At 10.30am today myself and three colleagues - three of us queer, coincidentally, and three - though not the same three - serious Doctor Who fans - sat down in a VIP suite at ABC Television's Elsternwick studios for a preview screening of Matt Smith's first proper outing as the Eleventh Doctor.
I've spent the last few hours alternating between gleeful joy, critical thought, and wondering how best to post a review without including major spoilers.
Let's give it a whirl, shall we?
But before we go any further, it must be said: MILD SPOILERS LIE AHEAD if you know nothing about the new episode. That said I won't be describing plot details, rest assured.
Written by new showrunner Steven Moffat, the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who begins pretty much where The End of Time Part Two left off, with the TARDIS out of control and the Doctor (Matt Smith) very recently regenerated.
Very much a new man, Smith's Doctor spends much of the episode discovering - as do the audience - what sort of a man he is. One of the things which struck me, while watching the show, is that he's a very physical Doctor. That said, there's some great throwbacks to previous incarnations of the character, notably Pertwee and McGann's Doctors - indeed, the whole history of the show is admirably evoked in one particular scene. Too, Tennant's first episode - The Christmas Invasion - is also referenced quite beautifully.
Something else - or somethings else - that is rediscovered are the inner depths of the TARDIS. During the Russell T. Davies era we only ever saw the main control room, save for one quick glimpse of the interior of a wardrobe room in the aforementioned The Christmas Invasion, but Moffat is clearly fond of the sheer, mind boggling size of the TARDIS, so expect to see its other rooms at the very least referenced in this and future episodes.
Other thoughts that sprung to mind as I was watching the episode, which I'll just quickly jot down:
- Ooh, pretty: the Superman effect in the opening credits.
- The way the story flows beautifully from comedic moments to scenes of tension and high drama in the blink of an eye.
- The highly original way that new companion, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) is introduced, the ramifications of which will ensure that she and the Doctor have a fresh, unique and very interesting dynamic.
- The equally effective introduction of Amy's friends and family.
- What is it with Steven Moffat and people lying in comas?
- Foreshadowing of future events and future episodes.
- The way that when we do finally see the new interior of the TARDIS, it's through Amy's eyes.
- Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.
Doctor Who - The Eleventh Hour premieres this Saturday April 3 in the UK, and screens in Australia at 7.30pm on Sunday April 18 on ABC1. It premieres in Australia at midnight Friday April 16 (i.e. 12am Saturday April 17) on iView.