The Doctor is in, and the world is a better place for it! Doctor Who premiered on BBC America on Saturday, and it was well worth the wait.
The story of “The Eleventh Hour” was pretty simple. After regenerating in “The End of Time,” The Doctor and his TARDIS crash-land in the backyard of a young girl in a small English town. The girl, Amelia Pond, had been praying to Santa to deliver her someone who could help her fix a scary crack in her wall through which she hears voices. Upon hearing the crash, she rushes outside and believes The Doctor to be the answer to her prayers. He helps her seal the crack, after receiving an alien message about a “Prisoner Zero” having escaped, and is willing to take little Amelia traveling with him. But when he gets in the TARDIS to take a “quick 5 minute” jump to the future to stabilize it, he doesn’t come back.
That is, he doesn’t come back until twelve years later to find that Prisoner Zero is still on the loose, and Amelia Pond now goes by Amy and is all grown up.
And she is not happy with him.
But no one, not even a hardened Amy Pond can resist The Doctor, and so she and her boyfriend, Rory, help The Doctor save the world in twenty minutes and defeat Prisoner Zero.
And after another two-year time lapse (The Doctor standing her up has become a nasty habit), Amy joins The Doctor in the TARDIS on the condition that she be returned “in time for stuff.”
And by “stuff” she means something to do with the wedding dress hanging in her closet.
The Prisoner Zero story was a simple, straightforward one that wasn’t particularly interesting in and of itself, but as this episode was all about introducing us to the new Doctor and companion it doesn’t matter. It is here that the episode excels, because never in Doctor Who, and certainly never in the new series, have both a new Doctor and a new companion been so instantly and fully realized right from the start.
Matt Smith’s Doctor is amazing. He owns the part from the word “go.” As there’s already been so much press about him and his youthful gangliness and old-soul eyes, I won’t mention those. What I will mention is how wonderful it is that we see the Doctor interact so well with a child! It’s surprising how rare it is that The Doctor deals with children, considering that the creators always assert that it’s a show for children. But here we not only see The Doctor interacting with a human child, but treating her like a person. He doesn’t look down on her, or think he’s better than her. He even treats her rather like an adult as he’s ordering her to cook things for him, and gives her the respect of laying out the possible dangers of the crack in the wall honestly, even if he has to put it in terms she understands. You know how adults always tell you everything is going to be all right, and you think that they’re just saying that because they don’t want you to know how bad it really is...? Everything’s going to be all right. This eleventh incarnation of The Doctor respects children as capable individuals, and it’s great to see.
Not that it was difficult with this particular individual. As wonderful as Amy Pond is, and I’ll get to her, I’m really sorry that we’re not going to get more of Amelia Pond. Caitlin Blackwood, who happens to be Karen Gillan’s cousin, gives a brilliant, spot-on performance that kind of had me wishing that she did get to travel around in the TARDIS for a bit before growing up. I hope we see more of her elsewhere, and if I had my way, I’d make her the star of every television show.
And now for the best bit: the fact that Amy Pond is already, in only one episode, the best companion ever. Yeah, I said it. Best. Companion. Ever. Yes, Sarah Jane was great. Yes, Donna was amazing. But Amy Pond is, right now, the reigning champion of all companions. Why? Well, as if her brilliant, sarcastic wit, her fearlessness, and her complex view of the world wasn’t enough, she will always have the most interesting backstory. She has history with The Doctor, and therefore, has a more complicated relationship with him. As Steven Moffat said in my interview with him, she is challenging the world to disappoint her, and Moffat has given us, in Amy, a complete, complex woman. And this is just in the first episode! I can’t wait to see where she goes from here, and Amy is in brilliant hands with Karen Gillan. Gillan brings an amazing balance of comedy and deep sadness to the role, and it is she, perhaps even a bit more than Matt Smith, who will keep me tuning in.
This season of Doctor Who seems to be offering us the most balanced Doctor/companion relationship in history, and it’s very exciting! Exciting, too, is the new production style. Granted, I was very lucky to see this episode for the first time at an advanced screening in a movie theater, but that only highlighted what I saw again on my television screen. Doctor Who looks more like a film than a television show. It’s gorgeous! I love the new steampunk-ish, fairytale feel—from the new interior of the TARDIS, to The Doctor’s new, bow-tied look.
If you’ve never seen an episode of Doctor Who—which is doubtful for this readership, but one never knows—“The Eleventh Hour” is a perfect place to start. Doctor Who is brilliant, and deserves a larger audience on this side of The Pond. So, tell your friends. Hell, tell your enemies. Doctor Who airs on Saturdays at 9PM ET on BBC America, and if they’re not watching it or recording it, they are missing out on something really special.
Teresa Jusino was born on the same day that Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. She is a contributor to PinkRaygun.com, a webzine examining geekery from a feminine perspective. Her work has also been seen on PopMatters.com, on the sadly-defunct literary site CentralBooking.com, edited by Kevin Smokler, and in the Elmont Life community newspaper. She is currently writing a web series for Pareidolia Films called The Pack, which is set to debut Fall 2010! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, Follow The Pack or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.