Saturday, May 7, 2011

Doctor Who-"The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon"

Everyone is in the TARDIS on "Doctor Who"
Credit: BBC/BBC America
(I'd like to apologize for the delay on this review. Lots of other work got in the way of writing about these episodes. I contemplated not writing about them at all, but these are too important to pass over, especially because I won't be writing about episode 3).

It took a lot of thought for me to decide how to approach these two part episodes of Doctor Who. To maximize my enjoyment (and avoid a lot of hand wringing over the cliffhanger) I decided to watch the two hour premiere together, instead of in two pieces. My thoughts on these two episodes, which essentially told one story, are after the jump.

Going into this episode, I wasn't as familiar with Doctor Who as I am with many other currently running shows. I had seen the first two episodes of the Christopher Eccleston at least a year ago and last month I watched last season's finale. So I had some familiarity with the mythology, the actors, and the type of stories that Doctor Who likes to tell but not too much. But I still wasn't too sure of what to expect from the two part premiere because you can never quite expect what's going to happen with this show, especially Stephen Moffat's version of this show.

What the premiere turned out to be was a fun, well told story that I enjoyed watching. It was two hours that went by very quickly and was very fun to watch. It's now clear to me that Stephen Moffat knows how to tell a very cool story and the ideas that he set out in the premiere for an ongoing arc were very intriguing. I was pleasantly surprised by the hour and how it created a story with an intriguing villain (which may have been difficult to remember at times). I really enjoyed this episode because it had a well put together plotline with fantastic characters and it was a very good launching pad for future seasons.

I've had a void for awhile (since Lost ended) for a mindbendy Sci-Fi show that told interesting stories with interesting characters, and this filled that void. First off, the story of the week that it told was very interesting because of the "real" presence of the Silence and there being no recollection of them. That's an intriguing idea for a villain and it was very interesting when executed. These were creepy villains and they created a real threat to the Doctor and his companions. Even if the Doctor will never die (in that decade), these were villains who created a credible threat. Not to mention the fact that they were creepy. These were scary and very tough to defeat and it showed in the episode. The scene that the Doctor and crew finally defeated the Silence was brilliant and very well shot.

I do have to say that some of the settings related to the silence were much darker then I've seen on Doctor Who (and taking into consideration the fact that it's a children's show). That scene in the orphanage was a legitimately scary scene. Also, the behavior of the silence was also very creepy as well. I'm glad that they were willing to take the show to a darker place because it made for a very creepy episode and it helped hold my attention throughout the two hours.

The standalone elements of the episodes were great but what I liked even more were the elements of the episode that created the ongoing arc for the season. Something tells me that this arc will partly be about the stopping of the Doctor's death in 2011. That scene was fantastic and a great way to open the premiere. That was possibly the most shocking way that they could have opened up the premiere. Who could have expected that they would open with the Doctor's death before the episode aired? But what was great about it was the scenes where the Doctor wanted to know what was going on but they couldn't tell him. I have a gut feeling that this has to do with that little girl (who also can regenerate?). It looks like she's going to play a major role in the show's continuing arc. Also, there was another part of the arc, Amy may or may not be pregnant. There is probably something wrong with the pregnancy, but that looks like it will play out over the course of the season so I'll save more discussion of this for later.

One thing that sucked me in almost immediately to the finale last season and the premiere this season was the charm and charisma of the main characters. I think Matt Smith surprised a lot of people with his performance as the Doctor. What I found was that he has a fantastic charm that makes him perfect for the Doctor. He plays the Doctor with a sense of wit and a sense of stupidity at the same time that work really well together.

But even if there was great material for the Doctor in this one, there was some great material for the companions as well. All three of them deserve credit for their reactions to the Doctor's death in the beginning of the episode and them having to keep it a secret from the future Doctor. Karen Gillian was great with everything she was given in this episode. She was asked to play a lot of different emotions and she played them all with ease. Even though Arthur Darvill wasn't asked to play very much (just a combination of worried and jealous) he was fantastic with what he was given. Alex Kingston plays the mysterious River Song with ease and is fantastic with the multiple emotions of the character.

Some other thoughts:

  • This was definitely a very aesthetically pleasing episode of the show as well. The locations where they shot in the US were fantastic and beautiful. I also particularly liked the shot with River falling off the building. The CGI in that shot looked relatively good for a TV show.
  • Mark Sheppard must have some sort of contract to appear on every single Sci-Fi show on television. There's a good reason for that though because he was absolutely fantastic in this.
  • I liked all of the little historical lines in this one (like the Doctor telling Nixon to record everything).
Overall, that was a fantastic two hours for Doctor Who that held my attention for the entire time and hooked me for the season with a good serialized arc setup. As for the future, I'm not sure about when I'll write about Doctor Who. I definitely won't write about tonight's episode but I will write about the show in the future.

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