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Published on July 21st, 2010 | by James Colvin

Reviewer’s Roundtable


Doctor Who 2010The major improvement this year is that the series long story arc does not feel tacked on as it has previously, with the whole thing coming to a conclusion in The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang that was very satisfying if you had followed the whole series. Also, the climax of Pandorica was one of the finest cliffhangers in the history of the show, almost the ultimate ‘how’s he going to get out of this one’ moment.

Matt Smith was excellent as the Doctor, despite all the bile thrown at the choice by fandom after the casting choice was revealed. Matt showed an alien essence and otherworldly nature that was a perfect fit and he proved himself capable throughout the series of accurately performing the range of emotion a character like the Doctor displays.

As for the new companion, Karen Gillian was good enough at the start, but I must admit that as time wore on she started to get a bit annoying, and I found myself missing one of the things that Russell T. Davies did do very well, which was to give his main characters a sense of emotion and real life. Neither Amy nor Rory seemed to be as good as Rose and Mickey. Not something I thought I would type a year ago.

Daleks are usually something I look forward to in Doctor Who, but I have to say I’m not too fond of the new design. They look like they were made to be a cereal or a brand of candy in all those colours, and obese ones at that as they now have a huge backside!

All in all not a bad first year but I think there are still a few wrinkles to be worked out.

Thomas reviewed Vampires of Venice.


Doctor Who 2010We’ve been treated to some quite splendid guest star performances. Top of my list is Tony Curran who gave us such a sensitive and believable portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh – simply stunning casting there. Other highlights for me included Ian McNeice as Churchill (balanced, not remotely hammy or stereotyped), Toby Jones as the Dream Lord (creepy, understated) and Sophie Okonedo as Liz Ten (okay, she was a bit hammy with the cockney bit, but I loved her nevertheless). Semi-regulars Alex Kingston and Arthur Darvill were also both eminently watchable. So performance-wise, I’m a happy bunny.

But I miss Russell. Quite a lot. I miss the big scale thrills of his scripts. The narrative focus has completely shifted in this new era. During the Russell T Davies era, the threat was always global or universal, and we knew it. We’d have television news programmes illustrating the scale of the threat, and Trinity Wells giving us the lowdown. Added to that we’d have big old action scenes – the lovely behind the missile footage in World War Three, the Dalek Fleet in The Parting of the Ways. In series Fnarg, the focus is completely different – we stay close to the principal characters in the story, and while the threat might be far-reaching, we don’t get to see that. And, sadly, I remained dry-eyed far too much.

Here’s my biggest problem with the departure of Russell: Steven Moffat reusing old ideas. That made me rather cross. The Doctor meets and befriends young girl, only to appear many years later when she’s all grown up – The Eleventh Hour/The Girl in the Fireplace. The Doctor scares off the bad guys by telling them to ‘look him up’ – The Eleventh Hour/Forest of the Dead. The Doctor communicates with a dead guy via a communications device – The Time of Angels/Forest of the Dead. This lack of real originality really got up my nose. Furthermore, there’s a lack of consistency – if the beholder of a Weeping Angel becomes an Angel, then how about Larry and Sally? They spent ages gawping at Angels without blinking. That’s just daft, and fails to reward long-time viewers.

On the plus side, the series finale was stupendous, and it’s great to see a two-parter whose component episodes are so very different. The Pandorica Opens was a fanboy’s comic strip of an adventure, all scary tombs, headless Cybermen and a big monster party at the end. Then the more considered, witty, timey-wimey, emotional Big Bang to wind things up. Great stuff.

So despite a very enjoyable series, I have to confess that I’m looking forward to Russell’s new work on the Sarah Jane Adventures (with Matt Smith and Katy Manning! Hurrah!) and Torchwood just a bit more than the 2011 series of Doctor Who. There, I’ve said it now. I’ll sit back and wait for the flak!

Paul reviewed Cold Blood.


The Doctor and Amy PondSo there you have it. All-round hits seem to be Matt Smith and twin companions, Amy’s Legs. Most positively referenced episode is The Eleventh Hour. It would seem fair to say that we’re all missing RTD’s character moments, but everyone seems to enjoy Steven Moffat’s narrative vigour. There’s a mixed response to the smaller scale of settings and ‘global threats’. Unanimity on those awful new Daleks though.

