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12 May 2011 @ 05:50 pm
The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon  
I'm rather torn about this pair of episodes. I found a great deal to like here. The Silence were an original monster and allowed for some genuinely scary pieces of television, as the editing played around with individual viewpoints. I like this TARDIS crew, and while I might wish for Amy to have a little more self-awarenes and Rory a touch more backbone, I appreciate that there are constraints here which demand fairly broad-brush characterisation. Even Alex Kingston's River Song, who I often find a little forced, was mostly fun to watch though I still find the performance oddly grating in places. I even liked the implicit trust in the audience displayed by the temporal jump forward between the two episodes (for all the Doctor's apparent plan at this point seems unnecessarily convoluted). The Doctor's solution to the Silence problem was ruthlessly unpleasant in a way that seemed far more genuine than Davies' lonely god characterisation (though I shall be disappointed if that ruthlessness isn't acknowledged at some point). Canton Delaware was also a good secondary character who I enjoyed for himself, though I wasn't sure the story really needed to add a fourth pseudo-companion into the mix.

On the other hand so much of the plot in these two episodes was clearly part of the season arc, and not the immediate story that I was left oddly dissatisfied. I like to think I can cope with an arc plot but there were many aspects of this pair of episodes which will be good if resolved properly and rather poor if ignored. For instance, I couldn't decide whether we were supposedly to unambiguously accept the Doctor's judgement that the Silence were a bad thing or whether we were supposed to think that matters looked a lot more complicated than that, rendering his solution even more unpleasant. You don't just remove a race that has apparently been living in intimate symbiosis with the human race for millenia without consequence. If that's picked up and re-examined I will be pleased, but if it isn't then I'll be disappointed. Similarly whole sequences of the story, e.g. much of the Children's home stuff, really play no part in the story in hand. I thought that segment was, atmospherically speaking, extremely effective but it is a little frustrating (certainly when writing a review) to have so little idea at this point where it was leading and to an extent my appreciation of such sequences depends on the execution of the pay-off which we haven't had yet. The same goes for the lead-in and a good half of the first episode which really had very little to do with the story of The Silence and their defeat and far more to do with the little girl and her strange space suit.

Given how much set-up for the rest of the season these episodes were doing, I thought they did extremely well to be as entertaining as their were in their own right. Structurally I think this was very ambitious, however I feel the need to reserve final judgment until all the dots have been joined together.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/42615.html.
telperion_15: Tardistelperion_15 on May 12th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
You don't just remove a race that has apparently been living in intimate symbiosis with the human race for millenia without consequence.

This. They made a big deal of pointing out that the Silence had been influencing practically every major development of the human race for millennia (?), therefore surely there's an issue to be raised about whether the human race would actually be able to cope/advance without this behind-the-scenes, unknown (albeit - presumably - malign) influence... Okay, so we've seen that they've travelled to the stars and built an interstellar empire in other episodes, but was that because they originally had the Silence influencing to do it, and now the Doctor's kicked them off Earth, has he changed the entire future of the human race? Or did they manage to do all that even without the Silence around?

Okay, shutting up now... *g*
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 12th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
If this had been a Davies story I'd be fairly certain the issue would never be raised again with Moffat... I'm not so sure. He likes intricate plotting. On the other hand I think he does seem to flounder a bit when asked to deliver the sort of gosh! wow! thrills and can fall back on Davies-style hand-waving.

Jury still very much out, I think. I really hope this is addressed later in the season when they resolve the whole small girl/astronaut/timey-wimeyness but we'll see.
ewxewx on May 12th, 2011 09:41 pm (UTC)
The Silent presumably thought their effect on humanity was negative, otherwise it wouldn’t have advised Canton what do about them…
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 13th, 2011 08:24 am (UTC)
The Silence certainly don't seem very friendly (the woman in the loo, the threats to Canton) but we actually have rather more information than the Doctor on that level, he really knows very little about them at all. And even we only have the actions of one Silent and threats made by another while in captivity to go on. It just seems like one hell of a big leap to assume they must be unequivocally bad.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on May 13th, 2011 12:05 pm (UTC)
The opening two parter often felt like the edited highlights of something three times as long. We are led to assume that our five heroes have gathered information on the Silence during the three months between episodes one and two, but anything they remember will only be circumstantial. I'm confident that the issue will be returned to.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 15th, 2011 10:24 am (UTC)
I hope so! I have a lot more faith in Moffat wrt. this kind of thing than Davies, but I'm also aware that it's a lot to ask of a general audience, that they wait for a pay off in this kind of way.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on May 15th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
My hope is pinned on the Silent Amy glimpsed in 2011.
daniel_saunders: Medaniel_saunders on May 12th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only one who sometimes finds River Song a bit forced. And I also felt that this was only half a story, the second half hopefully to come later this year, but I did enjoy it very much.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 13th, 2011 08:22 am (UTC)
I enjoyed it a lot too, but I know I'll enjoy it less if the pay-off isn't worth the set up. I like the River Song concept, but I do feel the performance is rather artificial, somehow.