Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Revolving Door: My Thought Process on the Doctor Who Premiere



***Big WARNING Here!!
If you aren't a fan of Doctor Who, or you're one of those that means to watch the show and just haven't caught up yet, then this post is not for you! It contains information that may be considered SPOILERS so if you don't wish to know then I say come back later this week for my next review. Or if you do want to know and you think SPOILERS are an essential part of life (they're not really, I'm just exaggerating or being over-dramatic, take your pick, they both work) then stick around. Other than that, have fun with the post. To be honest, the reason I wrote it is because it was fun and I wanted to post it here for posterity's sake.

I wasn’t sure if I should make a post about this but I figured I HAVE blogged about films so why not talk about TV shows? In the future I will be posting analyses on various shows as well, just FYI. But first, to start things off, why not begin with my favorite?

Let it be known: I am a MASSIVE fan of the recent incarnation of Doctor Who, which has been airing since 2005. I have seen nearly all the episodes (I say nearly because, unfortunately, I haven’t managed to watch the year of specials that ended the 10th Doctor’s run) and I have come to the conclusion that this show just gets better and better, year after year. So what is the post about? I’m going to talk about the way this show keeps itself fresh, the dreaded or even welcome change-up involving either the Doctor or his companions, when either the companions decide to leave or the Doctor regenerates. In this case, the companions are set to leave before the end of this year and while I previously had mixed feelings about their departure, I’m more conclusively open to the change now after having watched the seventh series premiere.

I’ll admit it. As someone who doesn’t mind the occasional spoiler concerning the shows I watch, I did sneak a peek at the casting pictures for the new companion. And when the premiere started and the show got underway, setting the foundations for the main action, I was gobsmacked to see that our new person of interest in the episode Asylum of the Daleks was none other than the rumored actress meant to be the new companion. I was confused, baffled, intrigued. After all, I’ve seen photos where Jenna-Louise Coleman is alongside Matt Smith with captions that claim these pictures are from the filming of certain future episodes. So as I watched the show, learning about the character of Oswin Oswald as portrayed by adorkable Coleman, I had that bit of information floating in the back of my mind. It set a curious sentiment over my experience of watching the episode. More on this later.

Most of the essential characters are back for the episode, which includes the Doctor, Amy and Rory. (I say most because yes, I am a fan of River Song, and no, she does not make an appearance in this episode, but thankfully she will be back later on in the season.) If you’re as invested in the show as I am, you’ve also been watching Pond Life, the five-part mini-adventure that leads up to the new series, available to watch on the BBC One website, before the episode premiere this last weekend.

So why do I keep watching this show?

In terms of writing, I am incredibly impressed with the jumps, the leaps, which this show has been taking in recent years. The links forged in this show, the hints at future events, just astound me sometimes and yes, I’ve been known to tear up at some of the revelations (so sue me, I’m sentimental). The writing is only half of it, though. Because the essential core of the show is the fact that every few seasons it goes through a sort of reboot, either with a new Doctor or a new companion. This year fan favorites, Amy and Rory, are set to leave. When I heard the news I confess that I was a bit miffed that once again, I was going to be losing out on seeing the team of characters that I’ve grown to love over the last two years. I know, I know, I should have understood that a scenario in which the Doctor, Amy and Rory travel together forever was NEVER going to happen, but I had hoped they’d be around for quite a while. I guess two years is still good, I mean, after all Rose had two years, and then Martha and Donna each got one. Still, the show was running smoothly, the stories were getting more and more impressive, so the thought that it would all be changing soon just never crossed my mind. It should have but it didn’t.

Now for a little information on the Ponds, the traveling pair who have become unequivocally necessary to the entirety of the Doctor Who storyline. Amy started out as a fearless young girl who waited more than 12 years for the Doctor to return for her. She’s feisty, stubborn; she has the fight necessary to make her not only one of the best possible companions for the Doctor but also to make her title as the Doctor’s best friend well-earned. What was impressive for me, and just quite simply pulled my heartstrings out of whack, was the fact that Amy started out as a child willing to travel with the Doctor. The Eleventh Hour is one of my all-time favorite Doctor Who episodes for this reason. Watching them together, beginning with little Amelia Pond and her fascination with the man who crash-landed in her garden and then transitioning to Amy and her choice to travel with the Doctor was just wonderful. I love that episode.


