Cold Blood

Okay. Bringing things to order. The first meeting of representatives of the human race and homo reptilia. Ha! Never said that before. That’s fab!

The Eleventh Doctor

Synopsis

As the Silurians wake up under the Earth’s surface, the Doctor must attempt to broker a peace between the Silurians and the human race, whilst the humans on the surface attempt to keep their Silurian captive alive.

Review

Despite my praise (and surprise) at enjoying The Hungry Earth, the concluding part is where it largely falls apart. Whilst I could largely overlook the similarities to (Doctor Who and) The Silurians in the first part, the tribute tips over into derivation more here. There are some good things, with strong performances from the central trio and a decent ending, but this episode feels like instead of building on the previous episode’s cliffhanger, it flounders and drags, perhaps because nostalgia for the Jon Pertwee story can only carry you so far.

I do feel that this story suffers from the fact that it doesn’t feel like anything drastically important happens until the closing couple of minutes. This might be down to the fact that there’s not very much that can be done with the Silurians apart from negotiate about how best to share the planet. In fact, rather than having a looming sense of threat from the Silurians, this instead comes from the humans who are threatening to reactivate their drill to destroy the homo reptilia colony. Unlike some other great late series two-parters that we have had in the revived series so far, this neither escalates majorly nor goes off in a seemingly different direction. In this story, it takes around 28 minutes for Restac to do the inevitable and awaken the Silurian army. As a result, the conclusion of the main plot feels inconsequential as the Doctor and Eldane are forced to conclude that humanity are not ready to share the planet and the Silurians are put back to sleep for a further thousand years.

There’s also some pretty poor characterisation going on here. Malohkeh is revealed to be a human loving scientist, which seems at odds to his behaviour in The Hungry Earth, where he is seen to have already dissected Mo and seems perfectly happy to dissect Amy in the set-up for the cliffhanger. Equally, the whole family dynamic seems a little bit suspect and it is difficult to feel too much for Ambrose considering her actions in this story. She is absolutely right to be concerned for her son and her father when she discovers that Alaya’s sting has poisoned him, and Alaya plays on those concerns in the confrontation scene which results in her death. However, she is not a terribly likeable person and it doesn’t really follow that she would potentially put her son and husband Mo into more danger when she tasers the Silurian. We also don’t really get to know the family terribly well, despite spending an hour and a half in their company, so it is difficult to be too concerned about their ultimate fate. The only bright sparks here are Meera Syal’s Nasreen and Neve McIntosh as Restac, who is essentially a continuation of Alaya. Nasreen though feels sadly underused, although she does provide some grounding to Amy’s more outlandish suggestions about how the planet could be shared in the negotiations with Eldane, pointing out how impossible it would be to sell this to the human race. Meanwhile McIntosh is great when she is seething with anger, and the scene where she discovers Alaya’s dead body is superbly acted and directed by Ashley Way.

The core cast here are good, and it is another strong performance from Arthur Darvill as Rory. Especially in his scenes on the surface, it is difficult not to feel a bit sorry for Rory being stuck with people like Ambrose and Tony and it is interesting to note that he tells them that he trusts the Doctor. It feels as though there are some missing adventures here (hi Big Finish!) where the Doctor and Rory start to warm to each other here. Matt Smith is good here too, and his reaction when he realises that Alaya is dead and that any hope of a deal between the Silurians and humans is pretty much doomed is well played. It is interesting watching this story relatively closely with Kill the Moon to compare the way the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors deal with these malleable points of time. Ultimately Smith’s Doctor is doing the same kind of thing as Capaldi’s in trying to ensure that humans make the decisions for the future. The Twelfth Doctor, however, is much gruffer and hands-off than his immediate predecessor, with Smith’s Doctor feeling as though he is gently guiding them, rather than the seeming abandonment in Series 8. Rory’s death in this story wasn’t completely unexpected when I was watching in 2010 but the ending scenes still pack an outstanding emotional punch thanks to some great acting by Smith and Karen Gillan, and the ultimate heartbreak when we realise that Amy has forgotten Rory is a fantastic gutpunch. It just feels as though this comes from a much stronger episode, and clearly has Moffat’s fingerprints all over it, rather than coming from Chris Chibnall.

