Because I review a whole tv series rather than individual episodes, there is a chance of spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the whole series yet, stop reading now!
For my first ever TV review, I thought it best to start with my favourite ever television series. I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who since I was a kid, watching the “classic” series on UK Gold whenever I could get to my Gran’s house (she was the only person in my family with Sky.) When it returned to our screens in 2005, I was slightly concerned that it was going to be rubbish, ruining a fond memory of my childhood. Instead, I got an amazing Doctor in Christopher Eccleston, a legendary companion in Rose and overall, a fantastic series which has probably bettered anything the “classic” show did before it.
Since then I have been amazed by how good David Tennant’s Doctor was. Loved Martha, grew to like Donna and can’t wait to see Captain Jack Harkness again. The villains created and returning were, for the most part, just as fantastic as the heroes and it’s really a true, television event in my house and many others.
Steven Moffat has taken a show that was riding at the top of its success and popularity and managed, in places, to improve it. He was always my favourite guest writer anyway, probably delivering the best stories of any series (and the second best Doctor Who story, “Blink.”) Series 5 gave us a great pairing of the very unique Eleventh Doctor and Amy, Series 6 gave us a fantastic series arc story, with a satisfying payoff, and all this meant I was ridiculously excited for series 7.
How could I not be? The end of the Amy and the Doctor, a promise that the Daleks would be scary! The Weeping Angels in Manhattan, Doctor Who the western and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship! Excited wasn’t a word that came close to covering it. And now, after five weeks of Doctor Who and half a series watched, I’m slightly deflated.
Not with the last episode and the Ponds departure because that was brilliant. In fact, the stories penned by Steven Moffat have been, as expected, the best of the series so far. The idea of an Asylum for Daleks, bringing the creatures back to their roots was incredible and delivered brilliantly. In fact the inclusion of the Doctor’s new companion was the a great reveal and the icing on an already delicious cake. The Dalek’s maybe weren’t as scary as promised but they were at least back on track after some very campy, silly stories.
As mentioned before, the second Moffat story, “The Angels take Manhattan” was the best of the series. I’d go as far to say that the Weeping Angels have now became the iconic and scariest Doctor Who monster, replacing the worn and over-used Daleks. Every story they have been included in has been scary, well-plotted and original. The pre-credit sequence in this episode alone was scarier than anything in the “Asylum of the Daleks” episode. Add an emotional, brilliantly acted end to the Ponds and you have the best episode of the series by far.
And it was by far. Moffat made a statement of intent before this series started that there would be no multi-part stories. He also said that each episode would be like a blockbuster movie. Unfortunately, you can’t do the second without the first. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship is a fantastic idea and a brilliant title, but didn’t really deliver any scary, Jurassic Park style dinosaur moments. A sleeping T-Rex and a ride on a Triceratops doesn’t cut it.
The fourth story, “The Power of Three,” again, had a fantastic premise. The idea of strange black cubes, a slow invasion, a bored Doctor and then a race of aliens trying to exterminate the human race like we would cockroaches, has all the makings of classic Doctor Who. Except the story didn’t have the time to tell itself. Instead, we met the villain, found out his plan and the Doctor killed him with his sonic screwdriver. Cheated doesn’t even cover it.
It wasn’t all bad. Alongside Moffat’s episodes was the great western episode, “A Town called Mercy.” It was well acted, well written and a fantastic idea for a story. It gave Matt Smith the chance to show a darker side to his Doctor which I think he misses and also gave Amy and Rory a good story before their final outing.
I would usually be a lot more sympathetic about some of the more “filler” episodes that every series, not just Doctor Who, but every series, will always have but when I only have five episodes before my favourite tv series returns at Christmas, I can’t look past the lost potential. I’m hoping with a new companion, we have fresher, more fleshed-out and thought-through stories which don’t struggle to hit the 45 minute run time.
Overall, Doctor Who series 7 part 1 was just about more successful than disappointing but it was close. Moffat’s episodes were fantastic, a great Dalek story and a brilliant, “best-ever-villain” episode for the Weeping Angels. Unfortunately, these were bookends to a series which had too little time to tell the ambitious stories it was aiming for. Lets hope part 2, the 50th Anniversary, lives up to the potential we are all expecting.
Best Episode – The Angels Take Manhattan
Best performance – Karen Gillan as Amy Pond
Should there be another season? – Definitely, never, ever take the Doctor off tv again!
Season Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)