Tuesday, April 6, 2010

All The New In Whoville

One of the advantages to living in England, in addition to the cheap healthcare and boiled food, is that you get to watch new episodes of Doctor Who before the rabble here in the United States can get their filthy paws all over them. For example, the U.K. premiere of series 5 was last Saturday but it won't show in the U.S. until April 17. We Americans can do nothing except howl in the wind and shake our fists at an uncaring God over this horrific plight. I suppose we can be thankful that they don't have a six month gap anymore but I really can't figure out why they have a gap at all. Hey, remember back in the long long ago when I said we Americans have to blithely accept our fate and wait till the 17th? That's true unless you use one of many methods, some legal, others not, to watch it earlier. I used one of the legal methods which is why I was able to watch it the same time it was being broadcast on BBC One so SCREW YOU GREAT BRITAIN! I believe this is where I remind you that we saved your ass in World War II and allowed you to join us in our glorious adventure in Iraq.

Doctor Who is now under the benevolent protection of one Mr. Steven Moffat. If that name means nothing to you, please accept my solemn promise that he's one of the best writers on the planet. I don't mean just in television either. I'd place him as one of the best living writers in any medium so you can imagine my excitement when I heard my favorite writer had been handed the reins of my favorite show.

When we last saw the Doctor, he had sustained fatal injuries in yet another of his many battles to save the world. Never fear, though. The Doctor is a Timelord and they have this cool thing they do where, when faced with death, they simply regenerate and all is well. The downside of this particular evolutionary mechanism is that they're not the same afterward. They keep all their memories but, in many important ways, they're now different people. This was really brought home during the final episode of the tenth Doctor played by David Tennant. That was very sad indeed because we knew that, in a way, this tenth Doctor was going to die. We didn't have much time to mourn though because the energy given off by the regeneration had trashed the Doctor's time machine, the TARDIS, and it started plummeting to Earth.

Now that we're all caught up, we see the new Doctor, Matt Smith, crashing the TARDIS into a sleepy English town where he meets an eight year old (I think, somewhere around there) girl named Amelia Pond. Amelia was giving a special Easter prayer to Santa Claus to send someone to fix the crack in her wall. An especially scary crack. She sees the blue box crash in her backyard and sees a soaking wet crazy man pop out asking for an apple. He claims he loves apples but spits it out when he bites into it. It turns out the Doctor no longer knows what the hell he likes to eat and has the wonderfully unflustered little girl prepare him various dishes before he decides that his favorite food is fish dipped in custard. Seriously.

Matt Smith, with the help of Moffat's writing, instantly endeared himself to me. He plays the Doctor as a slightly crazy and hyperactive fellow who, judging by ratings and fan reactions, will bring back the people (I wasn't one of them) who vowed to stop watching the show when Tennant left. After all, without spoiling too much, he manages to solve a life threatening crisis without the TARDIS or his sonic screwdriver. Personally, I think Tom Baker could have wrapped the whole thing up even faster and had time to run to the shop for jelly babies, but I'll cut Smith some slack. This was his first episode, after all.

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