Doctor Who: ‘The Eleventh Hour’ Review & Discussion

Published 5 years ago by

doctor who premier Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour Review & Discussion

With the announcement of David Tennant leaving Doctor Who, fans feverishly awaited news on who would replace one of the best Doctors ever to grace the screen. On January 3, 2009 the identity of the new Time Lord was revealed. Matt Smith, a somewhat unknown actor, was tapped to become the eleventh iteration of everyone’s favorite duel-hearted time traveler.

At the age of 26, he is the youngest actor ever to portray the iconic character created by Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber and Donald Wilson more than 50 years ago. Following the announcement, fans, rightfully so, where initially quite weary. “How could anyone replace David Tennant,” they said. But, as the premiere grew near and more footage was released, those same weary fans became… let’s say, cautiously optimistic. And, for Doctor Who fans, that’s as good as it gets.

In “The Eleventh Hour,” we not only get to see Matt Smith as The Doctor, but also Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, the new companion, and Stephen Moffat’s debut as the new executive producer and head writer of the series.

Is Matt Smith really “the” Doctor? How will Karen Gillan compare to the former companions? Will Stephen Moffat be able to fill the proverbial shoes of Russell T. Davies?


It takes but mere moments for Moffat’s presences to be felt. Toppling through time and space, the TARDIS, under the control of the newly regenerated Matt Smith, crashes into the garden of a young Amelia Pond. Young Pond, played the cousin of Karen Gillan, has bigger things to worry about than some time traveler. You see, she has a crack in her bedroom wall.

doctor who eleventh hour young pond Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour Review & Discussion

A crack, while seemingly innocent in our world, takes on a new life under Moffat’s pen. The crack is not a mere crack in the wall, but in time and space itself. “Prisoner Zero has escaped” can be heard, with the help of an empty glass, through the breach. As the Doctor wields his sonic screwdriver to close it, something, or someone, unnoticeably escapes.

With the appearance of another problem solved, The Doctor promises young Pond that he’ll return in five minutes. With a broken TARDIS, five minutes turns into twelve years where we’ve got a grown up Pond still living with the alien that escaped oh so long ago.

It’s wonderful approach to introduce not only this week’s antagonist, but also the series new companion, with a slightly different name, Amy Pond.

A New Companion

Pond, played by Karen Gillan), is a brilliant companion. While easily one of the most beautiful companions, Pond also has one of the best personalities – one that would make Donna Noble proud. Some women may swoon at a time traveler in their presence, but Pond is still angry from being left so many years ago by The Doctor and has no problem letting him know it.

doctor who eleventh hour pond angry Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour Review & Discussion

Gillian, as Pond, has the potential to provide as much depth and insight to the world of Doctor Who as Catherine Tate playing the gregarious Donna Noble. I only hope she’s given that chance.

An Atraxian Threat

The rest of the episode centers around the Atraxi, an alien race that is after Prisoner Zero. After following The Doctor and Prisoner Zero to Earth, they’re looking to retrieve the alien convict. With the TARDIS inoperable while repairing itself and The Doctor’s beloved sonic screwdriver destroyed, the Time Lord must resort to using his whit’s to defeat the alien prison guards threatening to incinerate the planet.

A brilliant episode in its own right, “The Eleventh Hour” gives fans a chance to see how Moffat will handle the day-to-day Doctor Who stories as all can’t revolve around the dark storylines that he has been known for. Still, Moffat being Moffat can’t help but add a foreboding tone to things with the crack in the wall and notion of looking out of the corner of your eye.

doctor who eleventh hour doctor screwdriver Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour Review & Discussion

While I wouldn’t say that the monster (Prisoner Zero) is one of the best in the Doctor Who universe, watching how the The Doctor handles this new threat, without the use of his familiar tools, is what makes this episode shine.

Smith IS The Doctor

Smith’s Doctor is somewhat professor-like, but with the quirky and eccentric personality that we’ve seen in most iterations of the Time Lord. That being said, there’s also a hint of a darker side to this Doctor. While the previous Doctors may appear to be passive, Smith’s Doctor has no problem escalating situations, if required.

