Saturday, November 23, 2013
Doctor Who - 50th year Anniversary Episode
(But I would say that wouldn’t I?)
After the mega-hype of the past few weeks, unless you've been on another planet (except Gallifrey), you can't fail to have experienced the 'buzz' via every possible means, shouting about tonight's episode. And yes, I got caught up in it all (and enjoyed every moment of it!)
The icing on the cake for me was to get a ticket for the local Odeon to see this celebratory episode on the big screen and in 3D too! I anticipated the cinema being busy - and I wasn't wrong - when I arrived about an hour before the episode, the car-park (normally always OK for parking) was overflowing, and I ended up parking in one of the last three spaces.
With a parking space now sorted, I did a spot of people-watching and I must admit, I was expecting a few more lookalikes - extra long scarves, sink plungers and whisks, long coats, and a variety of hats - but actually all I spotted were a few young kids sporting the obligatory fez and bow-tie (whilst mum and dads had tended to dress down!)
Screen 8 was where it was all happening, and after remaining about a quarter full until about 10 minutes from the start, it began to fill-up. Some were there just for the film, whilst others seem to have made it a family outing complete with the statutory Kettering Sunday Dinner of buckets of chilli and tortilla chips!
The lights dimmed and there a few ads before the serious stuff began. Just prior to the main film, and a pleasant surprise, we were treated to Commander Strax talking us through the house rules of watching the movie and this was immediately followed by Matt Smith and David Tennant explaining how to check that our 3D glasses were working (both vignettes were very humorous and got the audience into a bubbly mood prior to the main event!)
And then, we were off, as a piece of history was in the making with the programme being simulcasted across more than 80 countries. We sat back for this very special episode……..
Homage to the 60s
A nice touch that the BBC had decided to use the original 1963 music and graphics - a good start! Then as we got into the story, I was struck how subtle the 3D effect was - it really did add something to the viewing experience. Script-wise, I wasn't sure how 'dark' the episode would be, and I was quite surprised just how much humour had been weaved into it all. Matt and David looked as if they were having great fun, and they really sparked off each other - a GREAT double-act. I felt the humour really worked judging by the audience’s reaction.
And then, in the blink of an eye, the credits were rolling and it was all over. Did it work? Yes! Was it more than just another episode? Certainly! All-in-all, the whole episode really held my attention - and I'm pretty sure that any non-Whovians who might also choose to watch it, would also get a buzz as a standalone story. For the die-hard ‘classic’ fans, plenty of nice references to the past (Nerd alert!: did the you see the name on the school sign in the opening scenes?), and for new fans, plenty to stir the grey matter and fuel discussions for the next 50 years!
One thing you can be sure of with 'new' Who - especially with lead-writer Steven Moffat penning the episode, is complexity - and tonight was no exception. New-Who is not like EastEnders where the viewer can miss a few episodes and easily catch-up - in fact, with Doctor Who, it's probably advisable not to even pop to the loo during an episode, unless you are recording it for a second viewing! I for one, will need to give it all a second watch - maybe even a third or fourth - to get my head round some of the less obvious bits. Hands-up anyone who ‘got it’ first time round - can I borrow your brain?
The Shortest of Scenes for the New Doctor
It's been widely reported about the stand-out moments from this special episode, and I'd certainly agree with the media’s observations and comments (based on this audience's reaction on the night). For me, the stand-outs were (in no particular order): the briefest of brief glimpses introducing the new Doctor during the climactic battle scene; the appearance of ex-Doctor Tom Baker as 'The Curator' (or was he still playing The Doctor?), and the final pivotal scene where the current Doctor joins all the previous Doctors for the 'impossible photo call'.
A Rare Sight
All-in-all, a great script, a good balance of humour and serious stuff, plenty to think about for the die-hards and casual viewers, superb acting and some truly unforgettable scenes made the anniversary episode (for this fan , at least) an unforgettable production. As a bonus, the major shift in the Doctor's 'mission statement' now means that going forward, the Who brand has every chance of lasting (at least) another 50 years!
PS over 10 million viewers watched it on TV (Nearest rival, Strictly got 11!) and the cinemas in the UK took around 1.7 million pounds.