The sixth season of the new Doctor Who Series premiered Saturday night in both the UK and the USA, with only a few hours difference to take account of the time zones. This was a first in the showâ€™s 50-year history, meaning that American fans only had to put up with spoilers from across the pond for a few hours before joining the fray.
Last season began with The Doctor regenerating for the 10th time (his 11th body) and ended with him confronting all of his worst enemies at the same time and the destruction of the entire Universe. Although the Universe was restored, a new enemy was revealed â€” although not shown â€” called The Silence. The last we saw The Doctor was during the Christmas Special where his current companions, the recently wed Rory and Amy, were honeymooning on an apparently doomed spaceship.
Spoiler alert: while we will discuss what happened in last nightâ€™s episode, weâ€™ll avoid talking about any future plot details.
Season six opens with the Ponds (Amy and Rory) living a domestic life back on earth and River Song still in jail, when they all receive an invitation to â€” inexplicably â€” meet in the middle of the American Southwest. Itâ€™s unclear if the reason for this location will become apparent or whether this was just an excuse to film in some beautiful American scenery, but it makes for some pleasant locales for reunions.
Then The Doctor is killed. Dead. No, really. Stone cold dead. They cremate his body and everything. Of course The Doctor has been through worse. I mean, last season he ceased to exist altogether, and didnâ€™t seem to slow him down, so it shouldnâ€™t come as too much of a surprise when the companions run into him again a bit later at a truck stop restaurant. They soon discover, though, that this is a much younger Doctor, ignorant of the machinations of his future self.
This leads us to wonder â€œwhat could possibly happen next?â€ The Doctor will die in the future, thatâ€™s pretty much inescapable, but has Steven Moffat (the executive producer and author of this episode) written this series into a corner in the first fifteen minutes of the season by showing how it happens? Or will history be rewrittenâ€¦ again? But those are questions for a later date, as this episode quickly drops us into the middle of the mystery of aliens on earth in 1969, haunting President Nixon. The thing is, these aliens (Roswell aliens dressed in Men in Black suits) are instantly forgotten as soon as you look away.
Oh, and Amy is pregnant. Surprise!
Moffat is a master of the twist and surprise in plot that come together in the long run. But what he does best is great dialog and character development. What was best about this episode was the growing relationship â€” not to mention the sexy, clever banter â€” between The Doctor and River. Thereâ€™s a great exchange between The Doctor and River about Nixon where River is commenting on Nixonâ€™s record:
River: Vietnam, Watergateâ€¦ Thereâ€™s some good stuff too.
Doctor: Not enough.
Or my favorite line of the night when The Doctor tells River to shout if she gets in trouble, to which she quips â€œDonâ€™t worry. Iâ€™m quite the screamer. Now thereâ€™s a spoiler for you.â€ And thatâ€™s not all we learn about their relationship and the hardship of living it â€œback-to-front.â€
â€œThe Impossible Astronautâ€ was an impressive beginning to what looks to be an impressive season. If you havenâ€™t been watching Doctor Who, I canâ€™t recommend it highly enough. The Doctor is a free agent who uses his wits and intelligence and will do anything to save a life. Heâ€™s not a part of a military or government agency, heâ€™s just a good guy going around doing good things. â€œThe Impossible Astronautâ€ is the first episode of a two part story, leaving us with a cliffhanger, and Iâ€™m on the edge of my seat waiting for next week.
Note: The episode was dedicated to Elisabeth Sladen (1948 â€“ 2011) who died earlier this week.