by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Five: "The Eleventh Hour"

Posted 18 April 2010 in by Catriona

Oh, gosh: running really late here. Haven’t even managed dinner! But back soon.

But though I haven’t eaten dinner, I have drunk my share of a bottle of wine, so be prepared for some confused live-blogging.

Oh, it feels like such a long time since I’ve done any live-blogging. But I have a totem today: a model of a weevil, provided for this live-blogging. He’s sitting on the corner of my coffee table, watching me as I type. If I manage to get a decent copy, I’ll show you a Hipstamatic photo of him at the end of the live-blogging.

You’re welcome.

Close up on the Earth—that’s the only proper way to start an episode of Doctor Who. The TARDIS isn’t looking so good—and neither is the Doctor, since he’s hanging out the door of the TARDIS and frantically trying to avoid the spire on Big Ben.

Opening credits. I’ll say this now: I deeply, deeply hate the new music for Doctor Who.

After the credits, we pan over a lovely, moody garden, past a swing set, and up to a young Scottish girl who is praying to Santa.

GIRL: It’s Easter now, so I hope I didn’t wake you.

She says that there’s a crack in her wall—as I type her wish for Santa to send someone to fix it, or a policeman, I hear a tinny “Exterminate!” from the kitchen, where Michelle is opening a bottle of beer. I hope Santa isn’t sending a Dalek.

I tell Michelle and Heather that they were requested for the live-blogging.

MICHELLE: Was it Matt Smith? Because we love him. Thank you, Matt Smith! We love you.
HEATHER: Tell him I said “[Redacted] yeah!”

Yes, she actually said “Redacted.”

In that time, the girl is heading down the garden, where the Doctor has just crashed his TARDIS into the garden shed, and then climbed up with a grappling hook.

DOCTOR: I was in the library. Hell of a climb from down there.
GIRL: You’re all wet.
DOCTOR: I was in the swimming pool.
GIRL: You said you were in the library.
DOCTOR: So was the swimming pool.

The girl asks if he’s come about the crack in her wall, and he convulses as he regenerates.

DOCTOR: Does it scare you?
GIRL: No, it just looks a bit weird.
DOCTOR: No, the crack in your wall. Does it scare you?
GIRL: Yes.

The Doctor tells her to come with him, to trust him, and to not wander away. But in the first place, he wants an apple. Apparently, he’s craving apples.

But no: he doesn’t want apples. Or yoghurt. Or bacon. Or beans. Or bread and butter. He wants fish fingers and custard.

It’s fair to say that we’re all disgusted by this, and even more so when Nick tells us Matt Smith ate these in every take, because he hates it when actors don’t eat.

As he eats his fish custard, the girl tells him that she’s Amelia Pond, she has no parents (only an aunt, who is “out”), and that she had to leave Scotland.

The Doctor asks if she’s scared.

AMELIA: I’m not scared.
DOCTOR: Of course you’re not. Box falls out of the sky, man falls out of box, man eats fish custard, and you just sit there. So you know what I think?
GIRL: What?
DOCTOR: Must be a hell of a scary crack in your wall.

Upstairs, the Doctor tells Amelia that the crack in her wall is a crack in time and space, a tear in the fabric of the world. Through it, they can hear a voice saying, “Prisoner Zero has escaped.”

The Doctor tells her that to close the crack, he first has to open it all the way.

DOCTOR: You know when grown ups tell you that everything’s going to be fine, and you think they’re probably lying to make you feel better?
DOCTOR: Everything’s going to be fine.

When the Doctor opens the crack, we see a giant eyeball. This, it seems, is Prisoner Zero’s guard, and the Doctor realises that this means that Prisoner Zero has escaped through Amelia’s house.

But before the Doctor can put his finger on what’s bothering him, the TARDIS starts to shut down, because of the damage it sustained. He tells Amelia it’s too dangerous to take her with him, but he’ll be back in five minutes. She packs her suitcase, pops on a duffel coat, and trots down the garden in her nightdress and wellingtons.

We see from the clock above the stove that when the TARDIS rematerialises, it’s more than three hours later.

The Doctor rushes into the house, shouting that he knows what’s wrong and that Prisoner Zero is here in this house. But before he can attract Amelia’s attention, he’s hit in the face with a cricket bat.

