When David Tennant left the role of the Time Lord last year, speculation over the fate of his replacement began apace. Similar to the announcement of Daniel Craig’s appointment as James Bond, the reveal of Matt Smith being the new Doctor came as something of mixed bag as far as opinion was concerned.
Now, over six months on from that announcement, the new Doctor gets his first outing on his own terms.
In the opening ten minutes, which pick up directly from the Christmas “End of Time” episodes, the TARDIS crash lands in the back garden of little Scottish girl Amelia Pond. Crawling out of the wreckage, the Doctor still holds onto many of the mannerisms and characteristics that defined David Tennant’s term, something which also happened in the Eccleston/Tennant crossover a few years back.
That said, Matt Smith immediately grabs the role and throws himself into the wild and often insane world of the Time Lord’s mindset and for the most part he is 100% believable as the new Doctor.
After a brief alien encounter, a lot of food spitting (watch to find out!) and a quick flit off in the TARDIS, 12 years have passed and the Doctor is being handcuffed to a radiator by a grown up Amy, no longer Amelia, Pond (the very easy on the eye Karen Gillan). Although her first scenes aren’t the most impressionable, over the course of the episode, the character does grow on you and soon the action is underway and it doesn’t really matter anymore.
The storyline centres on an escaped shape-shifting alien which is being tracked by the Atraxi. As the life form has taken refuge on Earth, the planet is surrounded by spaceships and if it has not surrendered in 20 minutes the planet will be incinerated. Lovely.
In usual Doctor fashion, his attempts to bring the episode to a non-destruction of Earth climax are hectic, illogical and quick paced. We all know what the outcome will be when, like my granddad would say “he’s on again next week”, but it doesn’t make getting there any less enjoyable.
As well as the usual back-referencing to previous episodes, there is a nice little holographic scene that flicks through old enemies, then all ten previous Doctors before the Eleventh Doctor steps through David Tennant’s hologram to cross that final threshold in stamping his identity on the role.
On a downside, it is no secret that the budget of the series took a cut and it does show in the special effects. The superior effects seen in David Tennant’s last series and specials are quite lack lustre in this opening to the series and more in line with those from the Christopher Eccleston series. We’ve come to expect more and maybe it is because we have been spoilt in the past that we are asking too much.
That said, this is the first episode and with hints to a “silence on Earth” that will surely play a part in a large scale finale being dropped into the story, the series is still one to watch and light years ahead of every other sci-fi drama out there at the moment.