I started my reviews of Doctor Who in early 2011, and since I only watch the show either when it’s first broadcast or as part of a viewing cycle that means one thing…
From now on, every story I review up until the yet to be aired 50th Anniversary Special is a story I’ve only seen once.
Do I have solid memories of them? No.
If you asked me to name the episodes, I could list “The Snowmen”, “The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe”, “The Girl Who Waited”, “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS”, “Curse of the Black Spot”, “The Angels Take Manhattan”, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”, “The Doctor’s Wife”, “Let’s Kill Hitler” and the two part story I’m about to review “The Impossible Astronaut & Day of the Moon”
The other names I had to look up again, which shows you how little some of these stories, and the ones broadcast already in 2013 especially, had an impact upon me.
In fact, my snap judgement at this point, before I watch these stories again, is that the quality isn’t especially high from here-on-in.
I’m one of the viewers who can’t wait for Moffat to just piss off. For some, the reason they want to see him leave is down to the lack of episodes he’s producing now, but for me, it’s because I’ve not been especially fond of many of these stories.
Maybe on repeat viewing I’ll change my mind, but looking at the list, there’s only a very small number of stories left for me to watch where I think “Oh, that’s a good one”.
Doctor Who – The Impossible Astronaut Review: What’s This One About?
Story Arc Madness!!!!!!!
Thoughts – They Couldn’t Have Got Away With This In 2005
Ok, I’m going to launch right into why I don’t like this.
It’s down to Moffat and his fanboy style of writing where the Story Arc becomes far more important than writing an individual episode that is worth watching.
He wasn’t that bad for it in his previous season, even though the Crack in Time was a major component.
But here, the message is shouted out from the rooftops from almost the very first scene, and that is “Oh you’d better keep watching, because otherwise you’ll get lost”.
And what that translates to is simply “The only thing that matters now is that you watch the season finale”.
When Doctor Who came back in 2005, there’s no way they could have got away with writing like that, so I don’t really see why they should get away with it now.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for story arcs if they are cleverly done, but having the arc completely over-power the individual episodes is useless.
And it’s not even as if the story arc here is clever.
I knew from watching it the very first time that he was obviously not dead, and more to the point, considering we know that River Song is in prison for “killing” him, that it’s her responsible. So where’s the drama?
In terms of story arc stuff, the only thing mildly interesting was the little girl regenerating at the end.
So What’s Left?
If you ignore all the stuff that won’t matter until a few episodes down the line, what is there left of The Impossible Astronaut?
To me, the key element to a story is that it has an interesting plot.
Where a story takes place isn’t so important, up to a point.
But watching this, I’m left with the feeling that it’s a case of style over substance; as if setting it in 1969 America is enough to earn my praise. I’m supposed to ignore a fairly lousy plot because there are people with American accents on the screen, and
that Adam Klaus off Jonathan Creek is playing Nixon.
But really, it’s not.
Structurally, this story feels all over the place.
Ignoring the opening scenes and moving to what happens in the 60s, as far as I can see, it starts out as a story in which they look for the girl – and that in itself is fine – but then all of sudden the goalposts change completely in episode two.
Without any scene to explain why, The Doctor, Amy, Rory and River are suddenly on the run from the US Government, and the Doctor is encased in a prison. Only he’s not; it was a trick. And The President is in on it. Why? I’m not sure.
But now it’s all about The Silence and looking for them. And even that is sloppily done.
Remember when I referenced that scene in Arrested Development where Gob goes to work for Sitwell and has a selection of good ideas that ultimately fade away and are replaced by rubbish?
Well that’s what I think about The Silence.
In his never-ending quest to find monsters that have some sort of unique gimmick about then, Moffat comes up with ones that you can’t remember the moment you look away from them.
Ok, that in itself isn’t too bad, but where do you take it from there?
Oh, I know; scene after scene of people looking away from them and forgetting about them. That’ll fill 45 minutes of TV marvellously, won’t it?
The gimmick was worn out after about 10 minutes, so when the plot had moved as far as the children’s home, I’d lost interest. I think it was supposed to be scary, but I’d sooner have good writing than shock value, thank you very much.
And apart from that, the progression of the plot surrounding The Silence made no sense either.
