Well the new season is upon us and you’d be forgiven for thinking its business as usual in the doctor who universe. The same doctor the same assistants and the same level on mystery surrounding one river song but this opening normality hides a deeper more sinister undercurrent that has yet to be revealed.
The American influence in this series is very apparent, it’s filled with talk of America’s great status, something that Americans love to remind the world of on a very regular basis and added to this the sheer sense of size that this first episode has. It appears as though the America ideal has entered doctor who along with the six shooter, the Cadillac and many other American stables. This is most properly down to the bbc America taking over some of the production work of the new series and although it means that we have to contend with a 10 week gap in the series it also as the advantage of much larger budgets that American networks can offer. This is only a good thing for us because it means we get better cgi and maybe maybe fewer stories that involve the cast being trapped in the tardis. Let’s call a spade a spade these are not character development episodes these are cheap episodes designed to save money but I digress. The American influence can be seen in the choice of opening story and the use of president Nixon in the first episode, the moon landing is one of the most iconic things in the history of the 20 the century and president Nixon is one of the most controversial American presidents, these two events are also part of America more recent history and would firmly establish the series in a more modern timeframe. This is the first time that I know of that the doctor has used an actually even from history without actually changing it to have some kind of sinister plot or magical theme.
The series starts off like many of the previous seasons with the doctors many companions scattered to the winds and the doctor off doing what the doctor does, doing questionable things with some of history most interesting characters. Most noticeably for me in this episode Charlie Chaplin, a little nod to one of the series writers there I’m sure. It’s all upbeat and jovial and the writers even managed to get the standards pun regarding the name into proceeding but Amy reveals the true current of this with the phrase “deliberately ridiculous” showing that this was to be the end of the happy go lucky doctor of the previous season. The shows beginning is rather tranquil peaceful setting with the doctor even managing to squeeze in something about wearing Stetson now (another nod there to America there). This tranquil setting next to a beautiful clear lake in the middle of a lifeless desert which is apparently perfect for a picnic and wine is hiding something much more sinister.
This tranquillity was never going to last thanks in part to something that had already happened, the arrival of the mysterious tardis blue envelopes. These had no date and no name just a set of coordinates smack bang in the middle of the American desert. The picnic was sadly not to last as something starts appearing from the lake. Prior to premier of this new season the story that one of the main characters was going to die was well known but the real question was which one. Many had speculated that it would be river song but that could never be due to her already dying in a previous episode and would completely invalidate how her and the doctor would come to meet. Personally my money was on Rory because I always like the idea of killing of the comic relief just for the giggles but no it was not meant to be and imagine my surprise when it was the doctor that would die. The doctor was shot twice once to activate his regeneration and the other to stop his regeneration. They killed the doctor in the first episode of the new series this cannot be what does this mean? This coupled with a mysterious fourth arrival at the sight of the doctor’s death. This mysterious stranger reveals on two things his name and the fact that although he won’t be seeing them again they will be meeting him very soon. This was a clever ploy by the writer though because of course there not going to kill him off and later when the three companions head off to the local dinner, who should happen to be there? you guessed it the doctor, it seems that the doctor who died was an older version of the doctor that the other three knew. That’s as simple as I can make it because if I think too much about it my head may explode. Upon discovering that the doctor is still alive the companions reveal that they have been sent on a mission by the mysterious stranger (whose name I forgot to write down). When the doctor searches for this name it shows him 1969 something the older doctor had eluded to earlier with the phrase “a lot more happened in 1969 than “the moon landing” “1969 is where everything changes”. The doctor is reluctant to take this mission because of his distrust of river revealing that the doctor still doesn’t know her mysterious secret.
This point marks a change in the episode and a more mysterious less obvious darker episode starts to unravel. There is constant reference to the cia and other mysterious organisation and the use of president Nixon is finally revealed to great effect because it always been said that Nixon was the greatest president when it came to keeping a secret. It’s also shows that the new series may be far more intelligent than the last, the last was all about darlks and empire while the stories weren’t necessarily dumb they lack a fundamental thing and that was originality but this is not the case with this episode from what I’ve seen so far.
They head back to 1969 and land in the white house where a very confused Nixon is being terrorised by mysterious child who keeps ringing him scared. What is about moffat and children, he obsessed with bringing children into as many doctor who stories as possible. There is something chillingly creepy about hearing a scared Childs voice but I think someone might need to report moffat to the nspcc because his psychological need to put children in danger. It was a good idea when it was first done but now the cynic in me is starting to see right through it and finds it boring. All this mystery culminates in one of the greatest doctor who moments of recent years and that is Amy meeting a mysterious alien in the toilet of the white office. Why was Amy the only one who could see it and why were all the other people unaware of him? Its seems that this alien has the ability to edit himself out of your memory so that you have zero memory of him. This is a wonderful idea and it easily explains while we have never heard of him up till this point. A handy thing for the writers. This meeting would cost of the life of an innocent bystander and lead to the creepy conversation of “why did you kill her?” “joyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, her name was joy and you’re Amelia pond” this shows the level to which aliens have infested the earth. This exchange also reveals that river song is not the only one keeping something from the doctor but Amy is as well but this isn’t revealed until the final moments of this episode. The silence are a fantastic addition to the doctor who universe and answer my main criticism about the previous series of doctor who.
One of the few things I enjoyed about doctor who last series was the interaction and the banter between the main characters and I’m glad to see that this has been stepped up a lot in this episode. Most noticeably the conversing between the doctor and river, there has off course been a lot of speculation about who river song is, is it his wife and Why does she have a sonic screw driver? And it looks like the writers want to add fuel to this debate. There exchange is bordering on flirting showing that there is most definitely something more to this relationship that meets the eye. Although the writers have got river and the doctor correct and have always got Amy right I can’t help but notice a distinct lack of imagination when it come to Rory. I think it common knowledge that he is just there for comic value but In this episode there are just a lot of shots of him trying to look serious or looking lovingly at Amy and it rather boring. I actually liked him in the last series and if this is how they are going to treat him they might as well just kill him off because that least then we could guarantee some drama.
All this aside I really enjoyed this first episode of the new series and found myself jumping up and down in my seat at the bathroom scene involving the silence but unfortunately they decided to make this a two part episode. The story justifies a two partier but now I must wait a whole week to find out who the silence are and any further developments in Amy pregnancy which was the final reveal just before Amy fired and the impossible astronaut.
Bring on next week and the rest of the series.
WordPress Tags: Doctor,episode,universe,river,song,undercurrent,American,series,America,status,Americans,world,basis,size,shooter,Cadillac,production,advantage,spade,development,money,president,Nixon,history,events,theme,doctors,characters,Most,Charlie,Chaplin,Stetson,lake,arrival,Prior,Many,Rory,relief,regeneration,death,stranger,fact,ploy,writer,dinner,version,Upon,mission,marks,reference,organisation,greatest,empire,children,Childs,danger,cynic,office,memory,zero,cost,life,bystander,conversation,Amelia,pond,earth,addition,criticism,interaction,speculation,wife,relationship,Although,imagination,knowledge,drama,episodes,presidents,companions,moments,developments,week,tardis,moon,writers,picnic,three,moffat