or Tardis) that had a whole world inside. I would run into it to get away from my own Moffat-esque monster (which I’ll keep to myself in case I ever get a chance to write about it.) I was about 3 and 5 when I had those dreams. I never even heard of Doctor Who until I was about 19. My Tardis-like dreams were definitely something that got me interested in the show once I started watching, though.

    My first random thought of many (but the only one I have time for now): Did anyone else notice how Tardis-like Amy’s front (back?) door was?

  • MaryAnn

    Also interesting that we’ve got another companion with a boyfriend (or fiance, in Amy’s case – she’s totally going to miss her wedding, though).

    Unless, of course, in those last two years of waiting for the Doctor (again!) Amy has actually gone round the bend and has merely deluded herself into believing that she’s getting married… perhaps to the Doctor himself!

    I would be surprised if there wasn’t more going on with Amy than just “she’s supposed to get married tomorrow.”

  • Steve (UK)

    Wow, Matt Smith is no David Tennant but he is certainly a Doctor!

    The opening sequence was ledge!

    The titles suck though.

  • Monica

    I still haven’t fallen completely i love with Smith, though I’m almost there. Thought the episode was brilliant though. Thanks, MaryAnn, for pointing out all the meta in the story. I’m just hapy the fandom has decided not to throw itself off the collective ledge.

  • Jennifer

    Honestly, one of the things that impressed me the most (and I too had been bemoaning the loss of DT) is how much wiser and older this much younger Matt Smith’s Doctor is. There were places in this episode where I think Tenant’s Doctor would have taken an arrogant, mocking approach (and I loved his arrogance, so I’m not saying this is a bad thing) and where Matt Smith is instead like a gentle parent, guiding people (geniuses, world leaders,aliens…Jeff) to the right decisions. And it’s all delivery — I know that in interviews Moffat said how blown away he was by Smith’s interpretation of the Doctor, but that’s what he’s supposed to say, of course he’s going to say that — but I find that I too am blown away by it, and I very much hope Matt Smith can keep this up.

    Oh, and I am SO relieved that Amy Pond didn’t actually turn out to be a police woman. Kiss-o-gram is much better. Quite a bit of drama in the making, I think, when she finally realizes that the Doctor’s invitation is not so much loneliness (okay, maybe a little) but that, Donna Noble-like, he feels that he needs to keep Amy, now tied to a universal Big Bad(tm), under a watchful eye. (I liked the reveal on the Tardis monitor showing a sine wave exactly the same shape as the crack on Amy’s wall…clearly the Doctor’s on the case…and Amy is Clue #1 to what’s wrong with the Universe.)

    Wow, a *lot* when on with this episode, and now I can’t wait for the next one.

  • I_Sell_Books

    What I love about Matt Smith is that he’s very English. I mean, proper, Masterpiece Thee-a-tuh, thatched roof cottages, tea at 4pm kind of English.

    I miss David, but I’m really glad that Matt is definitely The Doctor. Unlike, say, Dr #6, who I just couldn’t stand and didn’t watch any episodes of save the first two.

    ugh, customers!

  • Dave

    There is definitely more going on with the wedding for Amy then we are told. I mean in her eyes the Doctor has said 5 minutes and it took 12 years and then 2 more but she just blindly accepts that he can get her back by tomorrow morning? Moffat is a better writer than to have something that blatently out of character. She really doesn’t want to get married I’d bet money on it.

    I will say something else though and just point out my only minor problems with the episode. I hate seeing the Tardis flying. It just doesn’t seem right to me, and when the episode started with The Doctor hanging out of the doors of the Tardis I cringed it just was wrong on so many levels for me. However he sold me with “Beans are evil” and I loved the rest of the episode.

    Also was anyone else transported back to Tom Baker trying on all of the silly outfits in his first episode for the food scene? First place my mind went and it was just a great a scene

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    Dave: If it’s Rory, I’m not all that surprised she’s running off.

    I liked and felt sorry for Mickey in the first couple seasons. He was a nice enough guy who was simply outclassed by The Doctor, and eventually grows into his own though adventures with the Doctor and the rest. Rory, however, struck me as a possessive, passive-aggressive twit in serious need of a backbone. (The archetypal “Nice Guy™” type)

    MAJ: Near perfect agreement with your take, with a couple small notes.

