What I actually thought of it


Well, I've only watched it three times, so I may change my mind, but I think - I think - I liked it.

Paul McGann is definitely good: believably Doctorish, and not a clone of any previous incarnation. I like the vulnerability; I like the habit of telling people about their futures. I like the jelly babies. I like the costume. And I thought of him as "The Doctor". (I only ever thought of Davison and C Baker as "people playing the Doctor".) So that is thumbs up and a big hurdle crossed. I always said that I could tolerate almost anything from the film provided they had a decent Doctor.

The redesign of the TARDIS I liked. It felt like the TARDIS of yore, only more so. (Forget Garry Russell's anal retentive wiffle about reconfiguring the console room: its the old console room, re-imagined.)

Cathedral + Jules Verne Spaceship + Sherlock Holmes Study. Yes.

The use of the Daleks in the script looked interesting, but in the version I saw, they were blotted out by a silly voice over. Was that so in all transmitted versions? Is there a directors cut? That voice over ("It was on the planet Skaro...") contained about ten facts about the series. That's a lot for a new viewer to absorb. What ever happened to "I am the Doctor. I travel in space and time"?

The style wasn't what I expected, but it seemed to work. It was no less like Doctor Who than many of the New Adventures that people think are so bloody wonderful. Gothic has always been one of the things which Doctor Who does, so the regeneration scene - the facing the Master across the city (shades of New Gods!) and the Hammer confrontation at the end seemed to work.

I can cope with the rewriting of the mythos such that the Eye of Harmony is in the TARDIS and the Doctor is half human. Heck, in theory, I could have even coped with the kiss. The give away line about his father I am less happy with. That makes him human in the wrong way. Maybe he had a childhood; maybe he didn't. I think we shouldn't know. I always thought Pertwee's mentor was a mistake. But, while many fans will be wetting themselves saying "inconsistency", I didn't mind.




Couldn't there have been a decent story in there too?

I mean, for Yads sake. What are the two things everybody knows about Doctor Who? Monsters and time travel, right? So instead of doing a nice solid alien invasion story, with some flipping back to a historical period, we have this unreserved nonsense about morhphants and eyes of harmony and berrilym clocks. It seems to me that the TARDIS, the Time Lords and regeneration are plot devices, and Doctor Who has always been at its least interesting when it turns inward and makes them the point of departure. (The Time Lords are better being distant and mysterious (as in Genesis of the Daleks) than on stage and pathetic (as in Deadly Assassin)) I don't feel that it was explained why the atomic clock was necessary; I still have no idea how Grace is meant to have "jump started" the TARDIS, or what the relevance of "think alarm clock, think alarm clock" was. I had no real sense of a great catastrophe averted.

Many of the things which happened only happened because they are sorts of things which happen on US TV shows. That was what was wrong with The Kiss. That the Doctor could fall in love, I have no problem with. I could believe in him having children, even grandchildren. Who would a likely lover for the Doctor be? Some unattractive but intelligent old lady - someone with whom he could sit in front of the fire, drink tea and discuss transtemporal physics. A cosmic She, a godlike princess. Or even a lady timelord. That he should start kissing the first earthling heart-surgeon he bumps into doesn't work, for me. I got the sense that we had a kiss (and those really stupid fireworks) at the end, because, if there wasn't a kiss, audiences wouldn't get any sense of closure.

Whoever set the theme tune to a marching beat should be shot.

I would see this as a very bad pilot episode, for what promises to be a very good series. Rather like Farpoint in fact.

Of course, before it has even been shown in the UK (and it is going to get at least adequate ratings, given the timeslot and the publicity) we've decided that there is not going to be a series.