THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

The Impossible Astronaut
The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
BBC
Day of the Moon

Story No. 234 Amy keeping count
Production Code 2.2
Dates April 30 2011

With Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill
Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Toby Haynes
Executive Producers: Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger, Beth Willis.

Synopsis: The moon launch is occurring but the Silence are everywhere.


Reviews

More Fascinating, Less Fantastic by Kaan Vural 13/8/11

The bad stuff first:

The single biggest issue with the second half is that this is when the balance between the local story and the series arc becomes strongly problematic. The two-parter as a whole raises at least a full dozen mysteries while only really answering about two; combined with the fact that the Doctor knows the final solution from the beginning of the second part (killing any possible sense of build-up), the episode as a whole feels strongly unsatisfying. Which is a problem if you want your story to have a life of its own.

Secondly, the disconnect. A fairly large portion of the plot is skipped over between the two parts, including - rather heinously - the resolution of the first-part cliffhanger itself. As a result, the episode gets off to a very disorienting start which feels written more for the punchiness and shock value than for sensible plotting and behavior by the main players in the story.

Thirdly, the companions. There is a plotline with Amy which feels very un-Who, though in fairness this will depend on how it's ultimately handled. And a choice is made regarding the relationship between River and the Doctor that worries me very deeply, though again the precise interpretation will have to wait until future encounters between the two.

Finally, the supporting cast. Mainly, there isn't one, really. None of the characters are fleshed out: every one of them barring Canton is a caricature operating purely at the convenience of the plot, and Canton has almost no point beyond being another pair of hands. Doctor Renfrew makes me think the production crew are a little too dedicated to honoring the age-old Whovian tradition of god-awful American accents. Nixon is walking handwavium. And every other character is either a cipher or a mystery. It's the Roland Emmerich approach to characterization, unfortunately, and it's not pretty to watch when Moffat does it.

Now the good:

The final solution is in fact rather good, reminiscent in its elegance of Blink in that it fits the nature of the villains. The villains themselves are still treated well by the direction and script, although there's a scene reminiscent of the Daleks' notorious inability to kill the Doctor on sight. There's undoubtedly staying power here on the level of the Weeping Angels.

The leads are treated rather well. The Doctor relies not on handwavium but on a plan which is admittedly quite daring and ingenious, and thus comes across as a more cunning sort of character than we've seen him in recent years, which goes a long way towards achieving that Fourth Doctor balance of kooky near-senility and fiendish intellect. Amy and Rory maintain the maturity they showed in The Impossible Astronaut. And River gets more material that doesn't consist purely of reciting catchphrases in a coy manner.

The effects and music are still good; an interesting variation on the "I am the Doctor" theme is introduced towards the end, which I'd love to hear developed.

Finally, the series arc, while somewhat overpowering here, does look to be fairly twisty, setting up a genuine, full-bodied mystery as opposed to the arc-word-and-a-finale approach of previous seasons. While the previous episode broke some rules about TV Doctor Who, it looks like the groundwork is being laid for some even more out-of-the-box thinking - and in the end, thinking out of the box is what Doctor Who is all about.

To conclude, the episode was a bit of a damp squib compared to the first part, but it's still worth watching for the usual Moffat-style action, romance and ingenuity, as well as some quite bizarre and shocking twists that certainly preserve a sense of anticipation about the series.