I promise you, Ambrose, I trust the Doctor with my life. We stick to his plan.

Rory Williams

Verdict: Sadly, Cold Blood doesn’t really build to anything and feels like a bit of a damp squib. There are some good performances in here and a powerful ending does redeem it a bit, though. 4/10

Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Neve McIntosh (Alaya/Restac), Meera Syal (Nasreen Chaudry), Robert Pugh (Tony Mack), Nia Roberts (Ambrose), Richard Hope (Malohkeh), Stephen Moore (Eldane), Alun Raglan (Mo) & Samuel Davies (Elliot).

Writer: Chris Chibnall

Director: Ashley Way

Behind the Scenes

  • Chris Chibnall wanted the second part to focus on people making mistakes whilst under massive pressure and the accidental conflict coming from attempts to protect family. Steven Moffat believed the theme of mistakes to be appropriate for the death and subsequent erasure of Rory as the Doctor ultimately causes it when he stops to look at the Crack.
  • The story was filmed in the Temple of Peace in Cardiff, which had previously been used in The End of the World, Gridlock and Fires of Pompeii and would go on to be used again in Let’s Kill Hitler and Nightmare in Silver.

Best Moment

It has to be the final moments, where Rory is killed and erased from history completely.

Best Quote

Amy Pond and Nasreen Chaudhry, speaking for the planet. Humanity couldn’t have better ambassadors. C’mon! Who has more fun than us?

Is this what happens in the future, the planet gets shared? Is that what we need to do?

Uh, what are you talking about?

Oh, Nasreen, sorry. Probably worth mentioning at this stage, Amy and I travel in time.

Anything else?

There are fixed points in time where things must always stay the way they are. This is not one of them. This is an opportunity. A temporal tipping point. Whatever happens today will change future events – create its own timeline, its own reality. The future pivots around you. Here. Now. So do good. For humanity. And for Earth.

The Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond and Nasreen Chaudhry

Previous Eleventh Doctor review: The Hungry Earth

Further reading

Doctor Who and the Silurians

Kill the Moon

The Hungry Earth

It knows we’re here. It’s attacking. The ground’s attacking us. Under the circumstances, I’d suggest…Run!

The Eleventh Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in a small Welsh town where an ambitious drilling project is about to reach a point deeper beneath the Earth’s crust than ever before. However, the Earth is fighting back.

Review

When I was came to revisit this episode, I found myself quite pleasantly surprised. When I think of this coupled with the concluding part, Cold Blood, I found myself being quite negative about both parts, however, when I came to rewatch it for the blog I quite enjoyed it. I’m not going to stand here and argue that this is a classic, but it does a good job of bringing the Silurians into the revived series.

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at this first part is that it feels derivative of The Silurians, which certainly seems valid. The Silurians is one of my favourite Jon Pertwee stories but I do think it is difficult to do something different with them without utilising elements from the classic serial. What this feels more similar to is the first two-part stories of every series under Russell T Davies which would either introduce or reintroduce a classic or recurring foe, and in a way this feels quite out of place in Steven Moffat’s first series as show runner, where changes had started to be made to the usual format. Unlike stories like Evolution of the Daleks, Rise of the Cybermen or The Sontaran Stratagem, this does not include the name of the alien in the title and actually holds off on revealing the Silurians until around the 25 minute mark. In this way, casual viewers or those who did not follow the show obsessively (like myself in 2010) were left surprised when this foe came back. This allows for some nice atmospheric moments where the Doctor and the viewer aren’t aware of the identity of the foe. Additionally, thinking about the episodes listed above and this story’s similarities to The Silurians, they all present the main antagonists main motivations, whether that be wiping out all other life in the universe or reclaiming the planet from the ‘apes’ that are now occupying the surface.