Throughout the episode, Smith, as the still regenerating Doctor, will sometimes slip in nuances that reminisce of David Tennant’s Doctor. A wonderful nod to the past. While wonderful in his portrayal through-out, it’s not until he don’s his new wardrobe and faces off with the Atraxi that we get to see Smith’s Doctor, Moffat’s Doctor and – I’m happy to say – our new Doctor.

Final Thoughts

Matt Smith IS The Doctor. Amy Pond IS the companion. And, Stephen Moffat is still as brilliant as ever. Enough said.

doctor who eleventh hour doctor amy Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour Review & Discussion

What did you think of “The Eleventh Hour?” What do you think of Matt Smith as The Doctor? Is Amy Pond a good companion? Are you looking forward to what’s coming next?

Watch Doctor Who, Saturday @9pm, on BBC America.

Follow me on Twitter @anthonyocasio

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  1. I've enjoyed what Moffat has done so far with the series. Amy Pond and Matt Smith's Doctor seem to have the right chemistry, and it's not completely lovely dovey either. I will say if Pond is supposed to be like Donna, I don't see it. Donna irritated me mostly.

  2. I have moved from “guarded” to “cautiously optimistic” about the new Doctor after seeing this episode. I have a lot of trust in Moffat, so I think this will be a great series. Here's hopin'.

  3. I've seen three episodes of the new series so far and I love it! Karen Gillan is brilliant, Moffat is brilliant and though initially I didn't warm to Matt Smith (not his fault; I just missed David Tennant) he's also brilliant. He's got a skill for seeming at his most deadly and dangerous when at his quietest. I can only hope Karen Gillan will be as good as Donna, she's a hard act to follow but from what i've seen I have faith!

  4. WELL.
    the debut episode of Matt Smith left me optimistic, but now i've watched the more recent two episodes i can't quite say i am.
    At first i loved him, and hated Karen Gillan, now im warming to Karen but i cant say the same for Matt.

    And the new title sequence/song and 'new daleks' and stuff is annoying me :) alot.
    I was a huge fan of the David Tennant/ Christopher Eccleston Doctor who (particularly Tennant who is, well, :) i think we know ) and Russel T. Davies is also brilliant.

    Although Steven Moffatt has written some of the best, Blink for example, im disappointed- sad to say, i used to cry and sit on the edge of my seat at every Doctor who episode but now i couldnt really care what happens.
    :S hope it gets better.
    Credit to Matt Smith/Karen Gillan as they have a hard act to follow.
    It just seems as if

  5. WELL.
    the debut episode of Matt Smith left me optimistic, but now i've watched the more recent two episodes i can't quite say i am.
    At first i loved him, and hated Karen Gillan, now im warming to Karen but i cant say the same for Matt.

    And the new title sequence/song and 'new daleks' and stuff is annoying me :) alot.
    I was a huge fan of the David Tennant/ Christopher Eccleston Doctor who (particularly Tennant who is, well, :) i think we know ) and Russel T. Davies is also brilliant.

    Although Steven Moffatt has written some of the best, Blink for example, im disappointed- sad to say, i used to cry and sit on the edge of my seat at every Doctor who episode but now i couldnt really care what happens.
    :S hope it gets better.
    Credit to Matt Smith/Karen Gillan as they have a hard act to follow.
    It just seems as if

  6. I completely forgot to mention in my review that if anyone still has doubts about Matt Smith as The Doctor to wait for episode two. That is when Matt Smith truly becomes The Doctor.

    • Yes Smith and Gillan are good but, hey that story is one the dumbest EVER in Dr Who. Too many whys and hows. Illogical and stupid. How can Moffat write such rubbish?

  7. moffat IS brillant, smith IS NOT.

  8. moffat IS brillant, smith IS NOT.

  9. By the end of episode two I was ready to say I actually prefer him to David Tennant. He's unpredictable rather than hyper, and he can exude a kind of dangerous resolve you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of effortlessly, where Tennant had to work at it. I completely buy him as an older presence in a younger form.

