If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge “Doctor Who” fan. Though still a relative newbie to the show, I’ve watched the revised series enough times to have whole chunks of it memorized and I’ve been renting as many of the old ones as I can.
I cried buckets when David Tennant left the show. I loved him and I think he will always be my favorite Doctor, but I was pretty gung-ho to see Matt Smith in the role when it premiered last weekend. I loved the story so much that I was willing to give the new guy as well as his writers a chance.
The first episode, “The Eleventh Hour,” was OK. Not brilliant, but not bad. It served its purpose in introducing us to the Eleventh Doctor and his new companion, Amy Pond. Smith’s version of the Doctor seems slightly more insane than Tennant’s, and I’m still trying to work out whether or not that’s a good thing. Karen Gillan is cute as a button, but her character, Amy… well, I don’t really like her. But then, I hated Donna when I first met her, and by the end, she was my favorite of all the Doctor’s companions. So I’ll keep an open mind.
The second episode, “The Beast Below,” really threw me, though. With “Doctor Who,” I want to see new and exciting things, but with this episode, the story was just too familiar. I expected more from writer Steven Moffat, who gave us the much-loved “Blink.”
The things that bothered me were first, the obvious Star Wars references. Normally, I love it when shows reference Star Wars, but not this one. “Doctor Who” is its own phenomenon. It doesn’t need pop-culture references. The line “Help us, Doctor, you’re our only hope” had me rolling my eyes. Then, coupled with the Doctor and Amy being shoved down the garbage chute into the waste disposal (mouth) section of the ship, even my mother said, “Well, that’s right out of Star Wars, isn’t it?” Was it done on purpose? I don’t know, but I didn’t care for it.
The second thing that bothered me was that this was not a new story. It was just too much of Ursula K. Le Guin’s story, “The One Who Walk Away From Omelas.” In “Omelas,” Le Guin introduces us to an almost-Utopian society whose inhabitants, upon coming of age, are told that “the good fortune of Omelas requires that a single unfortunate child be kept in perpetual filth, darkness and misery.” Instead of being offered a choice of forgetting, most of the population of Omelas come to terms with the fact that their perfect society requires the sacrifice of one child. Those who don’t walk away.
In “The Beast Below,” the citizens of Starship UK are shown that their society is dependent on the enslavement and torture of a star whale, a benevolent creature and the last of its kind. But most of them choose to forget, though subconsciously, they know something is wrong.
There was just too much similarity to the two stories, and others with the same theme, such as “The Lottery,” for me to really enjoy it for what it was supposed to be — the first real adventure of the Doctor and Amy.
But I’m far from giving up on this season. We still have the return of the Weeping Angels and River Song to look forward to. I’m just disappointed in how this season has begun.