The story is also similar to a base under siege story with a small guest cast and the small town being sealed off by the Silurians. The reintroduction of the Silurians is quite effective, especially in the scenes of them flitting through the darkened graveyard and Neve McIntosh is great as the captive Alaya in the lead in to the cliffhanger. McIntosh’s delivery of the majority of her lines, especially when talking about homo sapiens is fantastic and I absolutely bought her hatred of the human race. The interrogation scene is probably a high point of this episode. It is rare to see Smith’s Doctor deal with his PTSD from being the sole Time Lord survivor of the Time War – off the top of my head, I can think of his response to House in The Doctor’s Wife. Alaya’s the only Silurian we get a clear look at, and I especially love the direction of the shots of the Silurian scientist through the frosted glass.

With regards to the central cast, it is another strong showing for Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill, whilst Karen Gillan is reduced to the role of damsel in distress for most of the episode. In fact, this is a story where the Doctor and companions spend some time apart, with Rory off with Ambrose and Elliot investigating the bodies disappearing from their graves and the Doctor establishing the situation around the disappearance of Mo. We also get a repetition of the concept of the Doctor not realising the impact of his actions on those around him, demonstrated by him allowing Elliot to go and get his headphones despite the Silurians arriving. The majority of the small guest cast are rather non-descript with the exceptions of Meera Syal as Nasreen, whose performance I really enjoyed, especially when she is onboard on the TARDIS and Robert Pugh as Tony, even if his inclination to immediately dissect Alaya seems a bit out of character.

Verdict: A better first half of this story than I remembered, it has some nice moments of suspense. 7/10

Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Neve McIntosh (Alaya), Meera Syal (Nasreen Chaudhry), Robert Pugh (Tony Mack), Nia Roberts (Ambrose), Alun Raglan (Mo) and Samuel Davies (Elliot)

Writer: Chris Chibnall

Director: Ashley Way

Behind the Scenes

  • The first appearance of the Silurians since Warriors of the Deep and this story introduced a new branch of the species and female members of the Silurian race. It is the first television story to mention the name Homo Reptilia, although this was originally included in the novelisation of Doctor Who and the Silurians.
  • The story is set in 2020, which places it 50 years after the broadcast of The Silurians. Due to the UNIT dating controversy, it is unclear as to when the story is supposed to have taken place in universe.
  • Matt Smith’s 27th birthday took place during the filming of this episode.
  • The first story since the revival to feature a returning monster not to credit the creator of the alien species.

Cast Notes

  • Neve McIntosh would go on to play Madam Vastra, who would go on to appear in A Good Man Goes to War, The Snowmen, The Crimson Horror, The Name of the Doctor and Deep Breath as well as reprising this role for Big Finish and play Silurians in the UNIT series.
  • Robert Pugh had previously appeared in the Torchwood episode Adrift and went on to appear in one episode of the second series of The Diary of River Song for Big Finish.
  • Nia Roberts was in The Wrath of the Iceni for Big Finish, as well as appearing in the Torchwood audio play The Hope.

Best Moment

The interrogation scene between the Doctor and Alaya.

Best Quote

I’m the last of my species.

Really? No! “Last of the species”. The Clempari defense. As an interrogation defense it’s a bit old hat I’m afraid.

I’m the last of my species.

No you’re really not. Because I’m the last of my species and I know how it sits in a heart! So don’t insult me!

Alaya and the Eleventh Doctor

Previous Eleventh Doctor review: Amy’s Choice

Amy’s Choice

Amy's Choice

So here’s your challenge: two worlds.  Here in the time machine.  And there in the village that time forgot.  One is real, the other’s…fake.  And to just make it more interesting, you’re going to face a deadly danger, but only one of the dangers is real.  Tweet tweet, time to sleep.  Oh.  Or are you waking up?

