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Review of Doctor Who ‘The Eleventh Hour’ (Series 31)

Neela Debnath

bbc 300x225 Review of Doctor Who ‘The Eleventh Hour’ (Series 31)In the run up to the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ in November 2013, Neela Debnath with the help of BBC DVD, will be reviewing one story from each of the previous 31 series of the show. Each review will offer readers a snapshot from every series of ‘Doctor Who’ and celebrate the longest-running science fiction television programme in the world.

Between 2008-2009 Doctor Who had a hiatus of sorts. Instead of a full series there were several specials that saw the Doctor (David Tennant) travelling without a regular companion.

Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) made her departure in Journey’s End. The Doctor was forced to wipe her memory after she was imbued with all his knowledge. It turns out her human brain can’t handle that much knowledge and it would have ended up killing her. We do briefly see Donna one last time when the Doctor gives her family a winning lottery ticket.

The tenth Doctor’s last episode was The End of Time when he exposed himself to a huge amount of radiation in order to save Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins). In doing so, the Doctor triggered his regeneration. Before he changed into the eleventh incarnation, the Doctor did a farewell tour and re-visited all of his companions for the last time.

The Doctor then gets onto the Tardis and starts to regenerate. Matt Smith’s Time Lord made his first appearance at the close of The End of Time but his first real adventure is The Eleventh Hour. The story does not miss a beat. It sees the newly regenerated Doctor and his Tardis on a collision course with the Earth and only 20 minutes to save it from destruction.

Along with the departure of Tennant, chief writer Russell T. Davies had passed over the Doctor Who reins to Steven Moffat. So, the pressure was on for both Moffat and Smith to deliver. Thankfully they do not disappoint.

The story is another narrative masterpiece from Moffat. He manages to establish a new era of Doctor Who in the space of 45 minutes. The Eleventh Hour is an exciting adventure that introduces to us a new incarnation of the Doctor and a new companion. It all starts with a crack in Amelia Pond’s (Caitlin Blackwood) bedroom wall and an escaped alien prisoner. It ends with the Doctor stopping the planet from getting destroyed and donning a bow tie.

The genius of this story is how Moffat makes us fall in love with the new companion and more importantly the eleventh Doctor. Instead of being confronted with a feisty young woman, we are introduced to seven-year-old orphan Amelia Pond. Her first encounter with the Doctor is simply magical and completely disarming. We are won over without quite realising that she will be next companion.

When we finally do meet the grown up version of Amy (Karen Gillan), we are already endeared to her because we know her. We’ve watched her waiting in her back garden for the Doctor to return. It takes him 12 years but he gets there eventually.

It was a little harder to win over the audience when it came to Smith’s Doctor. There were the die-hard David Tennant fans who couldn’t let go of him. Then there was Smith’s youth and perceived lack of experience – he was the youngest actor since Peter Davison to play the Doctor. I admit it, I was very sceptical along with the rest of the nation. How could this lanky, twenty-something ex-footballer pull it off? Well, with one brilliant scene and the lines: ‘Hello, I’m the Doctor. Basically… run.’ Those were the words that sealed the deal. From that moment on Matt Smith was the Doctor.

Over the years Smith’s Doctor has developed and formed a unique identity. He was initially quite accident-prone, eccentric and a comical figure. More recently, things have got much darker and we have seen a more emotional side to his incarnation. While I’m still waiting for someone to explain the River Song story arc to me, I have enjoyed Smith’s time as the Doctor.

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This brings me to the end of my Doctor Who 50th anniversary retrospective.

I’ve already covered each episode of series 6/32 and 7/33 and I’ve included links to those below.

Thank you to everyone who has commented on, liked or tweeted out my reviews over the past 18 months – it’s always great to discuss Doctor Who with other people and get a completely different perspective on the show. And a big thank you to the BBC for allowing me to indulge my geeky love of Doctor Who.

But this isn’t the end! There will be plenty of other Doctor Who goodies in the run up to the 50th anniversary, so keep an eye out.

For further reading see:

Reviews of series 6/32 of ‘Doctor Who’

Reviews of series 7/33 of ‘Doctor Who’

‘Doctor Who’ 50th anniversary reviews

DVD & image credit: BBC

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