By Maddy Brout, Professional Children's School, and Maddy Appelbaum, Scarsdale Alternative School
During the weeks preceding the premiere of the sixth season of the revival of Doctor Who, the cast, writers, and producers journeyed across the pond to promote the show to U.S. audiences. This Sci-Fi phenomenon has been blasting its way across the Atlantic in both viewership and production (much of the upcoming season was filmed in Utah).
Recently, we had the incredible opportunity to attend an early screening of the first two episodes complete with a question and answer session with the actors and writers themselves! By simply standing outside of the event it was clear to see what a dedicated fan base Doctor Who has, fostering a line more than a block long of self-professed “nerds” dressed in costumes that ranged from the eleventh Doctor’s signature bow ties to hilarious Doctor Who-themed Tee Shirts. Many had even camped out overnight in order to ensure that they get a glimpse of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and the rest of the cast, as well as a sneak preview of the new episodes, titled “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon.”
The Doctor & Co. rolled up to the East Village movie theater in a vintage blue convertible, looking hipster as can be, and appearing to be having a great time! To say the waiting crowd was excited to see them would be a vast understatement, but the cast did not seem phased by the hundreds of people screaming their names.
Once inside, following chants of “Doctor Who! Doctor Who!” from the ecstatic audience, the lights dimmed and the movie screen in front of us lit up with all of the excitement, emotion, intensity, and silliness viewers have come to expect from this long-running show. Without giving away too much, the two episodes built on an unresolved story line from the previous season while adding many layers to the plot. They did a lot to establish an over-arching story for the rest of the season, but left room for the mystery, pleasant confusion, and theorizing that “Whovians” love to partake in. These two episodes were close to, if not the best episodes of Doctor Who thus far. They truly contain all of the elements necessary for a good TV experience. They have the comedy of NBC’s Thursday line-up, the emotion of an episode of Day’s of Our Lives, and the sci-fi mystery of the original Star Trek.
Perhaps the one element that brought the new episodes to such a high level of Who-ness was the new alien featured as the “bad-guy” of the episodes. This creature created a psychological fear similar to that of the Weeping Angels. In fact, they may have been of the best Doctor Who monster of all time. This level of creepiness certainly added to the drama of the show overall, and did a lot to make the viewer think.
A common theme through season five that appears again in the first episodes of season six is the presence of “Wibbily-wobbily, timey-wimey” stuff. Writer Stephen Moffat spends a lot of time playing with the concept of time in ways that make the viewer scratch his head, rewind, attempt to understand the anomaly, and repeat. The ability to play with time in order to create interesting situations is a huge benefit of having a show with a main character who has the ability to travel in time. Moffat has used this to his advantage since he took over for season 5 and again in the beginning of this season.
Additionally the cast has never been as good as they were in these two episodes. Alex Kingston is totally bad-ass as River Song, Arthur Darvill creates a Rory that is more lovable than ever and Karan Gillan plays Amy as her usual feisty self. We also have a feeling that Matt is on his way to become our favorite doctor. What’s so great about Matt’s Doctor, is that you never forget that he isn’t human. He’s awkward, ridiculous and although he is over 900 years old, he has absolutely no idea what to do around women.
However, you should be warned that this probably isn’t a place to jump on if you’ve never watched the show before. Usually with season openers, you can enjoy them even with very minimal knowledge about the show; however, if you haven’t seen the show before, you probably will be left completely confused by these episodes. This may have been a mistake, especially because the show has gotten so huge in the US over the past year.
Really, our only complaint is that the Tardis was a bit more crowded than usual with Rory, Amy, River and guest star Mark Sheppard all along for the ride. There isn’t a whole lot of Doctor – Amy time, but it surely wasn’t enough to ruin the episode, and I’m sure we’ll get enough of that later on in the season.
The first episodes of season six promise an exciting season to come, with many Brits and Americans alike tied to the couch, eyes glued to the TV, waiting to see where the Doctor points his sonic screwdriver next.
[Editor's note: Doctor Who‘s sonic screwdriver opens locks, heals wounds, controls the TARDIS, and even — on occasion — tightens and loosens screws. Read about how his multi-purpose device may no longer be a fiction thanks to engineers in Britain who have developed a device capable of moving and manipulating objects using only ultrasonic sound waves. Read more.]
Season 6 of Doctor Who premieres on BBC America on Saturday, April 23rd.
Photos by Maddy Brout and Victoria Grempel