42 years on

I wasn’t wrong this time! Love it. There was a moment where the Doctor made wordplay with ‘source’ and I wondered what sort would go with my preview if I had to eat my words. As it was this was really really what I’d hoped it would be and totally unexpected too.

Doctor Who is like a packet of Revels – love them too. The variety. Some are crunchy (like The Sontaran Stratagem and The Poison Sky) some are chewy (Planet of the Ood), and some a bit surprising and not what you thought you might get (The Doctor’s Daughter).

Just so many lovely, rich ideas. Humans versus fish, fighting for so many generations that they have forgotten precisely why, but each generation lasts only a few hours so the war has taken a matter of days. Brilliantly implausible! And so much more besides: a deceptively layered story with plenty for the regulars to get their teeth into, even asides on the Child Support Agency and a turkey baster. There’s no other series that could cover such a broad rang…, ha, I’ve said it enough times before haven’t I? This blog is getting hard to write. This year is so consistently superb that I am getting stuck for superlatives. I wonder if the time has come for a new word to describe such consistent excellence. The English language has already embraced Dalek as a noun, so why not Doctor Who itself?

Doctor Who
1. BBC Television series. From 1963 to present.
2. Adj, (pronounced: dok-ter hoo). Consistently brilliant; defying expectations.

Here is another reason why I like Doctor Who. Those moments and ideas that plant the seeds of ‘what if’ in your mind. Those extraordinary moments that leap out and grab our imagination and often scared us stupid as kids. Walking stones, Kinda’s dream sequences, The Kandyman, the Marshmen. The other week a friend came up to me out of the blue and went, ‘I found these in the attic and I know you like Doctor Who‘ and gave me copies of The Tenth Planet and The Silurians. I’ve never seen either so this is very exciting. So I cracked open Tenth Planet last night. I was struck by the entrance of the Cybermen and then how they just command the screen. My goodness they are creepy. Terrifying actually. The way they speak with that voice (by the geniuses who did the voices for Captain Pugwash and Zippy and George in Rainbow!) that is emotionless but still recognisably human with their mouths breathlessly opening and closing. These days the idea behind them still seems fresh no matter how much it has been used in fiction, and the shock of their first appearance is so discernable 42 years on that I am very impressed. Not just the moments of awe and creepyness though. The ideas. Compare the breadth and depth of the ideas in your average Who story with almost anything else on telly and you’ll wonder why you watch anything else ever. Two more episodes to go and then it’s the first regeneration. I need another night in and fast!

What? Oh, yes; The Doctor’s Daughter.

It’s unfair to single anyone out, but this was David Tennant’s master-class in the full gamut of acting skill. There were many moments this week in which he effortlessly showed us what the Doctor was going through but one that really stood out for me: that smile that crosses his face when Jenny asks him what the Time War was like – goodness knows how he made that look so much like a father’s reaction to an innocent question from a child and be so full of anguish at the same time. He claims on the commentary that before the scene he’d accidentally bashed his leg on a table that that had helped ‘the moment’. But that’s just being modest if you ask me. The man is a genius. Oh, and another one: the ‘I never would’ scene was like the manifesto of the series and was incredibly powerful. There are all sorts of parallels to life there and it was a proper stare straight at the telly blinking regularly without looking at anyone else in the room moment.

Georgia Moffett was effortlessly brilliant. There’s loads of subtlety in her performance: moments where you glimpse bits of the Doctor in her; in the smile, the quickness of her actions.

Now then, I have a certain track record with my predictions on this blog don’t I (ahem). I predict that Jenny will be back – with an outrageous amount of running. Can’t wait.

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