Review by Mark Bousquet
“THE IMPOSSIBLE ASTRONAUT” – Series 6, Episode 1, Story 214 – Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Toby Haynes – A new season of WHO starts with a lot of old faces. For the first time in the relaunch, the same Doctor/Companion partnership is back. Amy and Rory and River all receive a mysterious envelope telling them to head for Utah, which is on a planet called America, according to a guard in Stormgate Prison. So they all get there and the Doctor is there and now he’s 1103 and they have a picnic and he gets himself killed. Yeah, and that’s just the first 10 minutes. After they burn the 1103 Doctor they had back to a diner where the Doctor pops out of the bathroom. Nobody tells him because he’s chewing on a straw. They all hop in the TARDIS and go to the White House in 1969, where they meet President Nixon and a lot of creepy ass aliens called The Silent, who look like an Edvard Munch painting. Lots of spooky stuff happens. Because The Silent Have Been Here For A Very, Very Long Time. Oh, And They’re Trying To Build A TARDIS.
I’m writing this after watching the show only once, which is something I really don’t like to do with complicated episodes because I’m sure I’ve missed a whole lot of somethings. But, hey, I watched the broadcast, it was awesome, and I want to chat. Nothing says I can’t come back later and add more stuff. So, let’s dig in to Series 6, and please feel free to speculate all you like in the comments. I can tell by the page hits that there’s a whole lot of new readers to the Anxiety (this past week saw the two busiest days in the blog’s almost year-long existence, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those two days were the day of Elisabeth Sladen’s passing and the premiere of THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET) so feel free to jump into the conversation.
What’s immediately striking about THE IMPOSSIBLE ASTRONAUT is that everything and everyone feels much more assured of what they’re doing. Perhaps this is a product of having all the principles back for a second year, but I think it’s more than that. I think the people working on the show realize they did good work last season and I think they feel they are really on the verge of doing something special. Showrunner Steven Moffat upped the ante on the season-long story last year. Unlike the Russell T Davies years, Moffat wasn’t interested in having a season with loose connections running through the edges of episodes. No, Moffat actively engaged his Crack in the Universe plot all season long. Shows still worked on their own, but DOCTOR WHO was taking a big step away from the Monsters of the Week format and towards a fully realized 13-episode serial. Series 5 was less CSI and more LOST, not only rewarding viewers for turning in every week but actively requiring it.