Tonight was a crunch night for the revived Doctor Who, perhaps more so than when it returned five years ago. Back then whilst there was a love for the old show, there was almost a suspicion that it wouldn’t fly, wouldn’t work with modern audiences. However fly it did, and despite a quick change of leading actor after only thirteen episodes under the hand of lead writer Russell T Davies it became a massive success.
Not that everybody was happy. I know a good few long term fans who were less than pleased with the almost soap opera-ish aspects that RTD brought in, and thought that his plots were less than stellar. There were some good stories, the ones written by Steven Moffat being particularly noteworthy, but despite the detractors from within the existing fanbase it was a success.
Last year with David Tennant the incumbent and incredibly popular Doctor having decided to move on, the production team saw it as a good time to move on also. For the fans, especially the RTD detractors there was much rejoicing when Steven Moffat was handed the lead writer role – hopefully that will bring a much better standard of plotting, and back to something more akin to the old Who the old fans were craving – but at the same time the RTD Who had proved massively popular with legions of new fans. Moffat then threw a total curve ball by picking an almost totally unknown actor, Matt Smith to play the title role.
So as the UK sat down to watch, how was the first outing for Moffat Who?
I’ll try and not give away too many spoilers, however in our household it was generally well received. The well plotted and entertaining Moffat style from his previous episodes has certainly survived his promotion. The episode kicked off with a great post regeneration sequence, including a sequence with food that was vaguely reminiscent of trying to find food for our daughter Lucy.
Like RTD who there is still a good deal of backstory – whether it will annoy the fans in quite the same way as it did previously remains to be seen. However whilst RTD seemed keen at times to distance himself from so called classic Who, all ten previous Doctors do make an appearance. There are also references to the TARDIS library and pool, and a clothes scene that harks back to the one TV outing for the eighth Doctor. The other thing that appears is the Doctor who knows more than he is letting on, most prominent during the seventh Doctor era. At the very end, after leaving, the Doctor comes back and really pushes Amy to come with him. When she asks why, he makes a comment about being lonely – but take a look at what is on the screen that he hurriedly turns off before she sees…
Matt Smith is different from his predecessors, but still has elements of them. As Beth points out on a couple of occasions he delivers lines in a way that is much the same as David Tennant. Certainly his age doesn’t seem to matter. Like any actor taking on the role he’ll need probably the whole series to find his feet in the role properly, but he certainly seems to have made a good start. Karen Gillan also makes an impressive debut as the new companion, her frustration with the inability of the Doctor to keep time harking back to another companion who once famously said “A broken clock keeps better time than you, at least it’s right twice a day!”.
Taking a look on Twitter after the show, whilst there are a few people who aren’t happy, the overwhelming majority seem to have enjoyed the show. Moffat does seem to have pulled it off, and the show has transformed once again. New music, new production team, new stars, new TARDIS even – but still Doctor Who.