Minor Spoilers: Matt Smith bursts with confidence, veering from comedy to fury to action, smartly leaving you no time to consider whether he can carry this role off.
Minor Spoilers: Matt Smith surely has very big shoes to fill, as the Eleventh Doctor, in the iconic Doctor Who series.
Similarly, Karen Gillan as his new companion and showrunner Steven Moffat are also charged with this custody of television history. But all they really need to do is tell a great adventure, and “The Eleventh Hour” does just that -even if it is on a smaller scale than usual.
The Doctor’s (Matt Smith) arrival from a crashed TARDIS, complete with billowing smoke and glowing light, is not dissimilar to a young boy from Krypton who has landed in Kansas. There to meet him is Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) -but to divulge any more would give away too much, suffice to say it will underpin their entire relationship from this point forward.
“The Eleventh Hour” zeroes in on the two lead characters almost at the expense of threats. They certainly exist, but take a back seat as we come to know our new heroes.
The setting is humble. In true fairytale tradition there are mysteries at the end of the garden, or in rooms in a big British house. And in equally true Who style, they all link to the universe….
It is pleasing to see Smith bursts with confidence, veering from comedy to fury to action. So abrupt is his arrival there isn’t much time to consider whether he can carry this role off. He is already doing it. Early scenes adjusting to his new body provide plenty of gags. It doesn’t take long before he tells his prospective new companion, “Do everything I tell you, don’t ask questions and don’t wander off!” He’s done this kind of thing before.
What is rather remarkable about the first adventure is that Moffat almost entirely avoids the big centrepiece. Previous episodes are lavish in their settings, thrilling in their effects, or memorable for a high-stakes sequence. The land-locked “Eleventh Hour” leans more towards establishing the Doctor and his companion, yet it doesn’t drag. To still have plenty of ammunition left up its sleeve is indicative of the confidence that has been brought to this table.
Nostalgic fans will also get a nod, while there is an extended trailer of upcoming episodes at the end.
Doctor Who airs 7:30pm Sunday April 18 on ABC1 and is available from 12am Saturday April 17 on iView.