After last week’s first episode with new Doctor Matt Smith, in which he was still regenerating and “becoming” the Doctor, this is the first episode in which he finally gets full reign and we see, once and for all, whether he can cut it.
Similar to last week, within minutes there is no doubt that Matt Smith was made for the role and whether he’s done his homework or it is just a coincidence, but watching him is like watching every other Doctor rolled into one. He has hints of Peter Davison, the madness and eccentricity of Tom Baker, the energy of David Tennant and the wisdom of John Pertwee. All in all, that should mean he proves to be the ultimate Doctor.
Having taken to the skies at the end of the last episode, the Doctor and his new assistant, Amy land on a spaceship which contains what was once the United Kingdom, with the exception of Scotland who decided to build their own spaceship. As always, something is not right in this future world and it all revolves around the inhabitants living in fear of some unseen beast that lives under the streets. With an accompaniment of somewhat scary fairground attraction dummies, and a little bit of brainwashing, this is the type of Doctor Who story we have come to know and love, and along with the replacement of Tennant it seems that Steven Moffat’s promotion to head writer has been just as successful as Smith.
The story has the usual elements of something evil lurking in the dark, an adventure to get through the perilous and humourous in equal measure the Doctor and Amy finding themselves being vomited up by a creature they end up in the mouth of being a prime example until we reach the point where the Doctor has to make a choice that he really doesn’t want to make.
We began seeing this kind of form in the Fires of Pompeii episode back in the Tennant days, and Moffat is continuing to use it to full effect here as on more than one occasion the Doctor is seen snapping and biting back at suggestions made by the people around him some of the rattiness we saw creeping into Tennant’s character still lingering in Smith’s incarnation. As we have also seen in the past, things are not always as they seem, and the Doctor and his assistant frequently swap roles in the stakes of who knows what is best for the world.
The transition in both character and storytelling in this episode put beyond doubt any fear that last week’s opener was nothing more than a fluke. The TARDIS and its occupants are in safe hands for the foreseeable future, including the return of the never defeated Daleks in next week’s episode and the continuing appearance of fissures in time that are certainly a link to the series finale.