All of a sudden, everyone knew enough about them to know that they were there, but that they just couldn’t remember seeing them. That didn’t make much sense. But wait, the explanation was part of the bit that was left out between the first and second episodes. You know; the bit where our imagination fills in the blanks for us rather than the writer bothering to do it?
So you see my issue here, right?
Apart from that, The Silence don’t even look that good. They are just men in suits wearing a prop head and gloves that aren’t even proportionate to their bodies.
Nope, The Silence did nothing for me at all, and consequently, neither did this story, or particularly Day of the Moon.
Meanwhile, the ultra-gripping and not in any way boring River Song storyline continues.
Now, for the sake of convenience, we’ve found out that instead of them meeting each other at jumbled up points in their lives, they are meeting in exactly the wrong order.
That’s not what was said before, was it? No, I didn’t think so either.
But I guess it suited Moffat’s mood at the time.
As I’ve said before, River Song probably seemed like a good idea when she was first thought up, but the glacial pace her storyline is moving along at, and the irritating way Alex Kingston plays her on top of that has turned it into an annoyance more than anything else.
You know that trailer someone made with Malcolm Tucker as The Doctor? The one where it says “E-fucking-nough” when River Song appears on screen? I think that’s what a lot of people think about the character, and I’m one of them.
- Just like I said in my review of A Christmas Carol, the overuse of “The Eleventh Doctor Theme” from this point onwards is almost unbearable. In this story it’s almost in every fucking scene!!!
- I’m not entirely sure of the point of having Rory think that Amy doesn’t love him if a) It’s resolved in the same story and b) It’s resolved before he even gets a chance to confront her about it?
- Poor old Rory is a good character when used properly, but he’s a spare part here.
- Really, there are too many members of the regular cast in this one anyway. It may as well just be The Doctor, and failing that, The Doctor & River.
- Actually, speaking of River Song, a few stories ago she said that the Doctor was too young for her at that point in his life. That statement needs qualifying. He’s 900 or so years old when she says that, so it must be that she wants him to look older, and yet when he’s aged a further 200 years he looks the same, and she’s more than happy to kiss him. So what changed?
- Here’s another one to think about as well; when River first appeared, she wasn’t a time traveller, was she? Indeed, I don’t even think she was in her second appearance. Now it seems for the sake of convenience, she can travel wherever and whenever she likes. Terrific.
- That line about how whatshisname, the Special Agent, wants to marry a black man seemed like it was a leftover from the RTD era.
- Wouldn’t it have been nice if a two-part story called The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon, set in 1969 America no-less, was actually about Apollo 11 Mission beyond a token gesture. I know it involved it, but wouldn’t it have been good if it was about it.
- I’ve been watching these episodes on the US Netflix (because the UK one only goes up to A Christmas Carol and because I can’t be arsed borrowing the Blu Rays from my brother) and I can’t tell if the crappy “Hi, I’m Amy Pond and this is my crazy friend, The Doctor” intro was used over here or has been put in to the American versions for a different reason. Either way, we don’t need it. Amy is not the audience identification figure anyway.
- For some reason, “A Christmas Carol” is not on US NetFlix. And why an entire season of the show is on the US NetFlix but not the UK one is a question that needs answered.
- I don’t think I’ve said one positive thing about this story, so I don’t want you to get me wrong; this isn’t the worst story ever, but based upon the standards by which we hold Steven Moffat as a writer – the same Steven Moffat who wrote The Girl in the Fireplace and Blink – this is shit.
- DWM Mighty 200 Ranking: N/A
Doctor Who – The Impossible Astronaut & Day of the Moon Review
This is all about the story arc, and it’s a story arc that anyone with a brain could have worked out immediately.
To me, that’s getting Doctor Who fundamentally wrong.
The way Modern Doctor Who is structured, an episode should be able to be watched and enjoyed by a casual viewer as much as a regular one. That’s how it worked up until now. But this is a story that requires you to keep watching. And even though I am and always will be a viewer who will watch every Doctor Who story, I don’t like that.
Beyond the story arc, what we’re left with is one giant gimmick, A hollow, poorly told story that we’re supposed to accept because it’s set in an “exotic” location, and a monster that is a good idea but poorly executed.
So as you might have guessed, I don’t like it.
Mainly out of principle.