50 for 50 — The Greatest Stories in Doctor Who History — #23

As ever, change is sometimes for the better. With Doctor Who, change and growth has become a fundamental part of its life. For the tenth time, the man in a police box changes his appearance once more. It’s partly by luck that within the last couple of weeks, it’s been announced that Matt Smith is moving on….The Eleventh Hour is almost over already, barely as we started to get to know him….

Only one of three stories I’ve selected from his era, The Eleventh Hour works in a way that no other introductory story works. Written as such, Mr. Moffat sets up a full story arc for the following episodes, something that (apart from Torchwood references aside), no other regeneration story has done….The idea of the crack on the wall, with whatever it contained is a stroke of genius, purloined by Moffat, as his son was scared by the one in his bedroom wall….Never before has the full time traveling ‘schtick’ ever been used in this way.

The newly regenerated Doctor, all fish fingers and custard, not even knowing his own taste buds yet meets the 7-year-old, charming but strange Amelia Pond, parentless it seems, and promises to return. Unfortunately for Amelia, the TARDIS takes 12 years to return, and by then Amelia now has major issues and is working as a ‘kissogram’….Well, ok, couldn’t have foreseen Letts and Dicks doing that one….

Getting an intro like they get in this tale, Amy (and Rory too, perhaps more likable than his wife to be) gets such a huge backstory that it’s difficult to not like them, and feel like you know them well from the off. It’s also nice to get away from the love interest for the Doctor aspect, that seems to rear it’s ugly head nowadays. And the Doctor….Matt Smith nails it from the off, ‘stranger’ than he seems later on in his era (yes, already!), but not as zany , Smith seems to mature throughout this, as the mad man with a box, finally gets to see his new TARDIS, these scenes are spell-binding almost….Matt owns the screen, for someone we’d never heard of before he was announced, they certainly chose well.

If all his episodes came across like his debut, and were written with the same love and attention that this one receives, I think I’d be a far bigger fan of this era….As it is, perhaps time (and timey-wimey) will be kind to a confusing, but memorable addition to the 50-year chronicles of the ‘Mad man in a box’… — Andy

Alan’s #23 — Inferno
David’s #23 — The Unquiet Dead
Steve’s #23 — The Curse of Fenric

The sheer inevitability, nay even audacity, of #22 becomes manifest next week.