‘Doctor Who’ Season 6 Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated April 30th, 2011 at 10:36 pm,

doctor who season 6 trailer america Doctor Who Season 6 Premiere Review & Discussion

Check out our review of part 2: Doctor Who: ‘Day of the Moon’ Review & Discussion

Fear not – the Doctor has returned! After many months of waiting, Doctor Who season 6 has officially begun.

With Amy (Karen Gillan), Rory (Arthur Darvill) and the always elusive Dr. River Song (Alex Kingston) on his side, the Doctor is ready to take on the world – or so we hope. In tonight’s Doctor Who season 6 premiere, entitled “The Impossible Astronaut,” the Doctor may have met his match.

When President Nixon begins to receive calls from a mysterious child, the Doctor (Matt Smith) investigates what preternatural being could be causing this telephonic abnormality. But, is the Doctor in over his head? Could certain events bring about the end of the Doctor?

The Impossible Astronaut episode description:

The Doctor is back in the biggest, most mind-blowing series opener ever. Amy, Rory and River also return for an adventure that combines humour, shocks for our heroes and one of the creepiest creatures they’ve ever encountered…  The Doctor is engaged on quest that takes him from the visually stunning Utah desert to the White House where he’s enlisted by President Nixon himself to assist enigmatic former-FBI agent Canto(Mark Sheppard). His mission – save a terrified little girl from a mysterious spaceman.  Prepare for the return of the galaxy’s greatest hero.

Prepare for excitement. And prepare – if you can – for the Silence…


In tonight’s premiere episode of Doctor Who, The Doctor, and his faithful companions Amy, Rory, and River Song, went somewhere they’ve never been before (and when you’re traveling in the Tardis, that’s impressive) – America. Yes, the famed British sci-fi icon (played in his current iteration by the wonderful Matt Smith) has made his way to the United States, and as a new American Doctor Who fan, it was exciting to see. Be advised that this is a full review with a number of plot spoilers – so if you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading.

SPOILERS for Doctor Who Season 6 Premiere

In the beginning of the episode, Amy, Rory, and River all receive notes (in Tardis blue envelopes) with a date, time, and coordinates. Assuming the notes come from The Doctor, the three make their way to the U.S.A. to meet up and plan a trip to 1969 – the year of the moon landing.

Of course, as with all things related to The Doctor, nothing is quite as it seems. For one thing, The Doctor is 200 years older than when we last saw him. For a time-traveler, that’s not necessarily too strange. However, things get really crazy moments later when The Doctor meets a mysterious astronaut walking toward him out of a lake (in a completely surreal shot that could only work in the deserts of the American West) and is killed in front of his friends (in mid-regeneration no less).

That’s right, The Doctor dies in the first five minutes of the episode. But can The Doctor ever really die?  The version that was killed, and subsequently set aflame by Rory and cast out into the lake, was actually The Doctor’s future self. Moments later in the episode, The Doctor comes back – or rather his old self (or current self) appears for the first time.

Doctor Who Season 6 Premier Doctor Who Season 6 Premiere Review & Discussion

If you’re confused, don’t worry, I was too. And the rest of the episode didn’t do much good in clarifying the situation. Of course, that’s why it’s a two-parter! Besides, when you’re having this much fun along the way, what difference does it make?

I’ll try and recap the plot as best as I can, but again, it was pretty confusing, so please feel free to clarify my summary in the comments. Basically, after The Doctor shows up (the 900-year-old version), nobody can tell him what’s going to happen in his future – lest they create some kind of time-space explosion. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t try and stop the astronaut that killed him from ever making it to 2011.

And so, the gang makes their way back to 1969, with The Doctor reluctantly trusting his companions – who he knows are holding something back. In 1969, President Richard Nixon has been receiving a distress call from a little girl somewhere complaining about a malevolent “spaceman.” After a few minutes, The Doctor figures out the girl’s location and takes ex-FBI agent Canton Everett Delaware III with him to investigate (In the beginning of the episode Delaware III was issued an invitation to meet the 1100-year-old Doctor and witness his death).

Here, the episode begins to come together a bit more clearly. Throughout the premiere, Amy has been spotting alien creatures (who wear sharp suits) out of the corner of her eye. Whenever she stops looking at them, however, she completely forgets that they ever existed. Later, River and Rory both see the aliens and experience the same phenomenon. The aliens are a formidable enemy, and one that rivals the Weeping Angels in the creepiness factor.

