18 April, 2011

New Doctor Who (no spoilers!)

I saw the first two episodes of the new series of Doctor Who today, at a press preview held five days in advance of their first television broadcast anywhere in the world. The preview was put on by Prime Television, the channel which will be screening the new series when it airs in New Zealand (the start date has yet to be announced).

I've been asked not to say anything specific or to spoil any plot details (not that I would anyway, as I'd hate to have such things revealed for me if I were reading this having yet to see the episodes). So no spoilers lie ahead, I promise.

The screening was preceded with a series trailer introduced by the Doctor himself, greeting us - "Hello, New Zealand!" - from inside the TARDIS in a specially-recorded segment.

We had been advised that the episodes we watched were not the final edits, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, has changed when the proper versions are broadcast.

This two-part story (The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon), is truly epic in scope. The twists and turns are so mind-boggling that I feel I need at least one more viewing to get everything straight in my head. It's no hyperbole to say that this is definitely one of the most complex and ambitious Doctor Who plots ever, so pay close attention, even to the smallest details.

The adventure is chillingly creepy in places, and I'm sure that certain scenes will provide potent nightmare material for younger viewers. In the fine tradition of the best Doctor Who episodes however, the chills are tempered with some moments of brilliant humour, and Matt Smith in particular gets to deliver many funny lines.

Since the 2005 revival, Doctor Who seems to have stuck to a series structure of leading with a relatively lightweight adventure followed by a gradual build-up to an epic finale. This year's series looks to be very different indeed. This story has all the feel of an epic series conclusion, and even manages to overshadow last year's The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang. If this is how the new series begins, how can it possibly get bigger and more impressive from here?

The second episode ended with a series trailer showing many more scenes from upcoming episodes that do not appear in any other trailers. Judging by what I saw, we're in for a real treat this year.

Quite superb. Doctor Who is back, and in grand style. I cannot wait to see more!

PS: Many thanks to Prime for inviting me along to the preview.

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