War Between the States

The “R”-rolling side of the pond that is America is now more than halfway through watching Season 31, and has had a fair taste of mostly everything a Davies-vacant modern series has to offer.  As a result, the nation has decided to offer up its opinion on what it’s seen so far this year by means of various internet and newspaper reviewers, who have proven to be either intelligent or incompetent.

Doctor Who - The Eleventh Hour stars Matt Smith and Karen GillanLet’s start with this clipping of a positive analysis on the series from The Eleventh Hour to Amy’s Choice, courtesy of Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times:

“This remains smart, fun, suspenseful, often challenging sci-fi, and I can’t think of another show of any sort that hits so many bases, for so broad a demographic, as successfully: There is farce, there is philosophy, there is, as the characters themselves have noticed, a lot of running around; it is ambitious without being dour, poetic without being sentimental.”

Basically, the whole article is a spot-on description of the current season in nearly every way!  But not everyone has been pleased.  In late April, around the time The Beast Below turned up across the Atlantic, Charlie Jane Anders of io9 was already drawing up Davies comparisons:

“The season’s second episode, The Beast Below, seems like a perfect example of Moffat doing a cover version of Davies. It’s very, very similar in many ways to Davies’ story The Long Game from back in 2005, and has a very Davies-esque brand of political satire. (Timed, I guess, to coincide with the run-up to Britain’s general election.)”

A slightly disappointing take, but it does go on to praise Matt Smith’s and Karen Gillan’s acting, so it’s not all bad.

It’s often amusing to look back on an older review, such as this one by Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune about The Eleventh Hour, just to tease its writer in one’s mind, saying, “Ha!  I’m from the future and I know something you don’t know!”  In this case, it pertains to Smith’s acting:

“Given Smith’s relative youth (he’s 27), it’s not clear yet whether he’ll be able to give the character the same depth and shading that Tennant gave his Doctor. That version of the character carried a great deal of melancholy and even anger, all of which was usually well-hidden under his brisk exterior. It’ll be interesting to see if the same demons still haunt this much more jaunty Doctor, but there are hints that Smith has an elastic range and could go to some dark places.

“There’s no darkness looming just yet, and the season premiere is almost too jokey at times — certain comedic bits are stretched longer than they should be. Still, this is quite a bold and energetic (if not frenetic) new edition of Doctor Who.

Hang on – was she suggesting that just because Matt Smith is young, he might not be able to portray emotion?  Does she think the youth of the world are drones or robots?  And what’s this about The Eleventh Hour and not having any “darkness looming?”  The Pandorica is opening.  Silence will fall. I’m not sure how much more blatant Moffat can get with his foreshadowing.

All in all, for a programme that comes packed with about ten million times more creativity and originality than anything else you’ll find on television, American reactions towards this season of Doctor Who have been surprisingly mixed.  But who needs that audience?  Just let ’em keep watching their Vampire Diaries and thinking they’re cool.

Patrick Riley


Patrick has just been murdered and is currently seated on the edge of a lawn chair wondering when this Missy person will stop demanding his autograph. He probably can't tweet from the grave, but you should follow him anyway @10PatrickRiley.

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