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April 06, 2010

Saturday Night Armistice

It should be law. It should be enshrined in the Bill of Rights. You might even go as far to doodle a little Dalek in one corner of the Magna Carta. You should only watch Doctor Who in the presence of children. Part of me was certainly dreading sharing the once in a lifetime (literally for Time Lords) experience of a new Doctor's first adventure in the presence of children. The reverential hush I normally insist upon would be undoubtedly be broken by countless questions, comments, mutterings and general fidgeting. But what on earth are you to do when one's extended family lands on you for the most important night in 5 years?

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour

Amyscrack The children in question were two. One of each. That's one girl who wasn't fussed (and probably a little too young) and one boy who watches Doctor Who but who wasn't, as Paul McGann would put it, a specialist. Earlier on in evening, I realised that The Eleventh Hour, possibly wasn't going to be suitable for the youngest member of the household. We live in a ancient and listed property in Scotland, and therefore have to endure everything that comes with that. Not that we're living in the dark ages - I mean there's an indoor flushing toilet and everything - but we are on the register of Scotland's historic monuments (albeit a smallish footnote towards the bottom of the register [quite some way below Steven Moffat himself, who must be on there somewhere]). So we have walls… and doors… with cracks in them.

No word of a lie, the youngest asks "Why are there cracks in your doors?". And there are. Gaping chasms in the material of the door where age, and drying paint, have revealed something of a gap. It was at this point I could have spoiled things for the eldest who was very much looking forward to the new Doctor and because I wasn't looking forward to a broken night filled with a thousand nightmares we erred on the side of caution and gave her a insight into household renovation in a recession and what happens when you turn the heat on in a house that's been standing empty on the market for close to a year (although, to a grown-up that's enough to induce a nightmare of the worst kind).

God help her if they ever get a decent cable package because they'll soon suss her.

Eyetv But that's what Moffat does - and has done so successfully in the past - taken a mundane occurrence and made it terrifying. The trick he'll have to pull off is doing this time and time again and for it still to remain fresh and scary. I know some rave about Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead but it I said at the time it felt like a greatest hits album, pulling in themes and ideas from previous stories that for me just didn't really work. Thanks to Moffat there's a front yard in Florida that the neighborhood (sic) kids are terrified of. Because in that yard there are some harmless gargoyles and the owner of the house tells the kids that when they're not looking the gargoyles move. And even if the turn their head away, just for one second, even if they just blink, they move closer. God help her if they ever get a decent cable package because they'll soon suss her.

Can he keep this up week after week. Only time will tell. Certainly The Eleventh Hour had overtones of previous Moffat tales. Sprinkled with a little RTD. For example the ability to call up a Celebrity Squares edition of the biggest boffins around with a laptop (the brand name MYTH was a little distracting - perhaps another recurring theme this series?) and the ability to programme a computer virus on a phone that he could send to reset every counter around the world at the same precise moment in time. But was there more to that? Is that Moffat saying he's resetting more here than just counters? Is he signaling the resetting of RTD bits of the Doctor's universe, by using a rather RTD way of doing things? It's a thought, and possibly the most analytical one I'll be having for at least 13 weeks.

This was going to be "...the third Doctor Who, wasn't it?"

Hello Whatever the idea things look to be in the safest of hands. Both the new leads were superb. And if you ever, just for one second, worried about Matt Smith as the Doctor just replay the rooftop scene. I'm sure my internal organs had goosebumps. The only downside was the titles and the music. And, with respect to the music, I've only myself to blame here as I'd just managed to hear the Sculptress of Sound hours before witnessing what they'd done to that famous theme tune. As the mangled version struggled to have its impact felt underneath layers and layers of whirling dirge all I could hear was the line from the Radio 4 documentary that stated Derbyshire didn't like anyone tinkering with the theme (I seem to recall the only other version she had any time for was Peter Howell's). A real disappointment, given that the rest of the incidental music was perfect.

So that's it. I'm getting old. The first Doctor who's older than me. Always a painful moment in one's life. But if the opening episode is anything to go by the next 3 months are going to be a joy. Being young and watching Who isn't always the best thing in life. Earlier in the day our youngest house guest stated - quite unequivocally - that this was going to be "...the third Doctor Who, wasn't it?".

Imagine if the next 5 years was to be filled with pompous neck rubbing?


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