Monday, May 2, 2011

Doctor Who: Day of the Moon

Day of the Moon

So, part two of the Moffat cliff-hanger once again kind of changed the theme and mood of the first episode. That's not exactly bad in this case. With most of his two-parters, I liked the first half better and the second part changed to a less interesting theme. However, with this one, the second episode had the stronger theme.  Well, let me amend that. It had some great, dark thematic moments.

So, the episode begins three months later with a baby-bumpless Amy Pond running from the FBI. She gets shot and, since we know she's in later episodes, we don't worry too much for her. River is shown fleeing from the FBI and she jumps to her obviously-not-death-since-we-know-how-she'll-die-later-plus-two-episodes-from-now-there-is-an-episode-called-The-Doctor's-Wife. Rory then also is seen fleeing the FBI and gets shot. But he has a name in the opening credits now, so unless Moffat is doing a Whedon/Tara feign, we know he'll live too.

Anyhow, Canton brings Amy and Rory's bodies to the Doctor who is held in custody as they build the "perfect" prison for him. And no, the perfect prison is not the Pandorica, but rather a solid cell made with bricks forged from the dwarf star maters, the "densest stuff in the whole universe". And you can tell that it is dense, since it takes two people to pick up the bricks. But in the show's defense, maybe they were two really strong guys who picked up the densest stuff in the universe. Anyhow, it turns out that Canton was really working with the Doctor and fortunately for Amy, Rory and River, they were found by Canton and not some other FBI agent who would have shot them on sight and killed them. This was a neat little dramatic opening and all, but really, since they are all working so closely with the President of the United States, why did they have to pretend to be adversarial? Just to make a dramatic opening, but whatever.

Apparently in the three months the group have been out trying to get sightings of the Silence and have found that they are all over. This kind of bums me out a little bit because if they have been around since the dawn of humanity and they are all around, shouldn't each person who sees one suddenly remember all of the previous times that they've seen them, like from when they were kids and such? But again, it sets up a cool baddie, so I don't mind the fact that they don't really have a history past last week. I can over look that.

So they set their plan in motion. Amy and Canton meet some fucked up orphanage caretaker, which really makes the best scenes in the episode. The mind-worn caretaker is really excellently played and Amy's scene with the hive of Silence is just a great, dark scene. From the writing on the walls, to Amy's sudden markings and message to herself, this is what Moffat writes best: individually amazing scenes that fit in a sometimes disjointed overall story. But nevertheless, it was a great, tense scene.

The Doctor gets captured by NASA after he is seen fiddling with Apollo 11 and River and Rory show up with President Nixon to get him out of the jam. There are two things notable with this scene: First, they dressed Rory up nerdy enough to get my wife wet for him and second, Nixon apparently travelled there in the TARDIS and then the Doctor took him back to the White House in it. Now, by the definitions set forth by numerous Doctor Who fan pages, the fact that Nixon traveled with the Doctor in the TARDIS technically makes President Nixon one of the Doctor's companions. This is further reinforced by the Doctor transporting Nixon to the dense-material prison to talk to the prison guards.

Amy is captured after her finding out (like both Jess and I predicted early in this episode) that she is actually the mother of the strange girl in the astronaut suit. They can still conveniently hear what Amy is saying. With this, they finally figure out how to approach Rory's character. He was added mid-season last year to resolve the Amy-lusting-for-the-Doctor storyline and they didn't seem to know what to do with him until he became the "boy who waited" for the "girl who waited".  But a happily married couple isn't that interesting for teevee, so instead they've decided to try to make it interesting by making Rory jealous of Amy and the Doctor's relationship and will probably keep throwing out vaguely easily misinterpreted lines for the rest of the season to carry this on. I like Rory, but this aspect they've decided to expand on makes me wonder how long I will like him. He's still fiercely devoted to Amy even when he thinks she loves the Doctor, but how long will this go on? Are happily married couples really that uninteresting? Can't they both just be strong characters who happen to be married? Apparently not in teevee land. That is disappointing. It's also disappointing that to try to force the relationship to be more interesting, they go with jealousy. That's so overdone. You want to try to "spin" their relationship to make it more interesting? Why not just make Rory a cuckold who likes to watch Amy flirt with the Doctor? Make them swingers. We saw in the Christmas special that the pair of them liked to dress up to presumably roleplay in their honeymoon (not to mention Amy used to make Rory dress up as the "Raggedy Doctor" while they were younger), why not make them just crazy kinky and constantly talking about new things they want to try in bed? Well, I guess that's probably because it's a family show. But they could at least make the relationship interesting by making it strong. Rory's dedication to Amy at the end of last season was a character defining moment. Build on that. Don't ruin it with a silly jealousy/who is the father storyline.

