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New Who 5.1: The Eleventh Hour

Knowing I didn't really have time to review this properly, I tried live-blogging it. I don't really want to make that a regular habit, as it meant that I missed quite a lot of what was going on on screen while I was writing down the last thing I'd noticed. But it was nice to have a go at it.

The results follow below:

Response to the earlier era - Moffat has the TARDIS avoid crashing into Big Ben, where RTD made a set-piece of alien ship clipping it in Aliens of London

Opening credits - I like the cloudier time-tunnel. It promises a murky, complex series. Music's not bad, too - emphasises the counter-melody (which I've always loved) and tones down the drums.

Amy first appears saying her prayers - will Christianity remain a serious part of her portrayal? (ETA: no, it won't, because she was actually praying to Santa.) It's a classic child's prayer, though - asking for things, 'back in a mo'.

Oh! Broken TARDIS is quite painful to see!

Starting with Amy as a child = reaching out to the classic target audience? An interest of Moffat's to do this - e.g. child in Silence in the Library.

Child!Amy reminds me of pickwick - similar hair, Scottish. :-) A natural choice for Moffat to cast a Scottish actress, of course.

He pops an apple in his pocket for later - like Tennant's satsuma in The Christmas Invasion? (Uses it later to prove to Amy that he is the same person, travelling faster through time than her.)

Amelia has no parents, lives with aunt - just like Dodo!

Doc's time-line different from Amelia's - like The Girl in the Fireplace.

Is the hospital where the patients call on the Doctor the same one as used in Jon Pertwee's first story? Certainly looks quite similar.

Interesting that we meet a female Asian doctor and white male nurse in the hospital - looks like an attempt at positive portrayal of racial minorities, though undermined by fact that she is shown as closed-minded (does not believe what he says about patients).

Amy has star stud earrings just like mine!

Love her anger at his broken promise, 12 years of therapy. But do we really want a companion who is (again) on some level hung up on the Doctor, thinks their life is incomplete without him?

"What? what? what?" when he realises Amy is Amelia - but in a very different tone from David Tennant.

He liked the name Amelia - grown-up Amy says it's 'a bit fairytale'. Rejecting her childhood. Grown-up Amy is much more sceptical and cynical than child Amelia.

Rory resents Amy's interest in the Doctor - please don't be Mickey all over again!

Star-like space vehicle (Atraxi) = ref to Racnoss star?

Prisoner Zero melts and goes down drain - definitely a ref to The Three Doctors.

Amy the kiss-o-gram, Jeff looking at porn, Amy not turning back when Doc changes clothes - please let's not have Torchwood-style 'adult' content...

Conferencing on lap-top, refs to Bebo, Twitter - like Ten's 'outer space Facebook'.

Woman with children who turn out to be monsters - like monster-child in The Empty Child.

Doc wants monster to leave, rather than be captured and killed - moral stance.

Is one of the people on the computer conference Peter Capaldi? Surely not - surely he'd be in a bigger role than this? Or maybe he will recur later?

Solution is technology - computer virus and phone signal.

But monster takes Doc's form - evil twin syndrome! Seems to have tapped into Amy's obsession with the Doc to take form of her dreams.

Doc seems to use psychic abilities to turn her dreams to his advantage. So actually solution is partly his technological skill, partly his supernatural abilities. Nice - I like to see those two sides of the Doctor working together.

'Silence will fall' sounds a lot like a prophecy we should be Taking Note Of.

Shadow Proclamation, Earth as Level Five planet - drawing on past ideas about administrative systems of Whoniverse. Good.

Rory's ref to 'aliens of death' - is that a send-up of old-style story titles?

Summons aliens back to warn them off - definitely like Ten and the Sycorax. Sends them away by saying Earth isn't a threat ('mostly harmless'?), but is protected - again, like Ten saying it is defended.

Ooh - montage of past Doctors! So this new era is explicitly proclaiming from the start that it will respect the series' past - not just through oblique references, but direct on-screen visuals. Not that I'd expected anything other than respect for the past, but good to have it confirmed.

