6.1 & 6.2 – “The Impossible Astronaut”/”Day Of The Moon”
The Doctor summons the Ponds and River Song to Utah. While having a picnic, the companions witness an astronaut rise up from the lake and kill The Doctor. They are soon joined by a younger Doctor, who has seemingly summoned himself. The companions don’t tell him about his future but encourage The Doctor to investigate the astronaut.
I appreciate that, in these modern times, Doctor Who has to feature a story arc for each series…but can we not just have glimpses of it rather than being assaulted about the head with it? You see, this is a really good story. There’s genuinely spooky aliens, there’s some really creepy stuff and The Doctor proves that he really is a clever, clever chap. But, on the other hand, it’s just a load of ominous events, being terribly ominous whilst things happen that portend dark and strange things happening and, frankly, I wish all that stuff could just get out of the bloody way of a really quite neat alien invasion story;
BANG! The future Doctor gets killed! But why? Who did it and how? Can the companions figure it out without telling the present-day Doctor?!
BANG! Amy is pregnant; except she’s not but she is, except The Doctor is keeping that from her and why is a weird lady with an eye-patch turning up?
BANG! That little girl in the astronaut suit, who may or may not have killed The Doctor, turns out to be a Time Lord! Maybe?
BANG! And the next time we meet River Song, everything changes. Oooh, what does she mean? How mysterious!
And, of course, the Silence will fall. Although we were told this back in “The Eleventh Hour”. Only difference now is the Silence that will fall is given a form. The Silence are almost one of the great New Who aliens – they are superbly designed, the actors portraying them move in such a creepy way and their mix of clicks and rattles and hisses make them the best sounding monsters ever. Remember the Weeping Angels with their quantum locked not-moving-if-you’re-looking-so-don’t-blink stuff? Arses to that – how about aliens which scare the living bejeezus out of you but are then forgotten when you turn around?! Which then forces everyone to make even freakier little tally marks everywhere. Yikes.
And it turns out that they have successfully taken over the Earth. Thousands of years ago. What were they doing back in the 60’s/70’s and 80’s when so many other aliens were trying to take over the Earth? They took over the Earth, back at the dawn of humanity, apparently so they could nudge humanity into creating a space program and building an astronaut suit so that a little girl could get inside it and kill The Doctor. This is where I get annoyed. Does it really have to be this contrived and complicated, just so we can have yet another sodding story arc going on?
If we can untangle all this continuity-laden spaghetti (and all this is shoved into just two episodes) the real meat can be found in the genuinely spooky story of a secret invasion and how The Doctor and chums deal with it. All of this is great; that creepy orphanage where Amy and the FBI guy go searching for clues is a top horror setting, combining The Blair Witch Project with The Shining. But then Amy gets captured and spirited away and Rory overhears her, seemingly, calling for The Doctor, except she’s not because (in case you weren’t watching last series) AMY LOVES RORY.
There are some cool scenes, but not enough and the sparky dialogue that lit up Series 5 seems to have had to go to make room for all the sodding story-arc plot points. On a good note, one of those scenes really is absolute gold, when The Doctor and River kiss – “There’s a first time for everything,” “And a last…” – Sums up their beautiful, tragic yet wonderfully backwards relationship. Which will then get turned to shit in a few episodes time but, right at this moment, it’s fantastic.
This could have been as good as “The Time Of The Angels” – there are moments, like in the orphanage, which are as scary as anything the show has ever produced. Instead, it serves as a perfect introduction to Series 6 being overloaded with twisty teasers and dark omens. Because of that scene with The Doc and River and because Karen Gillan does such a good job of acting absolutely scared shitless, we’ll let it have a generous 7/10. But, dear god, the Moff is trying my patience at this point.
Written and edited by Richard Barnes