Doctor Who: The Impossible Astronaut

Posted: April 25, 2011 in Review
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Doctor Who: The Impossible Astronaut

With an uncharacteristically quiet opening, the Doctor returns to our screens. A series of letters invite Amy, Rory and River Song to a lakeside in America, where they’re reunited with an old friend. But that’s only the beginning, as horrific events swiftly unfold, plunging the adventurers into a complex new mystery.

As a series opener, ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ is perhaps the slowest one to date, beginning as it does with a variety of comedic moments featuring the Doctor messing about in time and setting up an intriguing mystery. Once things get going (and quite swiftly, after about ten or so minutes), the episode rattles along at a fair old pace, introducing an unsettling new enemy, a freelance detective and Richard bloody Nixon himself.

Because this is merely part one of two, there’s very little time for exposition or any of Doctor Who’s usual trappings. Instead, we’re treated to several surprisingly intense (especially for 6pm) scenes involving the skin-crawling alien enemy and even a shot of a woman exploding. It’s a bit of a shame, then, that so much time is given is given to setting up the plot as it leaves very few memorable moments. The corkers that are on offer are excellent – aliens looming out of the shadows, Nixon being bossed around by the Doctor and that bit just ten minutes in all serve to remind why this show is doing so well under the guiding hand of Steven Moffat.

Without knowing what lies in store for the series, it’s hard to judge this opening as a set-up. If there are any hints for the plot, they’re very well hidden and will no doubt provide hours of fun for those who want to find them. On its own merits, it’s a quiet, slow-burning start, but one with a compelling mystery and a fantastic central premise. The eleventh Doctor’s newest series is off to a promising start.

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