Eleven Things We’ve Learnt This Year
1. There is life after Russell T Davies and David Tennant. Steven Moffat has rebooted the series with an ambitious game-plan, a delightful fairy-tale vibe adults can enjoy too, and found stars in Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. Did you know Smith and Darvill were both nominated as Outstanding Newcomer in the 2007 Evening Standard Theatre Awards? Matt Smith won.
2. Steven Moffat’s imagination has conjured up some five-star episodes since 2005 (The Empty Child, Blink, Silence in the Library) and this season (The Eleventh Hour, The Time of Angels, the two-part finale). But even the master of Doctor Who can deliver a turkey. Moffat’s The Beast Below will, for me, remain a whale beached on the ebb of Who history.
3. “Bow ties are cool!” Whereas the Tenth Doctor often looked like a nerd striving to be cool, Matt Smith’s Doctor comes across as someone innately cool who couldn’t care less how nerdy he looks.
4. The question – long and feverishly debated in fandom – of exactly how many Doctors there have been (was William Hartnell actually the first incarnation?) has finally been answered on screen. In The Lodger, the Doctor numbers himself as the 11th. Categorical. Or is it?
5. With repetition, a weedy, oompah-pah rendition of the theme music and a space/time colonoscopy for a title sequence can become bearable, if not palatable. Must try harder next year.
6. Designers tamper with the classic outline of the Daleks at their peril. For many fans, critics and RT readers, it was invasion of the Dulux as the big-ended, bubble-bath colour range received a massive thumbs-down.
7. Autons have feelings too. Any subterfuge is acceptable that brings endearing Rory back to life and keeps excellent Arthur Darvill in the Tardis line-up. But my, hasn’t the Nestene Consciousness finessed its plastic duplicates since those waxen facsimiles of the 1970s and 2005. Except, Auton-Rory was constructed in AD 102. Erm…
8. The Silurians are light sleepers. The millennia-hibernating reptilians wake up repeatedly and seem fully aware of the Doctor’s crimes in Roman times, even though they’ll actually first encounter each other in the late 20th century.
9. Steven Moffat is a master at puzzles, but has structured this latest game with a few extra pieces left over. What caused the Tardis explosion? What is the meaning of “Silence will fall”? And who is River Song really? All will be revealed next year, he promises.
10. In the meantime, season finale director Toby Haynes will return to shoot this year’s Christmas episode. “It’s got that wonderful Steven Moffat weirdness,” he guarantees, “putting two concepts together in a combination you’d never expect, which works so beautifully. It’ll be the most Christmassy Christmas Special you’ve seen so far.” Filming starts in two weeks’ time – at the height of summer. So good luck with that Toby!
11. Fezzes are also cool… allegedly.