Someone on the internet mentioned that "The Eleventh Hour" was five years ago today, and now I am all sad and nostalgic. :( I loved Eleven and my Ponds (River, too) so very much, and while I know that it wasn't to everyone's taste, I miss that fairy-tale quality that seasons 5 and 6 had, with their girls being brave in the darkness of the forest, and people being separated from their loved ones by dislocations in time - but finding them again, too, because they never stop looking and loving even when they can't quite remember… Without any particular reason, I was worried that Moffat Who without Eleven would become (as I put it right before seeing any of S8) colder, and flintier, and less full of joy. What's odd is that even though I had no particular reason to worry about this - no spoilers or interviews or anything like that - I wound up being right.
Ironically, given how much I loved "The Eleventh Hour" right away and how much real and proverbial ink I spilled over Eleven, Amy and the gang over the course of their run, I wrote almost nothing about it on my first viewing - just this lonely little sentence from April 4, 2010: I've only been watching for fifteen minutes, and Amy Pond has already broken my heart once.
I have a pretty full account of my feelings about S5 in real time, because by the second episode, "The Beast Below," I was already in full meta mode. But I've only ever written about this first episode in little dribs and drabs here and there, on the way to something else - a post about Amy's abandonment issues here, a disquisition on Eleven and his interactions with children there. I've never really sat down to write about this episode, and how joyful it was, how it felt like we were turning a corner away from the Last-of-the-Time-Lords angst of Ten and toward someone who could call yogurt "just stuff with bits in," like a child himself; how we were meeting a Doctor who could come to a child's rescue and take her seriously within moments of meeting her; how we were getting a new TARDIS that looked like inside of a mad inventor's shop and a girl who could fly off with the Doctor in her nightie like Wendy with Peter Pan. I've never written about how much I love the awkward gangliness of Matt Smith in this episode, the way he struggles against handcuffs or leans out of a hospital window like a spaniel straining against a leash; or how I fell in love with Karen Gillan's odd, airily furious delivery of "Twelve years, and four psychiatrists," or how she broke my heart all over again with the way she yelled at breaking point, "Why did you say five minutes?" I've never written about little Amelia eating ice cream off of the ice-cream scoop, or that first time Eleven tastes the name "Amelia Pond" on his tongue. Until now, I suppose.
It's always hard to talk about what this episode, and season 5 generally, means to me. Other people have much more dramatic stories about how the show has helped them through hard times, and fortunately that isn't the case for me. But "The Eleventh Hour" felt like getting reacquainted with the stories that had shaped me as a child, getting back in touch with that magic after feeling for a long time that I had to put that sort of thing behind me. It was a reminder that stories don't have to be Serious and Important in order to matter very deeply to someone, that a little girl getting her prayer to Santa answered could be moving and true. I'll always be grateful for that, for Amelia Pond and her Raggedy Man.