We cut to a hospital where the coma patients are all calling “Doctor!”, much to their doctor’s distress.

Back with the Doctor, he’s being faced with an extremely attractive red-headed policewoman in an extremely tiny mini-skirt, who tells him that she has back-up on the way and that Amelia Pond hasn’t lived here in six months.

The Doctor won’t believe this: he says he promised five minutes, so he can’t be six months late. The policewoman ignores him and turns around to request her sergeant to send back up soon.

Michelle can’t cope with how short the mini-skirt is. “She’s a stripper, isn’t she?” she asks.

Heather can’t cope with how mean the doctor is to Rory the nurse (who insists that he’s seen the coma patients wandering around the village).

The Doctor attracts the policewoman’s attention to the fact that there’s a whole door at the end of the hallway that she’s never seen before, even though she lives in the house.

She won’t listen when he tells her not to open the door, and won’t listen even when he tells her to get out after she finds his sonic screwdriver on a table in the room.

She won’t listen when he tells her not to look in the corner of her eye, so she sees the “interdimensional multi-form from outer space” that’s been hiding in her spare room.

The Doctor tells the policewoman to run, since she has back-up coming, but she says there is no back-up: she’s not a policewoman, she’s a kissogram. She pulls off her hat to reveal a cascade of red hair that I (as a Scotswoman by birth but not by breeding) would kill for.

We briefly debate what’s better: hair, eyes, or lips. We agree that all three is a pretty good outcome.

Prisoner Zero bursts out of the room in the form of a comatose man and his dog—the man is barking, not the dog. Luckily, the Doctor manages to get out of his handcuffs, as other aliens say that if Prisoner Zero doesn’t “vacate the human residence” then “the human residence will be incinerated.”

I’d like to blog the repartee about why the policewoman is not dressed as a French maid, but by the time I get to it, we’ve had the revelation that the policewoman is Amelia.

DOCTOR: You’re Amelia.
AMELIA: And you’re late.
DOCTOR: You’re Amelia.
AMELIA: And you’re twelve years late.
DOCTOR: You hit me with a cricket bat.
AMELIA: Twelve years, and four psychiatrists.
AMELIA: I kept biting them.
AMELIA: They said you weren’t real.

As they argue their way through the town, they hear the prison guard’s message echoing from all available loudspeakers.

HEATHER: They mean the Earth!
ME: Heather! Spoilers!
HEATHER: Well, if I can guess it, it’s not much of a spoiler.
ME: Maybe you’re just super-intelligent?

The Doctor bursts into a strange woman’s house, and demands to see her television, in between some banter about what Amelia does for a living, in which the Doctor gently chides her about being a kissogram.

AMELIA: You’re worse than my aunt!
DOCTOR: I’m the Doctor. I’m worse than everybody’s aunt . . . and that’s not how I’m introducing myself.

As the woman whose house they’ve broken into’s grandson (wow, there’s a complicated possessive) comes in, we find that Amy (as Amelia prefers to be known) used to draw cartoons of the “Raggedy Doctor” when she was a child.

The Doctor reveals that the “human residence” is, as Heather suspected, the Earth, and he and Amy wander across the village, with the Doctor rampaging about duck ponds and something he’s missed. But Amy’s hit her breaking point, and she drags him over to a car and shuts his tie in the door.

CAR OWNER: Amy, I am going to need my car back.
AMY: In a minute. Now go have coffee.
NICK: You get the impression she’s been terrorising the village for years.

The Doctor convinces Amy to trust him, despite the fact that he’s let her down before and, perhaps, is the reason why she has the brittle carapace. He convinces her to trust him by showing her the apple with a face on it that she gave him twelve years ago.

She does chose to trust him, and they run to the one person who is not photographing the eclipsed sun (a pre-runner to the Earth being boiled), but is photographing the man with a Rottweiler from earlier. This is Rory, Amy’s friend/boyfriend and nurse from the coma ward, where Prisoner Zero is taking advantage of the comatose human minds, allowing him eight disguises.

The Doctor tries to attract the attention of the guard-ships—have I mentioned them before? Big ships with giant eyeballs in them? Heather found them hysterical—with his sonic screwdriver, but it explodes and Prisoner Zero melts down a drain.

