'Doctor Who' Season 6 Premiere Review & Discussion

Doctor Who season 6 trailer

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 Premiere

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

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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