Once The Doctor arrives at his destination, Rory and River investigate a series of tunnels that appear to be created by the alien creatures (of course, they don’t know this, because they keep forgetting the aliens exist). Eventually, they end up in what seems to be the control room of a spaceship (extremely similar to the partially constructed spaceship found in the Season 5 episode “The Lodger”).

If the partially constructed craft is related to the earlier episode, then it makes sense that the cries for help were actually a trick intended to bring The Doctor to the ship – since he’s likely to be the only one capable of defeating the aliens. In previews for next week’s episode, however, it appears that The Doctor and his crew are facing a pretty formidable foe. According to some brief lines in the preview, the aliens have been living among us for years, completely unknown to humans. How will The Doctor and his team fight off an enemy that they can’t remember? I don’t know, but I’m definitely excited to find out.

Doctor Who The Impossible Astronaut Doctor Who Season 6 Premiere Review & Discussion

Speaking of finding things out, we learned a bit more about River Song’s mysterious past, though we still don’t know what she did to land her in prison. During a conversation with Rory, River reveals that she met The Doctor when she was just a young woman, and that he knew everything about her. Every subsequent time she’s met him, she knows more about him, but he knows a little less about her. They’re moving in separate time-lines, and, eventually, River knows that there will come a day when he won’t know her at all.

In addition, Amy is pregnant. On one hand, way to go Rory! On the other hand, why does that matter? It’s hard to imagine what role Amy’s pregnancy will have on the narrative going forward. Does it mean she won’t be able to go on as many adventures – out of fear for her baby’s safety? The revelation was squeezed into the episode at the very end, right before Amy shot at an astronaut, whom she believed was the same astronaut who kills The Doctor at the beginning of the episode – so I’m hoping they flesh out what it means in part two.

Anyway, I thought the premiere, while very complicated, was also very enjoyable. The show made great use of its American settings, providing an epic scope to the episode that was fitting – given that it involved the death of The Doctor. Also, I really enjoyed all of the core actors in the episode, particularly Matt Smith, whose fun-loving and fast-talking variation on The Doctor has been exciting to watch.

I think the alien enemy featured in the episode was extremely spooky, and a great challenge for The Doctor. The preview for next week’s episode seemed to show things getting especially bad, with The Doctor in shackles and Rory cut-up beyond belief. Obviously, The Doctor will make his way out (like he always does) but it seems as if Steven Moffat is going to give another season of episodes that toy with the darkness inherent to The Doctor’s life – while also delivering on the action and adventure that made season five so much fun to watch.

Let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments, and feel free to speculate on what River’s relationship with The Doctor is – as well as what Amy’s revelation means for the rest of the series.


Doctor Who airs Saturdays @9pm, on BBC America

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  1. Never got into who before but this cast and take on the Dr. hooked me. Great job. Best Dr. yet!

  2. Question: Did anyone catch the statement by the doctor in the oval office when he was explaining how the little girl had to be calling from Florida because thats where the “spacemen” live. After he said that he then said that there was another lead he was following that made him believe it had to be Florida. Does anyone have any thoughts on what the other lead might be?

  3. I really enjoyed the season premiere, and unlike some people on here I like Matt Smith as the Doctor. At first I didn’t like him, but this might be more due to the fact that I loved David Tennant as The Doctor. However, Matt Smith has grown on me and I think he does a wonderful job as The Doctor and gives the character his own flair. I love the new bad guys this season, it gives the show a very X-Files feeling to it. I can’t wait to see what happens this week!!

  4. I Believe this Doctor who Episode was possibly the worst that i’ve seen in a long time. I’ve mainly been aggrivated since they showed that it would be in America, thats possibly the worst idea ever… Its British! Next Doctor better not be an American Doctor, coz it does seem to be heading in that direction.. The quality of the actual story lines have been going downhill since this new doctor has taken over, He has definitly taken the show in a new direction, Straight over to the Americans, Interviews and travelling over to america constantly.. The show was on a tight budget, but obviously with the help of both Christopher Eccelston and David Tennant they got more capabilities to do more with the show, Why then go to America and waste it all!!

    The world doesn’t need another American show on television, with the thick humour and obvious punchlines.. Keep it British, Keep it Cardiff!