The Dream Lord

Synopsis

Five years after Amy and Rory stopped travelling with the Doctor, they are living in Upper Leadworth.  Amy is pregnant, Rory is a doctor and everything seems idyllic.  Until the Doctor shows up by accident, leading to Amy to question whether she is really living in Leadworth with Rory or whether they are actually still travelling in the TARDIS with the Doctor.

Review

Amy’s Choice is, in my opinion, one of the highest points of one of the strongest series of Doctor Who.  It has some great performances by the three leads and the villain of the week and plays around with the idea of shared dreams quite nicely.  It also ties into the fairytale style feeling of this series, with the Doctor feeling like Peter Pan trying to tempt Amy away from his perceptions of domesticity and the associated mundanity.  It is surely no accident that Amy left Leadworth at the end of The Eleventh Hour in her nightie, an obvious parallel with Wendy Darling in J.M Barrie’s novel.  This story also largely removes the Doctor-Companion romantic angle that had been prevalent since the show’s revival – especially with early companions Rose and Martha.

Look around you.  Examine everything.  Look for all the details that don’t ring true.

Okay, well, we’re in a spaceship that’s bigger on the inside than the outside. 

With a bowtie-wearing idiot.

So maybe “what rings true” isn’t so simple. 

Valid point.

The Doctor, Rory Williams and Amy Pond

This is the first and, to date, only story written by Simon Nye, best known for being the creative force behind the sitcom Men Behaving Badly, but anyone afraid of a sitcom episode will surely have had their fears allayed within the opening minutes.  This story opens with an intriguing premise and has two of the leads utterly convinced that one of the scenarios is reality.  Nye’s script crackles with some great dialogue delivered with supreme gusto by the cast, highlighted especially well when the Doctor and Rory are bickering about which of the realities is real.  There is quite a lot of bickering in this story, but all of it seems believable, especially between Amy and Rory.  The dream in Upper Leadworth shows a reality in which Rory has got exactly what he wants, even if Amy isn’t convinced by settling down early.   In many ways, this is an important story for them. The conclusion of the episode shows that, if there’s a universe where Rory stops existing, Amy doesn’t want to be a part of it.  This sows the seeds of what is to come in this series and also links forward in time to their eventual departure from the TARDIS.  Amy does make her choice and that choice is Rory.  With other Doctors, this might have been mocked or been subject to angst and jealousy, but the Eleventh Doctor seems genuinely pleased that Amy has made this choice – after all, that’s what he wanted to happen after that scene at the end of Flesh and Stone.

Amy's Choice - Eknodines

The weakest part of the episode is undoubtedly the Eknodines, although this could be seen to be highlighting the weirdness of dreams.  There is something somehow amusing and sinister seeing old people inhabited by aliens shuffling after the cast, almost like a zombie movie.  Equally, the image of them tearing up items from Amy and Rory’s front garden in order to break into the house is darkly comic.  On the other hand, the star burning cold, whilst an impossibility, is a rather nicer idea and in the context of a science fiction show, possibly more plausible.  The reveal that both of these “realities” are dreams is really well executed.

The science is all wrong here.  Burning ice?

No, no, no.  Ice can burn.  Sofas can read. It’s a big universe.

Amy Pond and The Doctor

Amy's Choice - The Dream Lord

I’ll make no secret of the fact that I really like Toby Jones as an actor, and he is great here too.  Jones has the ability to raise the bar and plays off really nicely against Matt Smith.  Whilst Smith’s Doctor is almost immediately affable, the Dream Lord comes across immediately as sneering and evil and the scenes between the two are spiky and great.  I spoke earlier about the strength of the dialogue and Jones gets his fair share of decent lines.  He is particularly sinister in his scene with Amy alone in the TARDIS and the scene by the castle after the Eknodines reveal themselves.  The reveal that this is a manifestation of the darker sides of the Doctor is again something that isn’t surprising but works effectively.  As the story concludes, we are treated to a final glimpse of the Dream Lord, a reminder that, despite his external appearances, there is a lot of darkness in the Time Lord.

