Friday, April 29, 2011

Monsters are real... on Saturdays

So, the evil genius brings us a new series of the show. Sadly, the excitement to the premiere of the show was unfortunately overshadowed by, to everybody's shock, the death of Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) a few days before the first episode.

I probably won't be writing about every episode this time - on reflection, series 5 was not as good as I thought and many episodes were a bit "meh" and there's no point in writing much. Hopefully it will be better this time round.

Doctor Who Episode 6.1: The Impossible Astronaut

A year ago, we have the Series 5 opening episode. Every time I watched it becomes better and better; in my view it was the most perfect way possible to introduce a new companion. Moffat must have that idea for his whole life. This series opener, of course, is very different. No new doctor or new companion to be introduced, but packed with shocks. It is mindblowing as usual, and bold, very bold.

The good:

You really can't fault Moffat's witty writing; there are so many brilliant quotes. Just two samples:

Funny, referring to the show itself:

Time isn't straight-line. It's all... bumpy-wumpy. There's loads of boring stuff, like Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons. But now and then there are Saturdays. Big temporal tipping points when anything's possible.

And touching, an Alzheimer's disease's take on the opposite time travelling nature of River and the Doctor:

Trouble is, it's all back to front. My past is his future. We're travelling in opposite directions. Every time we meet I know him more, he knows me less. I live for the days when I see him. But I know that every time I do he'll be one step further away. The day's coming when I'll look into that man's eyes - my Doctor - and he won't have the faintest idea who I am. And I think it's going to kill me.

Particularly sad if you re-watch the scene in Silence in the Library when River realises that was the last time she saw the Doctor.

The bad:

Steven Moffat has introduced so much mystery and so much timey-wimey into the show that, unless you have a sci-fi brain or are the most hardcore viewer, any casual viewer would have absolutely no idea what is going on.

They are brilliant in making trailers, but despite my (half-hearted) attempt to avoid spoilers, I already know too much and some of the shock has been lost. In the Christmas special, the trailer is very exciting, but that's all the best bits and the episode itself was disappointing. Not as bad as that here, but still some shock is lost.

This episode introduces so many mysteries that makes people wonder that - even with a genius like Moffat - maybe it will run loose and never gets resolved, like Lost.

Various little questions/observations:

I won't repeat the obvious ones here, but

  • Is Amy really pregnant, and if so, does Rory know about it??
  •  Apparent hints of a close Amy-River relation:

    River: "It's a lock, how's a girl supposed to resist?"

    Amy said something very similar in The Beast Below.
  • Just to remind everyone: the 10th doctor have been to the moon landing four times, with Martha.
  • While it is always assumed / implied / explicitly said that the timelines of River and the Doctor are in exact opposite order, this leaves quite some problems. For example River did not know Rory back in The Big Bang, which presumably is in her future, but she knows him now. This point is also raised by someone on Twitter, but I'm not so convinced by the great Moff's answer. I suppose genius also makes mistakes sometimes... Also how does River time travel from 50xx-ish to 2011? I think the following timeline, from River's point of view, do not seem to have major logical problems, barring the ending bit at The Big Bang:


    But who knows, maybe after next episode everything here will become nonsense.
  • I believe The Doctor sends out the 4 envelopes not in order to save himself or for any particular reason, but simply because he knows it happened and therefore he has to make it happen to make timelines consistent etc. (Typical Moffat ontological paradox stuff.)
  • And surely the timeline (the Doctor's "real" death) needs to be rewritten at some point? And understandably, some people are not happy with such arbitrary rewriting of time. I prefer the closed-time-loop, predestination paradox view of time travel, but Doctor Who has a mixture of both.
  • How's next episode going to end? Presumably they won't deal with the Silence completely (after all, they have just been introduced), but Episode 3 seems to be a totally ordinary type of episode. Do they just all "forget" about the Silence again?? Huge anticipation of the enormous shock, as widely rumoured/reported...


As usual nothing seem to make any sort of sense in the first part of Moffat's 2-parter. Silence in the Library also received quite some stick when it came out, but Forest of the Dead is really good. So I will reserve judgment till next week. This may not be the best DW episode, but certainly miles better than most other
stuff on TV at the moment, including the reality or "talent" shows that are occupying the prime time slots. Give the 7pm slot back to DW!

Prologue: And the absolutely ridiculous:

Just who is the idiot that came up with the idea of the show "Don't scare the hare" just before DW? It is ridiculously stupid, even if it were on a children's channel. Many people, including me, have the misfortune of watching it because we tuned in a few moments before DW. The premise of that "family game show" is that the players have to perform tasks and answer questions, and if they got it wrong they will scare the hare - a robotic rabbit. Yes, seriously. With a bizzare looking host. Just why should i care not to scare this silly-looking robot? And how do you scare a robot anyway? The only thing it does is to move forwards and backwards - very slowly. Hardly looks like it is frightened; in fact it looks more scary than most monsters in DW.

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