Sunday, 1 May 2011

TV: DR WHO EPISODES 1 & 2 (2011)

On the basis of the first two episodes, the new series of Dr Who is shaping up to be the best yet as it slams a mallet into the viewers collective heads with a series of shocks and surprises.

Opening in the present, Amy, Rory, and River Song (escaping yet again from her future prison) turn up in the middle of nowhere USA in response to mysterious invitations and meet an old man. The Doctor appears, casually mentioning his age (1109) and then, in what looks like mid-transformation, is killed by someone wearing an Apollo space suit. Back at a cafe the Doctor appears age 907 wondering about this mysterious invitation he received.

Whatever, the foursome pop off to 1969 where President Richard M Nixon is receiving impossible phone calls from a frightened young girl. With the aid of an ex-member of the FBI (later to be the old man who burns the Doctor's body) they track down the girl and discover that Earth has been conquered by aliens whom you forget about as soon as you turn your back on them. Oh, and Amy is and then isn't pregnant and she also shoots the person in the space suit which turns out to be the little girl.

And that's just the simplified version of the first episode.

Episode 2 opens with the companions being hunted down by the FBI led by the person we assumed was on their side. Amy and Rory are shot, River Song lets herself fall from a skyscraper window. The Doctor is in prison and soon after placed in a super-cube from which nothing (sound, light, heat, etc can escape). The bodies are placed in with him and the good guy turned bad guy seals himself in with them and turns good guy again and the previously invisible TARDIS becomes visible.
The markings on Amy's face and hands were made by her every time she sees an alien to let her know that she's seen one. The Doctor then implants a device into everyone's hand and tells them to describe what they are seeing when they encounter an alien so they can find out afterwards. This leads to a number of chilling scenes.

There is an absolute load of things going on in this episode and our heroes really go through the mill both physically and emotionally. When Amy is kidnapped by the aliens (known as The Silence) and we hear her terrified voice, she confesses her love for someone which Rory takes to be the Doctor and you can see it breaking his heart. River Song kisses the Doctor knowing it is the last time she kisses him even as it's the first time for him.

The problem of the aliens is resolved, and violently too, but many of the mysteries aren't. Who is the little girl? She appears at the end, minus space suit, and appears to undergo a Time Lord type transformation, though into what we don't see. Surreptitiously scanning Amy on the TARDIS, the Doctor sees the screen flicker between pregnant/not pregnant. We still don't know who River Song really is and we aren't so sure about Amy Pond any more.

This has been an amazingly dense and riveting start to the new series. Add in high production values, good acting with another terrific performance from Alex Kingston as the gun-happy archaeologist/adventurer River Song, and a number of laugh out loud lines, this really could be the best ever series of Dr Who. Unmissable TV.

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