Verdict: Simon Nye gives us a good story, focusing on the companion’s decision making and Arthur Darvill’s performance is particularly strong.  9/10

Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Toby Jones (Dream Lord), Nick Hobbs (Mr Nainby), Joan Linder (Mrs Hamill) & Audrey Ardington (Mrs Poggitt)

Writer: Simon Nye

Director: Catherine Morshead

Behind the Scenes

  • The only story in the series not to allude to the Silence or the Cracks, and therefore the only story not to be referenced in the finale.  It does, however, link to some elements of the Series 6 arc.

Familiar Faces

  • Nick Hobbs previously appeared in The Curse of Peladon, The Monster of Peladon and The Claws of Axos, and operated the Wirrn prop in The Ark in Space.
  • Toby Jones would go on to portray Straxus in the Big Finish audio box set Dark Eyes.

Best Moment

The scene with the Doctor and the Dream Lord in the Butcher’s shop.

Best Quote

Ask me what happens if you die in reality.

What happens?

You die, stupid, that’s why it’s called reality.

The Dream Lord and Rory Williams

Amy's Choice - Ponchos

The Vampires of Venice

TVoV Vampires

The life out there, it dazzles.  I mean it blinds you to the things that are important.  I’ve seen it devour relationships entirely…It’s meant to do that. Because for one person to have seen all that, to have tasted the glory, and then go back.  It will tear you apart.  So! I’m sending you somewhere.  Together.

The Eleventh Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor brings Amy and Rory to Venice in 1580 to allow the two to focus on their relationship, however, things are not as they seem.  There are reports of plague, despite the disease dying out previously and there are pale skinned girls in Venice who avoid sunlight, attending a school run by the mysterious Rosanna Calvierri.

Guest Reviews (an exclusive feature for this blog only):

“The Doctor shows up and meet Narcissa Malfoy, surprise surprise, she’s a bit of a witch.  Typecasting much?”

“There are vampires, but they aren’t vampires.”

Thank you Rob and Alice for your insights!

Review

When I watched The Vampires of Venice for the purposes of writing my blog, I found myself to be pleasantly surprised.  I’d always regarded this story as being quite fun but throwaway, however, I felt much more positively towards it after this time.  Largely, I think this is down to bringing Rory on-board the TARDIS and Arthur Darvill gives a really strong performance.  The story does feel quite similar to stories in the RTD era to the point of potentially being derivative, however, in hindsight the story acts as part of an effective bridge between these two eras.

TVoV The Doctor.jpg

On the point of derivation, this story does feel quite familiar due to reusing quite a few of the Eccleston and Tennant eras, and even contains quite a few similarities to Whithouse’s first story he wrote, School Reunion.  We have the last of a species hiding on Earth within an institution and looking to make the Earth their new home, the introduction of the companion’s boyfriend as part of the TARDIS team and aliens disguising themselves as humans.  The over-familiarity of these plot elements certainly cause some issues, however, Whithouse and Moffat do something different with these elements to indicate a change in the era.  This most notable way this is done is with how the story treats Rory, and after a couple of series of having the Doctor posing as a romantic interest, it is a nice change of pace to see the Doctor trying to ensure that Amy maintains her relationship with Rory, despite how misguided his efforts may be.  This story really establishes Matt Smith’s Doctor as being an asexual alien rather than the confident romantic presented especially by the Tenth Doctor.  This incarnation doesn’t really understand human romantic relationships or social scenarios, indicated by his bursting out of the cake at Rory’s stag do, and telling Rory what a good kisser Amy is, for instance.

Rory! That’s a relief.  Thought I’d burst out of the wrong cake. Again.  That reminds me, there’s a girl standing outside in a bikini.  Could somebody let her in and give her a jumper?  Lucy.  Lovely girl.  Diabetic.  Now then.  Rory.  We need to talk about your fiancée.  She tried to kiss me.  Tell you what though, you’re a lucky man.  She’s a great kisser.