    The new opening theme is growing on me.

    The one thing I’m going to really miss about Tennant is how expressive he is in the eyes. Smith makes up for it in physicality and verbal range though; wonderful delivery of his lines.

    One of the bits that floored me was where Amy screams “Why did you say 5 minutes?”, where she almost looks like her child self. I frame-by-framed it, and discovered they did a very subtle image maniopulation on her face to more sesemble the child actress. Very subtle, very effective, and very, VERY cool.

    Oh, and very interesting observation TempestDash. :) KIudos!

  • If you watch Doctor Who Confidential, Left_Wing_Fox, you’ll discover that Grown Up Amy and Little Amelia are actually real-life cousins!

  • MaryAnn

    There were places in this episode where I think Tenant’s Doctor would have taken an arrogant, mocking approach (and I loved his arrogance, so I’m not saying this is a bad thing) and where Matt Smith is instead like a gentle parent, guiding people (geniuses, world leaders,aliens…Jeff) to the right decisions.

    It’s generational, I think! Tennant was our Xer Doctor, snarky and pragmatic. And Smith is our Millennial Doctor, cooperative and civic-minded and scoutlike. Ten years younger at this particular time and at these particular ages makes a much bigger difference than it would have been if the new Doctor had been ten years older than Tennant.

  • Keith

    Hehe, Newbs, I’m watching the new DW Confidential and was just going to post about the two actresses playing Amy/Amelia being cousins.

    The bit about what all they did with making the new TARDIS interior was cool. They even gave Matt Smith an instruction page of which station does what. The whole TARDIS set is about twice the size of the old one.

  • Isobel

    Good points about Amy and her upcoming marriage – Rory is a definite ‘NiceGuy’ and to be avoided, Amy! Perhaps she’d given up on the doctor thinking she couldn’t wait another 14 years and now she’s secretly (or not so secretly) thrilled to have an opportunity to get out of the wedding.

    I’m also loving all the clues as to what might be important this series (although am absolutely sure that Moffat is throwing in some misdirection already). I’m going to have to watch this again soon.

  • There were places in this episode where I think Tenant’s Doctor would have taken an arrogant, mocking approach (and I loved his arrogance, so I’m not saying this is a bad thing) and where Matt Smith is instead like a gentle parent, guiding people (geniuses, world leaders,aliens…Jeff) to the right decisions.

    The Doctor as Captain Carrot. I love it. Somebody on the writing staff has been reading a lot of Terry Pratchett.

    If Amy Pond waiting 14 years is long enough, what about me? I’ve been waiting 25 years for the Doctor to show up.

    Well, you remember what Amy was doing within the first five minutes of the episode, right?

    Perhaps that’s your answer.;-)

    Hey, wait… The crack in the dimensions? The escaped prisoner? The spiky spaceships? It’s Buckaroo Banzai!

    Only better. Come to think of it, Men in Black had a similar subplot as well–an intergalactic criminal who was so dangerous that the aliens were prepared to destroy a whole planet to stop it–but I didn’t think of that until after the episode was over.

  • David H

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who cried — and I’m a 44-year-old man. My wife thought I had lost it when I shouted with joy at the end. This is going to be so great!

  • Chris Dalton

    Is it just me, or is the line on the osciliscope (picture above) the same shape as the crack? Definately intentional and was not addressed other than the doc nodding slightly at it…. Series pointer perhaps?

  • Ken

    I found this to be one of the more interesting things to think about after watching the episode: Amy has already been waiting for 12 years, two-thirds of her life, for this Doctor before he’s even seen himself in the mirror. She’s already built up an entire story in her mind of who he is, while he’s still figuring that out. It’s going to be interesting to see how much of that influences who he does become (depending, of course, on how set a Time Lord’s personality is after regeneration—I’m reminded of Tennant’s “That’s the kind of man I am; no second chances” scene)

  • Pat Mustard

    Anyone know if Fermat actually was killed in a duel? The biographical details I can find just say he died in 1665, but not what of…

    Apropos of nothing much, does the fact that Fermat’s Last Theorem was finally proved in 1994/5 (presumably that’s part of what the Doctor sent to Patrick Moore et al as part of his ‘genius’ credentials) have any significance?

