Dr Who has returned and suddenly everything seems right with the world – well, at least right with Saturday evening TV.
It feels a long time, too long, since the Doctor and Martha Jones finished off the last series in a blaze of glory and a fair bit of heartbreak (their’s and our’s).
The Christmas special with the saintly Kylie didn’t really work for me. So great expectations ahead of the start of this series and a sense of satisfaction by the close of the opening episode.
Or was there?
The reincarnated Dr Who under the supervision and control of Russell T Davies has not been afraid to shake things up and make changes. This lack of fear of change has been helpful in ensuring each series has stood out from the usual dross we are served up, particularly on a Saturday evening.
Catherine Tate had already proved a worthy assistant during The Runaway Bride, a previous Christmas spin-off special. So, her character Donna seemed a natural choice as a new assistant for David Tennant’s Doctor.
Tate herself is more than capable of developing Donna into a memorable character.
First impressions were favourable and the opening episode did a good job of some quick scene setting and a reasonably engaging storyline – even if the baby Adipose lacked any sort of menace. There was a suitably comedic spark between the Doctor and Donna – the scene where they finally saw one another again whilst spying on the baddies in their lair was spot on, if a little over-long.
All in all, there was plenty to be pleased about. Martha is still missed, obviously, but we got a tantalising glimpse of an ethereal Rose that promises an intriguing twist to future storylines.
And yet I’m still left feeling slightly bovvered by Tate’s debut.
It is refreshing to see an absence of sexual tension for a change, just a sparky relationship. But the way in which Donna established this fact – initially hearing “You want to mate with me!” instead of the Doctor’s desire for a mate to muck about with – veered far too close to Catherine Tate Show-style sketch for my liking.
There were one or two other moments when the comedy was in danger of transforming Dr Who into a sketch-show. Using Tate’s comedy pedigree makes perfect sense, but overplaying it would be a massive mistake.
Finding a right balance to ensure the comedy mixes with all the other ingredients that makes Dr Who such a success and a treat will be tricky.
It isn’t a case of watching hard in coming weeks and hoping I don’t laugh. But playing Dr Who for laughs a little too much will simply turn it into a parody of itself.
It is good to see the Doctor back again and it is refreshing to see an older choice of assistant, rather than the blatant eye-candy supplied by Billie Piper and Freema Agyeman – even if both of them brought so much more to the role of the Doctor’s right-hand woman.
Fingers crossed that the tinkering with the formula works again and the balance that is needed to ensure continued success is struck in these all-important opening episodes.
So far, so good(ish).