The Eleventh Hour (my review)

Tanlee
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I think I love this story more and more each time I watch it.

But when I first watched it, it didn't entirely wow me (then again that's true of Horror of Fang Rock and State of Decay and they've since become among my favourites upon various rewatches) and I did have some marked criticisms, but I'll get to them later.

I can't really answer the critics of Moffat. There's many complaints made about Moffat's era that I just can't see. But I do suspect that part of it is down to the show for the previous five years feeding expectations of an excess of pleasure from the show, and Moffat's era instead is scaling things down and even playing it a bit aloof. I guess that's bound to cause frustration. But I also honestly believe that RTD's era did eventually, as much as many loyalist fans would deny it, wear down fan enthusiasm. Quite often with fans who are down on Moffat's era, it's because something in them died when they saw The End of Time. It killed their enthusiasm. And that's a general feeling I remember at the time. I'm actually still baffled that in the months between The End of Time and The Eleventh Hour, there seemed hardly any anticipation on the message boards for this coming new era. Everything just seemed kind of apathetic and exhausted. I think fandom had already reached a point of burnout then. Which might explain why many fans were far more grumpy with Moffat's era. The opening teaser actually did strike me this time as a silly leftover from RTD's era, and one that's almost dated along with that repugnant era. But then the credits give way to the magical panning shot of little Amy's house. It's perfectly colour coded and cinematic in a way that shows up just how horribly dated RTD's era already feels, and it feels like a refreshing clearing of the air.

I still get a smile when Amelia is praying, only to be distracted by the Tardis crashing whereupon she prays "back in a moment". And then she goes to the upturned Tardis, suddenly a hook emerges and clamps to the door and out climbs the Doctor. Already it feels like there's a greater devotion and discipline to build up and payoff rather than just vulgarly chucking everything at the screen, writing with a sledge hammer, and making every other line a cheap titillation or every other moment a spectacle. There's a sense of the show actually having a sense of craft and a sense of purpose, beyond vulgar ratings whoring. Even the scene of the Doctor trying out various dishes of food before settling on the right one that hits the spot (I sure do feel sorry for that cat; did he actually hit it with that chucked plate?) actually cements a feeling that this is going to be an era that exercises genuine good taste, which again is such a soothing relief after RTD's unpleasant and off-colour era.

By the way I have tried Fish Fingers and Custard when it was being served as a pub lunch, and it does actually taste very nice.

So then attention goes upon the crack in the wall. It's nicely and leisurely paced this story, actually. And the idea of a child's bedroom wall having a crack that opens into an alien world of giant eyes is exactly the kind of imagination that's been so sorely lacking throughout Russell's aggressively philistine version of Doctor Who in which aliens were usually just jobsworths with animal heads on them. In any case, the Doctor quickly goes on the mission and his goodbye to Amelia is genuinely sweet. This is much more like it. The Doctor isn't being a cocky, in-your-face lothario anymore. He's being genuinely charming and he's certainly winning me over. This could indeed be the best introduction story to a new Doctor since Spearhead from Space, or even Power of the Daleks.

And so the action skips ahead 12 years, and this is where some of my criticisms kick in a bit. In terms of the overall Series 5 arc, it was overall dependent on Amy's life and her treasured childhood memories of the Doctor. I would disagree with many hysterical complaints that Amy's character is emotionally vapid. I would stick by the camp that sees Amy as representing a realistic sense of a woman who's lived alone so long and has grown up with abandonment issues that it makes sense that she's so flippant and clearly has emotional hang-ups and fears of commitment, at the same time as being flighty and flirty and child-like and sometimes prone to being a bit rude and insensitive in what she says to people. I personally know a girl who's just like that. But having said that, I think there was perhaps a missed opportunity here to show the transition over 12 years from Amy's perspective rather than the Doctor's. So that we'd see her growing up and learning a lot more about her, which again would have paid off far more in the finale.

A cynical part of me feels that the reason we don't see this is because Moffat didn't want to compromise his cool by writing from the heart that much. Because basically Amy is a fangirl. If he were to write about her growing up and idolising the Doctor, he'd have to write about all the fannish activities that Moffat's probably done himself and is now probably kind of shamed by and would rather play down. The story kind of hints at Amy's childhood drawings of the Doctor and her own writing of fanfiction, but this again seems to be hushed up quickly the moment it's made a point of. Which is a shame really, because there's something about that idea of Amelia doing her drawings and writing her fanfiction out of her adoration for the Doctor that's genuinely sweet.

Basically it's a relief to have the show in the hands of a writer and producer who actually seems to trust his audience, which Russell never did. Well until the high-profile fan criticisms, and talk of falling ratings and lost viewer loyalty seemed to make Moffat panic and feel the need to desperately fall back on the worst excesses of RTD's era in Series 6.

