After regenerating, the Doctor (Matt Smith) crash-lands the TARDIS in the village of Leadworth, England. Leaving the TARDIS to repair itself, he makes the acquaintance of a young girl named Amelia Pond (Caitlin Blackwood), who helps him recover. She shows him a crack in her bedroom wall that he knows is a tear in space-time leading to an Atraxi prison. The Atraxi tell him of the escape of Prisoner Zero. He has to take a short trip, telling Amelia he will be back in five minutes. She packs a suitcase and waits for him in the garden.
The Doctor returns twelve tears later. Amelia is now Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), a long-legged, mini-skirted young woman who had been ridiculed as a child about her raggedy doctor invisible friend. The Doctor finds Prisoner Zero hidden in her house. They run from the serpent-like creature, and then the Atraxi arrive in Earth orbit as a kind of giant eye, demanding Prisoner Zero or they will—you guessed it—destroy the Earth.
Zero is able to take the form of any unconscious being it can telepathically contact. It takes over the body of a comatose patient of Amy’s boyfriend Rory (Arthur Darvill). The Doctor directs Amy and Rory to the hospital while he crashes a meeting of experts discussing the Atraxi. They take his advice and reveal Prisoner Zero to the Atraxi. But Zero knocks out Amy and takes her form. The Doctor forces it to take its natural shape and it is captured. It warns the Doctor that “Silence will fall.” The Doctor warns the Atraxi to leave Earth alone.
The Doctor leaves in the TARDIS without saying goodbye and returns two years later. Amy is still bitter about his abandonment of her as a child, but leaves in the TARDIS with him, leaving her wedding dress on the bed.
Much in this episode is new: a new theme, a new sonic screwdriver, a new TARDIS interior, and an exterior like the first TARDIS from 1963 to 1966. Karen Gillan had appeared in The Fires of Pompeii episode and impressed the writers and producers. She could play the role in either an English or a Scottish accent and they chose Scottish. The young Amy—Caitlin Blackwood—was Karen Gillan’s real-life cousin. Astronomer Patrick Moore played himself. After this episode, sales of bowties increased by 94%.
The Eleventh Hour refers to both the Eleventh Doctor and his tendency toward tardiness. (This is the first time in my life I realized that the word tardy has TARDIS in it.) Matt Smith had to eat fourteen fish fingers and custard, but they were not real fish fingers. Karen Gillan looked quite fetching in her Kissogram policewoman costume with the extremely short skirt. She is in fact a brilliant actor in this role and later, as Nebula in the Guardians of the Galaxy and other Marvel movies. Much of the story came from writer Stephen Moffat’s childhood dreams, and from the movie E.T. The Atraxi menace to Earth reminds us of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.