Sunday, 29 December 2013

Doctor Who's Greatest Moments - Part Five: The 10s (So Far)

In 2010, The Doctor regenerated. Usually on such occasions, viewers are eased through the change in the knowledge that even with a new Doctor, they are watching the same show. However, this time, Doctor Who  itself regenerated. In as big a change as when the show returned to TV screens five years previously, it had an entirely fresh cast, headed by rising stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, and a all-new production team, led by newly-appointed head writer Steven Moffat. Anyone expecting this new incarnation of the show to continue on with Russell T Davies' Earth-rooted, often-angsty, 'proper drama' approach was in for a shock; Doctor Who was once again proud of its sci-fi status, with the stories becoming increasingly fantastical, and also its own history. The First Doctor's image can be seen a number of seven times in Series five alone, fact fans. In short, the Doctor Who of the 2010s (so far) has been 100% Doctor Who featuring some of the strongest characters and stories the show has ever seen. And, of course, some of its greatest moments...

10.Goodbye Idris - The Doctor's Wife

Regular readers of this blog will know of my love for Neil Gaiman's The Doctor's Wife so it was bound to feature in here somewhere. The most affecting scene of the episode comes at its close when Idris, the Doctor's TARDIS trapped in a human body (yes, you read that right), is dying. This scene could have easily been over-egged but Idris' last words paired with Matt Smith breaking down get this blogger every time. 'Hello Doctor, it was so very nice to meet you.' Oh, here I go again....

9. Which day would you choose? - A Christmas Carol

As if you needed more evidence that 2010s Who could do sad well no.9 goes to a touching scene from the triumphant 'A Christmas Carol'. Miserly Kazran Sardick has been keeping his dying love frozen in a box for decades, never releasing her knowing that they can spend but one more day together. This scene, and the episode as a whole, perfectly capture that Christmas sentimentality that you find in festive films such as It's a Wonderful Life, making this Who's finest Christmas special. Along with the scene above (although she was the TARDIS), this moment proves that Doctor Who even creates supporting one-off characters that break our hearts.

8. River's reveal - A Good Man Goes To War

However, this era of the show is far from just about sobbing, on the contrary, it has become known for its timey-wimey plotting - and it doesn't come any timeier-wimier than the story of River Song. Finally, after the unsuccessful Battle of Demons Run, Amy and Rory (not to mention us) find out who the mysterious Dr Song is; Melody Pond, their daughter. It's a fantastic reveal, being one of those 'spanner-in-the-work' moments that Doctor Who (and particularly this version of it) can do so well. The moment of River's reveal perfectly captures the sense of the roller coaster that watching Doctor Who is; you might not know where it'll take you but you know it's going to be one hell of a ride.

7. Clara was born to save the Doctor - The Name of the Doctor

As mentioned above, 2010s Who is very aware of its past, with references to all eras of the show appearing all over the shop. This reached its pinnacle in the opening few minutes of the Series 7 finale when the Doctor's companion, Clara, was seen bumping into every Doctor. Including, most excitingly, the First Doctor on Gallifrey at the very moment he ran away to see the stars. The contemporary series is the only incarnation of the show that would ever do something as audacious as literally delving into its own history in such a way and also putting on screen such a significant part of the Doctor's origins. Moments like this encourage us to remember that Doctor Who isn't just a television series that we like watching on Saturday teatimes, it's a continuing legend that's been running for half a century.

6. The Pandorica speech - The Pandorica Opens

The Eleventh Doctor is good at speeches. And, at Stonehenge, in front of a legion of Romans, he delivered a belter. Every villain or monster he has ever faced has gathered in the skies for the Pandorica, an ancient mythical prison buried beneath the Henge. To stop all out war breaking out, the Doctor reminds them who is guarding it. 'Remember every black day I ever stopped you,' he says. 'And then - AND THEN - do the smart thing - let somebody else try first.' It's a bravura scene showcasing the fear the Doctor distills in his enemies, something not too well-explored at this point but has since become a running plot point (it was why he wiped his name from the universe, after all). Making the assembled horrors of the universe run away; the Eleventh Doctor is definitely good at speeches.

