I’ve mentioned before that, although I had enjoyed the Russell T Davies-led revival of Doctor Who, I thought it could be rather self-indulgent and seemed to rely on a lot of people dying for the Doctor, which isn’t the happiest note to strike in a family-friendly programme. I’ve also said how much I was looking forward to the Steve Moffat Doctor Who, so I thought I should collate my feelings about his first series into a single post. In short, I really loved it.
The indicator of how much I was entertained was when it ended and I thought, ‘That was over too soon’. Thirteen episodes seemed to fly by, and the empty sensation of not having a Doctor Who episode on a Saturday evening was very noticeable. I’m not saying that every episode was a classic, but there were some absolute corkers in the mix and the entire storyline of the series as a whole was just flat-out great Doctor Who, especially when you could see that Moffat had planned not only the entire series as one big storyline but also a multi-season storyline about why Amy Pond went through what she did and the reason behind it.
From the start of the series, the confidence, intelligence, humour, excitement and quality were all in place (although Victory Of The Daleks was the weakest episode and shown quite early, seemingly existing so that the Doctor could interact with Winston Churchill and to hear a Dalek voice say, ‘Would you care for some tea?’). The other interesting aspect was that, as Moffat had put it, Doctor Who could be any sort of television. A flat-sharing sitcom? The Lodger. Psychological drama? Amy’s Choice. An emotional dedication to one of the greatest painters in the world, who killed himself before realising the world recognised his genius? Vincent And The Doctor (the ending did cause me to well up). Of course, there was still big sci-fi spectacle, and it did it well – the two 2-parters from Moffat, one of which was his own aliens (The Time Of Angels/Flesh And Stone) to his earlier alien (the brilliant Blink), and the finale (The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang) were really, really good (and I liked the allusion to Alan Moore’s ‘This is an imaginary story. Aren’t they all?’ with the Doctor’s ‘We’re all stories in the end.’)
The other thing that I thought Moffat brought to the series was humour and lightness – he has said that he sees Doctor Who as fairy tales and, although they can have death in them, there was a lot less needless death in this series than in the Davies era, and it meant something when it did. But the jokes were also great; Doctor Who was really funny, something I enjoyed immensely, especially in a show with lots of ‘timey-wimey’ stuff. I was also glad for the return of River Song – the wonderful interplay of Alex Kingston’s character with everybody but especially the Doctor was a pure delight, and she couldn’t appear enough for my liking.
Which brings us to the Doctor himself: with the weight of a nation on his shoulders, Matt Smith waltzed into the role, made it his own INSTANTLY and never looked back. Even though I don’t like his hair, he played the character with dazzling aplomb: his performance encompassed hyper-intelligent, compassionate, courageous, funny and entertaining, and it made you understand why Moffat cast him in the first place. He was helped by Karen Gillan as the feisty Amy Pond, an interesting companion for the Doctor (although she could occasionally veer on to the side of irritating), and the great cast of people who now line up to play roles in Doctor Who: this season saw the likes of Olivia Coleman, Sophie Okonedo, Bill Paterson, Iain Glen, Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, even James Corden wasn’t as annoying as he usually is, such is the power of Doctor Who. Even the level of writers seems to have been elevated, with Richard Curtis writing Vincent And The Doctor.
But it is Steve Moffat to whom all my praise and gratitude are aimed: he had a difficult job taking over after four successful series from Davies, but he stuck to his guns on what he wanted to do and how he was going to do it. He made interesting choices and constructed stories that were not only good but hung together well, so that both the old-school sci-fi fans and the newer family fans could enjoy them equally. Thank you, Steve Moffat; I eagerly await the next series.