“The Latest Model…” The new ‘Doctor Who’ review

“The Latest Model…” The new ‘Doctor Who’ review

“The Latest Model…” The new ‘Doctor Who’ review

With the upcoming US broadcast of the new ‘Doctor Who’ Series 1 (…Series 6? …Series 31.5?) on BBC America, it’s time to meet the new and improved Doctor…

Before I begin, let me say there are NO SPOILERS to the first episode, ‘The Eleventh Hour’! Yeah, yeah, I know… I’m no fun – get over it. This is more a review of what to expect, so all you purists out there don’t loose your [EXPLITIVE]-ing minds! Don’t worry, the Doctor is still the Doctor. He’s still a Timelord (two hearts, regenerations, the lot…). He still travels around time and space in the TARDIS. There’s still a sonic screwdriver. The plucky young assistant is still young… and quite plucky. “So what’s changed,” you ask? Well… ‘Everything’ and ‘Nothing’. Not much of an answer, I know, but let me try and explain…

For those of you ‘in the know’, what comes next is old news. Please bear with me while I bring the uninformed up to speed. At the end of the 2009 Specials, anyone who’s followed the new series saw the good Doctor regenerate when actor David Tennant decided to retire from the part, but what some of you might not realize is that the series did more than just bring in another actor and the end of Tennant’s run. Executive Producer (and one of the primary reasons for the success of the new series) Russell T. Davies decided to leave the show as well. “Oh my giddy aunt!” some would cry (and cry they did!)! Steven Moffat (writer of such classic episodes as ‘The Empty Child’, ‘Blink’, ‘Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead’, and ‘Time Crash’) was brought in to fill RTD”s shoes. He cast actor Matt Smith as the eleventh incarnation of everyone’s favourite Timelord

…and set out to redesign the entire look and feel of ‘Doctor Who’, right down to a new logo…

...main theme-song (looks like I'm buying ANOTHER soundtrack!) and opening sequence.

Did he succeed? I (for one) was worried about ‘the latest model’. I really hadn’t seen anything Matt Smith was in. Actually I was a bit biased because I was pulling for actor James Nesbitt (of ‘Jekyll’ fame – another writing credit to Moffat’s name and all-round BRILLIANT mini-series!) to land the part. Smith is also the youngest actor to land the part (Smith is 27 - the next youngest actor to play the part was Doctor #5 Peter Davison, who was 29 at the time). After seeing the first episode, I can honestly say that the role is in safe hands.

Smith (who grew up in the ‘Doctor Who’ dark ages between 1989 and 2005) channels the Doctor brilliantly! His portrayal is an amalgam of those who came before him – a hint of Troughton, a dash of Baker(s) plural, a splash of Davison, a pinch of Hartnell, etc., plus a little something else for good measure. He’s almost… creepy at times. Now when I say ‘Creepy’, I don’t mean it in a John Wayne Gacy ‘Come here little boy, I have candy’ kind of way. I mean there’s something slightly… dark and spooky about him. Yes, his Doctor still has charm to spare, but there are moments when he appears truly ‘other-worldly’.

The new assistant is named Amy (Amanda) Pond. You’ll see exactly how she and the Doctor meet (another ‘Wibbley-wobbly, timey-wimey’ thing) and why she changed her name. She’s played by Karen Gillan (you might recognize her as one of the soothsayers in ‘The Fires of Pompeii’). She’s got pluck to spare (just watch her during Smith's ‘unveiling’ of his costume) and sex appeal to keep the dads interested in the series (guys are going to LOVE her character’s chosen profession – get your minds out of the gutter, this is still a FAMILY show!).

Other things that have changed – the TARDIS. Yes, it’s still a police box and it’s still dimensionally transcendental, but the look has changed. The exterior is more to the stylings of the Hartnell days, and the interior is… well, it’s… (without giving too much away) multi-levelled and rather steampunk-ish, Yes the desktop font is still ‘Coral’ (nod to ‘Time Crash’), but the typewriter on the console and the ‘blown-glass’ time column are a bit much (NO, I’m not kidding). This is going to have to grow on me…

The sonic screwdriver has also received a face-lift. Gone is the slick grey model of the Eccleson/Tennant years

…and in it’s place is one that is similar to River Song’s in ‘Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead’. Oh, and if you didn’t already know, guess who’s making a guest appearance later this season? Guess… Oh, go on… guess! Here's a hint - “Paging Doctor Corday… Doctor Corday to ER stat…”

The tone of the show is a lot darker too. Yes, it’s still fun – the Doctor still gets silly (almost bi-polar at times), but there seems to be more ‘hiding behind the sofa’ moments in store for younger viewers. Gone are the ‘science FANTASY’ days of RTD, and in it’s place there seems to be more ‘science FICTION’. Don’t worry, you don’t’ have to have a PhD in temporal physics in order to follow along. It’s still ‘family-friendly’, but the ‘WTF?!’ moments of the old regime seem to be gone.

All in all, this first episode has quashed my fears for the new season and left me (as always) wanting more. What can I say but, “BRILLIANT!” Er… no. How about “Allons-y!!” Um…. Wait, I’ve got it!

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