As for the next series… Unanswered narrative questions probably won’t be resolved until the next finale. Everyone here seems optimistic minor production issues will be ironed out, but what’s on your mind? Will The Sarah Jane Adventures be better than Who? Will the Daleks do something interesting? Will Chris Chibnall keep getting commissioned? See you here next year with our opinions on those answers.

In the meantime, feel free to post your comments below.


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12 Responses to Reviewer’s Roundtable

  1. avatar castellanspandrell says:

    “Death. Death no longer has any meaning.”

    -Jonathan, you’ve hit the nail on the head, son.

    Thinking particularly of Rory coming back, here. I like him and wasn’t displeased to see him turn up as a Roman centurion, but part of me wished he would’ve stayed dead when the universe was reset- let the kids know that once you’re gone, you’re not coming back. And it kinda makes pants of the previously powerful ‘being erased from history’ thing.

    Then there’s Amy getting shot dead, only for us to be told ‘She’s just a bit dead.’

    Let’s not even get to the Dr vanishing through the cracks in the universe, only to reappear because Amy remembered him. I understand why they can’t kill off the lead character, but why even get to that ridiculous point in the first place, whereby the writer has to to resort to a total mouse of an idea to make the Dr ‘undead’?

  2. avatar Carn says:

    apart from a couple minor quibbles it’s been my favorite season ever, and i actually feel that sense of joy and excitement again just hearing the current theme tune start up. i love it. best show on tv by far. actually it’s one of the few things i bother even having a tv for. wish i could write on my tv license application ‘give all my money to doctor who production, cheers’

  3. avatar bluebox444 says:

    Well, it seems like Kasterborous’ response is positive overall. So is mine. The “fairy-tale” theme to the series was perhaps its strongest point. Gone were the cringe-inducing appearances of aliens composed of fat, farting green monsters, and amorous paving slabs (sorry, RTD – you’re never going to live that one down). The main story arc was quite brilliant, I thought, culminating in a truly beautiful climax in “The Big Bang”. It did feel a bit like something out of a Disney movie, but then, I like Disney movies. I don’t think this series was for everyone. Maybe the fanbase in Doctor Who is going to change a bit. I think those who haven’t been die-hard fans since ’05 actually responded more positively to this series than those who have been. All in all, Moffat’s first year was more like what I’ve been wanting to see out of Doctor Who (and in fact, a bit more like the classic Doctor Who) than anything that’s come out of the revived series thus far. And I think nearly all of us agree that Matt Smith was truly magnificent as the Eleventh Doctor.

    A few thoughts on Amy Pond: I do like her. And not just because she’s attractive. I think Karen Gillan is a very skilled actress. That being said, there were times when she wasn’t given much to work with in the character of Amy. Amy’s best moments came in the episodes Moffat himself wrote and in “Amy’s Choice”. Elsewhere, she did at times seem to be something of a Donna-clone. I fell in love with Amy in “The Eleventh Hour” when she mentioned having bitten four psychiatrists. I wish the development of her character had continued steadily on from there, but it really didn’t. The series has ended, and she’s still something of an enigma. (And I really didn’t care for her seduction scene in “Flesh and Stone” – it jarred with the rest of the series.) It’s hard to say clearly what sets her apart from companions who have gone before. But still, I wouldn’t call her “annoying” – I think it’s only RTD fans determined to dislike her who find her annoying. Despite all this, she was very enjoyable as a companion, and I’m glad she’s staying on for another year. I really do believe that Moffat will continue to add more layers to her character as time goes on. To those who hate her, I say, give her a chance. She does have a lot of potential.

  4. avatar bluebox444 says:

    I should add that I loved Rory. Moffat definitely did a good job with him.

  5. avatar Paul Cavanagh says:

    There was cake? Why didn’t I get any cake? ;-)

    For the record: we’re not unanimous on the new Daleks. I quite like ‘em. Ok, so they look like they’ve eaten too many pies, granted, but I’ll get used to that. That’ll put the Cheetah People amongst the Krillitane!

  6. avatar bobbygaga says:

    I’ve said this before, but I’ll take this season and all it’s flaws over RTD’s mawkish panto years.

  7. avatar Jez Noir says:

    Please please please no more Chibnall! He’s had more than enough chances and just isn’t up to the job. God knows there must be plenty of promising young sci-fi writers desperate to get their ideas into a Who episode! Ot they could bring back Marc Platt!