The Doctor, in the meantime, wants to see Amy’s friend Jeff (the grandson from earlier), because he has a giant laptop. He steals Rory’s phone, and sends Amy and Rory off to the hospital.

With Jeff’s computer, the Doctor hacks in on a super-secret conference call and proves his genius status by sending them a series of impossible formulae (including faster-than-light travel, “with two diagrams and a joke”). He tells the assembled bigwigs, including Patrick Moore, that he’s writing a computer virus, and he’s writing it on Rory’s phone, for reasons that he won’t explain just yet.

Amy works her way into the hospital thanks to her policewoman’s uniform, but they’re stopped by Olivia Coleman and two small girls, who they rapidly realise are actually the multi-form, because they’re speaking out of the wrong mouths again.

The multi-form breaks into the ward where Amy and Rory have buttressed themselves, but the Doctor drives his stolen fire engine up close enough to the window to climb through, and confronts the multi-form.

He tells it (him? her?) to open another crack in the universe, to escape that way. But she (it? he?) tells the Doctor that she didn’t open the crack in the first place. She taunts him for not knowing where the cracks come from: “The universe will crack, and the Pandorical will open.”

(We have a brief but spirited debate about whether it was “Pandorical” or “Pandoricum,” but Michelle backs me up and we go with “Pandorical.”)

Then the consequences of the computer banter in Jeff’s room is revealed, as the Doctor resets all clocks in the world to zero (Prisoner Zero, that is), and points out that the Atraxi (the prison guards) can track a virus to its source—Rory’s phone.

Prisoner Zero has one last option: the mental link it’s formed with Amy after living in Amy’s house for twelve years.

It appears as the Doctor.

DOCTOR: Well, that’s rubbish. Who’s that supposed to be?
RORY: That’s you.
DOCTOR: Is that what I look like?
RORY: Don’t you know?
DOCTOR: Busy day.

But the Doctor says that Amy is thinking of him (the Doctor) because she’s dreaming, and he tells Amy to dream of what she saw when she snuck into the hidden room. She does, and Prisoner Zero is forced into his own form.

(Oh, this is the hardest live-blogging I’ve done in years.)

Though the Atraxi grab Prisoner Zero and leave, the Doctor calls them back—apologising to Rory in advance for the bill.

Then he heads up to the roof, re-costuming himself as he goes. I stop live-blogging for a moment to watch that. I’ve watched every Doctor re-costume since Tom Baker (sob!) and I always love it.

On the roof, the Doctor challenges the Atraxi, asking them first if the world is a threat and secondly whether it is protected. The Atraxi, monitoring the world’s communications, flip through the faces of the previous ten regenerations of the Doctor. As they get to the Tenth Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor steps through the video projection.

DOCTOR: I’m the Doctor. Basically . . . run.

I have to stop live-blogging because I tear up a little and, as is obligatory at a regeneration moment, I have to press both hands really hard over my mouth.

But the Doctor legs it, because he feels the TARDIS key warming in his hand, leaving Amy behind—again—in his rush to try out the new TARDIS.

When he returns, Amy is dreaming that the Doctor did, after all, come back when she was a child—and she wakes to the sound of the TARDIS regenerating.

Of course, she rushes down to the garden, but only to tell him that all the events with Prisoner Zero happened two years ago.

Nevertheless, Amy steps into the TARDIS—and is the first of the new companions not to freak out because it’s bigger on the inside. But her eyes are as wide as eyes can get.

ME: Yep?
MICHELLE: I don’t like this episode.
ME: You don’t? Why?
MICHELLE: I just think the narrative is a bit weak.
ME: Okay. I’ll put that on the blog.

But Amy agrees to travel with the Doctor, on condition he gets her back tomorrow for “stuff”. (And why would she believe that? When he’s currently fourteen years late?)

Of course, as the TARDIS dematerialises and we pan across Amelia’s childhood toys of the Raggedy Doctor, we see that “stuff” is her wedding day. Either that, or she just collects wedding dresses.

And now, a fuzzy picture of a weevil:

Oh, it’s been a while since I live-blogged. Apologies for any incoherence. Join us again next week for another Steven Moffat episode!

