The first, new episode of the 2011 run of Dr Who The Impossible Astronaut is a joy.
If you’re going to do a Doctor Who in America why not go for it. Using the vast scale of the wide open spaces and light gives grandeur to the scene that chalk pits never could. Later the TARDIS appearing in the beautifully realised Oval Office. The villain in a NASA space suit.
The dialogue was snappy with great one liners, jokes, catch phrases and playing with in show jokes for regular viewers.
I’ve read some complaints that Steven Moffat is using time travel within episodes too much. Frankly that almost points up that writers in the past haven’t used it enough. The old formula used the TARDIS to drop the Doctor and friends into an interesting situation and then let them leave at the end.
The incidental music I am the Doctor and its variations are now as inextricably linked musically to the show for me as the theme. I keep catching myself tapping the rhythm.
River Song as always a joy from the Mrs Robinson gag. She continues the complication of someone who can travel in time in a non linear way independently of The Doctor that Captain Jack began. In some ways she is exploring companions in a way they’ve not been looked at before. We got a hint of this with Sarah Jane in School Reunion. Here we are seeing the slightly obsessive side of the jilted companion replaced by younger companions. Then there her prophetic, metaphorical sense that the day she meets The Doctor for his first time and he doesn’t know who she is may kill her foreshadowing Forest of the Dead.
Having Rory aboard the TARDIS for a whole season will change the shows dynamic. We get away from the RTD model of the companion. The adult side is still there thanks to River and Doctor flirting but now we have Doctor with companions that doesn’t apply to. Now she has Rory to share screen time with Amy seemed a bit more toned down.
It was a really nice touch having William Morgan Sheppard and Mark Sheppard playing Canton Everett Delaware III at different ages rather than resorting to dodgy makeup. Really hope we’ll see more of Canton in Day of the Moon as he quickly established an interesting character. Will we get an explanation of why Canton getting married was a crime?
The first of the stories two monsters in the story is scary. Creepy 1960s suited MIB / Grey hybrids who make people forget. Is the one there just before the Doctor killed significant? Is it there to observe the death? Are these monsters just a bit Oodish. We only see its mouth when it kills but not when it speaks.
The other apparent bad guy is the space suited killer. Is the girl in the Space Suit the same one as at the lake? Steven Moffat seems to like space suit as monster motifs – The Vashta Nerada infected skull faced spacesuits in Silence in the Library had the space suit motif. These new monsters are being called The Silence which is odd since they cause people to forget them. It’s probably all just be a coincidence or playing with fans heads. If nothing else Moffat likes monsters with scary heads we can add his gas masked villains of The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.
Then we have the mysteries: River in Flesh and Stone says she killed the best man she’d ever known. There is a girl in the space suit when we see it in 1969. Someone in a space suit kills the Doctor. Could it be that River is the girl in the space suit?
We get little time travel games – Rory the Roman used and then invented later by the earlier Doctor is a nice touch.
Amy is the first character to experience nausea after seeing The Silence. Then River is later and blames it on prison food. Is Amy really pregnant or is there more to it? Is it natural or is it related to The Silence or is there something else going on?
Rather than following more recent series where a series of episodic stories build up to reveal a mystery we’ve had a series of big mysteries dropped in out lap. Will the next episode clear them all up or have we been shown the shape of some or all of this series?
- The Silence can at least know names. Can it read thoughts?
- The Silence killed Joy in the bathroom but other than that do we see them do anything bad?
- There are Tunnels under the entire planet for centuries or something added by the Tardis rebuilding the planet?
- What hit Canton on the head?
- How does this tie to the control room in The Lodger?
- Why has the Doctor been practicing escapes? Is this more significant than an opening joke?
I know in the past I’ve complained about there not being enough cliff hangers. I can hardly complain about that this week with not one, not two but three cliff hangers…
- Rory apparently zapped by The Silence
- The girl in the space suit shot by Amy
- The dead Doctor
I’m really looking forward to the next part and the rest of the season. Fingers crossed it lives up to this cracking series opener.