You’re probably wondering what’s been so important that I haven’t even written about what I thought of the first in the new series of Doctor Who. Well, I’ve been busy. Mainly because of a show that I’m in called The Rise and Fall of Deon Vonniget (do come along). So I was in London for most of last week rehearsing that, besides fitting in meetings about a feature film that I’m writing and a musical I’m MDing. In my spare time I also managed to pop out to the West End and see The Producers, which I hated.
I’m now back in Cambridge enjoying the sun, though I seem unable to get out of bed at a reasonable time. I think Easter has taken it out of me a bit. Last weekend was horribly frantic, what with church services to do the music for, radio shows to produce and weddings to go to. And I managed to lose my housemate’s sleeping bag on a train from Bexley to Charing Cross, which didn’t help matters.
Due to some of the above I didn’t actually see last week’s Dr Who when it was broadcast, but thanks to BBC3 I managed to catch it a little later on. And what I thought was: generally stylish and exciting, Eccleston good, but it was all so full of breathless rushing around that there wasn’t time for any of the thoughtful characterisation or story development that Dr Who manages at its best. And the narrative itself was extremely sloppy – the Doctor defeated the Autons using “anti-plastic”, which is rather like using “anti-Dalek” – i.e. a cop out. I had started to worry that Russell T. Davies, expert though he is at writing about gay Manchunians (albeit ones I don’t think I would particularly want to spend any time with) might not have what it takes to write well-constructed portions of drama.
My fears have been allayed. Exterminated, even. The episode just broadcast, “The End of the World”, was the finest piece of TV drama I have seen since Stephen Poliakoff’s wonderful The Lost Prince. From start to finish it was magnificent; witty and inventive, hugely tense and exciting, and containing some extremely moving moments – a beautifully played scene in which it was implied that something terrible had happened to the Doctor’s people sent shivers down my spine. Perhaps what is most satisfying is that Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor gets better and better all the time, a wonderfully complex portrayal. (What a shame we’re losing him after this series…)
This was genuinely Dr Who at its best. All in all things look more than promising for the rest of the series – and its future.
One gripe: the title sequence looks like it was produced on Windows Media Player. And the theme tune is missing the middle eight.