    Add to that the issue date on Rory’s hospital badge (1990) & the date on a newspaper (May 1995) but technology (laptops, i-phones etc) which was late 00’s at least. ‘Two parts of space & time that were never meant to touch’, perhaps?

    Or am I in danger of slipping into ‘on-line conspiracy theorist’ mode again?

    PS: the y in ‘Myth’ on the laptop logo is written as the Greek letter ‘Psi’ – as used to write the ‘Sci’ part of Sci-Fi in Greek letters on science geek t-shirts. A little dig, perhaps?!

    I’ll slink off back to the chatrooms now.

  • Inverarity

    Fermat wasn’t killed in a duel. Moffat may have conflated him with the 19th-century mathematician Galois, who did die in a duel and whose work influenced Andrew Wiles’ 20th-century solution to Fermat’s Last Theorem.

    I don’t remember the exact wording from the show, but it’s possible that the Doctor was saying that a) the real solution isn’t the one Wiles devised; b) Galois came up with the solution, but never had time to get it down in his furious burst of writing the night before his duel; and c) it’s the Doctor’s fault that Galois was killed. (Of course, the Doctor being the Doctor, it could also be his fault that Fermat never got around to writing down *his* solution either.)

    I continue to be tickled by “Aaaaand…faster than light travel with two diagrams and a joke!”

    (The story of Fermat, Galois, Wiles, and many others is well-told in Simon Singh’s book Fermat’s Enigma. It’s a very good read.)

  • Pat Mustard

    The story of Fermat, Galois, Wiles, and many others is well-told in Simon Singh’s book Fermat’s Enigma. It’s a very good read.

    Thanks for that, Inverarity, I’ll certainly look it out!

    (Ducks down into the chatrooms again..)

  • MaryAnn

    Add to that the issue date on Rory’s hospital badge (1990) & the date on a newspaper (May 1995) but technology (laptops, i-phones etc) which was late 00’s at least. ‘Two parts of space & time that were never meant to touch’, perhaps?

    I thought Amy was supposed to be from 1965, but the technology in the episode, from the laptops to the smartphone to the refs to Twitter and Facebook, clearly place it no more than a year or two off today.

  • Leslie Carr

    In the latest Doctor Who Magazine, Steven Moffat attempts to answer some viewer questions about the episode *before they are asked*

    1) Because it’s a time machine, dummy.
    2) Because the structural damage alluded to in the opening scenes has caused a certain amount of leakage. Yes, leakage. Shut up, it’s all planned, you wait til episode 12.
    3) Ah! Ah! But where in the episode does it say it’s the second time? No, see, it doesn’t. So nyer. In fact, the use of the word “keep” in scene 23 would suggest that it isn’t the second time. Yeah not so smart now are you? Ha!

    I’m guessing that Q3 has something to do with Amelia/Amy. But his words are somewhat ambiguous and he may be refering to events over the first four episodes.

    Still, it makes for some interesting theorising!

  • Dave

    1. Because it’s a time machine, dummy.

    For some reason that sentence alone makes me enjoy him all the more.

    The answer to 2 would lead me to believe that the crash of the Tardis is responsible for the cracks in the universe.

  • maureen

    yay!!! I knew Matt Smith would win you over :) I see he is now your boyfriend :)

    I’ll come back and read your review later. The episode hasn’t aired here yet, but I just wanted to post because I knew that if you liked Matt Smith than chances are I will too.

  • Holly

    What makes Moffat great is that he gets it, and he gets it in a way that no other head writer has. Doctor Who isn’t so much science fiction as it is a fairy tale. The Doctor is the mysterious prince who arrives to save the world from the monsters, and in the process he makes those around him more than they would have been if they had never met him.

    I, for one, am an enchanted seven year-old girl sitting on a suitcase and gazing at the stars.

