TV Review – Doctor Who 6.1 The Impossible Astronaut

6.1 The Impossible Astronaut

You have to credit Steven Moffat. In a career of audacious moves, this has to be one of the most audacious. Rather than have a nice fluffy season opener, he launches into one that pretty much carries on where The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang finished off, with another round of brain frying paradoxes in a two-part episode. Utilising a plot twist in the first ten minutes that will have repercussions throughout the season, The Impossible Astronaut looks sets out its stall with aplomb.
Minor spoilers below…

While the pre-credits sequence is fun, once the story really gets going, this has a truly epic feel about it. The decision to shoot in Utah/Arizona for the meeting betweeen The Doctor, River Song and Rory and Amy gives an immediate feel of scope and drama, and as events unfold there is a wonderful feeling of that space being lost and things being constricted again. I think it’s particularly telling that from the 10 minute point inwards, everything else is at nighttime, that the light has literally gone out of their lives.

The episode has some of Moffat’s best dialogue so far; the banter between the Doctor and River is spot on, Canton Delaware’s explanation of why the President should listen to the Doctor is clean and crisp, while Amy and Rory continue to be perfectly fleshed out as a couple. We all know (or at least we should do by now) that Karen Gillen is fantastic, but Arthur Darvill as Rory was once again outstanding. It’s not easy to be the second fiddle but he imbues Rory with a genuine sense of warmth and understanding. Meanwhile Gillen feels more and more iconic, fitting in a episode that had an “In Memoriam” to Lis Sladen at the start of it.

Not content with launching the series with a dramatic twist, Moffat presents us with his take on the Grey Alien that populates so much of American UFO culture/hysteria. In an remarkable cheeky twist, his Greys, known as The Silents, are aliens in black suits, who manage to eradicate all memories of themselves the instant someone ceases to look at them. Not only is this incredibly neat, and quite cheeky, the Silents themselves are nightmarish, with bulbous heads, extended fingers and no mouths.

If that wasn’t enough we then get more remnants of the previous season alluded to and pulled into the story. It was clear at the end of the Big Bang that this story arc was going to progress into this season, and at this point I’m wondering if Moffat has plans of J.M. Straczynski-eque proportions. If that’s the case, bring it on…

With another wonderful score by Murray Gold that reprises the main theme from last year, and an excellent supporting cast (an unrecogniseable Stuart Milligan as Nixon and a hugely likeable performance from Mark Shepherd as Canton Delaware), this was an episode that demanded your attention and thought. Worth watching again before episode 2 simply because so much is crammed into those first 45 minutes, you may miss something vital before the final cliffhanger.

With some superb one-liners and beautifully shot key moments, the rest of the season already has a great deal to live up to. I have no qualms though, that this is going to be one of the best seasons of Who ever.

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on April 25, 2011.

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