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Published on March 22nd, 2010 | by Christian Cawley

Eleventh Hour Press Previews

New Doctor Who star Matt Smith

Press reaction to the new Doctor Who and his debut adventure, The Eleventh Hour, has been largely positive, with mainstream organs for all audiences praising both new Doctor Matt Smith and the opening of a new era in the series.

(Note – there are mild spoilers in this article.)

Of course, there is always one dissenting voice. Sadly, it’s The Independent’s Gerard Gilbert, who for some reason chooses to make the most ridiculous comparisons. Of the new Doctor, he opines:

I can well imagine that he will continue the vein of English (even the West Lothian-born Tennant spoke with an English accent) eccentricity that has permeated the show since its inception. However, on the whole, I increasingly can’t be bothered with Doctor Who.

I’m no longer so sure that it’s the unalloyed triumph that an increasingly self- congratulatory BBC would lead us to believe.

Gilbert then goes on to compare the quintessentially British Doctor Who with the BattleStar Galactica spinoff Caprica.

Now, bemoaning the BBC spin machine (which we’ve done from time to time) is one thing – dismissing Doctor Who and then comparing it with Caprica, especially when one is a family show, the other a relatively progressive, more adult themed sci-fi series – is surely missing the point. Also Mr Gilbert, don’t forget that Doctor Who is under the stewartship of Steven Moffat, whose previous Doctor Who scripts have won two HUGOs…

Meanwhile, The Times were much more positive, praising both the use of a Welsh village to represent a Scottish village and Matt Smith’s debut performance.

Steven Moffat, has always insisted that Smith won it despite, rather than because of, his youth. What was crucial was that by the end of episode 1 we stopped thinking of him as young, for the Doctor is, as we all know, an alien born many Earth centuries ago.

The Guardian is following a similar path to The Times – praising the new star as well as observing how Moffat has refreshed things.

…after one of the longest handovers in television history, the world finally got a first glimpse of the new Doctor in action: part preppy public-school head boy; part gung-ho adventurer and part “nutty professor” – a boy-racer in geography-teacher elbow patches.

Moffat has refreshed every aspect of the show, which returned in 2005 after a 16-year hiatus. As well as a new Doctor and companion, the new series boasts a refreshed HD shooting style, a new logo, remixed theme music and a redesigned Tardis interior.

Respected organ The Stage are far more interested in the performances and the skill of the new lead writer, Steven Moffat. It would seem that they’re happy enough with both elements – although this paragraph of Grand Moff praise needs to be hidden from spoiler sensitive eyes

The opening scenes also set up the threat to the episode. As with some of his previous episodes, Moffat excels at finding the horror in the otherwise mundane, be it faceless gas masks, statues or shadows. Here, it’s a crack in a wall. If you have young children and there are any such imperfections in their bedrooms, you have until Easter to get it fixed. You have been warned.

Finally, Den of Geek issued a spoiler free review of The Eleventh Hour, which really makes it more of a preview. There is one interesting element to their conclusion; after several paragraphs of praise and a description of how the series might develop tonally, the following statement is made:

Is The Eleventh Hour vintage Doctor Who? It was never really going to be. Is it a good, enjoyable episode with some terrific moments, that does a very good job of starting the show’s engines back up? Absolutely. And given the trailer of treats that we were shown at the end, the next few months look like being terrific fun.

Typically for a blog like Den of Geek, there is no explanation of why The Eleventh Hour “was never really going to be” vintage Doctor Who. Whether this points to a perceived weakness in the script, or something else, would be useful to know.

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About the Author

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




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