BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The Doctor is still recovering from his recent regeneration while the TARDIS is recovering from the beating it took at the end of The End of Time. And on top of all that, he’s lost his sonic screwdriver. And wouldn’t you know it, he has 20 minutes to save the Earth from a fiery end. Good thing he’s got Amy Pond along to help.
MY REVIEW: The is the first episode of season 5, the first fully run by Stephen Moffat (who also wrote Coupling) and the first episode with Matt Smith as the new Doctor. There is a lot of firsts, but did this episode hold up to the standard set by Russell T Davies?
In a word, yes. Moffat isn’t new to Doctor Who, having written a handful of previous episodes of the revived series (for which he has won multiple Hugo awards and been nominated for a couple of Nebula’s!) His writing is concise with a good dose of comedy and horror for which the series is known. And Smith was pretty good, picking right up where David Tennant left off. I know for many (based on what I’ve read on the web so far) Tennant is their ideal Doctor, so I think Smith played it somewhat safe by acting very similarly to Tennant in much of this episode. Personally, while I like it,
I am hoping the next episodes give Smith a chance to play it his way.
As episodes go, this one was pretty good, but perhaps not one of the great episodes. Much of the episode was taken up with the need to introduce the new companion character named Amy Pond (played by the very attractive Karen Gillan) and deal with the Doctor’s regeneration. The introduction of Amelia (nee Amy) is handled in a touching fashion, with the Doctor showing up on her doorstep while she is a young child. There is a fantastically funny scene where she fixes meal after meal for the Doctor before finding something he likes (fish with custard). He also discovers she has been bothered by a crack in the wall of her room which the Doctor determines is actually a crack in the universe through which the mysterious Prisoner Zero has escaped. The
Doctor has to make a quick trip in the TARDIS and promises to return to her in 5 minutes, leaving little Amelia sitting forlornly on her packed suitcase dressed for a trip. And he does return, but 12 years later rather than the 5 minutes he promised. Amy (as she is now known) has grown up and struggled with her memories (viewed as the product of her imagination by her friends) and the sense of loss. She whacks him on the head and
handcuffs him to the radiator; an act I like to think as being rather cathartic and part of the healing process.
In any case, at this point the episode really takes off with Amy and the Doctor being threatened not only by Prisoner Zero but by his jailers, the Atraxi. The Atraxi are willing to incinerate the entire Earth if Zero doesn’t give up, which of course it doesn’t have any intention of doing. And if that wasn’t hard enough, during an encounter with Zero the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver is destroyed. I’ll leave it there, with hopes that this has tempted you to watch the episode. It’s premiering on BBC America April 17th.
Best moments: Funny scene involving the Doctor’s food cravings, Karen Gillan dressed as a policewoman in mini-skirt standing over the handcuffed Doctor (yowza), scary moments involving Prisoner Zero’s mouthful of sharp teeth, homage to other Doctors saving the Earth, final scene showing Amelia’s room filled with homemade dolls and drawings.
Worst moments: The Doctor interfacing with world leaders via the webcam on a notebook, the Doctor uploading a virus to objects that couldn’t possibly be controlled by a computer (such as a simple mechanical clock), a strange unexplained blue light that links Amy and the Doctor in one scene that I couldn’t decide was intentional or a glitch (if my son and I couldn’t figure it out, that’s probably not good.)