But I have to say it did niggle at me a bit the way Moffat wrongfooted the viewer into thinking Amy was genuinely a policewoman and that Amelia was someone else. It's not a clever deception that adds anything to the character. In fact, in a way it makes her seem less believable as a person. That kind of deception better suits the villain rather than the audience-identification figure. And if it's a fake policewoman suit, where did she get the real handcuffs from? It actually revved me up for a darker, more urgent story in which Amelia actually had been abducted by Prisoner Zero and it was up to the Doctor and Amy to rescue her. Hence why maybe the misdirect made me feel disappointed the first time I saw the story.

But having said that, this story as it is does have a genuine momentum and meat to it, a sense of each moment being involving and meaningful, the stakes being continually raised, and the story moving with pace but without taking anything for granted. The means by which the Doctor's plan with the sonic screwdriver goes wrong and how even his grand plan at the end seems nearly undone when Prisoner Zero morphs into him, is one that keeps this edgy and unpredictable throughout. It is actually the first of the feature-length stories I can say that about.

Okay I've got to confess to having had moral concerns about the story on first viewing. Namely, the Doctor doesn't really try to understand what Prisoner Zero is supposed to be guilty of. Given that the Atraxi jailors are prepared to destroy the Earth to destroy him, he surely can't trust the fairness of their justice system. They sound like a bunch of fascists. Add to that the fact that Prisoner Zero has lived in Amy's house for twelve years without ever harming her and I'm left thinking Prisoner Zero should actually be the very underdog the Doctor usually protects. There was an ambiguous hint that it had killed the doctor who'd been picking on Rory, but that was after the Doctor had made it panic by nearly revealing its location to the Atraxi. This has nagged at me for a while about the story, but I think this time I was more alerted to its menacing, savage presence to realise that negotiations would probably not be on the table. I also picked up on the hints that Prisoner Zero must have been a member of the Silents, which would explain why it was imprisoned and how it knew so much about how 'Silence will fall'.

The story does leave some unanswered questions about Prisoner Zero and the Atraxi but I personally don't get the sense that they were left unexplained out of neglect. There were many times when RTD's writing really made it obvious that he'd not even bothered thinking the story through or maintaining any consistency. A case in point being the random, contrary justice system of the Judoon in Smith and Jones, which made it clear they just do what the plot needs them to (I think overall it was only Midnight and Tooth and Claw that were the exceptions to the rule with him). But I don't get that sense here. I get the sense that Moffat has thought about the whole story and the universe he's writing in, even if he's not giving us all the details. That to coin a writing expression from Philip Martin, he knows this universe like God would know it. That there is a self-belief to the story that's been sadly lacking in seasons prior. But the fact that the explanations and emotional ramifications are laid on very thin makes this feel cool and lean and refreshing. I don't feel overwhelmed by it, but I feel tantalised, like good gentle foreplay.

So, overall, a great pay-off. It delivers in the right moments, is made of win and has many genuinely magic touches. It satisfied in every way. In terms of the final scene in the TARDIS, the sentimentalist in me is a bit dismayed that the Doctor seems to have invited her aboard more to study the phenomenon of the crack around her, than because he genuinely likes her company. But all the same, Amy's reaction to the TARDIS is perfect, with the right moments of awe giving over to dread and even her most original first words upon entry into the ship "I'm in my nightie."

And I am so glad the old eyesore TARDIS room has gone. I think at last after having to endure some council-estate soap opera for the previous five years, I'm going to finally get that 'trip of a lifetime' I was promised back in 2005. This has actually done it. It's made my fan enthusiasm about this show peak again just when it couldn't have gotten any lower after The End of Time.
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The review started promising, then began using words like 'repugnant' to describe RTD's era.

Which is a shame.

At least no mention of JNT or WOTD... :doc5:
Now that we all know about the rude bits, aren't they rude? And as we get older, they get ruder and ruder. :oops:
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Beginning of a long drawn out decline in popularity, unlikeable faux zany Doctor, unlikeable companion, overly convoluted story lines, cheats galore, emotionally vapid era. I hope Capaldi helps restore a bit of dignity.
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chap with wings wrote:Beginning of a long drawn out decline in popularity, unlikeable faux zany Doctor, unlikeable companion, overly convoluted story lines, cheats galore, emotionally vapid era. I hope Capaldi helps restore a bit of dignity.
I don't think Doctor Who has actually declined in popularity.

I agree with a lot of your points apart from the criticism of Matt Smith. Or for that matter with Karen Gillan.

I found a lot of David Tennent's acting excruciating to watch. Just my personal taste.

To me he came over like a pantomime actor. Chris Eccleston was slightly better, but came over to me, as rather wooden.

Since Doctor Who's return in 2005, Matt Smith has felt most like he is a 'natural' and has a Timelord X Factor.

For me most of the faults with Matt Smith's tenure were with the scripting, which we agree on I think.

