‘Doctor Who’ Review: Episode 5.01, ‘The Eleventh Hour’

Episode Title: “The Eleventh Hour”

Written By: Steven Moffat

Story: Recently regenerated, the 11th Doctor finds himself with little time to acclimate to his new body as the Earth is threatened by an alien menace. The TARDIS is wrecked, his sonic screwdriver is busted, and he only has 20 minutes to save the world. It’s a race against time with new companion Amy Pond!

The Who, What and How: Matt Smith hits the ground running as the new face of “Doctor Who,” and manages to offer both an individually impressive performance and a unique spin on The Doctor that goes far in making the role his own. He has big shoes to fill in the wake of former star David Tennant’s departure, but Smith does an admirable job of proving to fans that he’s not only a worthy successor, but a damn fine actor who can deliver on both the nutty and deadly serious moments of “Doctor Who” tales.

“Eleventh Hour” offers a great indication of what to expect from Smith as the season progresses, but in the end, the story seems to take a back seat to testing out the new Doctor and giving both him and his new companion a chance to show off why they were chosen as the new faces of the longest-running science-fiction series on television.

Karen Gillan offers an intriguing take on the role of companion in the “Doctor Who” universe, presenting Amy Pond as a partner who’s not afraid to ogle The Doctor on occasion — a dynamic that could be one of the most interesting aspects of the upcoming season.

The episode’s finale is likely to leave longtime “Doctor Who” fans cheering when Moffat manages to sneak in a great montage to all of the former Doctors and their adventures, in a very non-subtle (but not out of place) passing of the torch to Smith.

Final Word: Bravo to Matt Smith for not only taking the much-scrutinized role on his shoulders, but running with it in the best way possible. The first episode manages to be both accessible to new audiences while also being packed full of call-outs to longtime fans — no easy feat, given the show’s long history. I can’t wait to see what Moffat, Smith and Gillan have in store for us next week.

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