So, Doctor Who. That stalwart of British TV, pride of the BBC. Since regenerating in 2005, it’s been one of the most popular TV programmes in Britain, and has received international acclaim. And the fundamental difference about the fifth series: Matt Smith. You have to sympathise with the guy. It’s a massive role, and he came to it from nowhere, and got a lot of stick from it. And yet, he’s been fantastic.
The role of the Doctor has traditionally been a rocket to stardom (or for Paul McGann, a motorcycle to “what the hell was that?”), and those who do well at it deservedly meet with success. And Matt Smith has been great, I think. He’s proved himself worthy of the role, and played it with a spellbinding sense of humour, which is the fundamental requirement of the Doctor. Everything is going to shit all around him, and he’s still cracking jokes.
What else is new? New companion. Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan. And of her? She was pretty good. More independent than previous companions, and less doting on the Doctor. Or is it more? Maybe a bit of both. Obsessed with him, but not following him around like a helpless puppy, a la Rose Tyler and Martha Jones. But, good as she might be, she will always fall down next to the raw sex appeal of Bernard Cribbins!
And the story? Well, it’s done the usual Doctor Who trick of meandering between “bloody brilliant” and “not worth bothering with”. I’ll do a quick summary of each.
- The Eleventh Hour introduced the new Doctor, Amy Pond, and the overarching story of the cracks and the Pandorica.
- The Beast Below was average as an episode, but an unusually strong social comment on ignorance over responsibility.
- The Victory of the Daleks was pretty crap, actually. The highlight of the craptasticality was the new “iPod” Daleks, hand designed by Apple, to rape a precious childhood treasure.
- The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone two parter was excellent, I thought. It brought back the best of the new villains, quantum-locked stone Weeping Angels, as well as fleshing out the overarching storyline of the cracks and what they mean.
- The Vampires of Venice was a “meh” episode. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. Truthfully, it just felt like filler, even though I’m fairly sure it was supposed to expand the character of the new Doctor.
- Amy’s Choice was one of my favourites. Whereas the previous episode tried to expand the Doctor’s character, this one did. It showed the dark side of an ancient alien, and gave Amy Pond her first real characterisation, making her far and away the most real of the companions since the reboot.
- The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood two-parter was another blinder. The issue of protecting humanity was examined in the light of an old species, with just as much claim to Earth as humanity. And the seeds for the finale were sewn in the final moments.
- Vincent and the Doctor was actually a lot better than I expected. Every series they throw in a “historical celebrity” episode, and usually they’re pretty dire. This one was actually very good, largely because of a stellar performance by Tony Curran, and brilliant writing.
- The Lodger is the only one I haven’t seen (which I will rectify, eventually). But popular opinion seems unfavourable towards it. Along with some fairly severe criticism of James Corden, which I don’t really get… But whatever.
And the finale two-parter: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang. Which was the highlight of the whole series. The twist at the end of the first part was outstanding, I thought. It turned the idea of the Pandorica on its head, and whilst I’ve heard people claim they saw it coming, I’ll freely admit that I didn’t. The final scene, where the Doctor’s enemies drag him into his new prison was a cliffhanger worthy of the very best. The main problem was always going to be the resolution. Doctor Who has a bad habit of flat resolutions: series 1 was alright, series 2 was quite good, series 3 was shit, series 4 was shitter.
But this time? It was right. It felt right, and it worked, with more twists than a country lane. But it worked. There wasn’t any bullshit, cop-out psychic whatever. It was natural. And I loved it. Others won’t. But I did. So they can go sulk. It rounded off the story, but left enough open. And here’s the biggest (I think) spoiler: we may have an overarching storyline, over serieseses!
Yeah, I’m a geek. And after watching the end of The Big Bang, I wouldn’t be anything else.