Anyhow, the Doctor's plan works at the end by adding some subliminal messages to the moon landing footage, since billions of people see it and then react against the Silence. It's not a bad ending, except for two things that sit a little uneasily in my mind: First, what the hell did everyone do with all of the dead Silence bodies laying around after they killed them all and Second, how did the Doctor accept the resolution that he has just made every single person on earth an unknowing murderer? Seriously, from every kid to every elderly person who watched the moon landing, they will all now kill any Silence that they see and never even remember it. He has created genocidal Manchurian Candidates on a global level that will last for generations. Fuck, according to the story set in this episode, I became a Manchurian Candidate ready to murder because of the footage I saw during my fifth grade field trip to the Air & Space Museum.

Anyhow, a few things to comment on:

River and the Doctor's first kiss wasn't something too crazy. I mean, so far in the new series, every one of his companions have kissed the Doctor (except Rory, but then again, there's another way to make Amy and Rory's marriage more interesting). However, what made it a little special is that what is the first kiss for the Doctor, River knows will be the last kiss for her.

Amy Pond's pregnancy: She's worried that all of the time travel would mess up the baby, but she and Rory were dropped off to live their lives together for two months before the Doctor's return. I can only assume that the baby was conceived then, so the worry seems a little story convenient. But then again, Amy seems to be in a state of Schrodinger's pregnancy as she is currently both in a state of being pregnant and not being pregnant.

The kid regenerating at the end of the episode; Amy's kid. Well, we'll see where that goes. Hopefully it isn't played up to make you think that it might be the Doctor's baby with Amy. I want to see a strong marriage portrayed. Incidentally, the only real strong marriage I've ever seen portrayed on teevee was with Wash and Zoe on Firefly. Teevee can use more of them, so I hope they drop the jealousy and baby-daddy drama.

Episode Highs:
*The orphanage caretaker was masterfully acted and the scene with the writing on the wall and the hive of Silence lurking above Amy was just excellent. It was classic contemporary horror and almost had a dark, Cthulhu/madness feel to it. I loved that scene and it redeemed much of the episode's failings for me.
*Rory's dedication to Amy even when he believes that she loves the Doctor instead is a great character defining moment.
*Much of the horror and suspense of finding the markings on the characters was excellent.
*Again, I'm not a River fan, but I appreciated the mixture of awkward elation of what was the Doctor's first kiss and the somber bleakness of River's last kiss.
*Amy's line of "Is this important flirting?" was rather funny.
*The Doctor licking his blue envelope to get clues about it ties in with this Doctor's heightened sense of taste that he has shown in the Hungry Earth.

Episode Lows:
*The Doctor's eventual death they witness was still not resolved (or addressed).
*Disjointed episode where a lot of character decisions made no sense other than to get us to the next interesting scene. So the episode was bunch of interesting scenes strung together with over-convenient or implausible decisions.
*Richard Nixon is now officially one of the Doctor's companions.
*Using jealousy and possible "baby-daddy" issues to make a marriage more teevee interesting.
*The densest stuff in the universe only takes two people to lift.
*I'm not a big gun person at all, but I think I still have a better grasp on them than the British do. All of the Secret Service has six-shooter revolvers and in some scenes their fingers were placed not on the triggers, but on the trigger guards (that is more apparent in the first episode).

Molly: (As always, I'll be transcribing what Molly says. She's next to me at my computer as I write this and our review will be in Q&A form because of her age.)

Chuckie: What did you think about the episode, the Day of the Moon?
Molly: Is that what it's called?

Chuckie: Yup.
Molly: I liked it.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Um, that there was every, um, that, that River shooted the bad aliens.

Chuckie: What else?
Molly: And I thought that it was funny that the black marks looked like ants.

Chuckie: The marks they were drawing on themselves?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: But what were the marks really for?
Molly: So they won't forget the aliens.

Chuckie: So, tell me what happened in this episode.
Molly: Um, well, um Amelia Pond runned away from those guys in the car and then Rory was running and then he stopped running and put him hands up. And he said, "What are you waiting for?" And the other guys said, "I'm waiting for you to run because it looks better if you run when I shoot you." Um, and then they had black body sacks and he said he was going to be a prisoner and he said "That is not enough" and then the man closed the door and the people got out of the sacks and then he snapped and he got out of the door and they left.

