"Let's see who tries to kill us and work backwards" – The Doctor
A spoileriffic look at this Saturday's series opener to Doctor Who, now with added America.
1. The Naked Doctor.
He does like getting his kit off, doesn't he? Matt Smith has appeared naked more times than any other Doctor (David Tennant, once, and that was his own regeneratative clone). The last time was in The Lodger, and we'll be getting back to that later.
2. It's The American Dream
Arguably the strongest episode in last year's Doctor Who from Steven Moffat, was the very first one, Eleventh Hour. With Edgar Wright style direction, and Tim Burton style cinematography, cracking lines, action, adventure, mystery, timey wimey stuff, everything spilling out and then spilling back together in a very focused way, it probably didn't get better than that throughout the series, which disappointed some. Will now it's time for another first episiode, The Impossible Astronaut. Again we have a different look for the show, and it's not just the American setting. We have proper timey wimey stuff, all the above, but also a dreamlike quality, and a return to that Russell T Davies idea of the Doctor turning his companions into living weapons, able to do the kind of things he's just unwilling to. It's clever, it's funny, it's a hell of a start, and, yes, the proper death of The Doctor two hundred years in the future.
It'll all work out in the wash, of course. But when? Technically it's the kind of plot point that never needs to be addressed… but it will.
But to start, we're in America. Rory calls the can of petrol "gasoline" and everything. In a country where two of the Founding Fathers fancied The Doctor. And we have Monument Valley, the backdrop of many a Western. For Doctor Who this might as well be another world…
3. That Bit Was Very Logopolis, Wasn't It?
And I don't mean the TARDIS-inside-the-TARDIS scene from the Time And Space Comic Relief edition. The moment where the Doctor meets The Spaceman, his face wrinkled into an aged regret, fear and trepidation, while his companions look from a distance, and his head falls in anticipation was very reminiscent of the scenes between The Doctor and The Watcher, in reality a projection of his future self, in Logopolis. Of course, in this case The Doctor is already his future self…
Of course the other thing that's racking my brain is that River Song is serving time for murdering the "best man (she) ever knew". We've seen a child in that space suit – is there any chance forty years later, it could be River Song herself? We know there are two Doctors in this show – could there be two Rivers too?
You know, what exactly was River wearing the very first time we met her? Hmm?
4. The Value Of A Time Lord's Body
This was first brought up in the Doctor Who novel Alien Bodies by Lawrence Miles, admired by Moffat at the time, whcih had the Doctor dealing with his own future corpse. Since then, Lawrence has become a great critic of the TV revival and of Steven Moffat in particular, usually painting him as The Beast. Was this a nod to an old friend? Either way I'm wondering if the "gasoline" brought by an aged Canton Everett Delaware II does more than just immolate…
5. Distrust In Dis TARDIS
So many agenda's here, and two Doctors have very much their own. River remains a mystery, and there's a heart breaking scene to come for those who remember River's first, and last appearance. And it's Amy who breaks through it of course, with the purest essence and the shortest skirt. (Okay, she's wearing jeans, but you know what I mean). And of course, she's anything but. The Doctor, even at 900 odd years old, is always the petulant child. River is inscrutable, even as she lets her fears for the future slip. And Rory… actually, hang on, isn't Rory well over 2000 years old now? He should try pulling some authority around the place. He's older than both Doctors combined, just about.
6. A Presidential Pardon?
We have a relatively positive portrayal of Richard Nixon on the screen as well, with only a little initial snark from the Doctor. For a man usually used as shorthand for corruption, when compared to many modern politicians, he's practically a saint, it's refreshing to see him here as a man who seeks out good advice and values it when he gets it, and even picks up the habit of taping his phone calls, too. Okay, they got the carpet wrong and what is it with guns making a cocking sound when they are pointed in a new direction? It was weird with Tennant, it's weird here.
7. A Pregnant Pause
We've seen a pregnant Amy before, created by the Doctor's dream state character, The Dream Lord. And that caused her to act in a very peculiar way, killing herself and the Doctor to escape from one reality. And now she's picking up a gun and firing at the Astronaut Child. And The Silence or The Silents or whatever these greyliens that people only remember when they see them seem to be rather involved in this chain of events as well. Oh and while the Doctor may have said she was "piling on the pounds", she was also knocking back the wine at the beginning. Something's up.
8. And That Bit's Off The Lodger Isn't It?
Yes that machine does rather look like the proto-TARDIS in The Lodger. Does that mean The Silence are responsible for landing that ship on top of Craig's house? We never did see them after all… was that always the point? After all, those unseen tunnels of their go all over the world. And trust that the two characters who weren't in that episode are the ones to come across this…
"You take ordinary people and you fashion them into weapons" – Davros, Journey's End.
10. The Trailer Bit
Phew, she missed. But the speech about the greyliens make it clear that they are reworkings of the Floofs from Steve Moffat's short story Corner Of The Eye from the Doctor Who Story book. And they're everywhere…