The renaissance of Doctor Who continues apace with the first episodes of Doctor number 11, played by Matt Smith. And the 27-year-old actor does a bang-up job. With his immediate predecessor David Tennant trouncing the scarf-enthusiastic Tom Baker (#4) as Best Doctor Ever in recent polls, Smith had some very big shoes to fill and while his youthfulness draws immediate comparison with the (former) youngest ever actor to play the role, Peter Davison (who was 29 when he became the fifth Doctor), his take on the character combines the impishness of Troughton (#2) with the slightly unhinged, don't-fuck-with-me spirit of Christopher Eccleston (#9).
As far as companions go, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) gets the best possible introduction with the new Doctor's first episode ‘The Eleventh Hour', and the series' new eye to continuity means that there are plenty of elements being dropped early on to become pivotal down the track. Second episode ‘The Beast Below' is fun but slight, with the UK now a spacefaring country with a terrible secret, but ‘Victory of the Daleks' (written by gibbering fanboy/The League of Gentlemen writer/performer Mark Gatiss) is a stone-cold classic, reintroducing the iconic villains with a killer WWII storyline and a superb performance by Ian McNeice as Winston Churchill, determined that the Germans will be defeated by his fortuitously-designed new "ironsides". As a stand-alone episode it's brilliant – as a precursor to stories to come it's tantalising.
Yes, occasionally the zaniness gets ramped up a little high (really? Vomit jokes?), and the cheap-looking CG isn't that huge a step up from the cheap-looking special effects of the old series – but if you, like myself, were a childhood obsessive who hadn't found their way into the rejuvenated series, this is as good a time as any.
Extras The Monster Files behind-the-scenes doco
Roadshow, PG $29.95