Doctor Who Series 6 Episode 2 review: Day of the Moon

Posted: 2 May 2011 in television
Tags: , , , , ,

We are not fighting an alien invasion…we’re leading a revolution.

Doctor Who - Day of the Moon

In true Steven Moffat style I’m going to start some way along the timeline and jump back and forth through the episode. So, to begin with the end: What the fuck???!!! The little girl is regenerating!!! Does that mean she’s a Time Lady? Or is it Time Girl at that age? If she does truly have the ability to regenerate then the obvious candidate for her father is the Doctor, and the obvious candidate for being the mother is Amy given the photo she finds at the orphanage. But when has anything been obvious with Moffat at the helm? The TARDIS can’t make up her mind whether Amy is pregnant or not. Fluctuating timelines at work: in one she is pregnant and in another she isn’t.

The child is clearly important to the Silence given the care that it has taken to keep her contained and healthy. The chances are that it knows of her heritage and wants to use that in some way. Given the amount of time the Silence has been on Earth and manipulating events from the shadows has it been playing around with the Doctor and Amy at some point in the past when they were unaware of its presence? And just who is the “Eye Patch Lady” and what is the significance of her line “No I think she’s just dreaming”.

With modern Doctor Who (are the terms classic-Who and nu-Who now?) and its epic sweep of story and location the viewer is truly getting a film made on a television budget. Writer Moffat and director Toby Haynes provide us with epic Utah vistas complete with action sequences (very Indiana Jones,  President Nixon as a figure of comedy, and dark creepy houses complete with shit-scary ceiling-hanging Silents (Tim Burton meets Roald Dahl) all in the space of 45 minutes. Some series can’t achieve such diversity in years let alone minutes. This is what makes Doctor Who the most flexible drama format ever conceived of.

But no matter how clever the script is, how good the director is, or the quality of the production team, it’s the performances of the actors that the public are going to remember – and there’s no way they’ll be able to forgot the cast from Day of the Moon.

Sylvester McCoy’s 7th Doctor was in his later seasons classed as an arch manipulator playing chess on a thousand levels, yet in many ways Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor is becoming an arch-manipulator too. He endures 3 months of imprisonment, together with long hair and beard, so that his friends can garner the breadth of the operation by the Silence across America and all along he has a plan to defeat them. Again the uniqueness of Doctor Who is shown by the way he defeats the Silence, not through massive explosions or speeches on the uniqueness of the human race, but through a television broadcast of humanity’s first journey to its nearest heavenly body.

As usual Alex Kingston is note perfect as River Song – once again throwing herself into the abyss (or in this case off a skyscraper) in the certain knowledge that the Doctor will be there to catch her. In some ways it’d be great to have River on board the TARDIS as a permanent companion but that’d probably detract from the uniqueness of her character and her connection to the Doctor. Her next appearance is to be in A Good Man Goes To War, the mid-season cliffhanger episode and this is highly likely to the point at which her true identity is revealed to all and sundry. Will the Doctor be prepared to stop future falls after that happens? Let’s hope whatever revelations occur don’t prevent appearances by River Song for many years to come.

Is there trouble ahead for the “love” triangle between the Doctor, Amy and Rory? Though Amy makes it quite clear that he is the one that she loves and not the Doctor, there is a sense of something being built up in connection with Rory’s jealousy over Amy’s relationship with the Doctor (well that’s what it seems like) – that she didn’t tell him about the pregnancy first, the discussion with the Doctor about his time as the Lone Centurion, the gaps in his memory, all point to trouble ahead (and possibly Cybermen given an image that has been released online). It was once said that it was ideal for the Doctor to have only one companion but Moffat has proved that doesn’t have to be the case with the proper writing.

Steven Moffat is weaving a complex multi-episode narrative with the lingering questions as to who the little girl is and what the Silence’s plan is for her, the true identity of River Song, the death of the Doctor to be resolved and avoided, Amy’s pregnancy. Moffat needs to make sure he avoids the pitfall that plagued Doctor Who in the 1980s: stories that relied on an intricate knowledge of the series’ mythos to understand. For instance, Attack of the Cybermen in 1985 required viewers to have a familiarity of previous Cybermen tales from 1966 and 1968 to keep up with the significance of the plot. Story arcs are a nice pay-off for viewers who follow the series week in and week out but there is a fine line where the occasional viewer can have the hell confused out of him/her very easily. Mind you this is the era of iPlayer, digital recording and iTunes so episodes can be watched time and time again and never truly missed.

To end with here is the most important question of all: when do we get Karen Gillan out of her trousers and back into those rather fetching mini-skirts, complete with boots???

*** Small note to those who wonder if the Doctor will ever be played by a woman – there are Time Lords and Time Ladies. One does not become the other through a regeneration.***


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