I’m still going on about Doctor Who, if you’ll forgive me. This could continue for some time…
So. The new Matt Smith Doctor has just crash-landed in the garden of Amelia Pond (7, Scottish) then insisted that she feed him until he finds food he likes (“It’s like eating after you brush your teeth; everything tastes different”).
He finally settles for fish fingers dipped in custard. So you really need to read this dialogue in the context of a glorious madman eating fish fingers and custard at the kitchen table of a tough little kid, who looks on with dawning adoration.
Doctor: So your aunt, where is she?
Amelia Pond: She’s out.
D: And she left you all alone?
AP: I’m not scared.
D: Course you’re not. You’re not scared of anything. Box falls out of the sky, man falls out of a box, man eats fish custard and look at you. Just sitting there. So you know what I think?
D: Must be hell of a scary crack in your wall.
Argh, the brilliance. I read a sequence like that and I know I will write forever and never be as good as I want to be.
Why I think it’s so good:
Firstly, his triplet about the box, the man and the fish custard is hilarious. It sums up the whole scene so far, it sums up his character and it puts he and Amelia on a particular footing. It heightens the fairy-tale feel of the new-era Doctor Who. It emphasises the alien-ness of the Doctor and the ballsy spirit of Amelia Pond. It makes you laugh.
Secondly – and I cannot emphasise enough how good this is – the light-hearted chat has been working all that time on another level, that pays off with the line “Must be hell of a scary crack in your wall”. See, the Doctor could have just said that straight off. He could have gone on about how bad and terrible the crack is, what it is, why it’s scary. Instead, he has already established beyond doubt that Amelia Pond is no ordinary girl, that she doesn’t scare easily. Then leaves it up to the audience to imagine how bad it would have to be, to scare her.
The old “what you can imagine is worse than what I can show you” chestnut.
It doesn’t only work on that level, either. It shows you how clever he is – how not only the dialogue, but also the Doctor, is working on more than one level all the time. He’s befriending Amelia, putting her at her ease, finding out information he needs to know, and at the same time he’s looking for this – for signs of how serious the situation actually is, beyond what can be said directly about it. It creates complexity and depth of character.
Lastly (probably not lastly, really. This dialogue is infinitely good) all the questions in this dialogue are vitally important for the overarching plot of the season. There’s something that’s not quite right about Amelia Pond, and it’s all here in this dialogue. You realise only in the last episode of the season that the Doctor was working on a third level in this dialogue the whole time, asking apparently harmless questions and drawing conclusions from their answers far beyond what we hear.
Add to this Matt Smith eating custard off a fish finger, and you have a scene so good it makes me fizz.