I think its fair to say that fandom probably hasn’t held its breath this long since they awaited the first airing of Rose. A new production team, a new Doctor, a new companion, a new everything. And all hanging under the weight of the success of Russell T Davies and David Tennant.
Of course, Steven Moffat was a known quantity. His episodes in the past had been uniformly excellent, so not much to worry about there. But what would Doctor Who under his stewardship be like? And after being so used to David Tennant in the role, would Matt Smith be able to win everyone over?
Well, much like when Christopher Eccleston left, there really wasn’t much to worry about. Like David Tennant, after about 10 minutes in the role, Matt Smith had everyone convinced. He played the zaniness of the opening scenes well (not just the fish custard scene, but clambering out of the TARDIS with the aid of a grappling hook as well, which I thought was a brilliant gag), only to turn it around to become someone not to be taken lightly when challenging the Atraxi at the end.
Steven Moffat’s first series opener was an absolutely corker as well. Of course, the underlying threat of an escaped alien being hunted by its guards has been seen before countless times, but what really mattered here wasn’t the threat, but instead introducing us to the new Doctor, companion and new era in general. And that he pulled off brilliantly. Instantly recognisable to anyone who loved Russell T Davies’ era, but subtly different as well. While many aspects of the traditional series opener runaround were present and correct, it also felt there was a bit more to this. Amy’s introduction was beautifully put together, with her backstory interwoven with the Doctor nicely. By having the Doctor first meet Amy as a young girl he has a profound, and not entirely positive impact on her life. And by the end of the episode, he’s possibly derailing her life again, turning up 2 years later on the eve of her wedding (not that he knows this). This has bound the Doctor and Amy in an interesting way.
Something that is made even more interesting by the closing scenes of the episode.
A crack similar to the one in young Amy’s house appears on the TARDIS scanner, and the Doctor switches the screen off before Amy can see it. He also says he made a quick hop to the Moon and back to test the TARDIS, while we saw the young Amy Pond react to the TARDIS’ materialisation. Now its possible that the last of these may have not been a literal scene, however it certainly looks like at best the Doctor is hiding things from Amy, and at worst outright lying to her.
Overall, I couldn’t be more excited for the rest of this series. After the gap year its really nice to be looking forward to weekly episodes again, and the opener was so brilliantly strong its set the bar high for what comes next. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are off to a great start as the Doctor and Amy, and I can’t wait to see how their characters develop over the next 12 episodes, and what surprises Steven Moffat has in store for us.