Daleks, the TARDIS
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31st October 2010 - Jo Grant and Matt Smith in Sarah Jane Adventures

What a great episode!

I loved the Jo/Sarah conversation at the start, especially the bit where they both mention Peladon. And a reference to Timelash! Explaining the weird wall painting. Great stuff.

The regeneration comment - I honestly don't know. He says he can change into anything, and change 507 times. Hmm. It's an odd comment if he's joking. Why not give Clive a straight answer? It strikes me it may have been a straight answer. I don't know.

I liked all the flashes of the old episodes. Brilliant.

I thought the lighting of the TARDIS interior was perfect - just as in the Radio Times shoot where it looks darker but with the neons. I wonder if that's how it will be in series six.

But my absolute favourite bit was at the end, where Sarah lists a few companions and what they're doing now. I thought that was amazing. It just makes the whole Who world more real. People with consequences. It made me really want to see more stories with them in.

I thought it was really beautiful too where the Doctor says he visited every one of his companions before he regenerated. What a lovely, touching idea. It could have been a throwaway line in something else - but coming in an episode where he was saying it to a past companion who he hadn't seen since he left her. It made it really ring true. Clever and thoughtful. And nice that Russell wrote it, with him having written the original regeneration episode.

I thought it was hilariously ironic that RTD's ending was nearly identical to Moffat's idea from The Big Bang - the companion (or two of them in SJA) using their memories to create something out of nothing - and in fact to bring the TARDIS (or in this case a part of it) into existence like a template! Then, to distrupt the aliens' plans, the Doctor told them to remember all about him, and all their travels - As soon as it happened all I could think of was Amy's wedding where she's bringing him back to life. Funny that. No doubt completely subconcious.

Anyways, great fun.

Somone mentioned to me they felt it was illogical that Tennent would visit all the companions from a previous incarnation.

Well Sarah wasn't Tennant's original companion, and nor was Rose - and he still visited them. I do take the point - that Jo only ever had Pertwee, whereas Rose started with Eccleston but did travel more with Tennant in the end - but Tennant only met Sarah twice. Or three times actually including SJA. And none of that was by choice - So he never went back to check on her, and yet he was still part of the big revisiting in The End of Time. The difference was we just happened to see that one, whereas never saw the Jo one. Or the others. I thought it was just a fantastic idea. Just think of the scenes we didn't get to see - The Tenth Doctor staring across a crowded room at Victoria Waterfield ... or him moving the papers around on Nyssa's desk to help her discover a great cure on Terminus ... or disracting a Red Coat from shooting at Jamie at the Battle of Colloden.

I thought the whole thing was beautiful. Inter-weaving current Doctors with past companions. It's giving Doctor Who the chance to make eras which didn't have that much depth seem more real. Jo's past adventures never seemed so real when the Elventh Doctor was telling her to remember the smells and tastes of the planets she visited. I think RTD did more to make the Pertwee era seem alive than any spinoff books ever did.

I liked it because the whole episode was about companions. It was more about compaions and the Doctor's legacy than it was about the Doctor. Matt Smith was almost a cameo really, just there to link Sarah and Jo - they were the ones who stole the show. Once Jo appeared I wasn't that bothered about waiting for Matt Smith any more. I think it may have done a better job of answering the question "what happens to companions" than School Reunion did. That was a sad look at the consequences of abandonment, whereas this is more inspirational. I loved the speech at the end about the other companions because it spreads the idea that if you touch the Doctor you become so much more. You want to be special and help the world.

And it does also look back round to the saddest thing - the fact that Donna remembers nothing. Just as he did with all his other companions mentioned by Sarah, the Doctor made Donna brilliant ... but then she forgot it all, and went back to her old self. A sad prospect.

24th May 2010
- Season Five So Far

How are we enjoying it so far? The RTD era I'm sorry to say had many moments I wish had been edited out. I'm not saying they were right or wrong but they just weren't to my personal taste. In drama I can't stomach belching wheelie bins or keystone cops camera-trickery chases (Love & Monsters) and in Doctor Who I can't stomach the Doctor balling his eyes out. That's just me. By contrast in this season so far, I can't think of a single moment I wish I could delete from repeat viewing - with the exception of the new Daleks themselves - but that's just a bit of Giant Rat syndrome - you can't remove them from the story, it's just the way the production team did its job.

