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Reviews Comments: The first Moffat/Smith season retrospective Doctor Who season review by Mr Wednesday

Just a note, this review won't contain any spoilers. This I vow.

So series Fnarg has been and gone, Matt Smith has become the most predictable "surprise success" of TV history and before everyone else who has the same idea gets around to it, I thought I'd do a review of the series as a whole. First up, the cast and characters. My first impression of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan was that while he was a very good actor, she was better suited to her role. By the end of the series, my opinion had done a u-turn: Matt Smith inhabits the role more thoroughly after one season than David Tennant did after four. His portrayal of the Doctor owes a lot more to past incarnations, and the result is a level of consistent, enjoyable, believable characterisation that we haven't seen in a long time. Amy Pond, meanwhile, is left without solid characterisation and Karen far from a bad actress, but if there's a dodgy line that could go either way, she will make it painful.

Supporting cast wise, there's just River Song and Rory. River remains a stillborn character, a living abortion of forced chemistry, awkwardly-misaimed attempts at sex appeal and grating smugness disguised as female empowerment, but she does have a genuinely good rapport with Amy. Rory...has his moments, but his actor isn't good enough to be sharing the camera with the two leads.

The writing has improved overall, with better plots and better dialogue. I've seen complaints that the Story Arc of this season is too unsubtle (and, "Torchwood Torchwood Torchwood! In conclusion: Torchwood!" and "Shit, the episode's halfway through and we haven't mentioned Mr. Saxon yet, give him a ring" was subtle?), but what it actually does is incorporate the arc into the plots of individual episodes. It works better in some episodes than in others, but it's a much-needed shake up of the formula.

The most important element it brings back, though, is imagination. Ideas. The aliens are alien, not furries, the plots are more intriguing and better resolved. This season reminds us at long last what Doctor Who has to offer that other franchises don't.

It's not great; there are still lots of dud episodes and good episodes that nosedive, but it's an improvement and it gives me hope.


  • zam
  • 29th Jun 10
Good review I like the new series too. can't wait for the next one.

  • 29th Jun 10
I don't agree with your thoughts on River (though she's not my favorite character, either) but your I'd sell my soul to be able to write a sentence like that.
  • 13th Aug 10
I'm pretty much with you on most things here: give or take a few messes, this series felt pretty solid and enjoyable to me. I was pleasantly surprised when the finale turned around and proved to me that they had really been thinking about things that I'd assumed were errors all the way through. It used the idea of time travel in a way that Who never had before, and likely never will again.

It was a rather specific set of circumstances, I feel, which made the whole "let's create a billion paradoxes to save the day" actually work rather than just seeming like Moffat was playing a Get Out of Jail Free card. I mean, how often in the past have we discussed whether or not the Doctor could just solve the problem of the week by going back in his own timeline and telling his younger self what to do, and then had it explained to us that logically, this would create paradoxes that messed everything up? On this occasion I think the circumstances meant the Paradoxes were acceptable -i.e. better to create a few paradoxes in a disintergrating universe than, you know, let the whole univese go KABOOM. Actually using that method on us took some guts and, at least from my admittedly biased perspective, paid off. Maybe I'm missing something here, but honestly, I was far too busy enjoying what I was seeing to worry about any other gripes I may have had.

My one unavoidable gripe is that a lot of the time, I felt the series was constructed in such a way that it was trying to make me go "ooh, that's clever" which... well, fair enough, it DID make me do that on a semi regular basis: the plots are as you say, very well resolved. But it feels lacking a little in several areas, character development being but one. I guess I should accept though, that you can only do so much with thirteen episodes. We have plenty more time to get to know the Eleventh Doctor, his companions, and Moffat's take on his universe, and I look forwards to the journey.

I disagree with your take on Rory's actor's skills however. Generally, he felt a lot more grounded and believable to me than Amy did. But then I never did understand how one person can believe an actor is capable, while another believes the opposite... I'm starting to think there's No Such Thing as good or bad acting (well I'm exagerrating there but it's certainly a lot more malleable a subject than I previously thought...)
  • Thormy
  • 25th Aug 10
Amy was naff at some points, and I thought Rory was very consistent and good. A "meh" opinion of Smith went from a very very positive opinion. He makes the role so much his own in a familiar way. I kind of haven't looked back and watched Tennant since the first Smith series ended, out of fear of comparisons. Soon enough I can appreciate them both, but Tennant is great in one way, and Smith is just...different. The arc wasn't forced down our throats in an obvious way. The episode with the vampires in Italy was just...let's just say it was another "Fear Her" in my opinion.

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