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Smith is Master of the Universe

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2010-06-21 Times.jpg

  • Publication: The Times
  • Date: 2010-06-21
  • Author: Andrew Billen
  • Page: Times2, p. 60
  • Language: English

Doctor Who

Saturday, BBC One


There was so much of everything on Saturday's Doctor Who, part one of its season finale, that I feared the plot might explode much like the Tardis in Vincent Van Gogh's least known painting. This very lost canvas had turned up in Churchill's bunker, necessitating not only a reprisal of Ian McNeice's turn as the portly saviour of his nation but Tony Curran's as the flirty painter (who, in Richard Curtis's sentimental episode a few weeks back, dedicated a sunflower painting to Amy Pond). Both Prime Minister and artist knew that in some parallel time, the Doctor would soon be in deep doo-doo. But how to get hold of him?

Enter River Song, the indelible Alex Kingston, who with one smear of her hallucinogenic lipstick was free of her captors in A D5145 and had tempted the Doctor back to Earth by giving him the opportunity to show off to his lovely assistant, Amy. Opening the Tardis doors on to mankind's first words in recorded history, they are confronted with a cliff face chiselled with River Song's graffito: "Hello Sweetie". It was, I suppose. the ultimate: come up and see my etchings.

The Doctor's enemies as well as his pals returned .„ to see off Matt Smith's first season: the Daleks, the IP Cybermen, the Slitheens, the Sontaran, and Uncle Tom Wardrobe Department and all. They were out to get the Doctor, but with the twist that they had formed an alliance to save the Universe from the Doctor himself The sight of them — the Cyberman wore a look of sad patience that reminded me of a labrador's — reminded me of a cover of an old DC comic, where, out of writerly desperation, Catwoman, the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler were all assembled to torture Batman.

Nothing, as they say, kills like overkill. Yet the most interesting aspect of the episode was not the monsters but the way the show-runner Steven Moffat had again made the loopy imagination of the Doctor's companion his organising principle. In an episode called The 0 Pandorica Opens, the Pandorica of the title is a version of Pandora's Box, to be specific the version Amy read as a child, and it was Pond's childhood obsessions, including her picture-book version of the Romans, that peopled the episode. One of the Roman centurions turned out to be Rory, whom earlier in the series we thought had been not just killed, but erased from history. An episode that contained both "Hello Sweetie" and Amy apparently being done in by her dead fiancé was indeed full to bursting. Yet it did not explode. Its centrifugal force is Matt Smith, the best Doctor since Tom Baker, and Moffat's surrogate, a man who gives every impression of bringing things together only at the very last moment and who may very well be doing just that.

Caption: Matt Smith's Doctor Who is the best since Tom Baker

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  • APA 6th ed.: Billen, Andrew (2010-06-21). Smith is Master of the Universe. The Times p. Times2, p. 60.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Billen, Andrew. "Smith is Master of the Universe." The Times [add city] 2010-06-21, Times2, p. 60. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Billen, Andrew. "Smith is Master of the Universe." The Times, edition, sec., 2010-06-21
  • Turabian: Billen, Andrew. "Smith is Master of the Universe." The Times, 2010-06-21, section, Times2, p. 60 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Smith is Master of the Universe | url= | work=The Times | pages=Times2, p. 60 | date=2010-06-21 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=11 July 2020 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Smith is Master of the Universe | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=11 July 2020}}</ref>