The Doctor, a centuries old time traveller from a world long since dead, returns to television screens in his flying blue Police Box and faithful companions in tow. The Impossible Astronaut is the premiere episode in the newest season of Doctor Who, BBC’s long running Science Fiction series. For the first time in history the show was filmed in the United States. While this season is the 6th since the show was rebooted in 2005, it is in fact the 32nd season since the show’s inception.
I have eagerly awaited this season since the release of the Christmas special on Christmas day. While four months isn’t really a long time, it felt like an eternity. It often made me wish I had my own Time Machine so that I could speed into the future to see it. I was glad that I waited though and my anticipation and patience were very well rewarded. I won’t divulge anything that happens in the episode, as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but I will offer my thoughts on different aspects of the episode as a whole.
The Impossible Astronaut is perhaps the strongest opening episode of Doctor Who I have ever seen. From the opening moments Steven Moffat, headwriter of the series and all around brilliant mind, bombards the audience with thrills, chills and smiles. Moffat hits all the important notes that are vital for the fans to see from the Doctor. Here is a man who truly understands the mind and behaviour of a character who is almost a thousand years old, actually he’s older than that in parts of this episode! The Doctor is funny, zany, sad, cautious and as always brilliant. In the first ten minutes I was left stunned and breathless by Mr. Moffat’s storytelling. It has been a long time since I have seen an episode of a television show that made me say “NO WAY THAT JUST HAPPENED!!” outloud in my living room.
Matt Smith makes a triumphant return as the 11th incarnation of the Doctor in this season opener. I will admit that I was one of the many fans who was cautiously optimistic about Smith’s ability to replace the ever amazing David Tennant. Last season did a lot to help ease that feel of caution and by the end of Season 5 I was re-hooked and was happy that Matt was the one chosen to pilot the T.A.R.D.I.S. into the future. The one thing that really hit home for me during The Impossible Astronaut was Matt’s ability to portray a character who is so old. As such a young actor, he is only 28 after all, I am blown away by his understanding of the Doctor and his portrayal of what it would look like to be a man who was 909 years old. He continues to be witty and charming in an almost clueless sort of way. Many times during this episode I found myself smiling at the silly little things he does. He is really growing into this role and I have no doubt that many diehard 10th Doctor fans are going to be won over by his this young, fun 11th Doctor, because after all, Stetsons are cool.
The show would be nothing without the Doctor’s companions and I was happy to see that some of my favourites have made a return with him. Amy pond (played by the stunning Karen Gillan), Rory Pond (played by Arthur Darvill) and Professor River Song (played by Alex Kingston) have all returned to help the Doctor solve the mystery of the Impossible Astronaut.
Of all the companions the Doctor has had in the new series, I find myself enjoying Amy, River and Rory the most. They provide a balance of perspectives for the Doctor ranging from naive and unknowing (Rory) to having intimate knowledge of the Doctor and time travel (River). They are real, fleshed out characters that the audience can’t help but identify with. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these characters are played superbly by three competent actors. Actors who seem to “know” their characters and feel very comfortable playing them.
All in all, this episode did little to diminish my anticipation of new Doctor Who. If anything it made me hungry for more and more. I am firmly entrenched in the Matt Smith camp and hope that he is in the role for a long time to come!If the rest of the episodes of this season are as well written as this one, then this could be the best season of the series. Period. Doctor Who airs every Saturday night at 8 pm EST on Space. I encourage you all to check it out. I don’t think you will be disappointed.