Doctor Who episode 788: Day of the Moon (30/4/2011)

‘So, this little girl. It’s all about her. Who was she? Or we could just go off and have some adventures.’ I don’t think this really follows from The Impossible Astronaut. The first part was about the Doctor investigating his own murder. This is about a revolution to overthrow the malign influence of the Silence. By the end, for inattentive viewers, it might not be entirely clear whether in foiling the Silence the Doctor has averted his future death (it’s not confirmed until Amy mentions it in The Doctor’s Wife). For me, this is the problem with this opener: it’s full of spectacle and clever moments, but the thrust of the story is weak and it lacks Moffat’s previous flair for neat, tie-it-all-together endings.

To an extent that’s intentional: Series Six was never going to tie up its big arc in its second episode, and the audience is going to need to wait for some of the answers. But those unanswered questions now include: why is Amy’s pregnancy on or off; who was the little girl with regenerative powers; did the Doctor avert his murder; who is the strange woman with the eyepatch who appears to Amy; when will we learn the reason for the Silence blowing up the TARDIS in June 2010 (we were told at the end of the last series: ‘Space and time isn’t safe yet. The TARDIS exploded for a reason. Something drew the TARDIS to this particular date, and blew it up. Why? And why now?’); is there some relationship between Craig and the Silence? It’s a lot to keep track of, but nothing is ever forgotten.

The episode’s own plot is essentially: Amy gets kidnapped by the Silence while investigating a creepy orphanage. The Doctor decides he must crack open the Silence’ plan to rescue her, so infiltrates NASA with the help of President Nixon and a captured Silence and reveals their existence to all humanity as part of the Moon landing broadcasts, ordering the human race into genocidal war against their hidden conquerors. Then, as a grisly icing on the cake, River massacres the surviving Silence which is a bit grim but does look amazing (as does the whole episode: it’s spectacular, especially the massive vistas on location). But is it really in the spirit of Doctor Who?

Day of the Moon

In between, it’s fun to spot Moffat hallmarks – the “three months later” time jump; the Doctor, imprisoned inside another inescapable box; hints of a love triangle between the Doctor and his companions; a Pond throwing themselves off a New York building; the sinister children’s home (no Rupert Pink here). It’s also fun to see some clever twists to history – the real importance of Neil Armstrong’s foot; Nixon taping every conversation in the Oval Office because the Doctor tells him to.

But I can’t get past some of the things that don’t make sense to me. The Silence are a race so manipulative they’ve apparently guided the Apollo space programme just so they can get a spacesuit. Except in the same scene we’re told the space suit is self-repairing and full of advanced tech. So why did the Silence need to manipulate humanity to build a spacesuit just so it could then be ripped apart and rebuilt with alien technology? And would the Doctor, a man who, as we saw in The Beast Below, cannot ignore a crying child, so easily dismiss a terrified orphan girl and saunter off for fun adventures, even if he is vaguely distracted by Amy’s phantom pregnancy? No, this is full of non sequiturs. It does not follow. It is not good.

Next Time: The Curse of the Black Spot


One comment

  1. Pingback: Doctor Who episode 787: The Impossible Astronaut (23/4/2011) | Next Time...

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