Share your thoughts [24]


Matt wrote at Apr 18, 11:18 am

I was so looking forward to Doctor Who tonight and even steph in board and discover this dinner date we had. When I arrived I sounded the host out on her feelings re The Doctor but no cigar. Anyway the live blogging was almost as good viewed under the table on my iPhone. Thanks all for keeping this tradition alive.

As far as the plot goes, reckon it was an attempt to amalgamate Moffat’s most celebrated past achievments. A bit Girl in the Fireplace, a bit Blink (don’t look at it), maybe some others as well. And great to end with The Doctor getting over himself and inviting a hot chick wearing a nightie into his Tardis (time and relative dimensions in sexiness)


Lodger wrote at Apr 18, 11:31 am

Totally agree with much that is live-blogged here. Absolutely second the motion that the music is terrible. Carried nem con. Agree also with Michelle’s comment about the narrative, but first eps for new docs are usually a bit lighter for narrative to focus more sharply on character development, and this is MS’s strong point, IMHO. He may be the youngest Dr to date, but he carries the previous doctors into the role very nicely, as well as playing up the idea that he realises he’d been given (literally) a new lease when he expected it to be curtains.


Catriona wrote at Apr 18, 12:01 pm

And welcome to the blog, Lodger!


I agree that the Eleventh Doctor carries the former Doctors through into the role nicely. I actually teared up a little when the old Doctors flashed onto the screen, and I’m not a lachrymose person by nature.

Nick also argued that the focus is on character development for the first episode, and I absolutely agree with that. It’s always good to see the Doctor settle into the new face.

But Michelle did point out that she’s not an old-school fan of the show, so she was having a bit of trouble coming to terms with the idea that he was the Doctor but not the Doctor, especially when he seemed to have the tastebuds of a newborn but the personality and intellect of a grown man. I’d hoped to live-blog that discussion, but ran out of time.

And, Matt, I’m working Time and Relative Dimensions in Sexiness into every live-blog from now on.


Melissa wrote at Apr 18, 01:32 pm

I enjoyed it well enough, and didn’t mind the new theme too much (I don’t like it, but I can live with it). What did annoy me a little is that parts of the dialogue for the Doctor sounded as though they were written in Tennant’s rhythm/style. But I think Smith will do just fine; I don’t know why people made such a fuss.

Re: Your above comment. Oh, I wish you could have blogged that! I always think the idea of that is fascinating, particularly since he has this entire history laid out behind him that is completely belied by his current appearance. But I definitely don’t have the means to properly articulate what I’m thinking when it comes to that concept. He really is quite a freakshow, I think, and “madman” a fair description.


Catriona wrote at Apr 18, 01:48 pm

I think—though Michelle can clear this up, perhaps—that this is the first regeneration she’s ever seen. She wasn’t a fan of the original series, and I don’t think even watched the Christopher Eccleston series: we didn’t do our Doctor Who nights back then, and I’m fairly sure they were her first exposure to the show, or at least her main exposure.

So, though she knows that the Doctor regenerates and that this is his eleventh body, she’s never actually watched the Doctor regenerate before. And the regeneration is a unique experience. About the only analogy I can think of is James Bond, and even that’s not a great analogy, because with Bond, it’s more a matter of “Don’t pay any attention to the new face; he’s the same man. Exactly the same man.”

(It’s a good analogy on a technical level, since, like the Doctor’s regeneration, it keeps the concept going indefinitely, but not a good analogy on a thematic level, because regardless of how the Bonds might differ from one another, it’s not an overt adoption of a new persona.)

It was interesting to watch someone see regeneration for the first time (or the first significant time). If I hadn’t had everything I could do to keep up with the narrative in general, I would have devoted some time to it. I feel my live-blogging skills have become a little rusty—this one was hard.

I think you’re right on “madman,” Melissa: I seem to recall Steven Moffat saying something along those lines recently. Nick would be able to tell me for sure.


Nick wrote at Apr 18, 02:00 pm

There were a few lines, not many, that made me think of the 10th Doctor, but I believe that was deliberate, to show the new Doctor’s regenerative confusion – the same technique was masterfully deployed by Peter Davison in “Castrovalva”, as he momentarily impersonated each of his predecessors.


