Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour (Season Five Premiere) (BBC America, Saturdays, 9/8 Central) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Matt Smith (as The Doctor) and Karen Gillan (as Amy Pond)

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour (Season Five Premiere)

(BBC America, Saturdays, 9/8 Central)

Apr 15, 2010 Doctor Who
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The Doctor is back and he’s in very good hands. Nervous Doctor Who fans can all breathe a collective sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that, based on the fifth season premiere, Matt Smith will be a charming and spirited Doctor, and new executive producer Steven Moffat will bring a fresh and dark fairy tale-like whimsy to the show.

Doctor Who‘s new season starts in spectacular fashion, picking up where the last one left off. The TARDIS is on fire and hurtling out of control above London and the freshly regenerated Doctor is barely hanging on, dangling out of his time and space machine as it’s about the collide with Big Ben. The TARDIS crashes in a little girl’s backyard and as soon as Smith emerges from his damaged ship, he commands the role with verve and humor, imbuing the character with his own quirks.

When it was announced last year that Smith was taking over as the iconic time traveling sci-fi character The Doctor, there was a lot of raised eyebrows and skeptical comments from fans. Smith was a relative unknown, having only scored a few guest starring roles on British TV (Secret Diary of a Call Girl, for example), a starring role in a little scene BBC show that lasted only one season (Party Animals), and a scene cut from In Bruges. The general complaint was that he was too youngat 27 he is the youngest actor yet of the 11 who have played The Doctor since the show’s 1963 debut (the alien character changes his face/body every few years, when a new actor takes the part, and is currently over 900 years old). And the biggest challenge that Smith faced was that he was taking over from David Tennant, the actor to play The Doctor most voted in fan polls as their favorite. But it only takes Smith a few minutes in the part to convince any doubters that he was born to play The Doctor and has the potential to be one of the best Doctor’s yet. Tennant will be missed, and may still be remembered as the best, but Smith might be in with a chance too.

Moffat wrote the season premiere, entitled The Eleventh Hour, but the fast-paced plot is secondary to the character development and a bevy of great one-liners. A little Scottish girl living in England has a crack in her bedroom wall from which she can hear a strange announcement, “Prisoner zero has escaped.” This leads to a chain of events that puts the planet in jeopardy. “Twenty-minutes. I can do it. Twenty-minutes, the planet burns. Run to your loved ones and say goodbye or stay and help me,” says The Doctor to Amy Pond, his new companion (played with spunkiness by redheaded Karen Gillan), who, in a nice twist, shares a special bond with the time traveler that I won’t reveal.

But it’s not really about the plot this time, it’s all about getting to know Smith’s Doctor and discovering the already complicated relationship between him and Amy. Smith and Gillan immediately have great chemistry and one hopes both will stick with the show for at least a couple of seasons. Moffat illustrates that he’s willing to change up Doctor Who‘s tone (somehow it’s both darker and more fun), while also being referential to the show’s 47-year history. He already had the fans on his side after writing such previous award-winning Who episodes as Blink, and the prospect of him managing the whole show and writing more episodes is a thrilling one. The whole team plays it fast and loose, dumping the viewer smack dab in the middle of this new exciting new Who world. The only deficit is that the CGI effects for the alien spaceship in the climax look decidedly too digital and fake (although are a far cry from the ropey effects displayed in the classic Who series that ran from 1963 - 1989; the revamped Who debuted in 2005 with better effects).

Doctor Who fans watched the last season with the knowledge that Tennant was leaving, so the whole thing had a foreboding sense to it, but with a new cast, new executive producer, revamped titles sequence, a redesigned TARDIS interior, and even a fresh arrangement of the decade’s old theme song, the show’s new season is bound to be filled with plenty of surprises. When your main character can travel in both time and space, and with digital effects, anything can happen. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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April 16th 2010

I love that the Doctor has chosen a “ginger” companion for the second time. If he can’t have red hair himself he’ll hang out with them.

April 18th 2010

Matt smith is a great doctor, and last nights victory of the daleks was fantastic!!!

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May 7th 2010

Moffatt makes his first proper stamp on the show by giving us a new title sequence, with eerie gothic titles which are very effective. Less effective is the music though which is arguably the weakest since the harsh synth sounding theme tune of the Sylvester McCoy era. I

Bea Klaymeier
August 7th 2011

Thought I wouldn’t like Matt Smith as much as David Tennant, but he is wonderful.  Can’t wait to see the start of the next season.