Now for more information on Rory. I perused an article this past weekend talking about Doctor Who and read something along the lines that stated that the fans don’t love Rory as much as Amy. I thought, “Pardon? The “Lone Centurion” is a favorite in the Doctor Who world!,” after which I concluded that the reviewer must not have realized that the word choice does not reflect the true fan sentiment towards the character. Because while everyone adores Amy because she fights and kicks, she bites and snarks, the power behind Rory is the fact that while he is a bit reserved as a character, it does not mean he can’t fight like the rest of them. The guy knocked out Hitler, if you remember. And Amy and Rory together? They are easily the best pair of companions to come out of the show since it came back in 2005. (Notice I said best pair?? That’s because I also enjoyed Rose, Martha and Donna as companions as well, but they traveled mainly on their own with the Doctor. Captain Jack traveled for a bit with Rose but I don’t think that measures up to the pairing of Amy and Rory, who have been traveling together with the Doctor for longer than Amy ever traveled alone in the Tardis, which makes them more of a unit than anything else.)

But they are leaving. And while that makes me sad, watching Asylum of the Daleks gave me the chance to watch Coleman in action. I had no idea she was meant to appear in this episode. It was a well-kept secret, one that left me extremely impressed, especially as Coleman kicked ass in her role as a quirky genius. I’ve seen gifs on tumblr that have basically given off the sentiment that a LOT of Doctor Who fans fell in love with Oswin over the course of this single episode and they were devastated with the ending they got. I too am reeling from the fate of the exquisitely brilliant Oswin Oswald. Honestly, who didn’t fall in love with this character?

At various points in the episode she cheekily referred to the Doctor as “The Chin” or “chin boy”; she called Rory “The Nose” and “Nina” (it was a personal thing :D); she fought Daleks off with classical music and baked souffl├ęs to keep herself busy. To all that, I say WOW. She smiled constantly, an extraordinary thing really since she’s been alone for over a year, shipwrecked with a bunch of Daleks outside her door, and she had some truly SPLENDID one-liners. She saved each of the show's leads, over and over again, topping even herself with her incredible intellect and her unique means of battling the Daleks. She impressed with her genius, her grins and her quick back-and-forth with the Doctor. And then she left, too. And to that I say gall-darn, friggin’ hell. Because when it came down to it, I wanted Oswin Oswald to stay. I love it when this show makes me love a character so much in just one episode. It’s a major coup, not only for the writing but for the casting as well, because when you put them together, you get something like the darling Oswin Oswald, and that is very good indeed.

So the whole time I’m watching this episode I’m thinking, wow, what is this? A test run? Are the masterminds behind the show waiting in the wings, listening in on what their viewers think of Coleman, as she is obviously set for a return later in the season? I watched this episode, I adored it, and yeah, I’ll admit, when my husband goes to sleep I turn the episode on and re-watch it several times in a row. But like I said earlier, the whole time I’m watching this episode, I'm constantly going back to the fact that Coleman is coming back in a different role later on in the series. And after her performance here, that fact is one quick to put a smile on my face.

In conclusion, yes, the Ponds are leaving BUT if we are to take Asylum of the Daleks as a kind of audition or even an introduction for Jenna-Louise Coleman into the Doctor Who world, then I say I’m definitely looking forward to when she comes on board for good. She’s brilliantly different and I say she will quickly rise to a top spot on the list of the best companions to ever grace Doctor Who. This revolving door of characters and the actors that portray them are a key part of what makes this show good. And while I felt some trepidation about the change I now firmly believe that change is good, and the best possible talent is attached to this show to prove that fact time and time again.


Rating: 10 Stars!!
I’m just being silly. Obviously a rating doesn’t fit with the writing here, as it’s really not a review, just a lengthy discussion on the thought process I had over the most recent Doctor Who episode. I guess the idea is that I’m excited for the next few episodes to air. And if you don’t watch the show, I would definitely recommend it.

AS A SIDENOTE: This post is now linked to a follow-up review on my thoughts about the first 5 episodes of Series 7 Doctor Who and the Ponds send-off. Feel free to mosey on over there to read my thoughts on each episode but use caution as there are, of course, SPOILERS.

3 comments:

  1. The show hasn't been the same since Chris Eccleston left.

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  2. Eccleston should have had at least another year as the Doctor. "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" are some of my favorite episodes of all Doctor Who.

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  3. This was a very thoughtful discussion over the recent companions and I agree on your sentiment about Jenna-Louise Coleman. I can't wait for when she comes in during the Christmas special, even though I know I will greatly miss the Ponds. I hope you will write another discussion over their departure once The Angels Take Manhattan airs.

    Also, I very much love Matt Smith. He's amazing as the Doctor. I'm almost certain A Good Man Goes to War is my favorite episode of Doctor Who.

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