"Goodbyes" are something that we always see in Doctor Who, from the actors who play the companions from the Doctors themselves, to the writers and the producers. Farewells are quite common place in this show, it is why the show keeps changing, evolving and moving forward.
One final curtain close that was almost painful to watch was the departure of David Tennant. I think most people can agree that seeing the beloved 10th Doctor leaving was definitely a fixed point in time in all of our memories. I shall tell you a secret here; once the regeneration finally took place, resulting in a crashing TARDIS, I hated Matt Smith. I hated him for taking David's place in the show, I didn't like his first impressions as the Doctor and I certainly didn't know what to think of him. Oh how quick I was to judge back in 2010. Alas, this is not about goodbyes, it's about hellos and how my opinion changed in the space of an hour.
Idris: "There's something I didn't get to say to you."
The Doctor: "Goodbye."
Idris: "No. I just wanted to say, Hello. Hello Doctor. It's so very very nice to meet you." ~ The Doctor's Wife.
Due to my presumptions of the 11th Doctor, even before the episode began I had my reservations. I am very glad to say that since then I am more positive to the change that comes with regeneration, this includes my feelings (or lack of feelings at the moment) towards Peter Capaldi, I am keenly awaiting to see what he is like in action once the new series hits our screens again on the 23rd of August.
Matt Smith's first episode, The Eleventh Hour, certainly was an action packed episode, full with new characters, a new adventure and it wouldn't be Doctor Who, if there wasn't any new aliens! With a very dramatic start that carried on from The End of Time, Part Two, we witnessed a Doctor really quite struggling to hold onto his TARDIS, let alone control it as she spiralled out across the skies of London. We soon end up in the TARDIS' crash site, a rather sad looking garden with an old squeaky swing set that looked unloved.
As a quick side note, I can't help but wonder; Did the TARDIS purposely take the Doctor to that garden because she knew of the cracks in space and time? Did the TARDIS want to land there or was it just a coincidence? I like to think it was the former.
With the TARDIS absolutely crushing the garden shed, we find a little girl who is looking for help about a crack in her wall, talking to Santa around easter time. There were voices in the wall, and all she wants is someone to help, preferably a policeman... well she did get a police box.
The following scenes to me were considerably fairy-tale-like. This is good of course if you like this feeling in a story, for others I know it didn't quite work for them. However I see it as looking at the events through the little girls eyes for the first time. It is a scene full of mystery and wonder, something that the music composed by Murray Gold portrays extremely well. As soon as the little girl hears the crash outside her window, instantly she goes to investigate, only to find a grappling hook being flung towards her and a strange man who is soaking wet and looking a bit dazed, popping his head out from a box.
"The Doctor: Can I have an apple? All I can think about. Apples. I love apples. Maybe I'm having a craving. That's new. Never had cravings before."
Curious as the girl maybe, she doesn't seemed phased one bit by the man, undeterred by the strange things he was saying or doing. This, is one of the reasons Amelia Pond was sealed onto the Doctor's hearts forever. The Doctor without a doubt noticed these things, and became keen to help the little girl who wasn't scared of the strange man, who fell out of a box, that fell out of the sky... how could the Doctor resist?
Despite the urgent matters of a crack in the wall, the Doctor is still regenerating. Everything is brand new and shiny, and he was hungry. When the Doctor decided he wanted to try different foods, ranging from disgusting apples, to evil beans, and finally settling on the most strangest of food combinations, that would surely make any famous chef cringe at the thought of putting fish fingers with custard, my opinion of the Doctor was that he was far too goofy. Completely opposite to the more serious acting that we saw with David Tennant towards the end of his era. Truth be told, I was not happy.
As mentioned previously the Doctor had already noticed how fearless Amelia Pond was, but yet she was scared of a simple crack in the wall of her bedroom. As he investigates we find out that it was no ordinary crack, but rather a crack in time and space that should never have touched and yet they were pressed together. The voices Amelia kept hearing was in fact from a prison warning for whoever could hear that Prisoner Zero had escaped. Little did we know away back then, that the infamous crack would follow the 11th Doctor all the way to his final episode in The Time of the Doctor.
The Doctor: "You know when grown-ups tell you everything's gonna be fine and you think they're probably lying to make you feel better."
The Doctor: "Everything's gonna be fine."
The fairytale meeting of the Doctor and Amelia was now concluded but only really beginning as the more serious action began with a message sent to his Psychic Paper and fear of Prisoner Zero being present in the house. Before anything more could be done, a warning bell chimes from the TARDIS that meant only one thing. The TARDIS was damaged, and her engines were phasing, the Doctor needed to help the TARDIS before he could help Amelia. It just goes to show how much importance the TARDIS holds in the Doctor's life.
The Doctor: "Give me five minutes. I'll be right back."
Amelia: "People always say that."
The Doctor: "Am I people? Do I even look like people. Trust me. I'm the Doctor."
