The 50th was a great time to be a fan of the show, the anticipation was great and even some of the moaning from the vocal minority who I swear just like to dislike couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm.
I was fortunate to be on a day off and on twitter when the bbc put Night of the Doctor online so I was able to watch it straight away and be completely surprised by Paul McGann’s entrance on the spaceship. The mini episode is wonderful, it’s a lovely script and McGann is excellent, I hope we one day have a two Doctors type story with him getting a good meaty script to sink his teeth into.
Onto Day of the Doctor itself and this is a story that had to deliver and thankfully it does. The use of the Hartnell titles and orginal music is a lovely idea and perfect. We finally learn about the end of the time war as The Doctor contemplates genocide (nothing from End of Time is contradicted despite what some of the moaners say infact EOT mentions The Moment being taken by the Doctor and the high council are mentioned here) John Hurt is wonderful as the War Doctor (though he was clearly meant to be Chris Eccleston whose absence is felt and I’m not quite sure why they couldn’t have used Paul McGann)
The interplay between Matt Smith and David Tennant is wonderful and John Hurt’s reactions to them are great. Billie Piper as The Moment also gives a good performance and it’s right that The Daleks appear to celebrate the 50th. The Zygon subplot feels a bit out of place as it’s never resolved fully but it’s good to see them again and the Kate transforming into Zygon scene is nicely gross!
The conclusion with Clara and the later Doctor’s helping save Gallifrey is a good one, it makes sense that the Doctor would find another way ( and it dosen’t change the past few years worth of story. Only the 11th Doctor at this point in time knows what he did so the guilt and angst felt by the 9th and 10th is still real as they thought they’d killed them)
It was also nice to see all the old Doctor’s in those clips at the end and then we get the mighty Tom Baker turning up as a possible future Doctor. A perfect end to a great story and one I’ve already rewatched plenty of times.
The 50th ends with Time of the Doctor which wraps up the Matt Smith era and after the high of Day this episode feels a bit of a let down. The story is a bit slight, more concerned with explaining daangling plotlines (as welcome as that is) and teasing a possible Gallifrey return while The Doctor stays in one place for hundreds of years to protect it, a very Doctorish thing to do. It’s a shame that being forced to create a new Doctor for the 50th means bar these closing moments we don’t get any time spent on The Doctor facing up to not being able to regenerate again. I always thought that would’ve been a intresting character arc for him (perhaps this was the intention for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor if Chris had done the 50th)
Matt’s last scene however redeems the story, a lovely leaving speech and a Amy cameo that feels right and then bang we meet Capaldi and like Matt before him I immediately warm to him just on the basis of a few lines.
I must confess that I haven’t really rewatched Series 7 since the dvd release as I wasn’t overly impressed at the time but in doing this rewatch I’ve enjoyed some stuff more than I thought.
Things begin with The Doctor, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It’s not a favourite of mine, it’s a silly insubstantial story that bores me (the worst crime a story can commit) with no decent supporting characters.
Asylum of the Daleks kicks things off properly and is a great episode, seeing the new companion was a good surprise at the time and it still works, her fate as a Dalek is genuinely creepy. It’s great to see some of the older Daleks, pity we didn’t see more of them.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship follows and whilst it’s quite a light story it has some good moments and Brian is one of my favourite new Who characters probably because he reminds me of my father. The end with The Doctor letting Solomon die seems a bit out of character but good to see him letting his anger out.
Town called Mercy is next and another average story but it rattles along quickly enough but just isn’t memorable for any reason good or bad.
Power of Three follows and this is a great episode, It’s a great idea to have a slow invasion that gets the human race complacent enough to then strike. We get the wonderful Brian back and there’s some great interplay between the main three cast.
Angels take Manhattan concludes the first half of the series and sees Amy and Rory’s departure and it makes little sense to be honest. The main story is fine and enjoyable and does something a bit different with the Weeping Angels, the idea of human battery farms is a creepy one that would’ve been nice to have had more time spent on it. Amy and Rory trapped in there may’ve been a good end for them and understandable why The Doctor couldn’t see them ever again but the reason we get is just silly and makes no sense. If the Doctor can’t return to New York’s past then fair enough but sure the whole planet isn’t out of bounds.
