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

Story No. 233 You've probably forgotten this already
Production Code Series 6, Episode 1
Dates April 23 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 TARDIS crew are in the United States, on the trail of the Silence.


Fascinating and Fantastic by Kaan Vural 17/7/11

This is it. This is the one we've been waiting for.

In 2005, the world hit the F5 button on Doctor Who. Now the button's been hit a second time.

Incredibly difficult as it is to discuss even the tiniest details about this episode without spoilers (even those relating to Series 5), I'll be as vague as I can.

Before I get into the details, though, let me give you the general gestalt of my impressions after watching this episode. I was struck to realize just how conventional, in some ways, RTD's tenure on Doctor Who had been. I've lambasted him before for twisting Doctor Who into a sort of cheap imitation of itself, but what I didn't appreciate was how much he was carrying on much of the Doctor Who formula. What Moffat's done here is revised the formula of Doctor Who downwards, reducing it to the even barer and the even more essential. No longer is the Doctor just traveling around time and space for the hell of it; sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, he's getting involved in bigger plots and bigger plans, not all of them in the right order. The result is a take on Doctor Who that is... well, ridiculously new and effortlessly 'big' without resorting to monologues, prophecies, or in-your-face orchestral music. Moffat's doing his best to surprise us, keep us on our toes, keep us looking at the details and turning them over in our heads. This is when 'everything changes', a character tells us, and that character was spot on. This is Doctor Who totally unlike anything from the past five or six years. And I love it.

Now the specifics:

The Doctor: as adventurous and as quirky as ever, the Doctor's grown a bit since the past series and learned from some of his mistakes. He's more cautiously optimistic, at least twice preferring to gather information rather than jumping headfirst into a problem.

The Companions: a significant improvement on Series 5. Every character has toned down a bit and been given some depth. A character who may usually come across as bitchy is now more mature and settled, with pressing issues allowing us to avoid a Tooth and Claw situation. A character who might be thought of as comic relief is actually one of the more clear-headed and responsible of the team, figuring out a couple of details for the audience rather than just asking what's going on. A character who tends to be very coy and cryptic is given an additional layer of pathos.

The Supporting Cast: Strong. The characters are well-conceived and quite good. One of them has an unrevealed trait that will probably be picked up on by certain people, but is otherwise quite not obvious. Three-dimensional characters: good for crafting good stories. They add humor, pizazz, and an effective backdrop to the story.

The Plot: Big, unusual, and still twisty. It is light on plot in the sense that it has to first establish some background for the series as a whole, but surprisingly enough we're given at least five important mysteries to chew on for the second half and the rest of the series. I couldn't tell you, even if I wanted, exactly what the central conflict is, but I can make a decent guess, and the leads certainly have a lot of the knowledge needed to better understand the situation. This episode will reward attention to detail, and so manages to be a powerhouse of intellectually challenging narrative: within the first ten minutes, the wheels in your head will be turning furiously to figure out what's going on. In other words, as well-written as the beginning of a premiere two-parter can be.

The Arc: There are strong indications of what the arc will entail; Series 6 ties so much into Series 5 that it's quite surprising, given how much more conventional and light-hearted the latter was. Let me put it this way: the villains appear in Series 5 at least twice, although you haven't yet realized it! I did anticipate the central element so far revealed according to the plot arc, but it was done so well that I'm still too impressed to be smug.

The Villains: They strongly resemble the Weeping Angels in conception in this sense: to defeat them requires more than luck, brute force, or Doctor ex Machina, but actual thinking and tactical reasoning. And a conflict that requires intellect to resolve is a strong conflict. They're also distinct from the Weeping Angels in that they're actually very much inspired by aspects of Earth history instead of being a purely original concept. Suffice it to say that they're both chilling and compelling.

The Music: much less intrusive this time around; I couldn't recall a single moment in which the 'I am the Doctor' theme was used in its full form, even though it almost certainly was, which speaks to the restraint and subtlety not only on the part of Murray Gold but the people who work with him.

The Effects: actually quite accessible, given that this episode wasn't so much high on effects as it was high on location. The result is a story that is not dependent on finding CGI villains threatening.

But the reason you need to watch this story isn't just because it's well-written, that it shows an uncommon degree of creativity, thought, and effort; not just because it's shocking, funny, sad, mysterious, and balls-to-the wall awesome - though it is all these things. It's because it's new. This is a true reboot of Doctor Who, and as with watching anything for the first time, there's only one way you can know for yourself whether or not this is is some of the most exciting television I've watched in years: to get out there and watch it for yourself.