After much ado, the first episode of Doctor Who series six finally unfolded backwards across BBC1. By the time it aired, I had stopped reading publicity, not just due to a nerdish fear of spoilers, but also the feeling that the hype was becoming akin to the second coming of Jesus.
It’s even scheduled at Easter, for crying out loud. So, was it that good? Did anyone die and return? … Um, how about crucifixions? Any of those?
The Who-nited States of America
It’s a testament to the restraint shown by the production, or perhaps the ridiculous nature of the plot, that the episode’s supposed selling point ended up feeling like an afterthought. Much of this two-parter was filmed on location in America, but I barely noticed because I was trying to work out what was going on.
It helped that much of the second half took place in those classic Doctor Who standbys: Generic Warehouse and Generic Tunnels. I did enjoy the White House sequence though; they really worked the geography there. (Or is that my desperate love of the West Wing talking?)
Ponds Teased by Astronaut
Regardless of location, it felt great slipping back into the Doctor/Ponds/Song dynamic, especially after so little Rory and Amy in the Christmas Special. The emotional and character moments were spot on, even if the episode itself felt like a string of teasers for later events; even the “astronaut” storyline, which I assume will be resolved next week, didn’t get far.
But I’m content to be teased as long as they’re all this well done and I have faith Moffat is going somewhere with it. No, the big death at the beginning never convinced me, but it was so obvious it was a “trick” death that spending ages selling it would’ve seemed redundant.
Silence And Otherwise
The new monsters (“The Silence”?) are pleasingly scary, although those huge foam hands look silly at times. River Song’s scene with Rory was another highlight, as Moffat sometimes writes that character as rather a string of catchphrases. Nice to see her humanised a little.
Amy’s revelation at the end was a clever misdirection, but I don’t see why she crucially had to tell the Doctor right then? Maybe that will be explained next week, along with more cuddly, familiar banter and perhaps even a little action too? For now, though, it’s just joyous to have them back.