The Snowman gives us a second version of Clara and kills her too. We also get the Vastra crew back which feels predictable and Strax has now descended into a conplete buffon. The plot is a good one, the sentient snow is well realised and the Great Intelligence makes a good foe.
Bells of St John kicks the second half of the series and we meet modern day Clara as the Great Intelligence harvests people through the wifi, least it’s abandoned the yeti. It’s another fair episode that rattles along.
Rings of Akhaten is next and I’m sorry but this is a terrible episode, It’s like a bad childrens tv show. A story I would happily never watch again.
Cold War follows and The Ice Warriors are back and watching in order it’s good to see them as it feels ages since the last time. The story is a good one too, a very literal base under siege story. I’d like to see them return in force.
Hide is next and it’s another corker. Two great supporting characters who are well rounded and engaging with some good story ideas too.
Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS is another one best forgotten, a good central idea let down by its realisation. Just boring.
The Crimson Horror is next and this one is barmy but enjoyable, a typical Who story and we get a wonderful performance from Diana Rigg.
Nightmare in Silver follows and we get another Cyberstory, its nothing special and the children are awful, even Matt dosen’t seem at full strength here. It seems it’s hard to get a good Cyberman story in new Who.
Name of the Doctor concludes things and like some of the other Moffat stories it feels like a series of set pieces stiched together to tread water before the 50th. We also learn the truth about Clara as she splinters through The Doctor’s life to save him, something the Moffat haters moan endlessly about but she dosen’t think she’ll survive and willingly gives up her life for the Doctor.
So on reflection Series 7 was more hit and miss than other series but when it worked it was wonderful and Matt manages to keep my intrest even when the stories don’t. I certainly enjoyed it more on this rewatch.
So some leave from work and regularly scheduled insomnia means I’ve rattled through Series 6, this carries on I may catch up in time for Series 9.
I really enjoyed Series 5 on rewatch so was quite looking forward to Series 6 and it didn’t disappoint.
Christmas Carol kicked things off and like Russell before him Steven Moffat’s first Christmas special is his best. While the story isn’t orginal (recommend seeking out Moffat’s short story Continuity Errors) it’s done so well and Michael Gambon is excellent and it looks wonderful.
The series kicks off properly with The Impossible Astronaut 2 parter and we get the Doctor’s death as a subplot that will thread through the series. The actual story is a good one, The Silence are wonderfully creepy and the premise of the child is intriguing on first watch and everything makes sense on rewatching with your foreknowledge. One thing that stood out however was The Doctor starting to regenerate when he’s later meant to be the last (there’s also a line in Kill Hitler about the poison preventing regeneration), I know it’s because of real life reasons during the 50th (War Dr created when Chris pulled out) but when rewatching it sticks out fictionally.
Curse of Black Spot comes next and it’s enjoyable enough with some good moments but it’s a story that becomes a bit forgettable after.
The Doctor’s Wife is a lovely story. The Doctor finally gets to talk with his TARDIS, it sounds silly until you watch it. House is a good concept too, poor old Rory gets put through the wringer again. Also I love the TARDIS’ line to The Doctor when he complains about her never getting him where he wants “but I took you where you needed to go”
The Almost People 2 parter is next and this is a favourite of mine, we get a classic era vibe base under siege story as a new species emerges, there’s a good moral dilemma underpinning it and like the Silurian story from the last series shows humanity at its worst dealing with age old prejudices coming to the surface. This is a story that always bears up to reviewing.
Good Man Goes to War is next and we learn the truth about River Song. The story is a bit style over substance more concerned with advancing the overarching subplots amid a few set pieces. We meet some new “old” friends of The Doctor all of whom are ok in this story even Strax who isn’t quite the comic relief buffon he becomes.
