Although the episode may not be the greatest, in my opinion it is the finest of all debut episodes (so far, of course.) Furthermore, the simplistic villain contrasts well with the complex story that is yet to come. Matt Smith, Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan are a perfect trio, inside of the show and out, and we can recognize this from the episode. Ultimately, Matt Smith recreates the Doctor as a more human Time Lord, noticing the faults in humanity and putting danger in the hands of humanity. His epic adventure starts here, and it’s a superb start.
Throughout the episode, there is a few key points that I would like to address about why this is substantially one of the best written episodes of New Who we have seen. One of my particularly favourite written scenes is the eating scene. The concept of the idea also really focuses on what is to come with The Eleventh Doctor’s witty comedy and eccentric personality. Even as a child, Caitlin Blackwood connects with Matt in a way that an older, more experienced actor would have trouble with (but we’ll talk more about her acting, later). Right from the beginning of the series, it is shown that the era of The Eleventh Doctor will be directed towards sarcastic comedy and a show more based towards a younger generation, but still with a sense of thrill and dread that will keep older fans gripped. Personally, I feel this is the finest hour of Eleven as he is most suited to stories with simplistic but imaginative hooks.
“20 seconds till the end of the world.”
Compared to the future stories, the episode has an incredibly small plot. However, I think this was needed with the introduction to a variety of new characters. The plot is gripping enough to not get you bored, but simple enough for you to know that the main topic is introducing you to the new characters, and the new show. Although simplistic, the story also has some running themes throughout it. The fast paced running also makes the story feel quick but developed. Furthermore, during the end of the episode, having all the future era arcs mentioned, was a clever way to draw viewers in to watching the rest of the series, for example Oliver Coleman explaining how “The universe is cracked, the Pandorica will open, silence will fall” which we now understand was the running themes for the next series’.
“I am definitely a mad man with a box”
The episode well integrates the character of the new Doctor, to let you know what you’re in for. This is a massive positive to the episode. However, the writing and directing stand out more for this episode. Adam Smith, the director, positively engages the audience with quick shots to draw you in, but also beautiful cuts of characters. Another highlight of the episode was the introduction to Amelia and Amy Pond. Amelia creates the perfect child, with a reliable story line to make her likeable to the audience. She is given a life outside the TARDIS and The Doctor, for example her family. Personally, I feel this was lost with Clara (but that’s a conversation for another day!) Finally, one of the biggest positives of the episodes of all, was the chemistry between actors and characters. Matt, Karen and Arthur portray their characters so professionally, but also bond with each other, to create the perfect trio.
Although this episode has many highlights, it also has flaws. The structure of the show feels like it’s still growing, and Matt’s interpretation of The Doctor not necessarily fully complete. However, I feel this is noticed in the episode (even if subtle). The slight introduction of the famous crack in the wall felt too dark compared to the personality of the new show, almost like it was tricking fans into believing this dark/horror aspect that was shown through The Tenth Doctors era would stay. Although, there were some scary episodes in the rest of the series, I felt like this aspect was not totally decided as the show progressed and the light tone of the future series’ ultimately showed that the dark ‘crack in the wall’ would not be as dark as what might have been originally thought.
“WHO DA MAN?!”
As I’ve said before, The Eleventh Doctors personality is noticed straight away. His fun, eccentric character is seen from his first scene, as he hangs from the TARDIS in determination, not dread. Although rather different to The Tenth Doctor, he continues the suit of David Tennants choice of using rules around companions. Furthermore from his first episode, The Eleventh Doctor is shown that he is not to be particularly trusted, leaving Amy for years suggest he is still a Time Lord and still isn’t completely human in his personality. In addition, it’s shown that Matt Smith will portray a more clumsy Doctor, this is especially subtly shown in his regeneration stages. A bold Doctor, with his strong movements to succeed with particular determination, this is shown in the episode as he takes over a fire engine in order to save Amy and Rory. Lastly, even in his first episode, he is the forgetful Doctor, the Doctor in the unknown. “The Doctor and the TARDIS doesn’t know, doesn’t know” This links to The Day of The Doctor, where the Eleventh Doctor has forgotten his grief because he was drowning in sadness. For his happy, humble nature, in his heart(s) he is a particularly depressed Doctor.
“Where do you want to start?”
Altogether, this episode provides a perfect start to a new generation of Doctor Who. Directed perfectly, it has solid characters and quirky lines that persuade the audience to keep watching.
Tomorrow, Doctor Who returns. The Twelfth Doctor shows us what he is capable of with his debut episode Deep Breath.
Series 8 airs tomorrow (Saturday 23rd August) at 7.50pm on BBC One.