Quite Like: The Latest Doctor Who

This was written for popular tellyblogsite Watch With Mothers. Permalink to the article on their site is here

 

We’re now seven weeks into the new series of Doctor Who.

My conclusion?

I quite like it.

The Russell T. Davies era was all form over substance. It had a sexy Doctor, sexy special effects, an excess of Daleks and funky sets. However, these whooshy SFX served to hide a corresponding lack of oomph in the storytelling department. Can’t think of a conclusion to the episode? Ah well, just bring back Gallifrey using a magic diamond, an expensive CGI vortex and some drums!

As a result of Davies’ feckless cash-frittering – not to mention Tory-placating BBC cutbacks – we now have a back-to-basics Doctor Who with a budget that I’ve calculated at £24.56p per episode:

Doctor Who Budget BREAKDOWN

  • £6.15 – MDF, duct tape and Ikea lightbulbs to make the TARDIS set
  • £5.69 – The Doctor’s nutty professor clothes (from a Help the Aged charity shop in Rotherham)
  • £12.72 – Bribe for ITV producer, who agreed to let Steven Moffat film the majority of the episodes in the Emmerdale village.

But despite its cheap and cheerful feel, the new series has something the old, Tennant-tastic one didn’t: GOOD SCRIPTS. The low budget – combined with Steven Moffat’s excellent writing – has resulted in a welcome return to creative, witty storytelling.

In this week’s episode, Amy’s Choice, the Doctor appears in the sleepy village of Emmerdale Leadworth and encounters a very pregnant Amy and her ponytail wearing husband Rory. We’re told its five years since the Doctor last saw them. A flash-forward then? Well, no. Not quite. After an awkward reunion, they all doze off and wake to find themselves back in the ‘present day’ TARDIS with a crumple faced, Machiavellian little bugger called the Dream Lord who seems to have some kind of mysterious connection to the Doctor.

He tells the Time Team they have to pick the real scenario. If they get it wrong, they die. This effectively boils down to Amy having to decide which version of reality she prefers: the cosy, married-with-children set-up with her dull boyfriend, or constant adrenalin fuelled adventures with a time-travelling alien who occasionally bellows angrily whenever he remembers he’s meant to have a dark side (which is approximately once every two and a half episodes).

Amy’s Choice was scripted by Simon ‘Men Behaving Badly’ Nye, and as a result the gags come thick and fast. So much so, in fact, that this week’s episode occasionally risked turning into a sitcom – particularly when the elderly inhabitants of Leadworth turned into alien zombies necessitating a Shaun of the Dead style cross-village rescue mission in a VW camper van.

The OAP zombies kill Rory and his conveniently timed pseudo-death is all it takes for Amy to realise where her heart truly lies, leading to an unexpected finale in which a heavily pregnant lady drives into a wall in an attempt to get back to her possibly-not-dead fiancé who she almost dumped for a breeze-block faced alien. It’s all rather touching, in a weird way.

For all its silliness, the episode was great fun, occasionally tense and immensely amusing. It might be gradually turning into Blackadder In Space (helped in no small part by Smith’s resemblance to Lord Percy), but that’s no bad thing. I look forward to next week’s episode, where they travel back to Elizabethan times to help Baldrick find his turnips.

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About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

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