  • Jennifer

    Oh! Quite note: I’m reasonably convinced that the bit about Fermat’s Last Theorem is actually a nod to Carl Sagan, I believe, who once wrote that if aliens came down and *really* wanted to prove they were vastly superior and wise, they wouldn’t be kidnapping hillbillies on back roads, they’d provide incontrovertible proof…such as a “simple” solution of Fermat’s Last Theory (the current solution may work, but it’s certainly not less than a page in length.) In fact, I think they hit point for point all the bits that Sagan suggested…except perhaps for the explanation of faster-than-light travel using two diagrams and a joke. That was just the Doctor showing off, that was. ;)

  • I loved this episode. It was fantastic. I loved that we are introduced to the new Doctor through the eyes of a seven year old … because that’s how Doctor Who always makes me feel. I love that your bias meter shows that you are as excited again about Doctor Who as you should be and all is right with the world. I had grown a bit fatigued by Doctor Who during the unfortunately uninspirational specials of 2009 … but now I am inspired again. I am excited again. My Doctor Who is back!

    Jeff

  • Leslie Carr

    Here’s a difference that I noticed with this new Doctor Who: it didn’t make me bawl. Almost every contemporary Doctor episode that I have sat down to watch has made me cry at some point. DT or CE would always hit some emotional note (quite right too!) and I would blub.

    But not this episode. I was intrigued, I laughed, I was spooked out (how did Karen Gillan make walking slowly down a hallway look so scary?) and just about every scene has an amazing quotable line that I want to write down in case I forget it. But I never once felt like crying.

  • Kenny

    Woohoo! And with Amy Pond, the Scottish connection is retained. Thanks Beeb!I really enjoyed this intro to the new Doctor. He doesn’t try to be David Tennant, and I’m so glad of it… the charming, funny, wise doctor he plays instead is a perfect evolution for the character. Most impressive :D

  • dangerprawn

    I have to say that I am SO excited about the new series! I’m in love with Eleven already too. Though, I think my favorite part of the episode was him calling the TARDIS a ‘sexy thing.’ Best / most hilarious fanservice ever.

  • Keith

    The new theme is really beginning to grow on me too. The driving rhythm is making my heart race. Love the lightning flash for the names and the timing with the start of the wailing part of the theme for Matt Smith. I’ve been jumping back and forth between the previous theme and the new one and now I couldn’t honestly tell you I like one more than the other.

    “The Beast Below” is another excellent episode, though some of you may need tissues by the end (I did).

  • Ryan H

    Beast Below rocked my world. Also, very sad and triumphant in the best tradition of Doctor Who.

  • Kenny

    The Beast Below rocked my world too. (Oh, that sounds a bit naughty) It was very well written and provided a stunningly simple but profound observation of the Doctor.

    It was very funny in places too. We Scots would want our own ship, wouldn’t we? :D

  • MaryAnn

    *Beast Below* blogging coming on Sunday.

    OMG, I’m so in love with Matt Smith’s Doctor…

  • Keith

    Great! Looking forward to reading it. Both episodes have been so awesome so far. Can’t wait to see the rest. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are such great choices for the new Doctor and companion. They are so owning their new roles. Every minute is just blowing me away. The whole team is exceeding my expectations, much to my great pleasure.

    I’m glad to see I’m not alone in this. I don’t know anyone who isn’t at least happy with the new season. Most seem to be as blown away as I am. Squeee!

    The only problem is how difficult it makes enjoying most other shows out right now. The few I do watch right now, look at and think, “Why can’t they be as awesome as Doctor Who?”

  • @ Keith

    Last week one of my Facebook friends liked a comment by one of HIS friends that said: “No, I’m not watching Doctor Who, because I’m 33 and don’t have children.”

    I nearly went off on a rant about the lazily written crap that clutters up the rest of the TV schedules, and how I more or less stopped watching TV in the 90s when it was nothing but police procedurals, hospital dramas and (to quote Russell T Davies) couples arguing in the rain. Fortunately I restrained myself. They’re the ones who are missing out.

    That said, I thought The Beast Below was pretty duff… but since this is a lovefest, I’ll butt out.

  • @Proper Dave: hello again — good to hear from you. Is “duff” bad? i just watched ” Beast Below” and it had some really great bits. i was “chuffed.”

  • Leslie Carr

    @Proper Dave: I know where you’re coming from. It felt… thin… The authority character didn’t work for me and the sense of peril never made it into the mauve. Still, I can appreciate the nimble footwork at the end of the episode and the big reveal on the doctor’s character.

