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SciFriday: ‘Doctor Who,’ Don’t Let Me Down

For UK viewers, there is only one more day until Matt Smith makes his debut

For viewers like myself in the United Kingdom, there is just over 24 hours until Matt Smith makes his proper debut as The Doctor and Steven Moffat’s era officially begins.

And, as such an event demands, I am filled with excitement, apprehension and maybe even dread.

The launch of a new Doctor is generally a thrilling experience and something to look forward to. But, coming right after David Tennant’s stint as the Time Lord, Smith has it hard.

Tennant was beloved as The Doctor and can only be described as a master of his trade. Smith, on the other hand, has still to prove himself and it may even be unfair to compare him to his predecessor.

When “Doctor Who” made its return to British Television in 2005, it was with Christopher Eccleston in front of the cameras as Britain’s greatest hero. And he was completely and utterly fantastic in every way. However, being The Doctor for only 13 episodes (back when the show was still new and fresh) allowed for a relatively easy transition into Tennant.

Now, after four years as The Doctor, this regeneration is going to be messy. I mean, just look at the state of the Tardis : it’s not even sitting upright.

Yes, tomorrow night is going to be messy. Not just because the Tardis is in need of a bit of a tidy, but because I will finally have to face the truth: David Tennant is gone.

Worse still, so is Russell T. Davies, a man that fans seem to have something of a love/hate relationship with. Say what you like, he resurrected the series with all the production values of American television but, at its core, the show remained profoundly British.

Davies once said that if you give kids nothing but good stuff, they will grow up wanting to watch nothing but the good stuff. Well, Mr. Davies, you’ve certainly spoiled all of us, and now all we want is the good stuff.

I know I am in good hands with Steve Moffat. Since the first season, he has been my favorite writer on the series, penning such greats as “The Empty Child,” The Doctor Dances” and “Blink.” All are very scary episodes with plenty of head-for-the-couch moments.

So will Season 5 have such a harsh tone? I have no doubts that it will have its moments. But there is another episode I’m particularly drawn to – “The Girl In The Fireplace.” What carried that episode wasn’t the special effects, or the masquerade robots. Instead, it was the tenderness between the leading characters. It was very emotional and incredibly touching.

And that is the kind of storytelling I expect to see this season.

Plus, Moffat already has proven himself a dab hand at working with comedy – “Coupling” may have been viewed as a U.K. version of “Friends” but it was consistently funnier than the long-running NBC sitcom.

Already, dozens of trailers for the series are circulating the web. The mostly heavily played one, featuring Smith and Gillan falling through a vortex of aliens, failed to excite me at all. The one below however has me desperate to see how the series plays out.

When Smith was announced as The Doctor, I hijacked Michael Hinman’s SciFriday column to welcome him into the role. Now, more than a year later, I still hold true to the opinions of that column.

Smith may not have had the same public exposure to the world as Tennant and Eccleston did, but the producers would not have chosen him had he not been up to the challenge.

So, to you, Mr. Smith, I say good luck. I still have some concerns over the new season, but I cannot wait to see what adventures you have in store for me.


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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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