Sunday, 24 April 2011

'The Impossible Astronaut' Review

Series 6 - Episode 1: 'The Impossible Astronaut'
Written by Steven Moffat - Directed by Toby Haynes

Yesterday saw the return of 'Doctor Who' and what a return it was! Steven Moffat wanted the series to start with a bang and it certainly did. 'The Impossible Atsronaut' was an emotionally challenging, gripping and terrifying start to the new series and threw audiences right into the deep end with snappy dialogue, fast pacing and tons of crucial information.

Plot Outline:
The Doctor, Amy, Rory and River embark on a quest that takes them from the visually stunning Utah desert to the White House where he's enlisted by President Nixon himself to assist enigmatic former-FBI agent Canton. The Doctor's mission - save a terrified little girl from a mysterious spaceman.

'The Impossible Astronaut' was a great series opener for numerous reasons; it didn't waste time establishing nor did it dwell on past events, it threw the audience into the adventure and held the viewer throughout the duration. As I mentioned earlier, this episode was dialogue heavy so there was no time for distraction - focus was key. Moffat placed an awful lot of information that will bear dramatic importance throughout the series into these 45 minutes. Personally, I feel the episode could have benefited from an hour length - the spare 15 minutes could have helped to reflect the importance of events, characterisation and circumstance, but there is another part to come, so 'Day of the Moon' looks to be just as relentless as this episode.


Karen Gillan provides a staggering performance in this episode; she's starting to show cracks in Amy's confident facade. She forces heavy emotions onto the viewer and we can feel for her and relate to her situations. It's almost like the penny has finally dropped; she's a married young woman who happens to have a mad man in the centre of her life who almost moulds her by his bizarre lifestyle. Alex Kingston also provides a great performance; River is such a fascinating character and I love her presence in the show - I just hope she gets a few more episodes this series. The sequence in which she tells Rory about the her and the Doctor's timelines was the highlight of the show. Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill were both great too and provided excellent chemistry that counteracted the females emotional scenarios.

The cinematography in this episode was electric; the landscape shots of Utah were like something from a John Wayne picture; so vast and vacant, yet activity seems so apparent. It's a very visual and engaging location and I'm glad the crew took advantage of their time in the US rather than just imitating everything in Wales. Haynes' direction was precised and accurate - various technical camera angles were used and it seems his confidence behind the camera is growing. I'm certain shooting 'Doctor Who' in America is the biggest piece he's worked on and his desire to succeed shows.

Overall, I thought this was a brilliant episode and a great way to get the ball rolling again. I think I will have to re-watch it before next week as a refresher because as I mentioned earlier, this is like a club sandwich in content.

Please feel free to post a comment with your review for the episode below!

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