  • Lisa

    yep “thin” is a good word for it – it didn’t come together for me either – good premise though

  • Kenny

    I’ll wait to comment when MAJ blogs… I want to say more than spoilers would allow.

  • You know all those episodes that haven’t been aired yet. They’re really great. And seeing them ahead of the rest of you would make me the best person ever.

    But I really hate that episode. This episode is okay, but that episode–I really hate.

    So I guess it’s a good thing you all didn’t see it yet…

  • Leslie Carr

    @Tonio that’s one of the curses of time travel – it’s hard to hold down a job as a TV reviewer.

    It’s a bit like reading FF in the UK – all these amazing writeups about films that aren’t on release yet, and the occasional film that isn’t mentioned until well after it’s gone.

  • Jules

    It’s a tough one this one (especially without spoiling) – let’s just say that had it not been for Matt and Karen and others’ performances, TBB would have been a complete and utter unmitigated disaster; as it stands, it’s meh and below par.

    Moffatt’s dialogue and character interaction is great – I particularly loved the “this is not going to be big on dignity” line, but the story was incredibly badly plotted; the holes in the story were so big and obvious to the extent that I could not help overlook them, even with the goodwill that I would normally rely on for suspending disbelief with the RTD era.

    The trouble with this story is that the outcome reminds me of Terminus (Peter Davidson) – I can’t say anymore yet, except I don’t think Terminus is anywhere near as bad as its reputation suggests. It’s just that not much happens and there are questions over the sets and design, particularly the Garm (he may have looked silly, but dammit I loved the Garm or at least the presence behind it).

    There’s no question in my mind that Matt Smith is the Doctor (possibly one of the best, if not the best) and Karen Gillan is a great companion.

    But even though EH was really good I hope Moffatt the showrunner does not diminish Moffatt the writer because TBB is well below his normal efforts; dare I say it, even below RTD’s worst.

  • Kenny

    I don’t share the negative opinions for TBB…. arg.. I want to get into it, hah, but I’ll wait for the blog.

  • Laurel

    I wouldn’t say it was below RTD’s worst because, frankly, RTD had some really really lame stories. Yeah, the plot was a bit light, but the dialogue was fantastic, especially between Matt and Karen.

  • Absolutely, The Beast Below was fantastic — the best episodes Davies ever penned relied on nonsensical Deus Ex Machina to resolve the corners he’d written himself into. TBB does not suffer form this. It’s a lightweight episode, though it does set up a couple things for the future. THe main point is, the plot was logical, and had a thoughtful arc. The character moments were wonderful, and the comparison between One Thing and Another Thing brought tears to my eyes, which is as much as I can say without spoilers.

    Moffat is the man who should be in charge, no question. He’s not as strong as Davies in the “I’m the Doctor” badass speeches, but everything else is better.

  • Mimi

    What, am I the ONLY one who managed/had to wait for BBCA? Well, I did, so here I am.

    THAT! WAS! GREAT!

    I agree with just about everyone — I went in planning to TRY to like this lame new Doctor, and instead I totally loved him after all of two minutes. How did you DO that, Moffat?

    The scene where she packed her suitcase brought a lump to my throat. And the scene where Amy walked through the hallway and when she walked back the door down the hall was slightly ajar — brrrrrr, shivers. I thought the teeth reveal in all the body-snatched humans was a wonderfully creepy image, although I didn’t love the effects with the actual alien itself. But that’s a minor quibble.

    Side note — please do try to avoid comments spoilers for later eps, for those of us who are stuck doing this the old-fashioned way on the US timeline. Thanks!

  • I also noticed the y = psi on the Myth logo, but also that they are ALL Greek letters: Mu, Psi, Tau, Eta. Don’t know if that’s meaningful, but Greek letters do turn up in the series: Theta Sigma, Omega, are there more?

  • Anne-Kari

    It’s official: my daughter has RELUCTANTLY accepted the “new” Doctor. When we first watched the previews she was appalled (“NO! that is NOT THE DOCTOR”, “he has stupid hair”, “I am not going to watch that stupid fake Doctor”, etc etc.)

    I did TIVO “The 11th Hour” and convinced her to watch it with me today. And frankly, I shared her grumpy skepticism.

