He’s hungry; he craves an apple. She gives him one; he hates it and spits it out. Same with the yoghurt that follows. As he says, it’s a new mouth and new rules. A new Doctor to food has more potential margin for error than a newbie at Weightwatchers. Then comes the sly but beautiful joke from a Scottish writer/producer in Steven Moffat: ‘Why can’t you give me any decent food? You’re Scottish; fry something!’ But not one Mars Bar in sight…
Yes, this Easter weekend, Dr Who was back and regenerated, with Matt Smith in the main role as the youngest Doctor yet. Promised a return in ‘just five minutes’, our new assistant had to wait upwards of twelve years, and the slightly cynical Amelia Pond of apples, yoghurt and bacon-frying offerings was fully grown when the Doc returned, making her living as a kissogram, currently in policewoman mode. But, as can be assured in Dr Who, Amelia – now Amy – Pond had not forgotten our Doc, even if she had forgotten his penchant for Heston Blumenthal-style edibles in the form of fish fingers and custard.
The plot turned out to be on the light side as it happens, something of a relief after Russell T Davies’s extremely convoluted deliveries, but a little too light on the light side.
Matt Smith arrived with plenty of vigour and presence, though I am not sure his new character is that many steps away from the Tennant regime. He retained the speedy-think-on-your-feet dialogue, expressive and authoritative at all times. But the dark side was cast-off: no more the dark and emotional drain of guilt of the Doc’s effect on the humans he encounters. Indeed, the new Doc persuades Amy to hop on board the Tardis for fun and excitement!
This first episode stood out for me for two reasons:
- On Easter weekend it was set in and around Cardiff’s Llandaff Cathedral. This is a sci-fi series, but it’s good to have a nod of sorts to the religion that created the weekend. Good too that we had the immediate locality in the series.
- This series promises a really strong female assistant. Clearly, Amy is not someone to be messed with. She carries her childhood cynicism into her adult years. This could be ‘girl power’ in the 2010s if her ‘journey’ has the right messages, and I suspect it will.
But above all, they say ‘never work with animals and children’: not so with this episode for it was done to excellent achievement. We had a marvellously well-trained dog and an actress in the form of Caitlin Blackwood (the young Amy) who will continue to light up our screens, I’m sure.
Finally, no one can forget David Tennant and all he brought to the role, but Matt Smith has certainly arrived. I suspect those involved with the BBC Masterchef series will be reaching for sick bags, but various manufacturers will see increased sales in fish fingers and custard over the coming weeks. Blame Dr Who. Go on, he can take it. He may have dubious taste buds but he can save the universe, every time. And viewing figures prove his reliability and place in the nation's heart. Politicians please take note on the integrity front.