The Eleventh Doctor

Arthur Darvill is a definite highlight of this episode, as the story forces him front and centre, with Karen Gillan taking a slightly reduced role.  Rory is somewhat different to other characters since the revival, as someone who is not afraid to question and challenge the Doctor, and unlike Mickey’s initial portrayal as a bit of an idiot, is clever and curious enough to research things like faster than light travel.  His dynamic with Matt Smith is really lovely too, and I especially like how deflated he looks when Rory states that he understands how the TARDIS is bigger on the inside.  Rory’s reaction to travelling with the Doctor obviously has an impact on the Time Lord, evidenced by the Doctor telling Amy to go back to the TARDIS towards the episode’s conclusion.  Despite Rory’s cowardice, he is shown to be brave too, challenging Francesco with a broom to protect Amy, and it is nice to see how differently Amy reacts to Rory’s decision to join her and the Doctor to how Rose reacts at the end of School Reunion to Mickey deciding to do the same.

TVoV Amy Rory Francesco.jpg

As mentioned above, the Eleventh Doctor’s attitude to relationships is a drastic departure from his predecessor, and Smith characterises this perfectly.  Whithouse’s script really allows Smith to shine, showing both decent humour and some real steel.  His interactions with Rosanna Calvierri are superb, aided of course by the acting ability of his counterpart, Helen McCrory.  I like the fact that the Saturnyns know of both the Time Lords and the Doctor and are aware of his actions in the Time War as it makes this new villain feel much more of an equal to the Doctor.  I particularly like that indignation that leads the Doctor to state that he will bring the aliens down – they do not even remember the names of their victims.

This ends today.  I will tear down the House of Calverri stone by stone.  Take my hands off me Carlo.  And you know why?  You didn’t know Isabella’s name.  You didn’t know Isabella’s name.

The Eleventh Doctor

The Saturnynes are a suitably creepy villain too, which owes a lot to some stylish direction and high production values.  The relationship between Rosanna and her son, Francesco, is played with explicit incestuous overtones, adding to the idea of Vampires as being quite a sexual creature anyway.  The “vampire” teeth are suitably creepy and the converted Venetian girls are quite scary and are made to look quite striking.  The ultimate tragedy of the fates of the gondolier Guido and his daughter Isabella really cements the Saturnynes as a real threat, and the suicide of Rosanna at the close of the episode is quite dark for this story, with her ultimate fate being torn apart by the remaining Saturnynes.

Verdict: A good fun, if slightly derivative, story, The Vampires of Venice is better than I remembered, with it being a really strong story for Rory. 8/10

Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Helen McCrory (Rosanna), Lucian Msamati (Guido), Alisha Bailey (Isabella), Alex Price (Francesco), Gabrielle Wilde, Helen Steele, Elizabeth Croft, Sonila Vieshta & Gabriela Montaraz (Vampire girls), Michael Percival (Inspector) & Simon Gregor (Steward)

Writer: Toby Whithouse

Director: Jonny Campbell

Behind the Scenes

  • This story is notable for being filmed in Croatia, making it the first episode of Doctor Who to be filmed in a former Communist country.  It is the third episode to be filmed overseas since the revival, after The Fires of Pompeii and The Planet of the Dead.

Best Moment

It feels like a cheat to have my best moment be another quote, but it has to be

The people upstairs are very noisy.

There aren’t any people upstairs.

See, I know you were going to say that.  Did anyone else know he was going to say that?

The Eleventh Doctor and Guido

Best Quote

You know what’s dangerous about you?  It’s not that you make people take risks, it’s that you make them want to impress you.  You make it so they don’t want to let you down.  You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you’re around.

Rory Williams

The Eleventh Hour

Can I have an apple?

The Eleventh Doctor

Synopsis

After an explosive regeneration, the Doctor is thrust into the heart of the action, having to investigate a crack in young Amelia Pond’s wall.  Due to damage suffered by the TARDIS, he leaves and returns later, finding a grown-up Amy

Review

The casting of Matt Smith was a massive gamble.  The new production team, headed by Steven Moffat, after being unsuccessful in attempting to convince David Tennant to stay on for another series, cast the relative unknown, Matt Smith to portray the Eleventh Doctor.  Smith, who was 26 when cast, became the youngest actor to portray the Doctor, and due to his unknown status, the announcement of the casting was greeted by the headline “Doctor Who?” in some national newspapers.  The eyes of the watching public were truly on the new production team as they put their new series of the show into production.

