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"The Eleventh Hour" was not only the start of Matt Smith's tenure as the Doctor, but of Steven Moffat's tenure as executive producer, so expectations were high. I'm happy to say that this episode did not disappoint.
In a somewhat surreal, dreamlike opening, the Doctor crashlands in the garden of Amelia Pond, a young Scottish girl in England who is troubled by a strange crack in her bedroom wall. The interaction between the eleventh Doctor and the child Amelia is glorious, including an absolutely golden scene in which the Doctor demands and rejects various foods - "You're Scottish; fry something!"
But it's not all fun and games, because this being Doctor Who, the crack in the wall turns out to be a sign of some decidedly sinister goings on. What follows is an extremely fast-paced, tightly-plotted story, with excellent special effects and superb dialogue (and delivery - seriously, Matt Smith can make even a simple line like "I've commandeered a vehicle!" sound hilarious). Nothing is superfluous.
All in all, it's an excellent introductory episode, because that's what it is, an introduction to an entirely new series. As with the 2005 episode "Rose", this episode would make a good starting point for anyone who isn't familiar with the Doctor Who characters and universe, and was clearly written as such. Of course, even for returning fans, it's an introduction to the Eleventh Doctor and his new companion, Amy. So, what of them?
Well, Matt Smith doesn't disappoint. His portrayal of the Doctor is rather similar to David Tennant's: larger than life, emotive and energetic, with a kind of childlike glee that snaps back to seriousness at precisely the right moments.
As for Amy, she's already one of my favourites of the companions, and a perfect foil for the Doctor. Actually, she's quite like the Doctor herself in some respects - she has the same childish sense of fun, balanced by a no-nonsense attitude; from the start, she makes it very clear that she is not a person to be trifled with.
We don't get to see the new TARDIS design until late in the episode. It's more traditionally sci-fi than RTD's organic/clockpunk look, and I'm honestly unsure how I feel about it. I'm unsure, too, about the new titles, which are so very different from those I'm accustomed to. Perhaps they'll grow on me. We shall see.
Haven't seen it, but you say that Smith's very similar to Tennant. I hope his personality develops into something different as the series progresses.
"Rather" similar, I said. It's certainly not the same as Tennant's, but there are similarities.
I'm sure the differences will become more pronounced as the show goes on and we see more of the character.
I think we're going to see Smith as much more childish and energetic than Tennant. But even if he stays much the same, I'm happy. I found the "Basically, run" to be both worrying and grand.
I'm ok with the opening titles, although the lightning is... eh. The new title itself is grand - I love it.
I am not a fan of the new theme. The 2005 theme was grand and tugged my heart back to childhood, and the later change (s3 or 4) to a much deeper drumbeat was possibly the best I've heard. This one goes a little too light in my opinion.
I'm of the opposite opinion to Adrenfreak regarding the new doctor. I found Smith's doctor to be - although similar in many respects to Tennant's - more restrained and less goofy. Tennant's and Piper's onscreen mucking about got on my nerves, so I am pleased to see Smith acting more restrained and professor like (despite looking like a member of a teenage indy band). I also prefer the new assistant, who is less in your face than both Piper and Tate. Those two seriously got on my nerves.
What I've seen of the Tardis I like; it's nostalgic of previous series. I'm not a fan of the new theme though.
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