'Doctor Who' is bang on entertainment this season

doctor-whoImage Credit: BBCIs it me, or is Doctor Who becoming especially watchable lately? Last weekend’s episode? With the Time Lord traveling to the 19th Century to help Vincent Van Gogh kill a space monster that looks like a giant parrot? Cracking entertainment! Turned out it was written by Richard Curtis, co-creator of the classic 1980s British sitcom Blackadder and, nowadays, the most successful screenwriter in the English Empire (he wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love, Actually, and a slew of others). Getting Curtis to write for Doctor Who was a huge coup for the BBC show. In American terms, it’d be a little like Woody Allen going back to his TV roots by writing for SNL.

Of course, there are other good things happening on Doctor Who these days besides the writing. The new guy driving the TARDIS time machine this season is British stage actor Matt Smith, 28, the youngest Doctor in the show’s 47-year history. Also, for my money, the best since Tom Baker made wearing extra-long scarves a nerd-fashion rage in the 1970s. The Doctor’s new sidekick, Amy Pond, (Karen Gillan), is a nice addition as well, although she has left hints in interviews that she may not be traveling the universe in a phone box forever.

The new season so far hasn’t addressed my own personal pet peeve — when the heck are they going to bring back K-9, the Doctor’s mechanical dog? — but I’m still impressed. In fact, last weekend I actually found myself emotionally moved when the Doctor whisked Van Gogh to the Musee d’Orsay in present-day France to show him what a famous artist he’d eventually become. Of course (SPOILER ALERT!…kinda), Van Gogh ended up killing himself at the end of the episode, anyway, but then some time lines not even a Time Lord can alter.

What about you, Pop Watchers? What’s your diagnosis of the Doctor this season?

Related:
‘Doctor Who’ recap: van Gogh-ing, going, gone
Matt Smith performs the ‘Doctor Who’ theme tune with Orbital at the Glastonbury Festival

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  • Ed

    Yup. This is hands down the best season of the show yet. It’s downright brilliant this year.

    • darclyte

      Matt isn’t as good as Tennant…yet. K-9 has his own 26 episode series, appeared on The Sarah Jane Adventures series, and the rights to “K-9″ are owned by a different group so other than one brief appearance in one episode of Dr Who during Tennant’s first season, he’s not really allowed to appear on Dr Who.

      • Rachel

        Yeah I completely agree, darclyte. As much as I love Matt Smith, David Tennant will always be my Doctor. He gave more emotional depth in one look than Matt Smith does in an entire episode. The eleventh Doctor and this season of the show in general definitely have a wider appeal. If I were to rank this season with the rest of the new series, I would put it in the middle (after seasons 2 and 4 but before seasons 1 and 3). Amy Pond may be my favorite companion. I think Karen Gillan is wonderful.

    • Sean Keilich

      Rachel. I think that MS’s Doctor is in the beginnings of going mad and leading him to becoming the Valeyard… brilliant! I would say that DT can play a better Hamlet, but we will see who plays a betterWho.

  • futuredirect

    I’ve actually been complaining lately that the new season isn’t as emotionally compelling as the Tennant seasons. But then again, I am going through Tennant withdrawal, so…

    • Irish

      I agree with you fully

  • RyRyNYC

    Um disagree Svetkey… This season was seriously un-even. Given the hype around (and mainly generated by) Moffet, I expected better episodes than most of the rehashed plots. Van Gogh episode was second weakest (only to the god awful Dalek re-boot that was ep. 3.) The finale was a let down… but the perks of this season? Definitely agree Matt Smith is a welcome, as is River Song (who I seriously disliked in series 4.) But still don’t like Amy Pond – she’s an annoyingly cheap amalgamation of Rose Tyler and Donna Noble (the two best companions, along with classic Mary Jane Smith.)

    • Grrr

      Wow, I couldn’t disagree more.

      I actually wish Tennant had stuck around for this season. No offense to Smith, whose fantastic, but it would have given a terrific note to go out on instead of those terrible Russell T. Davies episodes.

      Speaking of Russell T. Davies, the finale of this season was easily the best one they’ve ever done, and not just a bunch of deus ex machina lever-switching and techno-babble like his lousy finales were.

      They actually set everything up during the course of the whole season, instead of pull stuff from thin air like in previous finales.

      • therealeverton

        Like Bad Wolf you mean?

        OR 4 Knocks?

        What was pulledout of thin air?

        Better yet, explain (without spoilers if poss) What on Earth the mega explosion was meant to be about? Or why light woke up a thing that was a kind of fosil in one case but not in any of the others in that same episode. Using the same device to cheat …. 3 times in one episode is good writing? Robots that whir isn’t a little Nursery school level directing?

        How many years would you go without changing clothes?

        Travelled the world with..? You what?

        If you think this season’s finale was the best one then you must have despised 21st C Who since it came back.. At least we had years of loving who as a reason for bothering to watch this season’s dreck, in the vain hope that it’d get better. Even then my mum gave up after 5 weeks, my wife after the Dalek idiocy, and My 10 yr old and I stopped watching weeks ago and then decided to watch the recordings, mostly in my daughter’s vain hopes of seeing Amy die. She has a theory that the less Amy is around the better the show. She may be right too.

        Most of the RTD haters I come accross seem to have weird issues with the fact that he’s gay and he often has gay or bi characters in his writing. So what? More importantly it rarely figures in Dr Who and even then it’s hardly major.

    • Rion

      RyRy, I agree with everything you said. The RTD era was the best in Who history, and Journey’s End was the perfect way to leave the series, with all the companions returning and Rose getting her happy ending.