    But now I think it’s safe to say that we’re now sold. The kid playing the Doctor- that freaking EMBRYO that is the actor Matt Smith – well, I am not only willing to forgive his age (or lack thereof), I am willing to utterly suspend my disbelief. The ACTOR Matt Smith is almostyoung enough to be my child, which freaks the living hell out of me.

    But his portrayal of the Doctor is spot-fucking-on. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but he’s a 900yr old Time Lord. He is the Doctor.

    Anyway: Katherine (my daughter) and I sat in silence and watched “The Eleventh Hour” this afternoon. I was enthralled but nervous about her reaction…. and after the credits, she sat there for a minute, and then gave this verdict:

    “His hair is still stupid, but HE isn’t stupid I guess… and the girl is kind of nice… I think he’s the real Doctor.”

    I sighed with relief… and then she said:

    “I hope he’s still not stupid in the next episode.”

    My darling daughter, I could not agree with you more.

  • It’s official: my daughter has RELUCTANTLY accepted the “new” Doctor. When we first watched the previews she was appalled (“NO! that is NOT THE DOCTOR”, “he has stupid hair”, “I am not going to watch that stupid fake Doctor”, etc etc.)

    Cool. I wish my sister’s children were into Doctor Who but so far the closer they’ve come is Spy Kids and Star Wars.

    In fact, despite all the sci-fi buffs I used to work with, it seems like the last time I managed to convert somebody into becoming a Doctor Who fan was when the original series was first showing in the Dallas area and I had managed to drop hints to one of my father’s sci-fi-loving girlfriends that she might like the series. And sure enough, she became a big fan.

    Of course, I should point out that all this happened after my parents’ divorce…

  • Cool. I wish my sister’s children were into Doctor Who but so far the closer they’ve come is Spy Kids and Star Wars.

    Arrgh! I meant, of course:

    Cool. I wish my sister’s children were into Doctor Who but so far the closest they’ve come is Spy Kids and Star Wars.

  • maureen

    After the drivel that was The End of Time, I’m so happy that this pilot was as good as it was, and that Matt Smith proved to be as great as I knew he would be.

    I really like the new companion too, she seems a bit different from the others, like her personality can develop far more.

    I also really liked the way the episode seemed to hark back to old Who days, and the tribute to the other doctors was really neat too :)

    I loved the way we were introduced to Amy as a little girl and how she waited for him at night, and how when she gets into the TARDIS at the end of the episode, the camera pans over her room full of Dr Who related stuff. It was just so beautiful and awesome and lovely all at once.

    Don’t shoot me here, but I think I might actually like Matt Smith better than both CE and DT, and I do see the possibility that with the right scripts he could be the greatest Doctor since Tom Baker.

    oh and like Mary Ann, I had tears of happiness in my eyes too.

  • Kary

    I do wonder if the scene where Prisoner Zero is confronting Amy and Rory, and he says,”Little Amelia Pond. Waiting for her magic Doctor to return. But not this time, Amelia.” If the ‘this’ is significant at all. It mildly implies that the Doctor has returned to Amelia at least one other time.

  • laura

    Holly said:

    “I, for one, am an enchanted seven year-old girl sitting on a suitcase and gazing at the stars.”

    ***
    I want to confess to her publicly that I just stole that great line of hers to add to my favorite quotes on FB. :D

    Holly, that was so *me*–

    Thank you.

  • Umm. An observation. Albeit a late one.

    13:20 – The Doctor and Amy are standing on the second floor, by the stairs that go up to the next floor. The Doctor was wondering what’s wrong, and our attention was drawn to the door, then the cloister bell goes off.

    13:26 – Exterior. Doctor and Amy are about to run towards the TARDIS. Amy’s house, however, only has two floors.

    Where do the stairs go? Shades of The Lodger. Or is it common to run the main hall stairs up to what doesn’t look like much of an attic under the roof?

  • Elisa_Maria

    If fish custard is what he’s gonna be like, though… Hopefully it’s just regeneration crisis, and he’ll settle down into something a bit less, um, disgusting.

    Apparently, it’s not so disgusting after all:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8htMWfgl10U&feature=channel

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