St. John's Ambulance sticker on the TARDIS door of course = One. :-)

Amy can't believe he just ran out on her... again. (Which is then reinforced by showing us child!Amy sitting glumly on her suitcase.)

Aw, but now he's back, and 'sorry about running off earlier'. He's 'run in' the newly-refurbished TARDIS, and she's ready to roll - with Amy on board.

Oops! But he's been gone two years again. Naughty Doc.

"You wanted to come 14 years ago." "I grew up." "Don't worry - I'll soon fix that." Explicit promise of taking us all back to the wonder of childhood.

Lovely play with the 'first time in the TARDIS' trope - Doc has heard it all before. And hooray for repeated refs to wardrobe, swimming pool, library. I love this aspect of the TARDIS, and am dying to see more of it.

Why on earth does she believe he'll get her back in time for 'stuff', given his previous track record?

New TARDIS is kind of H.G. Wells-ish - Victorian mad inventor vibe.

Proclaims, "I'm definitely a mad man with a box" - joy in anarchy. Fantastic.

We see her dolls and drawings - ref to fan-art? But she gets to live it for real. And it's all next to her wedding-dress! Child to adult.

Teasers for upcoming stuff looks fab! Dalek and sand-bags = Genesis of the Daleks ref? And the female Asian doctor returns - good.

In short, definitely looks promising. Moffat is referring to the past, but also positioning himself as having his own new take on the format. And Matt Smith seems just right. It's hard to judge how the adventures will pan out from this - like any opening story, it's really just about introducing the characters. But we've made a decent start.

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( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
I might need an Amelie icon, hee!

Was Amelie "praying" to Santa? I thought she was!

Hitch-hikers reference! Oddly, I didn't think of it when you did, but it did occur to me earlier, at the "hello, we're demolishing your planet" bit.

Eleven totally is the mad Victorian inventor type. He reminded me of the Professor Branestawm books, somehow.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think you're right about Santa. I thought that too at one point, but then got confused again. That's the trouble with trying to live-blog - very easy to miss the fine details.

And yes, I definitely got a Professor Branestawm vibe off Eleven, too.
(no subject) - big_daz - Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - steer - Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - steer - Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - parrot_knight - Apr. 4th, 2010 11:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - steer - Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - steer - Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
...and you don't disappoint - I think this has to be the Quickest Review Ever!

Happy to say that I'm right, and that Matt Smith is most definitely doing a good job so far. Glad to see that he's moved away from the trendy/attractive Who ('well-fitted' suit, good hair) of Ten and is heading a bit more towards the zany. Love the bow tie!

However, like you, I was worried about the companion-loving-the-doctor thing. Donna was a refreshing difference to that, and if we're going back to Rose and Martha, it's going to get a bit boring.

My fabourite theme by far, though, was the imaginary play mate being real. Now there's something we can all relate to and get excited about. I'm now waiting for my own personal TARDIS...
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
Hee, actually a couple of people on my friendslist got in even quicker than I did! It's a fast-moving world, is Doctor Who fandom. :-)

I don't think Amy is going to love the Doctor in the same way as Rose and Martha, but it doesn't have to be romantic love to get tedious. I thought Amy's portrayal had elements of the way Sarah Jane was portrayed in School Reunion, spending most of her life since her original time with the Doctor pining for him to come back. I don't like the implicit messages about female dependency on the Doctor.

But yes - the imaginary coming true! That's very potent, and at the heart of most really good fantasy (on TV or elsewhere). I'm glad Moffat is foregrounding that.
(no subject) - tsdt - Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)
Yes, too early to tell whether "Silence Will Fall" is the season's Bad-Wolf scenario, or whether Moffatt will be different and is just teasing us.

I wasn't especially taken with the "adult" aspects either, though they seemed more Carry-On than Torchwood to me.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
I don't know - some of the early Torchwood stuff seemed pretty Carry On-esque in itself. Like the alien who made people explode by having sex with them, for instance.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
I liked lots of it though David Tenant was better dressed and had better hair Matt Smith was very charismatic and makes the role different without being too "mental" especially for a regeneration episode (Peter Davidson, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy were all in different ways, pretty damn whacko or out of it post regeneration).

