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A random quiet moment to process my thoughts on Doctor Who.
Time Lords
I saw the first episode of Matt Smith's turn as the Doctor the other week (I, uh, have really good eyesight) and I was very impressed.

The opening scene of the out-of-control TARDIS is well-enough done. I've seen some nitpicking about how it's not exactly the same situation/position that everything was in at the end of The End of Time, but really, I'm not going to fault them for not showing us exactly how they got from Point A to Point B. It's obvious that some small amount of time has elapsed. Some people are taking "pick up exactly where we left off" a little too literally.

The proper beginning of the episode--the little girl praying to Santa and then finding the police box on its side--is just fucking brilliantly done. The little aside references to other rooms in the TARDIS, with only brief glimpses of the wardrobe given apart from the control room, pay off wonderfully in the image of the Doctor having to climb his way out of an upended TARDIS with a grappling hook. The "let's establish how weird and funny I am" scene is sort of a mixed bag. I'd call it fail, except for the way it's used to transition into the "that must be one hell of a scary crack" line. Matt Smith is blessed with a somewhat alien demeanor that previous Doctors have lacked, which also makes scenes like that work well.

Observation on the observation of the scary crack: the stethoscope and brainy glasses are gone, the psychic paper stays. Of course, the fact that he immediately improvises a listening device might just be a bit of continuity thinking ("The stethoscope was in his jacket pocket, he lost the jacket") and so a replacement could turn up in a later episode, but I'm happier believing that they're thinking "That's Ten's schtick, Eleven doesn't need it." Note that I loved the stethoscope. But it was part of David Tennant's character.

Likewise, while they do show Eleven licking something to determine its age, I enjoyed the bit where he stared up at the sky as if looking for/at the invasion fleet and the visualization of "What's wrong with this picture?" when he spotted the nurse who was filming the man with the dog. I've seen other people criticizing that as jumping on a trendy bandwagon with shows about hyper-observant folks using such visual gimmickry, but I like to think of it as establishing that while Ten led with his nose, Eleven's all about his eyes. As with the lost stethoscope, time will tell if this becomes a consistent theme or if it was a one-off.

Highest and unabashed praise goes for the episode's true denouement, after the local and comparatively trivial threat of Prisoner Zero has been dealt with and the Doctor takes it upon himself to deal with the extinction-level threat of the Atraxi. I hope that Big Damn Doctor moments like this don't become too common, but... it needs to happen sometimes. The Doctor, as Moffat has previously observed, is the thing that monsters under little girls' beds are scared of. He routinely wipes out entire species, though never as a first resort... always as the second one. When he tries to avoid a conflict, sometimes it's because he's feeling merciful.

"I'm the Doctor," he says. "Basically... run."

I whooped and squeed like a schoolgirl at that moment. And then I watched it over and over again about twenty times, with the same reaction. (Uh, really good eyesight.) This is the first first episode of any new Doctor's tenure that I would not hesitate to recommend as a starting point without adding "and then also watch ____________". I think this episode will be a great jumping on point for entirely new fans.

I like the new Doctor's incredibly poor sense of distance traveled through time. I hope that's not dropped now that he's ostensibly gotten his bearings. It's a great touch. Ten was almost too good at navigating the TARDIS. That I can recall, he only ended up elsewhen when the TARDIS itself took direct and obvious control in response to the anomaly of Jenny.

The TARDIS redesign is a bit much. It's like someone said "The fans really like the mallet and the pumpy thingy. What else can we stick in there?" I do appreciate that you can see the elements of the previous "desktop theme" in it.

The fact that they redesigned the screwdriver doesn't mean much to me except that it gives me hope that the other changes I observed will hold steady throughout the season.

I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the season. Moffat wrote my favorite episodes of the previous seasons. I think he's got a handle on the character and the show, and what they both need.

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I kinda want to see this now.

In my view, the second episode of this season is much better than the first. My major issue with the first episode was that getting rid of Prisoner Zero had an irritating deus ex machina solution involving the Doctor doing some Clever Science and somehow Fixing Everything, a shortcut for good story-writing that I hoped would go out with Russell T Davies. I won’t spoil it for you, but in the second episode, the solution was contained very neatly in the problem. I found that much more satisfying.

Also, the second episode was genuinely, satisfyingly scary. And the Doctor gets even more interesting and complicated. :) I hope this series keeps getting better.

I don't know that I agree with your analysis of the solution in Eleventh Hour... the whole "send out a virus and then have them track it back to the phone" is very standard "________ doesn't work that way", which to me is an integral part of the show (see also: SONIC screwdriver). The ultimate solution did flow from what they'd established about the thing and its shapeshifting. It was a little hurried, but it was hardly a matter of "Of course! I just remembered that all transdimensional multiforms are vulnerable to citrus fruits."

Okay, having watched the second episode now... I think in both cases the seeds for the resolution were laid equally well, although in both cases I don't think it was particularly well. We didn't see any sign of the "beast"'s fondness for children until the closing minutes and didn't hear the trigger line ("our children screamed") until just before that.

But yes it was satisfyingly eerie and creepy in a way that I remember Doctor Who being from my childhood, and in a way that only a few of the best episodes of the new show have been.

What's your opinion so far of the companion?

Oh my God. I had avoided reading anything I could avoid reading about the new season because I was determined to give the new Who and the new crew a fair airing and I've found that a lot of things that sound ridiculous when reduced to a sound byte play out just fine in practice, so I had no idea who the new companion was going to be.

And so when I saw the little girl packing up her little suitcase because she wanted to run away with the funny time traveler in the box, I paused the playback (really good eyesight) and did a quick Google to see if they were actually going to have a child companion or if I was going to have my heart broken in the first act. I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep watching if they were going to break my heart. So I did the Google search and saw references to Amelia "Amy" Pond as the companion and thought "Oh, thank God." and resumed.

And had my heart broken anyway.

I have to agree with River Song: it's much better without spoilers. I don't usually have the willpower to avoid them.

That doesn't really answer your question. Generally I'm in favor of her. I really like the fact that she was created with an arc in mind. The Doctor's companions deserve more than "travel with the Doctor until the actor's career takes off/something tragic happens".

River? Spoilers don't show up till next Saturday.

Just finished watching ep 3. I . . . uh . . . fly to London every weekend just to pick up a DVR.

Eleven reminds me more of Four than either Nine or Ten did (and when you take a step back and look at it, character discussions in Who fandom are just weird). This makes me very happy.

I think with Nine they felt the need to do a clear departure from everything that's come before, just to establish that they can and will break from the previous molds.

I really liked Nine's brooding intensity, but Eleven feels like a return to the days of being ridiculous and running around and saying things like, "you may be a Doctor, but I'm the Doctor. The definite article, as it were."

Yes, yes. Ten sort of straddled that line sometimes, but Eleven has stepped back across it.

I think the brooding intensity interspersed with mania is what I like most about Nine. I think he's been my favorite so far because he reminds me most of myself (sort of). I did like Ten's choice of footwear more, though.

I think Nine would have gotten tiring after very much longer, though. And he was less in keeping with what makes the Doctor the Doctor. He was excellent for the post-war trauma, though.

I definitely agree with all of this. I didn't think so at the time, but one series with him was just right. I appreciate, though, that Ten had his moments of trauma that led him to doing some extreme things.

My consensus: Luv #11. Elevenluv!

But I also want to fire Moffat out of a cannon.


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