Monday, 5 April 2010


[08.00 - French Time] The expression "starting from scratch" has never been so true, so relevant, than with The Eleventh Hour, the first episode of Doctor Who Series five.

[Minor spoilers]

The End of Time Part Two left Matt Smith as the new Doctor in a bloated and self-indulgent show, deprived of the freshness and enthusiasm of its beginnings. And Russell T. Davies's successor Steven Moffat delivers the first effort of the new production team at a time when economic pressure and budget cuts weigh on both BBC and ITV dramas.

But Doctor Who is the Beeb's most lucrative franchise, sold to over 50 territories and selling millions of DVDs and action figures. « Budget cuts are tough: I don't like them, but they force you to be creative. You've seen that trailer. Does it look like we've had a budget cut? » said Moffat as Malcolm Tucker to BBC News. We can't tell from a single trailer but this trailer had something interesting: it had the spirit of 2005.

And yes it is 2005 again. Written by the great "Moff" himself and directed by Adam Smith, The Eleventh Hour truly introduces Matt Smith as the regenerated Doctor in a devastated TARDIS about to crash on London. But the blue box falls in the backyard of a young orphaned girl named Amelia Pond (Caitlin Blackwood), while she was praying for someone to repair a huge crack in one of the walls of her room.

« Who are you?
- I don't know yet. »

Matt Smith flying over London is Eleven in Ten's suit and shoes but from the very moment he escapes of Ten's TARDIS, he IS The Doctor (« Can I have an apple? ») Smith becomes 47 years of the legendary character and the legitimate owner of the legacy left by ten Doctors, with a little part of everyone in his acting. He's definitely the "Madman in a box" who eats fish fingers with custard in the anthological kitchen scene, and revives this eccentricity David Tennant lost in the middle of his tenure.

Soon after the flamboyant showcase of Matt Smith's newly conquered legitimacy, it's Steven Moffat's turn to shine. There's something behind the crack, something inside the little girl's house and only a zany young looking man out of a blue police box can help her. « Give me five minutes, I'll be right back » says the Doctor, but this is our good ol' Doctor and when he comes back "five minutes" later he's struck by an all grown-up Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) with a cricket bat! He's just, well... 12 years and four psychiatrists late.

The alien menace looks like a Jagrafess painted in blue but who cares as it's far more frightening in human form. Anyway, it's a piece of cake compared to the fate some other aliens reserve to Earth if we don't we return them the only "Avatar Jagra" in the village. And is the giant eye in the telly of the wonderful Annette Crosbie the ghost of Victor Meldrew?

The Eleventh Hour is a brilliant return all in panache and subtlety to the Doctor Who we all know and love with fantasy, humour, adventure and action served by a great cast: Arthur Darvill as Nurse Rory, Tom Hopper as the "captain awesomesque" Jeff (I want to see more of him), etc. The episode mixes nods to History (Jon Pertwee for the hospital) with original elements like what Doctor Who erudite Frank Collins calls "the Doctor's mind's eye sequence" in his review (

« Bow tie is cool. » The manner Eleven choses his new costume is absolute class. The new titles, the new theme music and the score are perfect. The new logo looks better in this intro sequence than in publicity material, and the new TARDIS is beautiful. The Eleventh Hour is a fantastic premiere full of promises.

You know the number, you know the name.

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