Dr Who: the Inside Story

Okay, the world can release its bated breath now because I’ll tell you what I thought of the new Dr Who.

And what I thought was good, made better by the fact that my approval went steadily up as the episode progressed. Pre-credits: oh dear, oh dear, yet more of the RTD-era (see how it’s already an era?) codswallop. London by night. Doctor doing silly things with TARDIS. Oh come on.

Thankfully it ended, progressing into the new credit sequence which was … um. And ahem. Endoscopic is the first word to come to mind. And indeed the last. I mean, did Moffat have a certain procedure performed whilst exercising his brain as to how the new sequence should look, and happened to glance at the screen, whereupon he leapt off the couch (ouch!) shouting “That’s my new sequence!” We may never know. This is probably good.

But then we get some classic Moffat – lonely little girl, creepy house, things unseen – only briefly interrupted by more RTD silliness (I thought the food gag would never end) and then it started getting really good. And what makes it better is: it wasn’t just good because it was a Moffat script, it was also good because it had a darned good actor in the leading role. The Doctor of old always had a certain authority that let him walk into any situation and, sometimes unaccountably, be taken seriously. Tennant, for all his strengths, never quite had that. The Boy Smith does. He also has nipples and a scattering of chest hair, not that we needed to know that. (Mind you, so did Pertwee – and a tattoo, if you look closely around the 50 second mark.)

But, back to those credits. The very first Dr Who credits were simplicity itself yet hugely evocative: abstract whooshes and curls generated by the simple feedback of pointing a camera at its own monitor. Thereafter they got more sophisticated –Doctor’s face addedintroduction of colour, then slit-scan – until their apotheosis in the Baker-era credits, which are timeless even today. But always abstract. This came to a screeching halt at the end of the Baker-era with the introduction of new, computer generated credits – that’s 1979 computer generated – which looked rubbish and dated from the word go, emphasised the space bit as opposed to the time bit and from which the series never really recovered. The New Who credits went some way towards rectifying this – they kept the space but brought back the abstract – and now … well, I’ll say this much, it’s new. Neither time nor space, just … endoscopy.

I await the fan fiction with interest.

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