    • Wow, so rude on so many levels dude!
      Yes, Doctor Who is a british show, but AMERICA hasn’t taken it over. Doctor Who has been airing in the states for decades, so just because its getting more popular now you are complaining, when all its doing it helping Dr Who get more money? Wow. If you’re gonna complain about America airing more heavily now, why don’t you complain about Australia airing it? I mean really, just rude, its just a show that everyone should be allowed to enjoy.

      • JLconfused’s comments could have been made differently, it was rude. However his basic point I think was that Dr. Who shouldn’t be set in America. I’m all for it airing all over the world, but I agree that the stories shouldn’t take place in America.

        It’s being set primarily in and around England & Scotland with occasional forays into Europe provides a good juxtaposition.

        American shows are always set in America and, unless its 24 and there are terrorists trying to blow up Washington, you’d never know the rest of the world existed.

        Watching Dr. Who you’d never know America existed, except when they occasionally show up to exert dominance and bluster a bit and I think that it should stay that way. People in the rest of the world know far more than they need to about the U.S. and U.S. history already. There was a survey a few years back that showed that the average citizen of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK or Europe knew more about US politics than the average American.

        So rude, yes but keep Dr. Who British and avoid ever setting it in the U.S. – absolutely.

        • It was only two episodes though! Who cares where its set! Its Doctor Freaking Who!ha! He has all of time and space to pick somewhere! I think its really naive to limit the setting of Doctor Who to one location. I mean, would people be mad it if it was set in Africa, Mexico, or something like that? No! I mean it’s not even the first time the Doctor was in America, its just the first time Doctor Who was filmed in America. No one throws a fit that they filmed other episodes in Croatia. There’s been several episodes with the Doctor in the states whether in the past or futuristic so I think it doesn’t make any sense for people to complain about it now. They’ve only made a bigger deal about it because the BBC is airing in America, which is the BBC’s deal NOT America’s.

          • You seem to have entirely missed the point.

            Airwaves, internationally, are flooded with American programming. All of those programs are set in and are exclusively about America and Americans. People, around the world, see, hear and read plenty about America, way too much in fact.

            So yes, Mexico is fine, Africa is fine, South America, Russia ANYWHERE but the United States. The fact that many Americans don’t understand that is just another illustration of the problem. To me at least the U.S. is boring including all of it’s locations, history and politics. It’s all been done to death and most of it wasn’t all that interesting to begin with.

            Hopefully, the Doctor will never have another U.S. visit and I’m sending a letter to the BBC to that effect.

            • Wow. Rude, racist, and ignorant. Sorry, but i haven’t missed the point, you have. I know it full well. I am just blown away by this ignorance and borderline racism. And I for one am glad you or jlconfused are not in charge of the BBC! And for the record, I am saying this as someone who lives in the UK not as an un-understanding American.

  5. There’s nothing at all racist or ignorant about what I said. I know a great deal about the U.S., I’ve lived there and I didn’t say “Americans are bad people” I just said that most of the world hears plenty about the U.S. without Doctor Who being set there as well. You may live in the U.K. but I’m guessing you are American because only an American would consider what I said racist or arrogant. I’m afraid you are very un-understanding, though people may be too polite to tell you most of the time.

    • haha wow man. You’re not even worth the debate. You are being so racists, and you don’t have to be an ‘american’ to see that. Oh and by the way, I didn’t say arrogant, I said ignorant. ;) Let’s us know if the BBC ever gets back to you on that letter?! God save the Queen!

      • America isn’t even a race. Get a dictionary and look it up, then we can talk about ignorance perhaps.

          • At this point I would just slag you personally, but that’s against the rules, perhaps one day you’ll wake up. Doubtful though.

            • Oh, i’m sorry did you think I was asleep? you have high hopes for what people can do when they are sleeping then.

    • Interesting that your “understanding” of Luke’s point of view is that he has to be American simply because he finds your agenda somewhat slanted, Justin.

      “To me at least the U.S. is boring including all of its locations, history and politics.”

      That’s bloody staggering to me in all its short-sighted weirdness, and I AM English.

      Also, you do realise this is an American site you’re posting on?

      • “That’s bloody staggering to me in all its short-sighted weirdness, and I AM English.”

