Amy Pond and the Doctor spend some time with Vincent Van Gogh in the Doctor Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor." Photo courtesy the BBC.
I've now seen 12 of the 13 episodes comprising Matt Smith's first season as the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who. For those who argue that Smith's too young for the role (at 27, he supercedes Fifth Doctor Peter Davison as the youngest actor to play the Doctor), I say watch his performance. Smith is more than capable of handling the part.
I'm also liking Karen Gillan as strong-willed companion Amy Pond. In the 10th episode, "Vincent and the Doctor", the Doctor instructs Amy not to follow him under any circumstances, as he investigates a potentially dangerous situation. Vincent Van Gogh (Tony Curran) asks her if she's going to follow him.
"Of course," she replies.
In that respect, Amy reminds me of one of my favorite companions, Ace, as played by Sophie Aldred opposite Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor. In the episode "Silver Nemesis", the Doctor and Ace keep vigil on a craft operated by the Cybermen. The Doctor asks Ace, who has a penchant for blowing things up with Nitro-9, much to his annoyance, "I don't suppose you've completely ignored my instructions and secretly prepared any Nitro-9, have you?"
"What if I had?" Ace asks.
"And naturally you wouldn't do anything so insanely dangerous as to carry it around with you, would you?"
"Of course not. I'm a good girl. I do what I'm told."
"Excellent. Blow up that vehicle."
I suspect the Eleventh Doctor will also come to expect Amy to completely ignore his instructions.
(I also liked Ace because (among other things) she whacked a Dalek with a baseball bat.
"Small human female sighted on level three," a Dalek says in "Remembrance of the Daleks."
Ace comes out swinging. "Who you callin' small?")
Amy is unique among companions in that she's literally known of the Doctor most of her life. In Smith's debut story, "The Eleventh Hour", the newly regenerated Doctor crashes his TARDIS into the garden of 7-year-old Amelia Pond, who doesn't quite know what to make of him. But she's thrilled at his claim that his large blue box is a time machine, and his implied promise to take her on a trip. Just as soon as he makes a five-minute jaunt to fix a problem with the engines.
Twelve years later...
The Doctor returns, rushes into the house, and is promptly hit on the head. He awakens to find himself handcuffed to the radiator, a young woman in a police uniform standing over him. Eventually, he learns that this is the now-grown Amelia, and how much time has passed.
Amy, for her part, isn't pleased to see him again.
"Twelve years- and four psychiatrists!" she complains.
At the end of that episode, when the Doctor invites Amy to travel with him, and she asks why, he says he's been traveling alone for a while and has grown tired of talking to himself. I suspect that, as I've stated before, the Doctor also recognizes his need for someone to keep him grounded. Whether he'll ever address some of his previous actions as the "Timelord Victorious" remains to be seen.
Just as the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler kept encountering the phrase "Bad Wolf" in their travels, the Eleventh Doctor and Amy keep running into an ever widening crack in the fabric of the universe. The Doctor first encounters this crack, in the form of a hairline fracture on the wall of 7-year-old Amy's bedroom, in "The Eleventh Hour." She initially believes he's come to investigate it.
The Doctor comes to realize that this crack and/or something emanating from it is causing time to be rewritten. He believes this is why Amy has no clue what a Dalek is in "Victory of the Daleks", despite their very public presence in the Tenth Doctor adventures "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End."
And in "Flesh and Stone", he rhetorically wonders how it is that no one remembers a giant Cyberman in London in 1850 (from 2008 Christmas special "The Next Doctor").
The Doctor's also a bit concerned that others seem to know more about the whys and wherefores of this crack than he does. And I'm sure he was more than a little discombobulated when he pulled what appeared to be a small, charred chunk of the TARDIS's outer shell from within it.
And he was extremely discombobulated at learning the truth about the pandorica in the season's penultimate episode, "The Pandorica Opens."
This season, we're also treated to the return of the mis-named Silurians, a reptilian species that once ruled the Earth millions of years ago (but who wouldn't have come from the Silurian Era). The Doctor prefers the term Homo Reptilia, though this is also a misnomer.
The Silurians, who mistakenly believed a disaster was coming, and retreated deep underground and put themselves into suspended animation until the disaster passed, were first encountered by the Third Doctor and UNIT in 1971 (or the late 1970s, depending on when you believe the UNIT stories were set) and again by the Fifth Doctor in 2084. Despite his best efforts, both encounters ended badly. When the Eleventh Doctor meets another group in 2020, he's hopeful for better results, that the Silurians (who overslept) and Humans- both of whom have equally valid claims on ownership of the planet- can come to an agreement.
A tall order, as factions on both sides, motivated by fear, bigotry and ignorance, are opposed to any sort of compromise.
We also see the return of the deadly "weeping angels", and of the mysterious River Song (Alex Kingston), a woman from the Doctor's personal future whose relationship with him remains an enigma. When the Tenth Doctor met her (for the first time, from his perspective) in the episodes "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead", she was a professor of Archaeology who'd known him for some time. In the Eleventh Doctor episodes "Time of the Angels"/"Flesh and Stone", River has yet to become a professor, and is actually on a form of supervised parole. Her crime? Murder. The Doctor is told he doesn't want to know the victim's identity.
The final two episodes of the season take place even earlier in River's timeline. Which suggests we might see her crime play out in the season finale.
We still don't know when and how, from River's point of view, she and the Doctor first meet.
This season also sees interior and exterior changes to the TARDIS. The redesigned TARDIS console has a feature I particularly like: the inclusion of an Olympia manual typewriter (not dissimilar to one I own).
Again, the TARDIS is in good hands with Matt Smith as the Doctor and Karen Gillan as Amy.
Copyright 2010 Patrick Keating.
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