Watching “The Impossible Astronaut”

So of course last night was International Doctor Who Day, and being that it was for once ACTUALLY International with same-day premieres in the UK and USA, it was rather a special event. Legally, of course. Ha ha. Still, it should now be the official holiday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday as I can’t ever remember what it’s really called. Easter Saturday? Being a 22-year lapsed Catholic has made me not give a fuck, so International Doctor Who Day works just fine for me.

[There may be spoilers here below so don’t come bitching at me later]

Watching “The Impossible Astronaut” was a great joy, but speaking as a writer, I couldn’t help but notice the ticks that Steven Moffat likes to go back to, in all his major Doctor Who stories. Faceless monsters, time paradox goofiness (It was, after all, his “Blink” where the phrase “wibly-wobbly timey-wimey” came from). All that was missing was a romantic subplot (which we still might get in part 2!) and bananas.

You could even see where he was reusing and reworking previously used concepts. The aliens, still unnamed, evoked the Weeping Angels — you don’t realize they’re there unless you’re looking at them, only instead of moving faster than time like the Angels, you just plain don’t remember these aliens being there unless you’re looking dead ahead at them.

The girl in the astronaut suit, same thing. There was a more visual nod to the Vashta Nerada in “Silence In The Library” / “Forest of the Dead,” but the way in which it acted was more like The Empty Child. Right down to calling President Nixon on the phone, almost asking “Are You My Mummy?”

It’s not quite to Moffat By Numbers, unlike certain comic book writers I could name, a lot of whom I rather like. But I do wonder about the tendency to have go-to story elements. I also wonder when I’m going to hit that point myself.

[On a totally related note, Elisabeth Sladen, Sarah Jane Smith from Doctor Who both new and old, passed away this past week. Last night CBBC showed a very quick 15 minute tribute to her called “My Sarah Jane,” which you can see here. I think you should.]


2 Responses to “Watching “The Impossible Astronaut””

  1. David Gallaher Says:

    It is called Holy Saturday or Happy Saturday.

    When I saw the premire a few weeks ago, I hade several of the same issues. The last five minutes of the second episode made up for it. There are some interesting elements at play here.

    • You New Yorkers and your “premieres.” No, I’m not saying I have issues with it per se, but you do start to notice the ticks, especially if you were to run them up against “The Empty Child,” “The Girl In The Fireplace,” “Blink,”etc. It hasn’t hit annoyance levels yet, thankfully. There was a time when I would see a work by a certain Irish comic writer and just kind of roll my eyes because I could see the “By Numbers” aspects to the script almost immediately. There’s a certain Posh-accented English writer that’s kinda done the same thing to me too. But, the trick is whether the story is greater than the sum of its ticks.

      Oh, and I guess you’ll be calling the day something else entirely now!

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