Wendy wrote at Apr 18, 09:13 pm

well I didn’t like the new theme music much at all…unnecessary changes which didn’t improve it in any my little musical opinion


Catriona wrote at Apr 18, 09:55 pm

I know they’re saying that the Eleventh Doctor is reminiscent of the Second Doctor—and I’ll not deny there’s something Patrick Troughton-y there—but I can’t help thinking of Davison, as well.

Part of it’s their comparative youth, of course, but I wonder if he might not be the spiritual successor to the Fifth Doctor, as well. So many of us weren’t prepared to give Peter Davison any kind of chance at all, because we weren’t prepared to give up Tom Baker. I’m willing to be there are fans out there thinking exactly the same thing about Smith.

I agree re. the music, Wendy, but suspect that since it’s a whole new team for the show, they felt should have a new everything—new Doctor, new companion, new TARDIS interior, new title sequence, new logo, new theme music.

It was all a bit too much “new” at some points, and the one I really settled on hating was the music. I’m not musical at all, but I thought it muddy: I couldn’t actually hear the distinctive Doctor Who beat properly.

I also didn’t care much for most of the new TARDIS: I didn’t like the new centre of the console, or the floor around the console. But I do like the colours and the portholes in the wall (they’re the first time I feel it looks like the console room of old), and I like that they’re pushing the steampunk aesthetic to the foreground in terms of console usability.


Drew wrote at Apr 19, 12:35 am

Mmmm, Eleventh Hour brought me back to the feelings I had with the episode “Rose”; that is a total suspension of all critical faculity and a complete and utter delight at seeing Doctor Who again. There is absolutely nothing that I can say about this episode that is in any way critical. I loved it. As you know I am preconditioned to automatically accept the new Doctor as “The Doctor”, I am hard-wired that way. But I’ve seen three episodes now, loved the first, really enjoyed the second, thought the third was a bit over the top (in a Russell T. Davis kind of way) but it was still fun. I am not totally sold in the new Tardis interior I will agree, but it proposes the suggestion that there is more to the Tardis than just the control room and that’s a feeling that’s been mostly absent in the show since its reconception and for that reason I like it. The theme music doesn’t bother me at all.


Catriona wrote at Apr 19, 01:07 am

I think most long-term fans are hard-wired to accept the new regeneration as “the Doctor”—we simply couldn’t have kept watching the show for so long if we didn’t accept unreservedly the idea of regeneration.

(I think I’ve ranted about this on the blog before, when the Internet was buzzing with the news of Tennant’s departure.)

That said, I have certainly liked some regenerations more than others.

If we do go back to a sense of the interior life of the TARDIS (and I hadn’t thought about that, Drew. That’s very true of the new design: it’s much more open and we’re already talking more about the hidden rooms of the TARDIS) then that would really drive home the Davison connection: for me, the Fifth Doctor is the time when the show really concentrates on the interior life of the TARDIS for the first time since the First Doctor.


michelle wrote at Apr 19, 06:26 am

Perhaps this is the first regeneration I have ever seen. I did watch Doctor Who when I was little, a long time ago. But my memory of saying “exterminate, exterminate” into the pedestal fan is stronger than any memory of the actual show.

Just a quick note: I thought it was the Pandoracle, rather than the Pandorical. This would create a nice portmanteau word that retains the “Pandora” spelling and meaning while also hinting at oracles. Neat, huh?


Catriona wrote at Apr 19, 06:30 am

The Daleks reign supreme, indeed!

Actually, “Pandoracle” does sound and look much nicer than “Pandorical.” If it comes up again, I shall adopt your spelling.

(I could Google it, I suppose, but then we might both be wrong. Plus, I confidently expect Tim to Google it and correct us if necessary.)


Tim wrote at Apr 19, 07:02 am

Oh, you fixed the typo!

I was tossing up between ‘Pandoracle’ and ‘Pandorical’; the latter is my preference, but I haven’t seen an official word yet. Also, some people have heard it as ‘Pandoric’.

I thought this episode was delightful, though the monster did too much standing about and the new theme music was awful. Matt Smith is off to a good start, though his convulsions looked stagey. But I have to wonder — are we meant to think that the Doctor would really take a seven-year-old girl away from her home, even if she doesn’t like her aunt?