As the little Amelia Pond watches her raggedy man disappear in the TARDIS in a similar fashion to how he climbed out, again the music really hit me. If you have the chance, please do listen to the track "Can I come with you?" on the Series 5 soundtrack album. (Actually just listen to the whole album - It is truly one of my favourites.) It symbolizes the hope and excitement felt by that little girl as she ran into her house and instantly packed a small suitcase, believing that in five minutes her life would change forever, only to be hit with the sad truth that it wasn't going to happen. She would have to wait a further 12 years for that.
12 years later, unbeknown to the Doctor that amount of time had passed, we meet a very different Amelia. One who decides that hitting the Doctor on the back of his head with a cricket bat was the right thing to do. So would I if a man came running into my house shouting loudly with no apparent reason to be doing so!
The story begins to pick up more interesting twists as we find out what Prisoner Zero was actually capable of. Not only was it able of placing a perception filter around itself so that it could continue to go around unnoticed, but it was also able to take another beings form, as long as it could access a dormant mind like the one of a coma patient.
With a first look at this Prisoner Zero, it was not a particularly pretty sight to set your eyes on. With it's large, thin and sharp teeth and a jelly looking exoskeleton that moved like a snake, it was something to be afraid of and to make matters worse, it was hiding where you didn't want to look. In the corner of your eye.
Another quick side note: One of the things that struck me about Prisoner Zero and its form, was how much it resembled an alien from the 1989 sci-fi film, The Abyss, called the 'Non-Terrestrial Intelligence' (or N.T.I.). Which also could mimic a person's appearance to a certain extent. It was a film I watched several times as I grew up.
Very quickly a plan is formed in the Doctor's mind on what to do. He faced two threats; One being Prisoner Zero, the other was the Atraxi - The guards who formerly held Prisoner Zero- who were threatening to incinerate the earth in 20 minutes unless the multi form was recaptured. And to top it all off, he had no TARDIS or sonic screwdriver to help. From now on, the sheer genius of the plan made me enjoy the new Doctor's character a little bit more...
As the sun goes 'Wibbly' almost everyone records the incident on their phones. That is all but one nurse who is looking in an unrelated direction to everyone else. Here we are introduced to Rory, Amy's boyfriend, someone who didn't seem that important at first, but was a great help throughout the episode. During Rory's time in the Doctor's life, I have really enjoyed watching his character build and grow from what we saw in this first episode.
By now you are probably wondering when in this episode did my opinion change of Matt Smith as the Doctor. Well, it changed with a simple apple:
Amy being annoyed at the Doctor's smart jargon, or possibly just being annoyed at the confusing situation that she found herself in, she forces the Doctor to explain himself by trapping his tie in a car, quite clever really! It is here in this moment where I fall in love with the Doctor again. It was like I was believing for the first time that this really was the Doctor, just as Amy was. Out of all the chaos, all the frustrations, there is this moment of peace, a beautiful moment in time, the moment when Amy really believes and the Doctor as Matt Smith captures my heart. (Once more the music really helped here - Check out "Little Amy: The Apple.)
The plan to stop Prisoner Zero and the Atraxi from blowing up the planet was done in typical Doctor Style, by not terribly explaining himself to others around him, and fully expecting it to come together in a miraculous ending where everyone is happy. Leaving others confused and bemused about the entire thing.
"The Doctor is never more dangerous than when the odds are against him" ~The Master, The Deadly Assassin.
Indeed the plan does come together just as we all hoped, all because of a computer virus that set any counters to zero. Transmitting across the world that Prisoner Zero was here and could be traced back to the phone on which the Doctor had written the virus on. Yet, prisoner Zero is not willing to go without a fight, as the creature knows that while it takes on another form, the Atraxi cannot possibly detect it, and so takes on the form of the Doctor, causing Amy to collapse into a dream state. Despite the form change, the Doctor at first doesn't realise that the new form was indeed himself! After all it had been a busy day since he regenerated, he just didn't have the time!
Despite the slight hiccup in the plan, it all works out in the end as the Doctor convinces Amy to dream about Prisoner Zero in its natural form, forcing the alien to change back and to be recaptured by the Atraxi.
With Prisoner Zero recaptured, and the Atraxi gone from the planet, everything was done and dusted. The Earth was saved again! But not quite... The Doctor wasn't finished yet. Here we see the authoritative side of the new Doctor. The Atraxi had broken the laws under the Shadow Proclamation and so he demanded that they come back to the planet and face what they almost had done to the planet, and then gave them a small warning not to come back.
To top this episode off, we received a look at the new TARDIS interior. With a click of the Doctor's fingers, we are drawn into the TARDIS along with Amy as she sees it for the first time and consequently so do we. 11's first TARDIS interior really captured my heart, it was a magical setting, big, light and friendly. It is definitely my favourite desktop so far! It was the perfect fairytale ending, maybe I like fairytale endings after all. This is the story of how I fell in love with the 11th Doctor. I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.