Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Doctor Who: The Dayof the Moon, a Review with Spoilers

I have mixed feelings about Day of the Moon. On the one hand, I enjoyed it(1). It was face-paced, exciting, and featured one of the Doctor's more convoluted and clever plans for defeating the aliens.

On the other hand, the aliens as the Silence don't quite match the Silence we were hearing about all last season. Remember The Vampires of Venice, where the city literally fell silent for a while(2)? Remember the Evil Voice in The Big Bang? The Silence were scary, but they weren't Fifth-Season scary, not mind-bogglingly, universe-imperiling scary. Also, while I like lean storytelling that doesn't spell anything out, I'd have liked a little more explanation here and there.

The rest of this review is going to have spoilers, mostly for The Impossible Astronaut, by the way. You have been warned.

Why did I enjoy it? Like I said, it was fast-paced, really, really fast paced, and clever. It's not so much that fast-paced by itself is a virtue(3), but this story earned its pacing. It was always on the edge of tipping over into too much and almost always righting itself just at the last moment.

It was visually gorgeous. I mentioned in my review of The Impossible Astronaut how much I admired the film crew for treating Utah as an alien planet visually. They continued this with all the American scenes in Day of the Moon, and it effectively adds to the off-balance, off-kilter nature of the story.

The memory marks Amy, River, and Rory were making on their bodies were chilling. Reminiscent of The Satan Pit, true, but chilling all the same.

Rory is shaping up nicely as a member of the TARDIS crew.

It's not done yet.

We're not even close to finished with the astronaut (who is probably but not certainly) the little girl. The Doctor's death hasn't been addressed. The deep voice in The Big Bang hasn't shown up (I don't think Moffat has really forgotten it). We don't know why the machine in The Lodger was abandoned--and since the Doctor just reminded everyone of it again, it's probably not a loose end. The Silence may now be more-or-less neutralized, but they aren't finished, and they are furious. And there is Amy's maybe pregnancy to factor in.

On the other hand.

I mentioned that I'd like more explanation. I would dearly love to know how Rory and River got from being trapped by a mob of the Silence, not even knowing they were there, to being fugitives on the run. The Silence had every reason to stop them down in the corridors, and they had (to all appearances), every opportunity. So--why didn't they?

How did our heroes manage to remember the Silence long enough to start to put together a coherent plan? We never saw them look at Amy's phone, and even if they had, they'd have forgotten the minute they looked away. So--did they stare at it fixedly as they planned? Possible, but I'd have liked at least a few seconds of explanation.

The aliens themselves only work in the shadow. I think the heads are supposed to look somewhat skeleton like, and there were a couple of closeups where you could see deep-set eyes. Unfortunately, when they step into the light, it still looks like someone forgot to fill in the eye-holes on a rubber mask(4). They're eerie as half-seen shadows, but they should never step into the full light.

Minor note of happy: I love it that the TARDIS data base has Amy listed as "Amelia." It, and the Doctor, still think of her by her fairy-tale name, even if she doesn't, quite.

Minor note of unhappy: I'm trying to get my mom hooked on Doctor Who. Unfortunately, the very qualities that give Day of the Moon its brilliance make it nearly incomprehensible for a new Who viewer(5).

(1)Even though I ended up watching it in green-white and purple because, as it turns out, what I thought was the "bright" control on Amazon Unbox was the "color adjust" and moving it even a little bit does very, very strange things to the view.
(2)Though a friend tells me that if I am patient, and if the force behind the Silence is the being he thinks it is (Omega), it will all make sense. If it does, I will applaud wildly and praise Moffat's genius. I, however, only just heard the Omega rumor and have only the vaguest memories of the Classic Who story with Omega, so for the moment, I'm still on the vaguely dissatisfied side of things.
(3)See any number of mindless action films (Speed, for example), as a caution against fast-paced for its own sake.
(4)Even in full color. I rewatched The Impossible Astronaut right before Day of the Moon, and the color was fine for that.
(5)No, I didn't start her on Dayof the Moon; I'm not quite crazy.


  1. I could have used a bit more explanation too, although I think the Doctor mentions something about how you can also forget talking about the Silence, if enough time passes. So that seems to imply that you can remember talking about the Silence, even if you don't see them. But yeah, I was a little uncertain about how they put their plan together. And also, how River remembers to shoot the Silence that shows up behind her right when Rory asks what sort of doctor she is.

    Also, I don't think the Doctor would ever do what he did to conquer the Silence. He's not genocide guy! I think it would have worked well for him to have a different plan, but then have Canton sort it out so humans kill the Silence. The Doctor isn't the genocide guy.

    But mostly I really liked it, and it made me laugh when the Doctor told Nixon to record everything forever. :D

  2. Yes, the Doctor's apparently immediate decision to go for genocide was out of character.

    On the other hand, he had just spent 200 years running and hiding from them, and they did (it appears) blow up his TARDIS and end the universe.

    Also, if this Silence is the same Silence the Vampires of Venice ran from, then it wasn't technically genocide.

    That said, I don't want to see him continue doing this, even if I also don't want to see another repeat of the stupidity displayed in The Poison Sky.