        It may be staggering, but it’s honest. I’ve studied U.S. and international history and politics and I’ve lived in the states. Boring is perhaps the wrong word but so much is said about America, so many stories have been told (in part because of the dominance of its media) that the American story in general has been overblown. If boiled down to basic facts, without the mythology that has been built up it’s simply not that special or interesting, certainly not special or interesting enough to warrant the attention it has received.

        People can disagree about whether that’s true or not, but to refer to it as “racist” (Luke not you) shows a profound ignorance of what racism is. If I say “I don’t find Belgian history interesting” we can disagree on the point, but it’s hardly racist.

        To say that American stories and settings are overdone and that one of the refreshing things about Doctor Who is that it avoids that pitfall, to me is perfectly reasonable.

        As for it being an American site, I honestly hadn’t bothered to check and rarely do.

        • Yeah, but that very same dominance of America’s media has meant that it’s only in comparatively recent times that television has begun to explore and find the cracks in that mythology. Fair enough if you don’t find any of that interesting; personally, I don’t have a problem with a single very British take on a very small slice of that history.

          • With very, very few exceptions I’ve seen very little interest in ‘exploring the cracks’. Most of American media (including film and television) patches over and covers over the cracks as well as it did in the 1950s. I’m not happy about it being set in the U.S. at all, I only hope it stays at “a single very British take on a very small slice of that history.” Once the U.S. claims something they tend to want all of it.

    • Justin,

      Surely you realize your comments can be taken as being offensive to those of us who are American. It’s not America’s fault that the airwaves are “flooded” with our programming – there must be a reason for that… maybe… the fact that people all over the world LIKE it? If no one liked it or wanted to see it I guarantee you it wouldn’t be everywhere.

      This is definitely a flame-bait comment:

      “To me at least the U.S. is boring including all of it’s locations, history and politics. It’s all been done to death and most of it wasn’t all that interesting to begin with.”

      Really, I do find that an ignorant thing to say and it smacks of envy and jealousy, frankly.



      • Hi Vic,

        I do realize that my comments could be taken as offensive, but there is no kind or benign way of putting it. In my view, having lived in the U.S., the primary problem with American culture, from it’s international politics, to it’s domestic politics and including it’s media and relations amoung its individual citizens is an overblown sense of self importance.

        Americans are no more important or interesting than any of the worlds people. American history is no more remarkable than that of dozens of other nations but it is predominantly American stories flooding the airwaves. There are historical and economic reasons for that that go far beyond “because people like it” and that go back to the end of the WWII but as this isn’t a media studies class I’ll set that aside for the moment.

        The point is that I don’t want to see this program become another program about the U.S. because the American version of the Doctor is Jack Bauer.

        • Well you’re entitled to your opinion but I do not find the history of America the least bit boring – unless a civilian revolution against a professional army is boring.

          Admit it, you’re just still stinging from losing the war 200+ years ago. ;-)


          • Not to get into a monster historical debate, but you’ve illustrated my point a bit. American’s think that the U.S. Revolution was very special but nearly every revolution in history has involved “a civilian revolution against a professional army” including many that are currently ongoing.

            I’m Canadian by the way – same basic difference, we’re the colonies that didn’t sign on for the American Revolution (and yet are somehow doing ok anyway.)

            • Whatever. Still sounds like sour grapes to me. Just my opinion of course.


              • That’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion and the “everyone is just jealous” is the appropriate conditioned response to criticism of the U.S. and the doctrine of U.S. exceptionalism

                • Justin,

                  You know what else we have in the U.S. that you seem to be missing? A sense of humor.

                  Have a nice day.


  6. I came to this site thinking that it was about Dr Who, what an interesting surprise.
    but to add my 2 bob, I dont think anyone hates the yanks as a population, your citizens are no different to anyone else, but I do believe allot of people including those of the US, hate their politicians and foreign policy,
    Ipso Facto, the skew in the topic of the forum.
    That comes from a person living on an EX-POM-penal colony, that cant go bush for all the US bases, testing ways of killing people better.

    I enjoyed the episode, but yes I too, dont want the BBC to pimp Dr Who towards the US audience.


    • DAZ,

      Yeah, sorry about the conversation getting sidetracked…


  7. I just got through watching the new Doctor Who Episode 6, both parts, for the third time. I had to watch them three times to figure them out! Talk about paradoxes and conundrums!