Catriona wrote at Apr 19, 07:57 am

There were so, so many typos to fix. I’m sure it’s not been so long since I live-blogged “End of Time”: I have no idea why I felt so out of practice for this episode.

The aunt question is one that I would rather like them to come back to at some point. I do like narrative suggestiveness, but I want to know what’s going on there. Amy clearly doesn’t like her aunt, but there’s a suggestion of neglect there, too: surely Amy is too young to be left alone at 11 pm, even in a tiny village that only has a duck pond and a post office.

Then later Amy speaks of her aunt in a way that could be present tense or past tense, when she tells the Doctor that he’s worse than her aunt. So is the aunt still around? Is she still living with Amy in that house? Because we see no sign of her. Is she dead? Is she alive but living somewhere else?

It’s all too ambiguous for me. But I don’t say that as a criticism of the episode, which I loved (minus the theme music and some aspects of the console room).


Tim wrote at Apr 19, 10:35 am

I guess we’ll learn more in episode 5.


Catriona wrote at Apr 19, 11:59 am

Spoilers! Spoilers!!

Okay, I’m kidding about the spoilers. But I actually don’t know anything about episode five. Now the next four weeks (or maybe the next fortnight) will be suffused with a pleasant glow of expectation.

If I don’t learn anything in episode five, the following four weeks will be suffused with an unpleasant miasma of disappointment.


Tim wrote at Apr 19, 01:33 pm

The word online is trending towards ‘Pandorica’, apparently mentioned in a leaked possible episode title and an interview with Stephen Moffat, among other places.


Nick Caldwell wrote at Apr 20, 03:30 am

Ahem. “Steven”.


Sam wrote at Apr 20, 07:04 am

I loved it. Great to see The Doctor back, I thought Matt Smith fitted in excellently and Amy Pond… [excited boyish giggling].

I especially like The Doctor finishing Rory’s sentence as Rory did and I hope we see the 11th Doctor do that a great deal. I didn’t like the corner of the eye stuff in the park though, it felt clumsily directed. And the new opening music is terrible but I like the new TARDIS interior.

I had a dream about a month before seeing this where I was eating KFC and custard, so the Doctor eating fish fingers and custard just seemed normal.

Looking forward to more live-blogging through the season!


Catriona wrote at Apr 20, 07:12 am

I imagine there’s going to be rather a lot of excited boyish giggling across the world as long as Amy Pond keeps wearing those skirts. She is lovely, though: I might even giggle myself.

I wasn’t sure about the corner-of-the-eye stuff in the park, until I heard—I think through Doctor Who Confidential but I can’t remember and can’t find a supporting link—that it wasn’t filmed, but was shot on a series of still photographs that then flipped together to make the jerky sequence. That made it seem more interesting to me (on a technical level) on re-watching (and tied in nicely with both the photographing of the Sun and Britain’s status as one of—or the?—most surveilled countries on Earth).


Tim wrote at Apr 20, 11:54 am

> Ahem. “Steven”.

Ouch! I could have sworn I fixed that. :)


Sam wrote at Apr 20, 12:48 pm

Ah, I hadn’t thought of it as trying to be reminiscent of the mobile photography, which now I think more about it was something that I really should have picked up on.

Knowing that certainly makes it seem much less clunky. Still not sure I really like the aesthetics of it but that is just me I suppose.


John wrote at Apr 21, 02:57 am

I’m with Drew: I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about it. Matt Smith dispelled every fear I had with ease. And Amy Pond… [excited boyish giggling]

I suspect that I will feel much the same way about ep 2, which I couldn’t possibly have seen yet, because it hasn’t been broadcast on the ABC, and how else would I see it? I have a growing feeling that bits of ep 3 are going to severely irritate me, but that will have to wait for the live-blogging in two weeks.


Catriona wrote at Apr 21, 07:04 am

I have a feeling that the live-blogging for the next two will follow the patterns outlined above: excitement about episode two and some concerns about episode three . . .

But that’s just a suspicion.

Comment Form

All comments are moderated and moderation includes a non-spoiler policy based on Australian television scheduling.

Textile help (Advice on using Textile to format your comments)
(if you do not want your details filled in when you return)



Monthly Archive