Well for me the answer was yes.
With the new Doctor firmly established in The Eleventh Hour, focus with this episode switched slightly more towards Amy, allowing her to firmly earn her place in the TARDIS by piecing together the clues of what’s going on. Indeed, the Doctor encourages this in the episode, getting her to go after the girl on her own to ask her about what’s been going on. Karen Gillan rises to this challenge ably and is definitely shaping up well as the new companion.
This episode was filled with great moments. The Smilers, while perhaps not as scary as some were expecting, I still thought were quite freaky. Liz 10 was a lot of fun, and the reveal of the secret behind Starship UK was actually incredibly dark (did the video also contain the fact that those who protested were fed to the Star Whale? I have to hope that part of things was omitted from the general populace).
Matt Smith continues to shine as the Doctor, here showcasing a completely different side to his take on the Doctor. While the Eleventh Hour contained a Doctor still quite reminiscent of his 10th incarnation, here he’s much more like a mad professor, with definite hints of Troughton coming through. Its a take that I really loved, and I hope we continue to see more of this as the series progresses and Matt and the production team settle into who the Eleventh Doctor is. Matt Smith brings a look of physical awkwardness to the role that plays into this fantastically as he spins around and jumps both mentally and physically from one thing to another. I’ll be interested to see what the Doctor is like in Saturday’s Victory of the Daleks to see how the portrayals differ, but the feeling I got between the two episodes was very much an actor and a production team trying out slightly different takes. In an interview with SFX, Mark Gatiss has described Matt’s Doctor as being very “boffiny” and that was very much the feeling I got from this episode. Its a take that fits the Doctor perfectly, but it’ll be interesting to see if it ends up toned down at all or if its what the production team will run with.
That being said, mention has to be made of the superb “Nobody human has anything to say to me right now!” moment. He may be a mad professor, but he’s still not to be crossed and had a nice echo of the 9th Doctor (to pick just one) there. I could really hear Eccleston in that line.
And talking of the Daleks, I was very surprised to see them teased in this episode. That was a nice surprise, and adds to the feeling that the Doctor is just having an incredibly bad day. Steven Moffat raised the point in an interview, that since landing on the Planet of the Ood in End of Time part 1, events have flowed straight from one to the next. Although looking at the preview for next week’s episode, both the Doctor and Amy have at least grabbed five minutes to quickly change their clothes. Which makes sense really. Don’t want to meet the Prime Minister still smelling of Star Whale vomit if you can avoid it.
This new series is so far going from strength to strength, with Saturday’s Dalek episode looking to be an absolute corker. The tease and trailer in this episode, coupled with the interviews and clips available online look brilliant. The Daleks are not just back, but they’re being sneaky in a way we haven’t seen them do since Power of the Daleks. So far in the new series, they’ve usually relied on sheer numbers, or just being more powerful than everyone else, so to see the Daleks using some cunning should be fun indeed.