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Monday, 30 May 2011

Who Review 001 - The Impossible Astronaut

Hello! Before I start, I would like to thank everybody for reading Time Lord Eleven, as it has reached over 1000 views! This is the Who Review 001: The Impossible Astronaut. Who Reviews are exclusive to Time Lord Eleven and will be coming up in the future: episode reviews, book reviews and game reviews will all be covered.

The first episode of Doctor Who Series Six was, of course, the Impossible Astronaut. At the time we didn't know how it was impossible, but then ten minutes in, we saw something that shocked all of the viewers - the death of the Doctor. The episode gave us shocks from the Silence, President Nixon getting some strange phone calls, River showing the Doctor that she can fly the TARDIS better than him (again) and a mysterious little girl needing some help. To start off, here's the official synopsis:

Four envelopes, numbered two, three and four – each containing a date, time and map reference, unsigned, but TARDIS blue – begin the latest series of the time-travelling adventures. Who sent them? And who received the missing number one?

This strange summons reunites The Doctor, Amy, Rory and River Song in the middle of the Utah desert and unveils a terrible secret that The Doctor's friends must never reveal to him.
Placing his life entirely in their hands, The Doctor agrees to search for the recipient of the fourth envelope. Just who is Canton Everett Delaware the Third? And what is the relevance of their only other clue: "Space 1969"? Their quest lands them in the Oval Office, where they are enlisted by President Nixon himself to assist enigmatic former FBI agent Canton in saving a terrified little girl from a mysterious spaceman.
In my opinion, the episode certainly lived up to its expectations. The plot was well thought out and delivered well, the actors and actresses played their parts brilliantly and the Silence - well what can I say? Definitely the scariest and best Doctor Who monster to date. I will go on to say what I thought entirely of the episode later on but for now I'll talk about the plot.

The episode starts with a funny scene involving the Doctor and some Edwardian men involving the Doctor being completely naked. Amy and Rory discover this and they talk about it. It seems to them that the Doctor is trying to get himself noticed in history, especially when he waves at them from a Laurel and Hardy video. Amy finds a mysterious blue envelope with a time, date and map reference inside (as mentioned in the synopsis) and then they travel to America where they meet the Stetson-wearing Doctor and River Song, who also got a TARDIS blue invitation. They all go for a picnik where the Doctor says they are going to 'Space 1969', of course. It's about time the Doctor went to the Moon!

Anyway, during the picnik, Amy sees a mysterious figure in the desert but when she looks away she can't remember it. Creepy. Then, the impossible Astronaut appears out of the water. Someone else waves at the Doctor and he goes to the astronaut. After talking with it, the astronaut shoots the Doctor! He begins to regenerate but is shot again before he can. The trio run forward to the body of the Doctor but they realise he is dead. An old man confirms this, tells them he is called Canton Everett Delaware the Third and gives them some gasoline - never a good sign. They cremate the Doctor and send him out to sea. They then go to a diner and find that the Doctor invited the Doctor to the Doctor's death (confusing, I know)! Amy, Rory and River then realise that the Stetson-wearing  So they talk and they go to find Canton Everett Delaware the Third. He was fired from the FBI because he wanted to marry someone. They land in the Oval Office in the White House whilst Canton and President Nixon are talking. The Doctor cloaks the TARDIS, goes and gets caught. River shows she can control the TARDIS better and takes off the cloak quickly. The three come out and the Doctor is allowed five minutes to show where a little girl is calling the President from.

As the Doctor looks at the maps, Amy sees an alien in the corridor - a Silent. After looking away, Amy feels a bit sick and so goes to the toilet. Inside she finds a Silent, standing there. Another woman comes out of one of the cubicles and looks at the Silent. A comical scene follows as the woman remembers and forgets the Silent. The Silent then takes advantage of the electricity in the bathroom and harnesses it to electrocute the woman! Amy is horrified and takes a picture of it for future reference. The Silent then tells her:
"Tell the Doctor what he must know and what he must never know!"
A bit cryptic the first time you hear but I guess that what he must never know is that he is killed and what he must know... there's a lot of things he must know to be honest. Anyway, she runs out of the toilet and forgets the whole thing. So she goes back to the Oval Office feeling even better than before.

