After Image…

TARDISIt’s been weird to see my reviews discussed, kind of, quite a lot online this year. Also weird that there seemed to be some puzzlement over whether or not I wrote this now traditional afterword. Which – and you’re ahead of me here – I did.

From DWM #461

DWM #461More! More! More Doctor Who. It’s what we need. Leaving aside the fact it also happens to be what some fans have been stamping their feet about recently, it would do the programme nothing but good. That’s because more Doctor Who keeps the show sane. History bears us out. When they scythed episodes from the series’ run in the 1980s, the programme stumbled, almost as if it was struggling to come to a sudden stop from high velocity. And in 2009, when the show only popped by for three visits, those adventures also felt as though the pace had dropped. They were less instinctual, maybe.

So far in 2013 we’ve had just eight episodes. Those are the facts. Whether or not they’re the second half of a run that began last September is immaterial. Eight episodes. We need more.  No matter what miracles the series pulls, that paucity means it’s always going to feel like it’s over-promised and under-delivered.

With fewer distractions, we fixate on what we have. The truth of it is, in the past the odd below-par instalment was kind of okay. It even presented a weird sort of pleasure, heightening expectation for a bounce-back next week. But when The Rings of Akhaten and Nightmare in Silver fail to deliver, that’s a quarter of the whole season written off. Then come Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS and, for me (I know many adored it) Cold War. Both good, but not Doctor Who at full tilt. That’s half the season. Finally, the belters: The Bells of Saint John, The Name of the Doctor, Hide and The Crimson Terror. Where have you been?! And why didn’t you round up a few more while you were at it?

So, a little deflated. It’s an unlikely place to be. In this golden year, has the shine faded a bit?

And yet if we subject this run to a basic check-up, it becomes clear that despite an uneven and far too brief foray, the vital signs are still excellent. In Matt Smith we have a Doctor who continues to delight. In nearly every episode he’s found new shades to the character and I’m nowhere near ready to say goodbye to him. Every day I live in fear we’ll hear the news he’s off. Remember those rumours of an announcement at the TV Baftas? Squeaky bum time (to coin a phrase). Likewise, Jenna-Louise Coleman has been impossibly good as Clara, fitting the show perfectly. Then there’s the current title sequence and TARDIS interior, both of which are the best the programme’s sported this century. Plus, we’ve had the long overdue return of good old fashioned baddies, like Miss Kizlet, Mrs Gillyflower and The Great Intelligence. No malfunctioning computer programs this time around. And, even in those characters alone – played by Celia Imrie, Dame Diana Rigg and Richard E Grant – we’ve enjoyed some of the very finest casting anywhere on TV.

And then there’s that cliffhanger clanging away. Our man is turning 50 in November and his mid-life crisis is surely going to be the biggest thing to hit Doctor Who since 1963. It’s a confident sign the anniversary story itself will be everything we want… we need it to be; a bold restatement of what’s great about Doctor Who, the venerable TV series that’s always had a healthy disrespect for its own history.

All of that, absolutely brilliant.

But let the cry ring out louder and more forcefully than ever, from Gallifrey to Trenzalore to Cardiff. More! More! MORE!


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