Thwhtguardian reviews Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour

Matt Smith(the 11th doctor) may have saved the world in 20 minutes, but was he any good? Find out after the jump!

(spoiler free)

Reviews Opinion

The first story by any new Doctor is one that fills fans with anticipation and trepidation. Get it right and you launch the new era with style, grace and winning over the idle fan who may be tuning in to see what this new Doctor is like. Do it wrong and you risk alienating not only the casual fan but also your core audience.

Add to it the pressures of introducing a new producer after the commercially successful run of Russell T. Davies at the helm and you’ve got a lot of pressure for a single one-hour episode of “Doctor Who.”

Thankfully, “The Eleventh Hour” is more than up to the task of transitioning to a new era for the world’s longest running science-fiction series.

Producer and writer Steven Moffat wisely doesn’t keep the new Doctor on the sidelines for his first story, allowing viewers a chance to get to know Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor and to learn a bit about his character. In the spirit of some of the earliest post-regeneration stories, the new Doctor still feels some after effects of the change that has just taken place but they don’t overwhelm him, putting him on the sidelines for large periods of time as we saw with David Tennant.

Smith effortlessly slips into the role of the 11th Doctor, creating a fascinating persona for the Doctor that is equal parts mysterious and familiar and compellingly watchable. Any fears that most fans have in the wake of David Tennant’s departure from four years of successful work on the show will be quickly dissipated. Watching Smith work here, it’s easy to see why Moffat and the BBC chose him for the role.

Equally good is Karen Gilliam as new companion Amy Pond. Moffat takes an interesting twist in introducing us to Amy, allowing the story to be just as much about Amy as it is about the new Doctor. It’s not quite as companion centric as “Rose” was five years ago, but the storyline works well enough so that by the end of the hour viewers will have an idea of just who these character are and be eager to travel with them through time and space for the next several months.

Moffat’s scripts have always been less bursting at the seams that Davies and that new sensibility shows here. The story begins with the new Doctor meeting a young Amy Pond and trying to determine why she’s so afraid of a crack in the wall of her bedroom...and also what his favorite food might be. The Doctor's investigation of the crack in the wall is unfortunately cut short due to the sounding of the cloister bell, always a portent of doom.Forced back to the TARDIS , the Doctor promises to return quickly, only to not turn up again for a dozen years.

Suffice to say the crack is a big problem and the Doctor's absence only made it worse. The Doctor returns not only to find that the young girl he encountered before has aged(and turned into a call girl) but that he has only twenty minutes to save the world. Nothing new right?
Due to circumstances beyond his control the Doctor is left to save the world without the aid of either the TARDIS or his trusty sonic screw driver(or Justin timberlake...wait that was four minutes, never mind), leaving him with only his wits, which is really how it should be. The episode over all is a slow burn that gradually builds up to the manic pace that we've grown accustomed to over the years, and it delivers a fair bit of youthful energy along with some great nods to the rich history of Doctor Who.

However, one thing that was fairly obvious was that Doctor Who, while he may transcend time, cannot transcend the current fiscal crisis plaguing the real world. The creature effects for the episode seemed to be greatly effected by the BBC budget crunch and I hope that this will cause them to lean towards more physical effects than CG in the future. Also of note was the new was just too busy for my liking.Gold goes for Wagnerian extravagance but what made the original theme so startling and striking was it was a perfect example of electronic minimalism. It's just garish and does not so much invoke Doctor Who as it invokes a Doctor Who hollywood movie.

That said though, “The Eleventh Hour” is a solid first story that does everything it needs to do and does it well. After a year of over the top, event stories with the specials, it’s nice to get back to a straight-forward and entertaining story that kicks off the start of a new era.

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