When she gets back, the Doctor knows where the girl is and President Nixon gets another phone call. The little girl says that the 'spaceman' is here and that its going to eat her. The Doctor, Amy, Rory, River and Canton run into the TARDIS to help the little girl. They arrive quickly and come out. The Doctor explains that Jefferson Adams Hamilton (what Nixon had thought the girl's name was) was actually the names of roads. They arrive and walk through the building and we discover that they are being watched by the mysterious astronaut...

The five of them discover a room with alien technology in it. There is a table resembling a surgeon's bed with alien gunk attached to tubes. Not very nice. They then discover boxes of space helmets, space suits and things like that. Amy and River inspect the surgeon's-table-bed and discuss the astronaut. Amy tries to convince River that if they were to kill the astronaut in 1969 then it couldn't kill the Doctor in 2011. River explains that if they killed it then, they wouldn't be able to travel to 1969 where they killed the astronaut, creating a paradox. River then discovers a tunnel. When she goes down, she discovers it is full of the Silence and escapes quickly. Of course, she forgets she saw them all so she tells the Doctor it's clear to go down. River and Rory then go down again to explore. They find a door and River tries to open it. River and Rory then talk about how the Doctor's life is backwards compared to River's and how she must reveal her secret to the Doctor. After a while, they unlock the door and go inside. In the room is a TARDIS similar to the one in the Lodger above Craig Owen's flat. She investigates the TARDIS and tells Rory to keep a look out. Light flashes and River calls out to Rory as he is about to get electrocuted.

Meanwhile, on the surface, while Canton, Amy and the Doctor are inspecting the alien equipment, the little girl shouts out for help. The trio run to the voice as Amy tries to tell the Doctor something important. Canton runs ahead as the Doctor tells Amy there's no time. When the two time travellers reach Canton, he's unconscious. Amy and the Doctor try to help him. Then, without warning, Amy reveals that she is pregnant. Suddenly, footsteps are heard. The astronaut walks into view. In a moment of protection and weakness, Amy grabs Canton's gun and shoots the astronaut as it lifts its visor. The Doctor shouts at her to stop but it is too late. The astronaut is shot and the little girl inside is scared...

Overall, I loved the episode. It was a great way to start off the series and it was very funny at times. The plot was imaginative and well thought out, even if it did drag itself out for a long time. The death at the beginning was shocking - hardly any of the viewers were expecting it! I know I wasn't. I thought that Rory had more of an important role in the episode, too. In the last series he was almost a third wheel for the Doctor and Amy but he has become a full companion. River is as mysterious as always and I liked how Rory and River had their first one-to-one conversation. Canton Everett Delaware the Third is an excellent character and fits in with the rest of the TARDIS Crew very well. In fact, all of the characters were displayed well - the Doctor is as mad as ever and Amy is funny and ready for action.

The Silence, as I have mentioned previously, are my new favourite monster. The idea of when you look away from one, you forget it was there is ingenious and it is definitely up there with other Steven Moffat creations such as the Vashta Nerada and the Weeping Angels. Their electricity usage is also creative and scary, not to mention a bit cliche. The interaction between the characters was engaging and sometimes very funny! The scenes in the Utah desert were expertly filmed and the scenes at the junction of Jefferson, Adams and Hamilton were scary and chilling. On the subject of the junction, it was a very clever way to find it. Steven Moffat clearly has a great mind!

Although there were many advantages to the episode, there were some disadvantages. I would have liked to have seen more action. The episode was mostly character-driven and although I do like this, I prefer the Classic Who of running down cramped corridors being chased by a monster, alien or mutation. And, I would have liked to have seen more from the Silence. They only made three, quite brief, appearances and only one of those appearances involved any electrocution. Also, the scene involving the electrocution was quite comical. I would have prefered to have more of a serious tone to it.

So, there you have it. The Impossible Astronaut sent us all into great confusion. And the next episode only gets you more confused...

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