    I could do it because BBC America has been repeating the shows all night and the next day – a smart move to help boost the American following. It is growing in the States — as well it should — for this is a wonderful series. (the alternative is another tedious “reality” show or contest with cynical judges that has nothing to do with reality, but we think it does.)

    I think the season is off to a great start. The production values are excellent, there is great humor mixed in with the seriousness, and — as has become increasingly apparent with Doctor Who — the logic gets fuzzier and the whole thing is harder than ever to figure out. “Timey-Whimy”? “Time can be changed, but sometimes it is fixed.” Only Doctor Who could come up with a statement like that and it’s as insane as “It’s exactly the same, only different.”

    But of course, that is all part of the fun and really belongs with Doctor Who. After all, if we can accept (as seen in the Christmas special) the idea of a shark flying and pulling a 19th century carriage through the sky on a planet that is so technologically advanced it has space travel, yet wants to look like Dicken’s Victorian London, well… (and singing opera to fish? hmmmm)

    I love River Song and was so glad to see her return. I am also a great fan of Amy and Rory. Of course, I think Matt Smith is a fabulous Doctor. I know people have their favorites, but I’ve been watching Doctor Who for many years (starting with Tom Baker) and for the most part, I like ALL the Doctor’s and their companions for different reasons. Good acting and good storytelling are always a treasure.

    I’m American, and one of the things I enjoy about the series is seeing the British sets (when they aren’t off on another planet). The only problem I have with the show is that they deliver the dialog so fast, it is sometimes hard to understand. At one point (a year or so ago) BBC America recommended turning on closed captions (“If you hadn’t thrown all that tea into Boston harbor, you wouldn’t have this problem!). My TV won’t do closed captions (sigh). So I sometimes miss some of the jokes that they throw around with abandon on the show.

    What make Doctor Who as a series so endearing to me is the brilliance of the character interactions. It is the characters and that they make us (some of us anyway) feel for them — that works so well. Beautiful Martha Jones, crazy Donna Noble, the unforgettable Rose Tyler, Mary Jane Smith — and all the fabulous Doctors — wonderful! They work so well together and make a great team.

    And the perks, besides the crazy aliens and monsters (the new Daleks in bright shiny COLORS? How wonderfully unexpected– designer Daleks!) are the one-line zingers.

    There is so much tongue-in-cheek humor (River Song: “I hate you”, Doctor: “No you don’t”) (Rory: “Why do I have to fill him in?” Amy: “Because you’re the newest.”) It’s stuff like this, little zingers, that really make me laugh and add so much charm to the show.

    So I just say “Hooray for Doctor Who”, wherever, whenever, WHOever. And many thanks to the BBC and all the folks who bring us this great entertainment. I love it all!

  8. Gah! I didn’t expect a political debate here. Yuk.

    The most ignorant part of the whole “don’t set Doctor Who in America” rant is that there have been episodes set in America before. “The Daleks in Manhattan” anyone? Or maybe some people don’t realize what country Manhattan is in. And it’s not the only episode set in the US, just a recent and obvious example. Anyother would be waaay back with the first or second Doctor they did the gunfight at OK Corral in “The Gunfighters”. Talk about a story that’s been done many times before! The whole point of Doctor Who is it can be set anywhere at any time.

    Granted, it had never been shot here before, but that was just a stunt. I don’t see that that needs to be a regular thing, but frankly I don’t care if they film it in the UK, the US, or in, say, Paraguay if the stories are good.

    • Agreed!

  9. Six seasons, two actually filmed in the states in settings that could’ve well been in Tunisia for all we know. Locations aside, doesn’t matter really as it’s all about the Dr. not where they film it, as long as you have the story, people will follow it. Have been a fan since Dr #4 when family was stationed in England, have enjoyed it more than anything else that has been put out Brit or Yank. Keep up the great work, with that great staff, and fantastic writing.

  10. It looks like the voice of reason ( me of course)has to step in here. No more talk or clever ( you think?-no)one-upmanship remarks, not needed here! More important is my question. Do you think the BBC shot in America because Torchwood already had a BBC crew there ( in association with Starz)& it was yet another cost cutting measure,was it all about the dollars?

    • I gave my opinion above–it was just a stunt.

  11. love Amy Pond! Her and Rose in a pile OH YEA

  12. I told yall River was the Doctors killer!

  13. 5 months ago I told you River was the killer, I rock!