EPISODE REVIEW: Doctor Who: "The Impossible Astronaut" (Episode 214a)

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Time to start 'Series 6'

Recap

Amy and Rory are at home, reading history books… where it appears that the Doctor is waving to them, being deliberately ridiculous. They and Doctor Song get Tardis blue invitations to come to America. They meet up with the Doctor in the middle of nowhere, Utah and begin to compare notes. The Doctor states ominously that he's been running, and it's time to stop.

So, naturally, they picnic. An Astronaut comes out of the lake they are picnicking at. The Doctor goes to meet him alone. The Astronaut fires a weapon at the Doctor, he begins to regenerate… and he's shot again.

The Doctor is dead. A mysterious stranger comes, offers them a gas can and helps his companions give the Doctor a viking funeral. He introduces himself as Mr. Delaware, and leaves.

They return to a diner, where they run into a Doctor who is a couple of hundred years younger than the one they saw die. He's blissfully unaware of why they are all there, but he's willing to play along and travel to 1969.

Or not. Since the companions cannot tell him who summoned them to go to 1969, he won't go. To him, it smells like a trap. He has to eventually trust his companions. They begin to investigate Mr. Delaware. He was an ex-FBI agent called in by Richard Nixon to investigate mysterious phone calls.

The Doctor (Doctor Song, that is…) puts the Tardis engines on silent and turns on a cloaking device. They land the Tardis in the Oval Office where Nixon is growing paranoid and recording his calls because of a childlike voice talking about monsters. It doesn't take long for the Doctor to become conspicuous, though. So much for stealth….

While the Doctor proceeds to make the Oval Office into the Map room, Amy spots a big headed alien in a suit. She goes to the bathroom, and gets to see him again. This alien is seriously creepy. He kills a woman named Joy, and tells Amy that she needs to tell the Doctor what he must know and what he must never know.

They get a desperate call from the girl, and they jump into the Tardis and head to Florida… with Canton Delaware as a new companion. They find a network of tunnels beneath their current hidey-hole and River goes down the rabbit hole. She quickly finds a lot of Big Head Aliens. Rory follows, and they find the Big Head Amnesia Aliens, but forget about it. A lot. They find some sort of control room and discover that the tunnels go all over the Earth.

They hear the little girl's voice again, and Delaware goes off to investigate. Amy tells the Doctor she's pregnant. The Astronaut suit shows up again, but we see the little girl's face in the helmet. Amy, heedless of the Doctor's pleas, grabs a gun and fires….

Observations

Wow. Nice kick off, but the episode does not stand alone well. There are too many mysteries and not enough payoff to call let it stand alone. The cast slips into their roles well, and there's quite a bit of nice character moments with River and Amy. River's realization that when she knows the Doctor most completely, she will likely die is heart wrenching.

Even though the Doctor wont die for another couple hundred years, his companion's desire to delay his demise, and their inability to actually tell the Doctor what, exactly, is going on is touching and frustrating.

Speaking of frustrating- I can't really judge this episode without its companion next week. Right now, for example, I can't really judge if the American vista was used well. Tonight, I'd say it was underused, but it looks like there's more next week.

It occurs to me that Utah may as well be another planet for Doctor Who's home audience in Great Britain. Heh.

The new Amnesiac Big Head Aliens are seriously creepy. The combination of CGI with makeup effects was very effective…. when it opened it's mouth, it was horrifying. Couple that with their amnesia power, and we have a menace that may top the Weeping Angels.

I think it's amusing that Nixon's famous tape recorder and paranoia was not due to political enemies, but the creepy little girl's voice that was haunting him.

So what did I think? I enjoyed it, but it's really not fair to judge it until next week when the second part airs. There were some hilarious lines, and some real menace. A lot of stuff to like here.

Will Conservatives Like This Episode?
Well, aside from a mild slap at Richard Nixon, yes. Nothing not to like...

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