A recurring problem with the two part stories in new Who is that after a cracking opening episode that builds up the tension, suspense and excitement, the follow-up resolution has many times fallen flat. Now after the fabulous season opener last week, I can confidently say that Day of the Moon delivered… But what it delivered I’m not entirely sure!
Though certainly I think it’s safe to say that this episode is going be very very divisive. And while it is many things, and indeed will be called many things I’m sure, one thing it certainly wasn’t – a damp squib. Day of the Moon delivered a lot bang for its buck. But whether that was a good thing or not is a question that’s hard to answer. And furthermore, I also expect opinions of the episode will be liable to change as the season unfolds.
Yes, I know all this is somewhat vague and probably very confusing. But like the first part of this story, it’s a tough episode to review without giving any of its twists, turns and surprises away. And so this little review is just going to be my initial reaction and we’ll be returning to this tale a little later in the week after I’ve had a chance to rewatch it back to back with The Impossible Astronaut.
However before that, there are a few spoiler-free point to be made...
Firstly if you’ve not seen it yet, I would recommend that you watch last week’s first, because this episode picks up right where we left of and then gallops on at a break-neck pace. They don’t do the old trick of quickly resolving the cliff-hanger and then slow down and starting building the story afresh. Now this may be a bit of shock to the system for some viewers but I’d say it is a good thing as it’s this slackening of pace that has scuppered the effectiveness of many other second parts.
On the downside however, the episode did feel a bit rushed. There’s so much crammed in, I couldn’t help feeling that the story needed a bit more room to breathe. But then again I think it’ll will play better watched as a whole. It was rumoured that the Beeb were planning to screen both over Easter which would make a lot of sense for Moffat’s structural and pacing choices. However that said, there are many things unexplained in this episode which brings be to my second point...
...Before going in, I’ll warn you now that not everything is resolved neatly. Essentially this story is setting up the arc for the season. And rather than the usual drop in a reference or lone clue that typified the story arcs in the RTD days – the Bad Wolf template – Moffat clearly has grander plans. I suspect that the ongoing story he’s constructing will turn out be more of solidly integrated piece of plotting that than we’ve ever had before. And not only are we going to get a story it a proper arc but actually builds on the events of the last season. Grand Moff Steven is playing a very long game here folks!
No doubt there’ll be the usual carping about the direction the series is going in, but whatever anyone does with Doctor Who there’ll always be those who find something to complain about! They complained the RTD years were too frothy and simplistic, and now they’ll grumble its getting too complicated.
And admittedly Day of the Moon is very intricate and I do worry how causal viewers are going to react to all of this. Moffat is possibly taking a big risk here but then again the next week’s episode looks like more standard fare to soothe those left bewildered by this high octane sprint.
But also, perhaps we’re in danger of forgetting that the most popular shows with the general public are the ongoing stories found in the soaps! And perhaps it’s time that genre shows stopped being afraid of telling closely connected narratives. Plus I honestly believe that all this confusion will make a lot more sense further down the line! And if it all comes off, we’ll see Day of the Moon in a new light… So if you find this episode somewhat head spinning, keep on watching!
Right then, I’ve said I can for now! But as promised we’ll come back to this adventure in a few days time and delve into the spoiler zone...
JIM MOON, 30th April 2011