“Breaking news!” announced our son. “There is a headless Auton with paddle hands destroying a restaurant! His paddle hands can be used to smash tables and also as cutting boards!” But that was after the episode. He was really amusing to watch as the episode played out. For those of you who have never seen Doctor Who‘s re-debut episode from 2005, the story starts out with mannequins coming to life, and plastic trash cans swallowing people with belches, and duplicating hapless twentysomethings and giving them weird plastic smiles. And while our son enjoyed everything that went on – especially, of course, the belch – he wasn’t quite willing to definitively declare these strange monsters to be Autons.
But toward the end of the adventure, a whole shopping mall full of mannequins comes to life. And then one raises its hand in a vintage 1970-71 gesture and its fingers fall away, and, magically, because the new showrunner, Russell T. Davies, is enough of a fanboy to get this right, we hear the classic sound effect of an Auton handgun. And our kid shouted “I knew it! They’re Autons!” I mean, a living plastic mannequin could be anybody. Only an Auton makes that kind of noise when it shoots somebody.
So I was intending to watch this tomorrow night, but when I put The Hardy Boys back on the shelf and pulled out Christopher Eccleston’s run of Who, the kid bounced off the ceiling and he’s been waiting very, very impatiently. And, ah, heck, I wanted to see it again too. Eccleston is joined by Billie Piper, Noel Clarke, and Camille Coduri for his first adventure, and it’s a great reintroduction to the show.
A few weeks ago, we talked about the 1996 movie and how it worked under the assumption that anybody who tuned in already knew Doctor Who inside and out. I told him tonight to watch how this story works as though nobody in the audience had ever seen the program. I like it a lot. I like its speed and its pace, and I really like Eccleston. I’m a little less on Rose’s side, but she’ll have a moment or two.