The first episode of the new series was on BBC1 last night. There was a bit of a cock-up in presentation: we heard snippets of Graham Norton (who’d just been doing a live show) in the first ten minutes or so. That’ll get the conspiracy theorists going: “It’s all a plot by Michael Grade to cancel the show again”.
So what did I think of it? Hmm. I think the first script was good in places, and poor in places. It wasn’t pitched at nostalgic thirtysomethings like myself, which is a good thing, but I think it was pitched at too young an audience for 7pm on a Saturday night. ISTR reading that the original series (not the panto it turned into) was pitched at “an intelligent 12-year-old”; the first script felt younger than that. I was hoping for something a little closer to the Buffy level.
It does feel like the BBC has thrown a Buffy amount of money at the show. People expecting movie special effects will be disappointed, and that’s fine: Doctor Who never was, and should never be, an effects show. (Having said that, next week’s episode is an effects-fest.)
The first show was always going to be an odd beast: it had to introduce a new audience to the “mythology” without long scenes of talking heads or overwhelming detail, while also telling a story and convincing people to watch again next week. I liked the device of the Internet chappy, and wonder whether they’ll expand on that later.
Good things: Ecclestone (though I’m not sure about the humour), Piper, Tardis, “look and feel”.
Bad things: theme and incidental music. The incidental music will date in about five minutes. The theme is too different from the original; more different than I was expecting from the trailers. We didn’t care enough about Rose’s boyfriend Mickey by the time of the wheelie bins incident; I have a bad feeling that he’s going to be a bit of “comic relief” throughout the series, acting as the generic useless lump and clumsy oaf in need of rescuing.
Overall I’m disappointed. I keep wanting to say “but it’s not for me”; in which case, why is it shown at 7pm on a Saturday night rather than a weekday at 5pm? I’ll keep watching, naturally, but I wonder how many others will.