Chuckie: Wow. You remembered a lot.
Molly: Yeah. And the girl said, "Get out" and then the girl said, "I think she's dreaming" and she put her hands on the window and she saw her face and she put her flashlight on the roof and the monsters were there sleeping and then one was by her and she couldn't open the door and couldn't open the window and when she came in there were drawings and she said, "Is the kid here?" and there were drawings on the walls. They were words.  And the kids wrote on him and the girl said, um, "I'm sorry I shooted you, I'm happy I missed" and she said, "Please help me, please help me" and the monsters came by her and them Amelia Pond screamed. And she broke out of that space suit and those two said she's strong and the Doctor said, "Totally strong" and the guy said, "What's wrong little girl" and she said "I'm dying but that's okay" and then she regenerated!

Chuckie: Wow. That's some summary.
Molly: I remembered everything, right, Daddy?

Chuckie: Yeah, just about. So, was this episode scary?
Molly: Nah.

Chuckie: What did you think about the aliens called The Silence?
Molly: They're kind of mean.

Chuckie: Good point. But do you like them or Daleks better?
Molly: Um, kind of the Daleks better because cause the Silence are kind of mean more and they're both medium because I like them both a little bit because I'd want them to be nice then I'd like them more. If they stop saying "Exterminate" and trapping people and all that stuff, then I'd like them better.

Chuckie: So, what do you think: Is Amy Pond pregnant?
Molly: Both. She's not pregnant and she is pregnant, so we have to find out. We'll have to find out in the next episode.

Chuckie: So, tell me more about River.
Molly: She says, "Hello, Sweetie" and she kissed the Doctor.

Chuckie: So what do you think is up with the girl who regenerated at the end?
Molly: I don't know, we have to find out.

Chuckie: So, how would you rate this episode?
Molly: It's good and I'm giving it thirty-five stars.

Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of America.

Chuckie: Do you really get the concept of "out of"?
Molly: Yeah. And thirty-five plus sixty-one moons.

Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of America twenty -five. And twenty-five suns.

Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of July 26, 2006.

Chuckie: Your birthday?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: Okay, anything else that you want to say about the episode?
Molly: Um, I think everybody would like it, even my cousin Edison and even people that we don't know and even Isaac and Jo and Craig and even Mike and even people in different countries who speak different languages if they could read the words about what they said on the show.

Chuckie: What would they like about it?
Molly: Everything about the movie.

Chuckie: Fair enough. So, which was better this episode or the last one?
Molly: The last one.

So that's our review. I really, really enjoyed certain scenes in the episode, but was a bit disappointed that they were so poorly strung together just to get from cool moment to cool moment. It seems to set the tone for the rest of the season, though they basically ended the episode with the Doctor asking, "So, instead of following up on this mystery, why don't we just do a monster-of-the-week episode next?" This series will also have a mid-series break and cliff-hanger as well, so we probably won't get any more of this arc until then. I like Moffat's writing, but I'm worried that he is falling into the Davies trap of going well over the top and trying to constantly out-do his last series. I enjoyed the episode, but I am a little nervous about the over-arc for this series. We'll see.

I'd give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.I would have rated this episode lower, but I really loved some of the scenes in it. I don't think it helped the first episode, especially since the cliff-hanger was barely touched upon. So all of the drama that ended the last episode was forgotten by starting this one 3 months later. But that's Moffat's writing. He's excellent, but inconsistent, even in his own two-parters.

Molly liked this episode and gave it thirty-five stars, thirty-five plus sixty-one moons and twenty-five suns.  Most of them were out of America, possibly in honor of the episode being shot in the US. But more likely because she doesn't get the concept of "out of" yet. However, she thinks everyone would like it and she had a very vivid memory of the episode.


  1. We might have to watch it since Molly says Jo and I would like it. Just as a scientist, Osmium is one of the densest metals. A standard brick made of it would weight about 60lbs, a cinder block would weigh about 800lbs, depending on how big the blocks were two people could probably lift them.

  2. Yes, but this was supposedly material forged from an alloy made from the core of a collapsing dwarf star, so I would assume that it would be a shitload denser. We've got the older series on DVD, or you can probably Netflix the episodes if you are interested.