After completing the requisite two viewings of The Impossible Astronaut, it’s fair to say that the first Doctor Who episode of [[Doctor Who Series 6|series six]] left me confused and bemused.
Steven Moffat promised a death in the first episode, and that death – spoilers, sweetie – was The Doctor himself. Yup, pick the unlikeliest character to get hosed and guaranteed Moffat would kill him off. Now, we could take this moment to ponder whether (yawn) time will be re-written and The Doctor will somehow be un-killed, but we’re used to these kind of reversals in sci-fi, and it’s incredibly boring.
Let’s just imagine that they’ll find some way to resolve the timeline or the series ends when Matt Smith decides to hang up his sonic screwdriver.
Moving swiftly along, the opening episode is a hit and miss affair. Moffat is playing his usual trick of jumping all over a timeline – not only do we have to contend with the enigmatic relationship he has with River Song, but two versions of The Doctor a couple of centuries apart. But did the older Doctor send the “TARDIS Blue” invites in the first place? Seems a little conventional for a man who gatecrashed a Laurel and Hardy video to get a message to Amy and Rory. Why follow up by snail mail?
From the frivolous starting sequence featuring The Doctor posing nude for a painting and hiding under the skirts of the artist, the episode reunites the TARDIS gang in the Utah desert for a picnic. And then our Gallifreyan host promptly gets shot by an astronaut who walks right out of the lake.
It must be said – the killing of The Doctor is a textbook Time Lord hit. Whoever pulled the trigger must’ve known that Time Lords are vulnerable in the middle of their regeneration. Does anyone else think that the person inside the spacesuit is a certain Doctor Song?
Also worthy of mention was the wonderful ripple effect across the lake as The Doctor’s regeneration was snuffed out.
I wasn’t as keen on the White House scene. For some reason, Doctor Slapstick doesn’t work for me, and Matt Smith smacking into an invisible TARDIS was annoying. More so because he’d just been undermined by River Song running around fixing mistakes he was making with the TARDIS. They played that gag last year and for some reason Moffat has decided to reprise it with bells on. This is a problem for me because Moffat had only just given us a dark scene where The Doctor had grimly warned his companions never to underestimate him.
Maybe that’s why I find the tone of the show so all-over-the-place at the moment.
New villains The Silence or The Silents do look horrifying, to give them their dues. I’m baffled about their motivations, because Amy clearly saw one of them during the picnic in present-day Utah. But they’re also hiding out in a network of tunnels in 1969 as well. So do they span both eras?
To give Mr Moffat his dues, the concept behind the creatures is great – alien monsters who look hideous and who you forget the instant you look away from them. I’m incredibly impatient about the reveal though – lots of scary shots and that toilet scene, but what do they want and why are they cowering in dingy tunnels like Ood refugees?
Nice scene between River and Rory, where River spills the beans on her backwards relationship with The Doctor. But still frustratingly little exposition about how what her big secrets are. There’s much speculation online tonight that River is the child that Amy is expecting – however, both women felt nauseous in the presence of the Silents. I think it’s fair to say that the Doctor Who fanbase are genuinely chewing their knuckles to find out what’s going on with Song.
Ultimately though, I find myself mourning the Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who. That combination of Davies and Tennant had a lot of heart and was packed full of emotion. I still find Moffat to be utterly overrated by the fanbase – look at this freakishly gushing review on The Guardian’s website – it’s embarrassing. Matt Smith’s Doctor remains bizarrely ditzy in ways that make me uncomfortable. How can we take him seriously in the heroic scenes when he’s crashing into his invisible TARDIS?
Of course, all my concerns may well be wrapped up in next week’s episode. Let’s see what happens.