Doctor Who is back on the air with the simultaneous UK and US broadcast of the show today. I wouldn’t read this review if you haven’t watched the show. There really isn’t much of a way to review it beyond vague generalities without getting into spoiler territory. Fair warning.
The episode begins with a bit fun, the Doctor is carousing about time on his own causing mischief. Then we’re met with a domestic scene, Amy and Rory, the Doctor’s erstwhile companions, have received a mysterious letter with a time and a place written down. It’s been quite a while since they’ve seen the Doctor and they just know it’s him.
They leave for the appointed time and place and find themselves in the middle of Monument Valley. The Doctor is there, wearing a stetson because stetsons are cool and they are off to solve a murder.
Who’s murder? Well that’s where things get complicated. Right off the back we’re showed the final and horrible death of this Doctor.
River Song, Amy and Rory all received invitations to meet with the Doctor in Utah, and it seems as though they’ve been invited to witness his death. A mysterious Apollo astronaut arrives out the water, the Doctor goes out to meet him, and is killed. Horribly. But this isn’t the Doctor we know and love. This Doctor claims to be some 1100 years old, and the last time Amy and Rory had met him he was merely 903.
While in mourning, they discover that two other envelopes were sent out. The first was to an old friend that Amy and Rory hadn’t met yet, a former FBI agent whose younger self is played by Mark Sheppard (Baltar’s lawyer in BSG), and the other was to…well… The Doctor. A Doctor aged 909 years old.
This is the team the 1100 year old Doctor has assembled to solve his murder. Or prevent it. Or avenge it.
Well, no one really knows.
All of the clues lead them to the Oval Office, where Richard Nixon is dealing with an Alien threat he doesn’t know he has.
Steven Moffat is really working with time in a way Russel T. Davies didn’t, and he’s getting into a place where it almost makes my head hurt, but in a good way. River and the Doctor clearly have a past and they’ve been struggling with the fact that they’re moving in opposite directions in time. They older she gets, the younger a doctor she keeps running in to. He’s her past and she’s his future. It’s a very hard place to be in. And it’s almost enough to make your head spin. And the biggest problem with dealing with time in stories is allowing the audience to be able to wrap their heads around it. It’s working to a point, but they’re going to have to be incredibly careful moving forward.
And what was that? Starting the season with the Death of the Doctor? Can he get out of this? Last season Moffat started the season with the cracks int the wall (and time) and we didn’t really get closure on it until the end of the season. Are we going to see them resolve this death and solve this murder to its completion in next week’s episode? Or is this going to stretch the whole season?
I must say though, it was a little too intense for my daughter. She loves the Doctor, but the new alien threat they’re dealing with were just a little too much for her. Having said that, I loved them. They were atmospheric and creepy and I can’t wait to see what they pull out for the next episode.
The preview for it gives a very good impression of what these aliens are all about:
And seriously, after you’ve watched those two clips, watch this one. This is everything that is right and holy about really well written television.
Wowsers. I really, really can’t wait to see next week’s episode. But maybe the best thing about this episode is that it reminded me that I need to buy a fez. Fezzes are cool.
If you need to catch up on Season 5, you can find it on Amazon here.