The arrival of a new Doctor is always a bit harrowing. I can remember each regeneration since Tom Baker turned into Peter Davison (admittedly dimly) and as a result can remember occasions when the next Doctor wasn’t equal or better to his predecessor. But Matt Smith seems like an excellent choice and it’s just a shame that we’ll have to wait so long until he hits the screen properly: April 2010 (not withstanding some sort of intro in the specials). But despite the wait, after the godawful Christmas special, The Next Doctor, it’s good to have something to look forward to.
Season 4 was superb and, despite all fears, Catherine Tate was magnificent and plausible as Donna. David Tennant continued to inhabit the role of Doctor with ease and completeness to the extent that he IS the Doctor. Only Tom Baker is comparable. And obviously we have four specials to look forward to. 4 RTD specials. He’ll want to send Tennant off in style and he’ll also doubtless want his own tenure as ‘show runner’ to end with a bang so expect something big. But after the gut-wrenchingly terrible and one-dimensional Christmas special, it’s right to worry a little. I’m hoping for a mini-story arc with a contiguous thread through the specials.
But when the eleventh Doctor wields the sonic screwdriver, I’m yearning for less. I want enemies with plausible ambitions and small stories where the world doesn’t need to be at stake every single bloody time the title credits roll. Blink‘s a great example of a gripping story, well told without one mention of apocalypse. It was written by Stephen Moffat.
Suprisingly, The Sarah-Jane Adventures (a Doctor Who spin-off on CBBC) have lessons to teach. I watched a few episodes last week and, even though it’s totally a kid’s show, it’s excellent. The Temptation of Sarah-Jane was a well-crafted tale (that was certainly better than The Next Doctor) that succeeded by exploring a character, her fears and her background. The result was compelling. Let’s have more small please.