Doctor Who “Day Of The Moon” – TV Review

Enjoy the Silence

6.02
“Day Of The Moon”

Writer Steven Moffat
Director Toby Haynes

Few answers, even more questions. This series of Doctor Who is shaping up to be like no other before it, as the show moves even further away from its traditional series of sequential standalone stories format and more towards Lost style storytelling. Let’s hope when answers do come they’re a lot more satisfying than with Abrams’ show.

By the end of this opening two-parter, we’re left wondering:

  • Who killed the Doctor and why?
  • Who is the little girl, who is the father and how can she regenerate?
  • How can Amy be pregnant and not pregnant at the same time?
  • Why did the Silence/the Silents* need to build a spacesuit?
  • Why are there tunnels under the entire planet and what connection do they have with the “Lodger”-style TARDIS console?
  • What has the Log Lady from Twin Peaks got to do with anything?
  • Not forgetting, who is River Song?

(* Really not sure how to refer to them yet, sorry)

That’s really quite a few dangling plot lines (especially when you factor in the the mysteries left over from end of last the last series) and they do leave “Day Of The Moon” with a slightly frustrating feel of being a two-part prologue to a bigger story, rather than a completely satisfying story in itself. Or maybe we all just need to re-assess our expectations of what Who will deliver under the Moffat regime and just go with the flow? The proof, you suspect, will only come when we finally do get to see the big picture.

In the meantime, though, it would be nice to get a few answers soon. Pretty please?

On the other hand, “Day Of The Moon” is no mere exercise in delayed gratification. You want fun? You want creepy? You want action? You’ve got it – all not-so-neatly tied up with a neat bow tie.

The pre-credit teaser is a mini-epic in itself, instantly bucking expectations and  another of those great “Huh?” moments that Moffat excels in. Okay, it doesn’t quite make sense (how could Dellaware pretend to shoot Amy and Rory with bullets, without his team cottoning on that they weren’t actually dead?) but it’s still a great, great sequence, capped by River’s audacious dive into the TARDIS swimming pool. Admit it you grinned. Even if you thought it was very silly.

And will Moffat ever explain how the US Government got its hands on Dwarf Star Alloy? It would be more fun if it was just left as a throwaway gag – that’s just the kind of thing they keep in Area 51, clearly.

There’s another great action sequence at the episode’s end – a ludicrously insane laser battle that Tarantino would be proud of. It’s the perfect, visceral visual punch to accompany the more cerebral denoument to the episode with the Doctor trouncing the Silence’s plans using post-hypnotic suggestion embedded in the footage of Neil Armstrong’s first moonwalk. It’s a really clever piece of plotting that only makes sense if you’ve been paying attention and noticed the get-out clause delivered earlier in the episode that’s delivered almost as a throwaway line. How many viewers missed that and were just scratching their heads going, “But wouldn’t we all just forget…?”

In between, we’re also treated to some incredibly creepy scenes in a children’s home, Rory in ’60 glasses, President Nixon coming to the Doctor’s rescue, and a number of very effective character moments involving Rory and Amy, who give the episode a real emotional grounding amongst the plot-rush. Moffat uses his “disembodied voice pleading for help” shtick again (see, “Silence In The Library” – oh, and by the way, anybody else now wondering if there were any Silents in the library?) but then gets so much mileage out of Rory’s eavesdropping (both for comic and dramatic effect) you really don’t mind. Karen Gillan just gets better with every episode now, while it’s hard to believe Rory isn’t getting a whole new set of fans as well.

Once again we’re treated to some outstanding direction, glorious performances, near flawless FX and gorgeous locations (let’s hope the whole budget for the series hasn’t been blown). “Day Of The Moon” is huge fun, effortlessly entertaining, beguilingly bat’s-arse  and blessed with a cliffhanger so jawdroppingly unexpected it’s bound to keep viewers hooked. All of which helps smooth over the fact that it also feels just slightly too disjointed, inconclusive and open-ended.

Missing a trick? Considering Neil Armstrong famously cocked up his scripted quote when he stepped onto the moon, why didn’t the production team edit in the footage of the Silent one word earlier (just after “one small step for…” instead of just after “one small step for man…”) to provide  cheeky explanation for the missing “a”?.

Face facts? The idea of Rory, River and Amy tallying up Silence sightings on their skin is an evocative image, but why would they mark their faces? They’d only realise they’d seen a Silent if they looked in a mirror, and, because they can’t see where they’re writing,  they’re in danger of writing on the same piece of skin several times over.

Great Smith Moments: You have to love the Eleventh Doctor trying to gnaw his way through his handcuffs, and his comedy fall onto the invisible TARDIS.

Trivia: It may just be coincidence but we’d like to think this is an-joke: he two NASA security guards are called Grant and Gardner; Grant Gardner was the name of Captain America’s alter ego in a 1944 cinema serial.

Trivia 2: Renfrew is also the name of the character in the film Dracula Exotica; in fact, many people mistakenly call the character Renfield from Dracula Renfrew, and Renfrew here certainly has some similarities to Dracula’s mad, insect-eating servant.

Speculation: When Renfrew at the children’s home is talking to someone we can’t see on the other side of the door, the inference is that it’s a Silent, but we don’t trust Moffat any more. What’s the betting that later in the series it’s revealed to be somebody else (The Doctor? River? The Master? Who knows?)?

Blooper: When River opens up the visor of the empty space suit, the bullet hole is nowhere to be seen.

Quote of the week:
The Doctor: “There’s always a bit left over, isn’t there?”


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