There were a three or four moments where I was ahead of the plot and that's super rare for me since I tend to not bother to try to think ahead so I guess there's a lot of very obvious clueing (the "that's the little girl", "that's not a real policeman", "it also knows how to look like the doctor" moments at least I think there were a couple more too).
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - steer - Apr. 5th, 2010 11:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Apr. 5th, 2010 11:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - steer - Apr. 5th, 2010 11:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Apr. 5th, 2010 11:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - steer - Apr. 5th, 2010 11:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xipuloxx - Apr. 5th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - steer - Apr. 5th, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xipuloxx - Apr. 5th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
I wanted to post myself before reading anyone else's comments. Yours were the first I read. You've clearly thought about it much more intellectually than I have as of yet, I was too busy enjoying the ride.

Though there obviously are a lot of references to previous stories, I think some of the similarities you spotted are just coincidence -- but you may well be right about the Three Doctors one, which didn't occur to me at all!

"Music's not bad, too - emphasises the counter-melody (which I've always loved) and tones down the drums."

I thought the drums were pounding louder than ever, actually! I found them really quite distracting. Other than that I liked it.

"please let's not have Torchwood-style 'adult' content..."

Not a chance. All of it in this episode is deliberately written to seem fairly innocent to kids; we can guess Jeff's been looking at porn, but it's never explicit. A kissogram is explained as someone who dresses up and kisses people for a living (which, to a child, is undoubtedly just one among many strange things adults do). And as for Amy not looking away -- again, adults see that as sexual, whereas children will just see her being a bit naughty! It all works on both levels, and utterly lacks the sniggering, adolescent crassness that marred Torchwood's "adult" content. Thank goodness.

"A natural choice for Moffat to cast a Scottish actress, of course."

Apparently she's actually Karen Gillan's cousin. Makes sense!

"Interesting that we meet a female Asian doctor and white male nurse in the hospital - looks like an attempt at positive portrayal of racial minorities, though undermined by fact that she is shown as closed-minded (does not believe what he says about patients)."

Or, alternatively, she's just cast in the standard "overly-sensible adult who refuses to believe the child's 'crazy' story" role -- I know Rory isn't a child, but that's how their relationship resonates for me. And of course, what he's telling her turns out to be one and the same as Amy's childhood story which no-one believed.

"Why on earth does she believe he'll get her back in time for 'stuff', given his previous track record?"

Because she wants to believe that. She really wants to go with him, just like she did as a child. But now, as an adult, she can't just pack a case and go; she has responsibilities. But if she has plausible deniability; if she can say "well, he promised..." than it's okay. Rory may be quite cross when she returns. :^D
Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
I think you've said some great things about Moffat's favoured themes and his self-referentiality in your own review, actually, so don't do yourself down!

Music - the drums definitely got too loud in season 4, but I thought they were less bad here. Will need to hear it a few more times to be completely sure about it, though.

'Adult' content - no, I know it won't really get quite like Torchwood, as obviously that's against the rules in a tea-time slot. But I did think what they put in read in a bit of a sniggering, adolescent way for the adults who 'got' the references. Let's hope it gets left behind after this story, anyway.

I guess the fact that our Asian doctor will return is a good sign for her character-development actually - it means she may come to open up to new ideas later on.

And 'plausible deniability' - yes, I like that reading! Indeed, Karen Gillan said something in the Confidential about how she has a lot of growing to do before she's really ready to marry Rory, so maybe part of her isn't too bothered at the moment if they don't quite make it back in time...
(no subject) - rhube - Apr. 3rd, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 09:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, I would definitely have liked a more mature character all round. But I guess we've had that with Donna, and it just isn't what Moffat's doing here. Given that, I wasn't totally against her choice of career - the way she spoke about it did sound fairly matter-of-fact, and as though it was mainly about expediency within a much bigger picture. I guess we'll find out more, anyway.
(no subject) - rhube - Apr. 3rd, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xipuloxx - Apr. 4th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
"Prisoner Zero melts and goes down drain - definitely a ref to The Three Doctors."

