Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Scuse me, do you mind not farting while I’m saving the world?

Would you prefer… silent but deadly?Doctor Who just gets better and better! Each episode so far has improved on the last – and tonight’s was the finest yet, with nine more yet to come!

A fair few of the early reviews for this episode have been the usual grouchy nit-picking we’ve come to expect from the more anal fans of this series. The pig was wrong, the farting aliens were wrong, UNIT were wrong, Ecclestone was wrong…everything was wrong, and Not proper Doctor Who.

Well, sorry, but I emphatically disagree. This series is turning out to be the best thing that ever happened to the Doctor, and it just keeps getting better and better.

At the beginning, I’ll admit I had my doubts. I wasn’t sure about Christopher Ecclestone’s performance, I thought that drama was being sacrificed for the sake of the comedy, and I was particularly worried about the 45-minute-per-story running time. Doctor Who at its best always built up the scares and the suspense, allowed characters and storylines to mature. This new incarnation seemed to be all surface bangs and flashes, with no depth to it. Three times now, whatever problem there is has been solved in the final five minutes, pretty much directly from square one.

It was all good stuff, don’t get me wrong – a fifth of the population watched that first episode, which is not to be sneezed at – but, I thought, it could be better.

And tonight, it was. The first two-part story, an opportunity to do all the things that the old series did, and do them even better. Tonight for the first time I felt that Doctor Who was really, truly back.

It was funny, scary and – a new thing for Who – quite moving as well. These characters are real people, rather than pieces to be moved around the chessboard of the plot. The scenes with Rose’s Mother and boyfriend were surprisingly realistic and affecting. When Rose’s Mum gives the Doctor a hearty slap in the face I find myself thinking, Good. I’ve been wanting to do that for the last three weeks.

The baddies – the Slitheen – are brilliant. In their human guise, all bulbous, farting and clearly having the best time taking over the world – but when their true forms are revealed they get even better. Huge, leathery, boggle-eyed creatures with enormous arms and weird, girly lips – proper aliens, not like the bumpy-forehead shit trotted out week after week by the various Star Trek franchises. Deanna Troi could never have a tragic, fifty-minute love-affair with any of this lot. (And wouldn’t it be interesting if she did?)

The pig in the spacesuit was fantastic! The first time I thought it was real, and was wondering how they’d done it. The Doctor’s reaction to its death was equally wonderful – His shout of “It was scared!” is delivered with such agonised power it sent a shiver up my spine. This is a Doctor who cares about all life (Except for the humble potato, it seems)…

A couple of other points:

  • Nice to see UNIT mentioned, even if they’re not really going to be in it, but where’s the Brigadier?
  • What’s the point of building up to a brilliant cliffhanger when you immediately show them getting out of it in the “Next episode” bit?
  • I don’t know why such a big fuss was made about the alien spaceship crashing into Big Ben – it looked like a cheap cardboard model. Watch it more than once you see the whole clock face coming off, revealing the balsa-wood behind it. A little bit crap, that.

Still, I can’t wait for next week. Everybody should be watching this series, I’m not kidding. I think that established fans should try and leave their prejudices about the old series behind them, and just enjoy the new one for what it is. Times have moved on since the late Eighties (3-4 million viewers for McCoy, remember?) Farting is allowed now. Real emotions are allowed now. Comedy (Proper comedy, rather than late-Baker pratfalls) is allowed now, and I for one say thank the Maker for that.

God, I love this series!!

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television