Doctor Who Preview “The Impossible Astronaut”/“Day Of The Moon”

SFX’s spoiler-free Who previews are back. 30 stream-of-consciousness thoughts about series six’s opening two-parter

The opening two-parter for series six of new Doctor Who was unveiled last night at London’s Olympia last night, in a screening room above the Doctor Who Experience. Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston and Steven Moffat were in the audience, along with the episode’s main guest star, Mark Sheppard, a whole host of series six writers (Gareth Roberts, Toby Whithouse, Matthew Graham, Mark Gatiss) and even impersonator (and famous Who fan) Jon Culshaw (who desperately had his hand in the air all the way through the post-screening question and answer session). So what did we think? Well, as has become our tradition now, we’re not going to give you our definitive review – or any spoilers – just yet, but here are some initial thoughts and teasery titbits, in no particular order (other than the order we think of them in):

  1. Neither episode starts as you’d expect
  2. Both episodes open magnificently, especially episode two which is a patented Moffat-montage special
  3. The gay agenda is back!
  4. The monsters (whose mere name would be a spoiler) are brilliant, with a truly chilling MO. They should rate up there with the Weeping Angels as one of the new series’ greatest creations. They look great, but it’s the idea behind them that is truly chilling
  5. There is an Easter Island gag
  6. The Doctor dances… with some unexpected film stars
  7. There are lots of Americans with guns gags
  8. There are two fez mentions
  9. It’s very, very dark and spooky at times. Wait till you see the scene in the Whitehouse toilets…
  10. At least three Moffat tropes are put into action again
  11. There is the startling return of a familiar special effect… twice
  12. There is the curious return of a familiar prop
  13. The Utah footage is quite simply stunning, but there’s not as much of it as we’d expected
  14. There are some quite beautiful, cinematic sequences
  15. Rory gets to wear some specs
  16. Amy reveals a secret
  17. The President’s nose dominates any scene it’s in
  18. The special effects are downright magnificent
  19. Matt Smith takes his portrayal of the Doctor up a gear
  20. The Doctor looks very embarrassed at one point
  21. The first time we see the Doctor, he’s naked. Sort of…
  22. The monsters have some important dialogue, so it’s a bit of a shame their voices are not terribly clear at times
  23. The first episode is a little talky and surprisingly character-led when you’d expect a barnstorming opening; the second episode kicks off storming that barn and keeps storming it
  24. Having said that, the character led-moments are often quite exquisite
  25. It’s funny, it’s wildly inventive, it’s fiendishly clever, it’s surprising, it’s audacious, it’s uncompromising and it’s quite unlike anything else on television
  26. There’s lots of timey whimey stuff, and not just in terms of the science fiction – more so, we’re referring to some of the storytelling techniques involved, with lots of flashbacks, sudden jumps and montages
  27. However, it’s so packed with ideas, you can’t help thinking some important elements are undeveloped. There are enough great concepts here to fuel five or six episodes, which is a good thing in many ways, because it keeps the energy fizzing and the plot surprising, but they do all fight for room a bit. We’d certainly liked to have seen more about the monsters’ background and had the dénouement clarified, among other things
  28. You can’t help thinking there are a lot of moments when kids are going to turn to mum and dad go, “Why did that happen?” and mum or dad will go, “Erm… shhhh, I’m concentrating!”
  29. You may suffer from revelation fatigue by the end of it. And a lot of things – perhaps a couple too many – are not wrapped up in the story itself, but are ongoing mysteries to be sorted out later. This show is getting like Lost, designed to be picked over on the internet! Let’s hope it doesn’t take seven years to get some answers
  30. The final, final, final scene, though, will ensure you’ll carry on tuning in to find out what happens next… or maybe in the story after next. Or maybe next season…