March 26th, 2005
My first impression of the new Doctor Who: a promising start.
The first storyline was a bit thin, as you'd expect of any episode that has to expend a chunk of running time (re)introducing the concept and central character. The Autons may not have been one of the more memorable adversaries the Doctor faced over the years, but they worked well enough in this episode and allowed the episode to use a present-day setting, saving the writers five or ten minutes of explanatory dialogue. The customary cheap-and-cheerful props and special effects work were all present and correct – including one utterly terrible fighting-with-a-disconnected-Auton-arm scene – which gave the show a distinctly British feel. (I didn't mind the infamous wheelie bin so much: I mean, surely you can only criticise that effect as unrealistic if you've actually seen what a wheelie bin looks like when it grabs you and won't let go.)
The main thing, however, is the casting and writing. Christopher Eccleston is clearly going to be a memorable Doctor if he's given any remotely decent storylines to work with. Presumably recently-regenerated (see his comment on his ears when he catches sight of himself in a mirror) , Ecclestone's Doctor is confident and full of beans, but can do serious when the need arises. I wasn't bowled over by Billie Piper's performance, but then it usually took time to get used to a new companion; I'll be interested to see how her character copes with next week's far-future storyline. The important point is that the show was clearly written by someone with a love of the show and a knowledge of what made it work. I assume from what we've seen so far that the shows are going to tell self-contained 45-minute stories instead of spreading a story arc over half a dozen episodes. I don't quite know how that'll work for me considering that my fond memories of the Troughton/Pertwee/Tom Baker years are so tied up with the notion of an end-of-episode cliffhanger leaving me wanting more, but I'm more than happy to spend the next few weeks finding out.
To round off my geek's TV evening I watched The Incredibles on DVD. The only thing wrong with that film is that whenever I see a new big-screen adaptation of a superhero comic part of my mind will be wondering why they didn't do it properly as an animated project so they could make the use of superpowers look suitably effortless and realistic.