A Serpent, an apple and a garden. With the new Doctor Who series we are on familiar story-telling territory, but with an electrifying and stimulating twist.
In ‘Blink’ (3.10) Steve Moffat utilises the horror genre beautifully, as the rain is pouring down and a young woman (Sally Sparrow) enters a deserted house. In the ‘Eleventh Hour’, Moffat again builds on the audience familiarity with certain narrative tropes to great effect. At the start of the programme the Doctor in his TARDIS whirls over London and a shot of the Millenium Dome from the air is a reminder of the Eastenders opening titles, but London is passed over and the TARDIS falls into a typical English Countryside scene. Here there is a local post office (which is closed), a Duck Pond and a Village Green, a pub and a red telephone box. There is even an old lady (Annette Crosbie) living in an a pretty cottage. The Doctor seems to have landed in the landscape of a murder mystery, which is more like Agatha Christie or Midsomer Murders than the landscapes of the Bill and the Sweeney familiar in the Russell T Davies era.
In the episode there was a nice balance of humour and moments that made hearts skip beats. 20 minutes to save the world is cliché and the countdown to 0 on all clocks reminds us of all those moments in films when the hero saves us all and just in time. This didn’t really matter though, because the monster was really a sub plot to the main plot which was about introducing the viewers to the new Doctor and companion. I felt that the episode was about the imagination, and the childhood world that actually come alive in adulthood. The idea that the simple crack in the child’s bedroom wall conceals secrets and monsters was played out to great effect in this episode. I liked the juxtaposition between the Doctor and Prisoner Zero as they are still both evolving into what they should be, Prisoner Zero getting the voices wrong and the Doctor is still ‘cooking’. The putting on the clothes was symbolic. Once Matt Smith had his tweeds and bow tie he ws the Doctor and that montage of the previous Doctors confirmed the Eleventh Doctor as here. Gone was the idea that the regeneration as a death and the emotional pull of the tenth Doctor’s last line, ‘I don’t want to go’. As the Doctor left the garden and entered the TARDIS, this was just the beginning.