  10. Little Amelia was wonderful. Grown up Amy is wonderful. taking women from their weddings is too much. Saving the world in 20 minutes is tiresome.

    get a new writer & a new doctor. keep everything else.

  11. omg, mediocre at best! new fans may not mind, but i cant accept mediocre when i had number 9 and number 10! im finished. back to five years of dvds. chris and david you guys are the best!

    • I wouldn’t be so generous to even call the series mediocre. Many episodes were just BAAAAD with poor writing and direction at the heart. Can’t fault Smith. He is great but Moffat just can’t handle series script writing. Too many inconsistencies run across the series which is just too bland for words. I found it unemotional and quite boring apart from the final two which were interesting but rather stupid.

  12. I have to agree. I was disappointed in the initial episode of the eleventh Doctor. While Moffat can be a brilliant writer (Blink, the Girl in the Fireplace), this really seemed a second-rate effort. I realize that David Tennant's introduction was aided by the carryover of Rose from the previous Doctor, but the drawn-out scene with Matt spitting out food was ridiculous. I was hoping for something clever and well crafted, and it did not deliver. I think that's a must when you're introducing a “new” character to an audience you want to keep. The young Amy at least was smart enough to pack for the trip. I can't imagine why the grown-up Amy didn't ask to run back and at least get dressed for her trip in the TARDIS. The episode's story did not make a lot of sense to me. How often does any culture threaten an entire people when an escaped prisoner is in hiding? The nod to the previous Doctors was nice, but I thought the need to have the aliens return just so the Doctor could threaten them was a bit odd, and somewhat reminiscent of Tennant's “It is defended!” line.

  13. I agree, I found Donna to be annoingly cheeky, loud, and a bit old for the role.

    • But she can do ‘emotion’, very touchingly in many episodes. Gillan hasn’t a clue. Too young and inexperienced. She shouts well though in her annoyingly sing song voice.

  14. HATED the new doctor: way too goofy and wacky, a giant eyeball spaceship is SCARY?! hardl., totally missed the seriousness and more subtle humor, this was like a cartoon! BAD BAD BAD

  15. Smith was… merely okay. I can deal with him, particularly in the energetic glee he gets when there are problems. Tennant's Doctor would look at a problem with all seriousness and observe the clues. Smith's Doctor just sort of runs at it and comes up with things as he goes- which is sort of entertaining.

    The writing is pretty nice, especially the way the creature isn't something super-unique, but just sort of a sub-species. I've definitely heard the word “multiform” on the show before, but this was a nice way of expanding on that thought and playing with the full ramifications of that term.

    My biggest complaints are the food spitting scene, which wore itself out at approximately bacon, and Smith's forehead, which looks like it hosts more valleys than Midnight…

  16. Donna was okay at about the halfway mark through the season. Before and after, she was indeed very annoying. As for the new Doctor and companion, I like their playful banter. Listening to her and Doctor play off each other somewhat made up for the man's forehead.

  17. Moffat has me so far. I love the Weeping Angels, the Vashta Nerada, and such.

  18. I have really enjoyed this most recent incarnation of the Doctor, I think Amy Pond is a very well matched companion and I think my only concern is that they try to link the two of them romantically, living in the UK I just watched the third episode of this season last night, and with some minor reservations I think Matt Smith is (if you will forgive the pun.) Just what the doctor ordered.

  19. loved it loved it loved it ! the new tune is a wonderful and well connected to the past, the episodes (and those that follow) have wonderful flow and rhythm, – much less emotional and heavymoody story lines. i was definitely looking forward for a change of pace, and i got it. well done to moffat and new crew !

  20. I agree. I didn't much care for the whole wedding thing. We've seen it before.

  21. I think Anthony just meant she's not going to take any crap from the Doctor, and seems to be just as capable of jumping into a situation feet-first as he is. Two episodes in and she's already got the hallmarks of one of the great companions, I reckon.

  22. I wasn't that impressed with the story (episode 2 is much better, episode 3 much worse – and I'm saying nothing about the Ikea Daleks…), but for me Matt Smith and Karen Gillan had great chemistry together from the word go, and having Gillan's ten-year-old cousin play her younger self was a lovely, touching and effective bit of casting.