But you couldn’t tell it watching The Eleventh Hour.  In my review for Spearhead From Space, I talked about how Doctor’s debuts were much more effective if they felt like a breath of fresh air, and this episode certainly does this with aplomb.  I remember watching this episode in 2010, and Smith winning me over as the Doctor almost instantly.  The supporting cast surrounding Smith, especially Caitilin Blackwood, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, give strong performances and when Amy turns around to the Doctor and says “Why did you say five minutes?”, you completely believe that the angst and resentment behind those words.  Additionally, scenes like the one introducing the grown-up Amy to the audience are really nicely performed by the leads and Karen Gillan is really likeable here.

The weakest part of the episode for me is the villain, but this doesn’t really impact on the quality of the story too much.  Prisoner Zero is a completely forgettable villain – there are so many things that can be done with shapeshifters, but this one is just…there.  That being said, I still love the moment when Prisoner Zero uses Amy’s mind to turn into the Doctor and Amelia, and the Doctor doesn’t recognise himself.  The Atraxi, whilst not the main villain seems like a rather obvious metaphor for the watching world, and whilst not exactly a menacing presence, they do contribute towards the moment where the new Doctor steps through the image of his immediate predecessor.  In this episode, with the youngest Doctor and with it following on from one of the most popular Doctors, it feels important to emphasise that this is still the same man, with a different face.

who hart

Speaking of allusions to the show’s past, the main one here is obvious – the Doctor picks his new outfit from a hospital changing room, just like the Third Doctor in Spearhead From Space and the Eighth Doctor in the TV Movie/The Enemy Within.  There are also some references to David Tennant’s time in the role, such as the sonic screwdriver, and phrases like “You’ve had some cowboys in here”.  One of the main changes is to the TARDIS, and personally, I love both the interior and exterior of this one.  The St. John’s Ambulance logo is back on the door, I love the shade of blue (it was one of the colours for my wedding!) and the steampunk interior is great.

Matt Smith

Summary: A strong opening episode to the Eleventh Doctor’s era.  Matt Smith inhabits the role quickly and the episode really romps along.  10/10

Starring: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Caitlin Blackwood (Amelia Pond), Olivia Coleman (Mother), Marcello Magni (Barney Collins), Nina Wadia (Dr. Ramsden), Annette Crosbie (Mrs Angelo), Tom Hopper (Jeff), David de Keyser (Voice of the Atraxi), William Wilde (Voice of Prisoner Zero)

Writer: Steven Moffat

Director: Adam Smith

Behind the Scenes

  • This story sees a change to the show’s logo, an unprecedented third variation on the theme composed by Murray Gold, a new TARDIS interior and exterior and sonic screwdriver, along with new lead actors and production team.  The St John’s Ambulance logo appears on the TARDIS door for the first time since The War Machines.
  • Caitlin Blackwood and Karen Gillan are cousins, a fact that was convinced the production team to cast Blackwood in the role of Amelia.  They had not previously met before working on Doctor Who.
  • A retailer reported a 94% increase in the sale of bow ties following the broadcast of this episode.
  • The first episode since Fear Her to feature no onscreen casualties.
  • The first televised episode to feature two different console rooms.  The Ninth and Tenth Doctors’ console room was reconstructed and left standing in order to be able to film The Doctor’s Wife for Matt Smith’s second series, at the request of writer Neil Gaiman.

Best Moment

This is a toss-up between entering the new TARDIS for the first time and the Doctor’s speech to the Atraxi.

Best Quote

I’m the Doctor. Basically – run.

The Eleventh Doctor

Up next: Tom Baker’s first episode, Robot!