      • therealeverton

        Most consistent quality of storytelling in Who history for sure. As well as a true sense of progression, of a line through the Dr’s past and his future. Also gives the lie to that daft comment about Davies’ finale plots coming out of thin air. From day one, with the Time War, Bad Wolf, the Master’s drum beats etc there was always a depth to the mythology. Even the misfires, The Slythene being too funny to be as nasty as they needed to be you didn’t get any6thing as insulting as the whirring robots and weeping angels who don’t move until the Dr Works out they are weeping angels and who apparently can’t move at super speed unless it’s convenient.

        Oh and remember “act like you can see!!!”

      • BlueSky

        I love that everyone seems to think JE was a happy ending. Every character in it was unhappy at the end!

      • Anei

        I can’t agree, Rion. While I loved many things about the RTD era, his writing (especially in the specials and finales) was always prone to sliding into overblown, melodramatic, angst-wridden nonsense. For me, Moffet knows how to do drama, and even big drama (end of the universe, anybody?) without loosing command of his essential story and without any of that self indulgent whining RTD was so apt to include. Now that I’ve seen all of season 5, I have no reservations calling this the best season ever. So many little details finally come together in the finales, it really throws a new persepective on the brilliance of the man at the helm, and how very carefully plotted this whole season was! And, for those who haven´t yet seen the INCREDIBLE finale, I’ll just say this: they gave me a whole new level of appreciation for Amy, Rory, the Doctor himself, and yes, Mr. Steven Moffet.

    • darclyte

      That would be Sarah Jane Smith.

      • Mike

        Thank you!!!

  • Michael

    I’ve loved everything about this season. Matt is a fabulous new Doctor and I’m in love with Karen’s Amy Pond. It’s just such a fun series! I get so annoyed when people complain about it or compare it negatively to the previous incarnation, haha. I just love the show!

  • beatrice

    No, count me as one of those that is not finding the new season very compelling. I can’t, however, put my finger on what it is that is bothering me. It is not missing any one character, etc., but I’m just not into the storylines. I am not that sold either on the new campanion..I like her boyfriend better.

    • Rion

      It’s boring and the writing is AWFUL. Matt Smith is fine, but he’s been given weak, shoddy writing since the first episode. Moffatt and his team of writers need to be fired, stat!

  • maddi

    k9 is with sarah jane isn’t he?
    love the new series doctor who, both matt and karen have totally made me keep watching after I swore I would never watch it again after david tennant :D

  • Kay

    They can’t bring back K-9. He’s not owned by the BBC and there’s a lot of bad blood between the BBC and the person who does own him.

  • purplekat99

    Totally cried at this weeks episode. It was my favo(u)rite kind of epi as well, based in fact with a bit of tech thrown in. Loved it!

  • Megan

    K-9 is with Sarah Jane Smith on
    The Sarah Jane Adventures and they took Van Gogh to the Musee D’Orse in Paris, not England. Love the new series and love Matt as the doctor. I am also starting to love Rory. Amy I could take or leave. I don’t hate her, but she doesn’t do much for me either. I guess we’ll see how it goes at Christmas :)

  • Catsy

    The exhibit is at the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris, NOT the Royal Gallery.

  • Rion

    It’s just you, Ben. This season has been awful and has caused me to quit the series.
    Thankfully I have Torchwood to look forward to next summer, as well as The Sarah Jane Adventures.

    • Blenn Gleck

      Wow, you have terrible taste.

      Don’t know about Sarah Jane, but Torchwood’s horrible.

    • LM

      I agree, Rion. I have also quite this series because this season has been so awful. The writing is largely to blame, but so is the acting. Matt Smith is not nearly as good an actor as Tennant and Eccleston. Smith just does not have the intensity, gravitas, and commitment to the reality each crazy situation that is needed in order to make the show work. The new assistant isn’t a particularly good actress, either. The fact that the Angels episode this season was so un-scary and ho-hum just proves that you need really great actors to make those statues scary, and to make the show work period. And they just don’t have that anymore.

      • Ian

        You boys must be watching a different Who than the rest of the world, because this is light years better than the dreadful Russell T. Davies era.

        Russell T. Davies — we get it! Your gay and atheist and pull endings out of your arse! You don’t have to remind us every single episode.

        Worst show runner since that bloke Tim Kring who ran his show HEROES into the bloody ground.

        Long live NEW Who!

  • James G

    You should wait until the finale. The last two episodes are fantastic. I’m looking forward to the christmas special. The adventure games are brill too!!

    • therealeverton

      they actually have even worse holes and nonsense in them than the rest of the season. How you can’t be insulted or at least amused by what happens to the Romans the second after the doctor works out one of the more obvious plot points is beyond me.

      Or is it more that you are enjoying it so much that the problems, the massive problem,s just don’t bother you?

      • James G

        Actually the way of escaping the pandorica in the 2nd part spoiled the majority of my viewing, along with the dreaming the doctor back but yes overall i enjoyed it enough to prevent the plot holes from making me smash up the tv. It was far better than any episode from 2009 as well as RTD always claiming someone will die but they dont. THAT was far more infuriating.

  • Meg

    While this season’s certainly had its ups and downs, on the whole I’ve really loved it. I think it’s a bit more like Classic Who than New Who, but personally, that’s exactly what I was hoping for, so I’m thrilled!

  • Troy

    This is the season of Doctor Who that I don’t feel embarrassed about loving wholeheartedly!

  • Aurelia

    I love this season so much! The show was so so sappy under RTD, but now it has finally found its brains again. Matt Smith is fantastic, and Amy Pond is a lot of fun. And Rory is adorable.

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