Doctor Who – The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon

I have to say, sometimes I find the pace of the new Doctor Who episodes a bit too frenetic. The thing with drama is that you need to take the time to develop tension, let new information sink in and let the audience develop a response to what is actually happening on screen. This season’s opening two-parter is a case in point. It had the feel of dominoes being set up for later in the season, and, as such, was very clever in places, but it would have been a lot better if it were spread over three episodes. Instead, a lot of information was dumped in our laps while the Doctor, Amy, Rory, and River blazed around the screen like mad things seemingly without pausing for breath.

Chiefly, what marred these two episodes was the info-dumping. I re-watched them both on iPlayer shortly after their first broadcast and the pacing seemed better on the second viewing – which gives me the suspicion that the mad pace was simply my perception as a result of the information overload. I suppose a non sci-fi fan, the kind of viewer that doesn’t try to put the pieces together and second-guess the story arc, would have simply found “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon” to be merely an enjoyably complex thriller. Personally, my first viewing left me cold.

All that said, Steven Moffat made ingeniously economical use of time in his script. The revelation of the Doctor’s plan following what seems like his companions being on the run from the FBI is a brilliant use of the gap between the two episodes, and does create some dramatic tension from the bewildering plotting of the story. Likewise, the Silence are one of the creepiest concepts ever devised in the series. Where the best monsters have been the ones that make you afraid of everyday objects, now we can contend with the fact that there always might be something there and we would never know. The make-up and modelling on the creatures also helped to make them terrifying. Furthermore, “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon” was a good story for attention-grabbing. The scale of it was epic and gave the series the feel of hitting the ground running, leaving a sense that it was a jumping-off point rather than the beginning of a slow build-up.

I’m not quite sure what to say as a final assessment of this two-parter. I couldn’t call it bad by any means. It was very clever, set up a lot of interest for the viewer regarding the rest of the season, was action-packed, and had a good sense of mystery to it. Maybe the problem is, on sheer technical details, that it was too good. Too much went into it, not leaving enough time to let the story sink in.

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~ by Scary Rob on 18 July, 2011.

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