I am really enjoying this season in a totally new way. In the past, the episodes have been more traumatic to watch. I know that's drama and really I suppose that's what made Doctor Who the most popular show on TV - you knew you'd be on a rollercoaster, thanks to RTD's razor-sharp writing. But I personally love Doctor Who at its most escapist and thoughtful - not when its unpleasant and intense. Season five is more whimsical, more fun. Even when it's been emotional, it's been touching, rather than traumatic.

Just watching the Doctor is great to enjoy, and the script is always funny. You don't get the impression (so far) we'd ever get an episode as mean-spirited or hard to watch as, say 42, nor as bleak as Last of the Time Lords or as spiteful as Midnight. I suspect even the finale will have a sense of adventure, even when the stakes are high.

I think Matt Smith is the big difference really. I love how they've introduced clumsiness as a trait of the Doctor. It's just such a perfect idea in a way. He's such a shambling hero, the Doctor - sometimes he seems to get things right by the skin of his teeth. So it somehow fits. I loved it when he broke the handle off the TARDIS drawer in Amy's Choice - and he just looks at it. Brilliant.

It's very hard to rate a season as a whole. It's funny really - it feelt retrospectively that series 2 was brilliant, with Tennant and Piper the "perfect" duo at the show's height - but actually when you look at it, it includes New Earth, Idiot's Lantern, Love & Monsters and Fear Her - four of, shall we say, the "least loved" episodes of the entire new series.

I think, so far, I haven't disliked any stories like I disliked certain from previous years. I was disapointed by the Daleks episode but it still rattled along as an adventure. I think I'm enjoyed the change of direction as much as the stories themseves, just seeing how things are different.

10th May 2010 - Vampires of Venice rewatch

I watched Vampires of Venice again and loved it even more the second time. The script is just gorgeous. There's so many brilliant lines. "Yours is bigger than mine" - "Let's not go there" and a million other lovely moments from the Doctor. Matt Smith is just absolutely stunning. Totally lovable, eccentric, and brilliant. I just can't fault him. If this isn't going to far, he feels like the "perfect" Doctor. He has all the whimsy of Troughton, and yet all the gravitas (when he needs to) of Tom Baker. The fourth Doctor always seemed arrogant when he was telling the baddie he was going to win. Very patronising. But Matt Smith doesn't come across like that, he's just so delicate and likable. I hope he stays on for a long, long time. He could be the greatest Doctor we've ever had. In my view, he's not far off already.

I think The Beast Below is getting a rough ride from fans. I think the unexpected strangeness of that story coming second in the season has possibly clouded our view of it - but I think Matt's performance in that is just superb. When he's explaining to Amy about the crying children is just amazing.

Almost everyone I've spoken to enjoyed Vampires of Venice, although someone complained that it was a let-down after a massive build-up to 'something' at the end of the Angels story. I think maybe it's hard for some to get used to the on/off nature of the arc. What I found interesting was how loads of people this year have said to me that they are amazed that there's an ongoing story running through the episodes. No-one seems to have remembered or realised this has happened every year - but I suppose previously it was in a far more discreet way. People's comments have generally been positive though about the arc story, despite its complexity - which makes me think RTD could have been more daring than he was, but the show was finding its feet really. The inclusions of the word "Torchwood" etc were just for fans. I suppose "the stars are going out" was more obvious - and yet ironically having been sign-posted so heavily, it turned out to be absolute bollocks.

What actually was that all about? In some instances they seem to be suggesting that it's linked to the planets disappearing, because it seems tangled up with the mentions of the moon of Poosh and Pryovillia vanishing. And yet when Rose looks up, there are stars going out everywhere through the sky - and the Daleks didn't steal stars, and they only stole a small number of planets. There's also this mixed-up suggestion that Davros's reality bomb might have something to do with it - and when set off, it ends up spreading through all universes - except that the bomb is never detonated is it? The Doctor stops it. So what exactly is making the stars go out??

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