    I could have done without the food scene, during which I was thinking to hell with the whimsical plinky-plonky music, you're not going to make the poor girl clear that bloody mess up, are you?? In terms of “overcooking it”, tossing the slice of bread & butter out of the front door would have worked equally well without the smashing noise (eh?), the cat yowl, and with him pointing furiously at it, not being able to form the words, then storming back inside. He played the tumbling thought processes well in the first two episodes, I thought, putting across a mind constantly ahead of itself rather than merely an affectation.

    One question: what kind of aunt leaves an orphaned seven-year-old girl on her own overnight? What was that all about?

    Since the show's 2005 revival I've found Murray Gold's incidental music at times strident and obtrusive, though his main theme was at least tolerable. I never liked the string section, but at least it added a kind of gravitas. His exemplary work on last week's episode 2, however, sits in direct contrast to the dog's dinner he's made of the latest version of the theme. It sounds like he's trying to have his cake and eat it, and throw the kitchen sink in there as well: strings, brass, electronics, choir…and a horrible lolloping rhythm that does no one any favours. Here are all of them to date ( ), and the new one ( ). The version used for fifteen years from Patrick Troughton to the end of Tom Baker's run still sounds like nothing on earth now, and yet is composed of no more than five (mostly just four) elements. Say what you will about its 1980s replacements and their dated commercially-available synthesizer sounds, they were at least still wholly electronic. The original is unusual in that the bassline IS the beat, so to speak. It's when you start adding things that the problems begin.

    It's similar to those who've tried to remix Kraftwerk tunes and made the schoolboy error of just tacking on a different beat, or a patina of 303 wibblyness or whatever. Kraftwerk are simplicity itself – it's largely their production that both gives their music space and renders it solid, pristine and glacial. More than the sum of its parts. Start gluing things on top of that and you basically end up with a garden shed in the courtyard of Versailles.

    Orbital had a decent stab at the Who theme, which someone's helpfully edited to the titles (… ). It's not perfect by any means, but in terms of bolted-on rhythm tracks, I'd much rather hear that one than the floppy ragdoll Gold's stitched together. At least theirs has a sense of urgency to it; they were the first to admit that with all their state-of-the-art equipment they STILL couldn't improve or even recreate what Delia Derbyshire managed in a room the size of a broom cupboard with nothing more than a few oscillators, open circuit boards and tape loops.

  23. I genuinely enjoyed the debut episode. The opening scene was done really well by taking the story on a more close and intimate level to introduce the new doctor. The interaction between the Doctor and young Amy Pond was really sweet- just hanging out for a midnight snack but all the while getting the sense there is something lurking in the dark. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan throughout the rest of the episode were just as believable. So far I like Matt Smith's doctor there's an earnestness and quirkiness but at the same time a darkness that says “I can/will destroy you if need be” (bowtie and all!)

  24. I saw it last night. It wasn't bad, but I still like david Tennant. This new Dr. doesn't seem to have the same pizzaz as he did. Still, he's okay. I still miss Donna Noble. She had much more spunk than Amy. Her character may need to evolve more from the little girl waiting for the Dr. to come back. I guess we'll have to wait and see how the writers develop their characters and what kind of chemistry emerges.

  25. Well, while I thought the first act was very funny, I was not all that impressed. It wasn't the worst DW episode but I got bored. This was the same guy that did Blink, my favorite episode? Well, I just hope it gets better.

    • It didn’t sadly.It just got worse.

  26. I thought the episode itself wasn't huge. It wasn't epic, but I don't think it needed to be. I thought Moffat, Gillan, and Smith were brilliant. Smith will be an excellent Doctor. I am optimistic after just one episode and can't wait to see more.

  27. The first 2 episodes were awesome. WTF happened to the 3rd epidode aired in the UK on Saturday. The script was ASS, the acting was ASS and the casting was ASS. Can someone please learn how to direct and replace the ASS that directing it on Saturday

  28. *episode LOL.

  29. I believe it seemed that way because the third episode was originally written back a while for the tenth Doctor and Donna so if it seems a bit off, that is most likely why.