5. Lake Silencio - The Impossible Astronaut

Once upon a time, Doctor Who season openers would feature babies made of fat or fun, frothy stories about body-swapping. Not anymore. Ten minutes into Series 6, millions of viewers were gobsmacked when, at a picnic in Utah, an impossible astronaut rose from the lake and killed the Doctor, stone dead. With out any breathing room, this shock plunges you into the heady mix of intrigue, questions and twists that is Series 6 with terrific assuredness and a true cinematic feel thanks to the overseas filming. Doctor Who nowadays doesn't just expect you to be in the room when its on, it wants you to be glued to the screen.

4. Touched by an Angel - The Angels Take Manhattan

The longest-running companions of the post-2005 series, Amy and Rory, bowed out from the show when, after an exhausting adventure with the Weeping Angels, they met a solitary angel in a graveyard who sent them back in time. Amy's heartbreak at losing her husband, meaning she is willing to leave behind all of time and space, and her best friend to be reunited with him, answers the big question of their relationship since their introduction; Amy really does love Rory as much as he loves her. Particularly due to the performances of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan (for my money, the greatest Doctor-companion pairing we've ever seen) this is one of the saddest companion exits.


3. 'A pile of good things and bad things' - Vincent and the Doctor

As already seen, as well as the big attention-grabbing moments, the series can still do quiet reflections better than anybody. After revealing to Vincent Van Gogh that he will be adored, Amy returns to her time hoping to find that they saved Van Gogh from killing himself. At finding out otherwise, Amy breaks down but the Doctor reminds her that they did do some good. 'Every life is a pile of good things and bad things,' he tells her. 'The good things don't often soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don't always spoil the bad things or make them unimportant.' Written by the versatile Richard Curtis, this episode deals with a troubled lonely man rather than alien invasions and in this moment talks philosophically about life in a way that would not alienate children.They say Doctor Who is a kid's show yet I guarantee very few post-watershed shows would feature a moment quite as mature as this one.

2. 'Raggedy Man, Goodnight' - The Time of the Doctor

Granted a new regeneration cycle by the Time Lords, the Eleventh (or should that be Thirteenth?) Doctor is dying. But before he goes, he has time to reflect on the nature of change. 'We're all different people all through our lives,' says the Doctor. 'And that's OK... so long as you remember all the people you used to be...' Now this one was always going to be tear-jerking but Steven Moffat really pulls out all the stops to make sure we're blubbing all the way through our mince pies. The Doctor's brave speech of acceptance PLUS the dream of Amelia telling him goodnight PLUS the bow tie dropping to the floor are all sad individually but put together and topped off with Matt Smith crying (surely no sadder sight exists) produce possibly the most heart-rendering regeneration that would make even a Cyberman weep. Yet in a flash, a silver-haired man is making you laugh by talking about kidneys. That's Doctor Who.

1. The Doctors Save Gallifrey - The Day of the Doctor

Many moments from the past four years could have made number one. The reunion of Rory with an older Amy in 'The Girl Who Waited'? The hilarity of the mismatched Doctor and Craig from 'The Lodger'? The Doctor's tale of the TARDIS at Amelia's bedside in 'The Big Bang'? However, the top spot had to go to this scene from the spectacular 50th anniversary special from last month; what could be better than all the Doctor's working together to save the most important day in all of their lives?

To save himself from destroying Gallifrey, all twelve of the Doctor's incarnations (no, all thirteen!) team up to save his home world from the might of the Daleks and shunt it into another universe. With all of his guilt relieved, the Doctor has a new goal. He is not running away from Gallifrey, as before, but running towards it. A celebration of fifty years of Doctor Who, intervening into its own past, taking the show in a brand new direction as well as carrying an emotional weight, this scene literally has it all.

Just like the moments in 60s Doctor Who inspired Steven Moffat and Russel T Davies to grow up and write for the show, maybe this moment and the preceding nine will enthuse a whole new generation of fans. Doctor Who is the reason for its own longevity simply because, although it constantly changes, as this series of posts show, in whatever incarnation it is in, Doctor Who is always supreme television delivering moments of drama, pathos and, most importantly, fun. And as long as its keeps on doing that, there's no reason it should stop.

2 comments:

  1. Did you adopt the blatant Whovianism community feel from 'Return's' closing ceremony by any chance? ;) I LIKE THIS POST.

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    Replies
    1. You say that as if it's a bad thing but, honestly, it's the best thing there is. :)

      Yes, now that I think about it, that was rather celebrat-who-ry... Ouch. :/

      Why thank you, you're not too bad a blogger yourself. ;)

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