And to be fair to the current production crew, no one outside of them knows what pressures they have to face to get the show on air.
Now that we all know about the rude bits, aren't they rude? And as we get older, they get ruder and ruder. :oops:
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Heccypoo wrote:
chap with wings wrote:Beginning of a long drawn out decline in popularity, unlikeable faux zany Doctor, unlikeable companion, overly convoluted story lines, cheats galore, emotionally vapid era. I hope Capaldi helps restore a bit of dignity.
I don't think Doctor Who has actually declined in popularity.
No it hasn't really, or it wouldn't have got the huge ratings for the 50th. The Ratings drops down a bit from season 4 but leveled out where they had been for seasons 1 to 3. This is only on TV though, viewing practices have changed so some of the audience watch it online now, on Iplayer, which isn't counted into the ratings, though the BBC do hence the plus 7 results.
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Tanlee
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chap with wings wrote:Beginning of a long drawn out decline in popularity, unlikeable faux zany Doctor, unlikeable companion, overly convoluted story lines, cheats galore, emotionally vapid era.
Not sure what you mean by "Beginning of", unless you were talking about New Earth.
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Tanlee wrote:
chap with wings wrote:Beginning of a long drawn out decline in popularity, unlikeable faux zany Doctor, unlikeable companion, overly convoluted story lines, cheats galore, emotionally vapid era.
Not sure what you mean by "Beginning of", unless you were talking about New Earth.

Season 5 saw the beginning of the decline of Who as popular mainstream family entertainment and the transition into "cult" viewing
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Tanlee
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I see no evidence of that.... and if there was any minor ratings fall after the departure of Tennant, I'd blame it on End of Time not being very good.
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chap with wings wrote:
Tanlee wrote:
chap with wings wrote:Beginning of a long drawn out decline in popularity, unlikeable faux zany Doctor, unlikeable companion, overly convoluted story lines, cheats galore, emotionally vapid era.
Not sure what you mean by "Beginning of", unless you were talking about New Earth.

Season 5 saw the beginning of the decline of Who as popular mainstream family entertainment and the transition into "cult" viewing
I'd say maybe more the decline in viewers watching it on the day myself, this seems to be the way most TV is going now though. Both Doctor Who and Top gear rule the Iplayer hits.
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I'm still trying to work out what prisoner zero was hanging from.
AMERICA IS AN ANVIL.

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Love this story. Loved Smith and Karen. Such a breath of fresh air after the increasingly shrill pantomime excesses of the RTD era. It honestly seemed that Doctor Who was back. I'd say the show hadn't been this good since 1989, and it appeared a new golden age was finally upon us...


... shame it didn't last beyond that first season. :cry:
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Loved Smith and Karen
I love Karen so much she sent a nice letter from the courts for me, stopping me being any closer than 2 miles from her :lol:
Now that we all know about the rude bits, aren't they rude? And as we get older, they get ruder and ruder. :oops:
Tanlee
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Lucky bast*rd.

She never even wrote me back.
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The Nimon
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Heccypoo wrote:
Loved Smith and Karen
I love Karen so much she sent a nice letter from the courts for me, stopping me being any closer than 2 miles from her :lol:
Just do what I did and get one of the standies :D
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The Nimon wrote:
Heccypoo wrote:
Loved Smith and Karen
I love Karen so much she sent a nice letter from the courts for me, stopping me being any closer than 2 miles from her :lol:
Just do what I did and get one of the standies :D
Can't you still get locked up for that sort of thing???? :shock:
Now that we all know about the rude bits, aren't they rude? And as we get older, they get ruder and ruder. :oops:
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The Nimon
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Heccypoo wrote:
The Nimon wrote:
Heccypoo wrote:
Loved Smith and Karen
I love Karen so much she sent a nice letter from the courts for me, stopping me being any closer than 2 miles from her :lol:
Just do what I did and get one of the standies :D
Can't you still get locked up for that sort of thing???? :shock:
:floorroll:
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It's probably the 3rd best regeneration story after Spearhead from Space and Power of the Daleks.
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The Krynoid man wrote:It's probably the 3rd best regeneration story after Spearhead from Space and Power of the Daleks.
I agree. For me the worst two are Xmas Invasion and Castravalvak simply for the reason that the Doctor spend too long doing nothing much
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The Nimon wrote:
The Krynoid man wrote:It's probably the 3rd best regeneration story after Spearhead from Space and Power of the Daleks.
I agree. For me the worst two are Xmas Invasion and Castravalvak simply for the reason that the Doctor spend too long doing nothing much
I actually don't mind those two. For me the worst would be Time and the Rani.
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The Krynoid man wrote:
The Nimon wrote:
The Krynoid man wrote:It's probably the 3rd best regeneration story after Spearhead from Space and Power of the Daleks.
I agree. For me the worst two are Xmas Invasion and Castravalvak simply for the reason that the Doctor spend too long doing nothing much
I actually don't mind those two. For me the worst would be Time and the Rani.
True that is bad but i'll always put Xmas Invasion at the bottom. The problem I have with it is that the Doctor is too inactive in the story and the umpteen time Rose blubs about the Doctor changing. 11th Doctor was the right way to start a new Doctor off
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