Monday, 28 June 2010

Why Doctor Who has been a dazzling, entertaining triumph by the Mirror's Jim Shelley

There were many intriguing questions raised by this series of Doctor Who.

Could Matt Smith step into David Tennant's plimsolls?

Did new-comer Karen Gillan have a hope in hell of following such nation's sweethearts like Catherine Tate and Billie Piper as The Doctor's sidekick?

Would creatures created by the programme's new guru Steven Moffat prove worthy of this show's very own Orson Welles, Russell T. Davies?

At the end though, only one unfathomable mystery remained: What was Stephen Fry's problem?

Why would anyone single out a show as imaginative and EXCITING as Doctor Who for criticism as Fry did in a recent BAFTA speech, dismissing it as "a children's show."

You'd have to be tiresomely churlish or a flagrant self-publicist. (Mystery solved!)

The truth is, Doctor Who has been a dazzling, entertaining triumph with Richard Curtis' episode about Vincent Van Gogh the most astonishing piece of DRAMA of the year. It was not remotely aimed at children but took mortality and madness as its themes in a way that children could be educated absorbed and amused by.

Admittedly, I didn't ALWAYS understand what the hell was happening in the last episode, which had more time and space mumbo-jumbo than Stephen Hawking. For the most part, the show has been a masterclass in regeneration.

Central to this was of course Matt Smith who already ranks as the best Doctor since the halcyon days of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. Like David Tennant, Smith is clearly enjoying himself enormously. Unlike Tennant, he doesn't feel he has to let us know or dominate every scene he's in. With Smith, the Doctor's eccentricities and oddness is expressed are more than just a series of mannerisms. Smith has given the Doctor a boyish energy and wit, which Tennant understood but was always trying too hard to demonstrate. Smith has perfected the ultimate Dr. Who trick of being both classically old-fashioned and futuristically timeless.

As for Gillan, she has effortlessly justified the writers' decision to make Amy Pond the foundation for the show's storylines, from the beginning when, as a child, she summoned her "imaginary friend, the raggedy doctor" to fix the crack in her bedroom wall, then having her sub-conscious plundered through the series.

Is Gillan/Pond the best assistant The Doctor has had?

She's certainly got the best legs (which is a start) - and attitude. Billie Piper bordered on insipid and Tate was just a nag. Gillan has proudly styled Amy to look like the girls you see on any high street. But better yet, she also has an other- worldly quality.

Sometimes the camera just studies Amy's face, her black Weeping Angel eyes, as if she too were a work of science fiction. Amy is just more complex than Rose.

As for the plots, last week's cliff-hanger where Amy was shot and The Doctor was locked in the Pandorica was resolved rather too quickly. The Doctor just zapped back and forwards from the future declaring "history has collapsed" and "if we don't do something fast, reality will never have happened" like some paranoid hippy who had been smoking too much weed.

My only real reservation is Rory. I know he's just married Amy and worships her, but he is a gooseberry, a dull obstacle to the spark The Doctor and Amy have. You can detect their true passion in the way they have spent the series screaming
"Doc-TER !" and "A-may !" whenever the other was in danger.

Still, I suppose you can't have everything.

Apart from that, whatever Stephen Fry says, I'd say this series of Doctor Who has been perfect. British television at its brilliant best.

Daily Mirror. Page 21. Shelley Vision. Jim Shelley.
Monday 28th June 2010.

(Thanks Jamie Jones).

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