Or a reference to the Master's form early in the movie (8th doctor)? The snake-like creature is similar too.

A couple of other old series references:

The Doctor's grabbing of clothes in a changing room is exactly what the 3rd Doctor did, as I recall.

Did you see, amongst all the New Series monsters in the monsters montage, a shot of a Sea Devil?
Apr. 4th, 2010 08:48 am (UTC)
Look, I still don't think you understand, even after our last exchange. So let me spell this out for you.

All of the other people commenting on this thread are my friends. I've met them in real life, know their real names, and have built up established relationships with them. That is really why I want to engage in conversation about Doctor Who with them - this is all about friends chatting over a mutual interest.

By contrast, you have been leaving brusque, pedantic, anonymous comments on my journal for some two years now, without ever even taking the trouble to introduce yourself. (And I do know that all those comments are from the same person - it's clear from your IP address and your browsing habits). This makes you come across as rude, creepy and totally bereft of social skills.

If you want to have conversations about Doctor Who that don't also involve a social element, I suggest that you join a forum like the one you can find at Gallifrey Base or get a livejournal account and join the doctorwho community.

As for me, I have no interest in engaging in conversation with you, as you have done absolutely nothing to make me want to do so. I am now disabling anonymous comments on my journal so that you can't bother me any more.
Apr. 4th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for doing this review! I always find it amusing when people write their thoughts down as the show's going on.

I actually found the story because I was trying to divine the significance of the St. John's Ambulance logo. Thanks for letting me know it was a reference to a previous incarnation.

Regarding Rory... I think it's (Unfortunately) inevitable that any man romantically involved with a Companion is going to be jealous when the Doctor turns up. He's just impossible to compete with. About the only thing the Doctor doesn't have going for him is a six-figure income and huge muscles and any girl who is after a man for those things probably isn't going to be the sort of girl the Doctor finds intriguing.

The Daleks... From what I've picked up in little hints and screen-grabs, they're going to be in an episode called "Victory of the Daleks" in which they ally with the British in WW2. I saw something that looked like Spitfires in Space and the Daleks were all sporting British 40s pattern Olive webbing and Union-Jacks. Very odd. Then again, Churchill was something of an odd duck without the Doctor getting involved.

Anyway, thanks for the review/live-blog! Fingers crossed you enjoy the rest of the stories!

Edited at 2010-04-04 12:41 pm (UTC)
Apr. 4th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed the write-up, and I'm certainly hoping I enjoy the rest of the series, too!

Yes, Hartnell's TARDIS had a quite distinct St. John's Ambulance logo - you can see it in this picture, for instance. Mind you, I've also just dragged up this page, which suggests that real police boxes had them too. So maybe it is more about getting right back to the original item that the TARDIS was based on, rather than One's TARDIS specifically?

What you say about the Daleks would explain why there have been screen-caps around today from the teaser trailer, showing Daleks with Union Jack flags on them - I missed that bit myself, as I was typing up other things at the time! Sounds like an intriguing story-line, and good to see that this season must have more than one historical story, then (given that there's also a Van Gogh one). Historicals are a special interest of mine, so I'm very keen to see those.
Apr. 4th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Was I wrong, or did the Doctor's ID have a picture of Hartnell?

I really enjoyed it - it seemed to me that 11 combines some of the best features of 9 and 10.

Liked Amelia, and think the choice of Kiss-o-Gram girl spoke more to her doing what it takes to make ends meet than otherwise -- another Plucky one.

Re the Asian doctor: I think it's a tough call. if she had listened to Rory, then the dynamic becomes "woman doctor's professional opinion swayed by male nurse" or worse, "Asian woman doctor's opinion swayed by white male nurse."
Apr. 4th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
I didn't notice Hartnell on the Doctor's ID, but then again it's become increasingly obvious today reading through other people's comments that I missed swathes of on-screen detail due to being hunched over my lap-top. Luckily, it's being broadcast again this evening on BBC3, so I shall take the opportunity to actually LOOK at it this time!

Good point about the doctor and Rory - it probably is best that she stuck to her guns.
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )

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