  8. avatar Paul Cavanagh says:

    I’m sorry to say, I have to agree with Jez. Chibnall has now written two of my least favourite stories within a series. 42 remains my most disliked story since the series returned in 2005, and The Hungry Earth was easily the worst episode of Series fnarg. Of all the great writers who have contributed, it eludes me why Chibnall was invited back. More from Toby Whithouse and/or Paul Cornell please!

  9. avatar Rick714 says:

    Enjoyed “Eleventh Hour” immensely. Smith begins a fantastic run as the Doctor.

    I think that “Beast” is being treated unfairly, primarily because I think it continues on from EH quite nicely and here’s where we first see Smith in regular action. Them landing on the tongue was hilarious and one of the few episodes where I though Gillan was on track as opposed to being annoying.

    Victory of the Daleks was a rehash of Power of the Daleks and may be best served as a set up for future Dalek eps, period. Low point of the season.

    The Angels two parter was very enjoyable and River Song just gets better with each appearance.

    “Vampires of Venice”, okay, not the best but a great opening.

    “Amy choice” was another one that seems to be unfairly treated, I thought it was one of the highlights, mostly because of Smith’s eccentricities.

    The silurian two parter was disappointing as yet another rehash of the original story, not the worst of the season, though.

    “Vincent” was perhaps the highpoint, talk about positive and life-affirming….the reviewer who said the series was cynical with vincent as the low point….I’m not sure he knows what the word “cynical” means.

    “Lodger” was also great fun, again, primarily because of smith. He’s carrying most of the episodes far better than I could have hoped for.

    Pandorica/Big Bang was a great series ender and unlike BTTF 2, it did NOT give me a headache.

    A very good season and here’s to four more years of Moffat and Smith.

  10. avatar bluebox444 says:

    I, for one, loved “The Hungry Earth”, if only for the highly entertaining character of Nasreen Chaundry. Overall, I felt the episode echoed the classic series in many enjoyable ways. Nothing particularly new or ground-breaking about it, but it was good fun for a long-term fan.

  11. avatar cat says:

    Actually I liked ’42′ a lot – sorry and all that! However, ‘Hungry Earth’ did have a problem, which was lack of people – when Nasreen said that the Doctor was the only one who had made sense of the events for her it would have been nice if we had thought there was anyone else around offering an explanation. Also, I am a bit fed up of the Doctor in ‘Nu-who’ PROMISING people that he will save them (in this case promising to save someone’s father, but you can see what I mean) when it is by no means certain he will. The first one to go after being ‘promised’ was Lynda with a Y, but the Doctor didn’t learn by this and has been promising all and sundry ever since. It is really annoying.

    I too was a bit disturbed by death no longer being final in this series, but Steven Moffat did say he was aiming for a fairytale feel, and in fairy tales people do come back to life from the most unpromising situations (a quick trawl through Andrew Lang’s twelve Fairy Books would give a hefty number of these), so I suppose it is fair enough. I hope he doesn’t keep on doing it over and over again, though, even though I was delighted to see Rory come back.

    I have been watching Dr Who regularly since 1968, and saw a few episodes before then as well, and Matt Smith is right up there with my favourite Doctors (Patrick Troughton being THE Doctor for me). This series has been a pleasure to watch just to see him in action. Not to say anything against Doctors 9 and 10, who were both excellent, but Matt Smith has that something extra as far as I am concerned. And quit knocking Karen Gillan, folks, she is fine. And, being female myself (yes, long term and nerdy fans of the series can be female too) I’m not saying that because of the short skirts and long legs – and my daughter thinks she’s great as well.

  12. avatar Leosw4 says:

    Favourite eps: The Lodger (astonishing outcome given Corden), Amy Choice, Vincent and the Doctor.
    Enjoyed: Angel two parter, The Eleventh Hour
    So so about: Pandorica two parter,Victory of the Daleks (now used to Dalek story not delivering since 2007 so perhaps immune to total dislike-please Mr M prove me wrong next time)
    Not keen on:Vampires, The Beast Below
    Did not like:The Silurian two parter for the reasons outlined above.

    Loving Matt and Rory. Sort of like Amy.

    Overall an enjoyable season, but not my favourite of the new era. Some episodes failed to deliver but hey thats been the case since 1977 (and once or twice before-Destiny of the Daleks remains the all time champ in that regard :(…..)

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