Review: Doctor Who – The Series So Far

RAYMOND LI: ‘New era, new Doctor, new Tardis, new show runner and even a new animated intro sequence. Has the series done well so far?’

Dalek Hotel Rwanda Moffat Russell T Davies Sophie Okonedo Stephen Moffat

So. New era, new Doctor, new Tardis, new show runner and even a new animated intro sequence. Has the series done well so far?

Matt Smith has received universal praise as the new Doctor. Cast your minds back to when Christopher Eccleston or David Tennant first flashed that goofy smile from the Tardis. It was as if you were watching Top Gear with Timelords getting overexcited by alien motors or the impending end of the world. Matt Smith, in contrast to his predecessors gives a more understated performance in the episodes, one that balances perfectly between the cheeky Time traveller to the angry Time Lord. Physically he fits the Doctor well; his block facial structure and long hair reminds me of Sideshow Bob and his costume resembles a crusty history teacher. Although he just looks odd, his appearance is very Doctor Who.

Matt Smith has been aided by the perfect first episode. This was the launch-pad for the new Matt Smith/Stephen Moffat era. This was a brilliantly crafted episode from the script to the acting. Smith had effectively nailed the role within the first ten minutes thanks to a bickering exchange between the Doctor and his new companion Amy Pond. He raids her food cupboard and he insults his host, “Don’t you have any decent food here? You’re Scottish, fry me something.”  He spits out apple, yoghurt and baked beans all over her kitchen and finds what he needs to recover from his traumatic regeneration: fish-fingers in custard. Despite this, Amy then grows up to be the new companion, who comes in the form of another red-head.  She’s a feisty, sexy version of Catherine Tate, though without some of the Tate-isms. 

While new head producer Stephen Moffat is responsible for other classics (who could forget 'Blink'?), the other writers do not produce scripts of the same quality. Or it could be short time frame of a regular episode. The first was at a perfect length at around an hour, which allowed for a well-paced story development and space for the characters to breathe. The second and third, “The Beast Below” and “Victory of the Daleks” had great potential in terms of set-up and background but storylines and characters often felt strangled by the short episode length.

Sophie Okonedo of Hotel Rwanda fame was woefully underused as Queen ‘Liz 10’ of the British spaceship. The ending of the Dalek episode felt rushed- a walking humanoid time bomb is reminded of his first love which manages to prevent an apocalypse. Love conquers all! The story could have done with an extra ten minutes or even as a two part episode. It’s no coincidence that the most memorable ones have been the doubles.

Stephen Moffat has brought scary monsters in the show’s history from the creepy gas-masked boy looking for mummy to the flesh-eating shadow, Vashdenerada. The Weeping Angels were used again in recent episodes and whilst they were not as scary in ‘Blink’, they still had menacing surprises for the Doctor. The Angel climbing out of the monitor sequence was a fitting tribute to Ring.

The biggest disappointment has been the new Daleks for the series. Gone are the old Russell T Davies’ menacing metal pepper pots to be replaced by ones that look like Power Rangers getting ready for Gay Pride. They’re bigger, meaner, have deeper macho voices and they come in all the colours of the rainbow! Thankfully, they have not been confirmed for the series’ finale.