For the least original blogpost in all history.
Someone pinch me, 2010 was the year that someone actually remembered that Doctor Who is supposed to be fun. When it’s scary, it’s fun. When it’s light and funny, it’s fun. Matt Smith is blessed with the kind of natural eccentricity and downright weirdness not seen in the Doctor since Tom Baker. Fourteen episodes down, and he is *my* Doctor, exposing the much beloved Tennant as a bit of a mopey git. In spite of budget cuts they shot in high-definition and had some very imaginative people manning the camera and production design – they made the most of what they had.
So, from best to worst:
- The Eleventh Hour – A modern, retro and delightful fairytale. Gorgeous, efficient (watch how much information is crammed into this unfettered romp) direction from Adam Smith and a showcase for everyone else involved – just try not loving Eleven after a midnight feast of Fish Custard.
- Vincent and the Doctor – The kind of thick, emotional richness that Russell T Davies was praised for, done right. If you don’t at least swallow a massive lump in the throat, there’s something blackened and dead where your heart is supposed to live. It was faultlessly acted to boot.
- The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang – The greatest cliffhanger in Doctor Who’s history. And it So Was. *points finger and glares at the disbelievers* Double-helpings of Rory being awesome, mixed with a fun, zippy and wonderful resolution – flying plot device A into plot device B has never been so lovingly done. The very idea that telling a story has such an important plot element was a touch of genius – showing up the cack-handed Last of the Time Lords.
- The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone – Doctor Who does a terrific, cinematic thriller. Some of the best scares of the year accompany the return of the strongest New Who creatures we’ve yet seen, and a mid-season humdinger of the all-consuming Big Bad. Highlights include: A space-rescue spanning ten thousand years, some delicious body-horror, the Angels video adaptation, an easily missed bit of jacket timeywimey and a generous ladling of sex comedy, just to royally fuck off the Whovian greybeards.
- A Christmas Carol – Seen it twice, even better second time round. The Eleventh Doctor being simultaneously his most manipulative and hilariously blithe (“How do you do that?! Do you breathe out of your EARS or something!”). Like The Eleventh Hour, it delved headily into the vast scope of the modern fairy-tale, and the direction, photography and hissable nastiness sold the deal. The most Christmassy Christmas Special since The Crystal Maze brought the kids on board.
- Amy’s Choice – Imaginary worlds and alternate universes are no stranger to Doctor Who, and a terrific, quotable and funny script by Simon Nye deftly spices the inherent darkness. A ruddy marvellous new adversary in Toby Jones’s Dream Lord – with a vicious revelatory sting for Eleven.
- The Beast Below – Creepy, effective and off-kilter Tales of the Unexpected surreal and magical style storytelling. Loads of pulling the carpet from under us, with a light plot and some pretty full-on modern parallels. Hopefully this isn’t the last of the British government commentary in Doctor Who – it’s become more topical since our ConDem leaders sending underperforming children out of sight, out of mind or brain-damaging innocents by implements of the “Police State” for the supposed benefit of society.
- The Lodger – Matt Smith does light, fluffy and charming so beautifully. And, yes – I identified with the unfunny, hopeless little man played by the unfunny, hopeless James Corden. It’s a nice further refinement to the Love & Monsters idea of being touched tangentially by the Doctor inspires us to change and become that much more than we were before.
- The End of Time Part 2 – Any time Tennant and Cribbins were talking was acting gold. They made up superbly for a mostly overindulgent, overserious, moronic and flabby script. The Total Bollocks Overdrive The End of Time Part 1 fell into the cracks – or was it pushed?
- Victory of the Daleks – Cheerful fun – but with some care, it could have been more than a light pantomime, though. It’s a strange misfire – clever and engaging for the first twenty minutes, then gets very silly very rapidly. I like the new Dalek Paradigm – chunky, substantial beasties, and the Doctor’s stalemate with them was enjoyable.