Let’s Kill Hitler follows and really it feels like a Part 2 (I suppose if the series had aired continuously it may’ve been presented that way) and like it’s predecessor it isn’t really a story in itself as we meet the newly regenerated River who’s programming kicks in to kill The Doctor. Unfortunately this is where things fall apart for me, Amy and Rory just accept the loss of their child and what’s going to happen to her. If the show wants to show emotional stories then you need to follow things through properly.
Night Terrors follows and it’s a bit of a boring one, the only good bit was the transformation into the dolls. Definitely one to forget.
Girl Who Waited thankfully is wonderful and a highlight of the series. The idea of the diseased living their lives in peace is nice and the scenes with old Amy are great, here we have emotional impact and Rory’s pain feels real too.
God Complex is also a nice story with typical Who melding of the ordinary with the extraordinary. The characters are all well rounded and there’s a good idea behind the story.
Closing Time follows and we get Craig and The Cybermen. It’s a nice story with some amusing bits mostly involving the baby and The Cybermen are actually creepy for once, this type of smaller scale story works for them.
Wedding of River Song wraps things up explaining The Doctor’s death. The way out for The Doctor seems obvious (it was that or a flesh avatar) but I like those early scenes of the mashed up Earth and it’s good to see Churchill again. I’m glad they kept it to a single episode.
Overall this series was another good one, there’s quite a few excellent stories there and I enjoyed the rewatch.
So we reach the first real test of New Who with a new showrunner and a new Doctor replacing one of the most popular Doctor’s and fortunately it passes with flying colours.
The Eleventh Hour is just wonderful. It hits the ground running and Matt Smith owns the screen from the word go with those great scenes with the young Amelia, I like the idea of someone knowing The Doctor throughout their lives. The cracks in the wall and Prisoner Zero plots are good too with the new Doctor having to combat the threats with just his wits. I like Amy too, you can see why The Doctor chooses her.
The Beast Below gives Amy her first trip and it’s probably the first Moffat script that dosen’t feel like a instant classic but that dosen’t mean it’s bad. Amy proves her worth here and there’s some nice moral dilemmas here.
Victory of the Daleks follows and it’s another story given a bad rep by fans because of the bulky and silly new Daleks but the actual story isn’t that bad and they’re clearly channeling Power of the Daleks in the first half. Churchill’s interactions with the Doctor are great too.
Time of Angels 2 parter follows and it’s another story I enjoyed. The Weeping Angels are a good threat and it’s also good to see River Song back. There are some lovely creepy moments particularly with Soldier Bob.
Vampires of Venice comes next and we get Rory back with a classic series feel monster story and it’s a typical Who concept of aliens as vampires. It looks beautiful too, another good use of a foreign location.
Amy’s Choice is a great story too and again we have a good concept with the nature of dreams explored and we get homicidal pensioners which is my favourite bit. It’s good to see Amy chosing Rory over The Doctor too, a nice inversion of the Tennant companions.
The Hungry Earth 2 parter is next and we get The Silurians back, they look great and it’s a good tight story exploring many of the same themes as in their first story with humans once again showing their worst side when dealing with the unknown. Really it’s any wonder The Doctor likes us!
Vincent and the Doctor is next and is easily one of the high points of the series. The monster is incidental to the very human struggle of one man grappling with his own mind. The end scenes with Vincent in the art gallery are genuinely moving. Perhaps I’ve answered my own question from the last story of why the Doctor bothers with us.
The Lodger comes next and it’s a lovely light and frothy story (nothing wrong with that) as The Doctor tries to live a normal life, there are some good funny moments that don’t feel forced. Again the threat is incidental and easily dealt with.
The series concludes with The Pandorica Opens 2 parter and it’s a blockbuster style story with a lot thrown in as the subplot of the cracks in time get resolved and everything gets reset to how it was at the start of the series. The scene with the Cyberman trying to grab Amy is the best they’ve been used since the relaunch, River feels a bit superfluous to this episode but the scenes with her are fun and the idea of Amy bringing the Doctor back through remembered stories is very appropriate for the fairytale feel of this series.
All in all this soft reboot has to be seen as a success, something I felt back in 2010 and still feel now.