Because we couldnt spoil it if we wanted to
The twists start five minutes in. After 10 minutes, we’ve had more of them than the Doctor’s got years on his clock. And they keep coming until it seems like Steven Moffat’s trying to fry our brains with industrial-strength Moff rays.
We’d love to reveal the plot but just trying to do so makes our heads go wibbly.
Bamboozling as it is, theres nothing else this bonkers and bold on telly
The opening five minutes rattle through period-flick pastiches, an escape movie in miniature, mysterious invitations to a Utah rendezvous and various other bits of business in between.
It’s like the opening rush of Preston Sturges’s The Palm Beach Story , plus time travel and nakedness. Exhausting, but exhilarating.
Series 5 will seem like it was written in high Gallifreyan if you dont watch
Ever the tease, Moffat left half of series 5’s plot threads dangling at its climax.
Astronaut and its second part Day Of The Moon pick them up, semi-answer them and then spin extra riddles out from them along lines involving the White House, Nixon, 1969, shadowy aliens, rockets, a girl’s voice, reel-to-reel tape recordings, Americans with big guns and a haunting picture in a frame.
The rest of series 6 will probably seem like high Gallifreyan if you dont
With brazen brilliance, Moffat seeds so many plot ideas for the rest of the series in Astronaut and Moon , you suspect he’ll need two series to unravel them.
Luckily, series 6 will be split into spring/autumn halves, so there might be time to answer his teasers before Christmas if he gets his motorised skates on.
Itll keep you watching
Russell T Davies’s tenure was good for viewers to dip in and out of. Moffat isn’t having that. He’s making appointment viewing, playing a long game to keep us glued.
You daren’t skip anything for fear that you’ll miss a key point tossed in with cavalier flourish. Well, that or a good gag about a “screamer”, the saucy dog.
Its a bit scary
Astronaut heads for the sunshine at first then dunks you into the dark places. Gloopy subterranean warrens, a dank orphanage, corner-of-the-eye horrors, meetings with Mr Weird Face in bathrooms – they’re all here, directed in high style by Toby Haynes.
Moffat’s Blink looks about as scary as Zingzillas by comparison. And talking of scares…
The monsters have mouths like bumholes
The new alien threat’s mouth looks like something Peter Weller had a natter with in David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch adaptation. Kids, your favourite new nightmare is here.
And its gob looks a bit like what you’d see if you caused yourself great and unnecessary pain contorting your posture to look at your poo-poo hole in the mirror.
Its bigger on the inside
Don’t expect downtime in Astronaut or Day Of The Moon : they don’t stop delivering for the rapid-fire, all-too-brief duration. Astronaut emphasises character but it’s rammed boot to barnet with revelations.
Moon is more incident-packed, the Aliens to its Alien , and they make a similarly perfect pair.
Its a game-changer
Astronaut and Moon mark the first time post-’05 Who has opened with a two-parter. It’s also the darkest a series opener has been.
Trust us, the alien threat is nastier than the Adipose, the stress-cushion merch option spawned on the back of 2008’s Partners In Crime . Their USP is eerie and they do some stuff that there really isn’t any call for.
Both episodes include sequences shot in Utah, which look duly spectacular. The FX and designs are pretty awesome too, from the alien lair to an Apollo launch verging on the gob-smacking and a Brooklyn skyline backdrop that’ll give you giddy vertigo.
Truly, the show has come a long way since wobbly tin dogs and celery on suit lapels.
Moffat wasnt lying
Like he said to Doctor Who Magazine , one of the main four characters dies in Astronaut . The Doctor, River, Amy or Rory? Not telling but one of them bites the dust. Falls. Snuffs it. Etc.
And yes, we have endured great pain stapling our mouths shut to keep it a secret.
Matt Smith’s Doctor claims to be merely hiding when we first see him in Astronaut . Without giving away any clues as to his whereabouts, don’t believe him.
Moffat boosted DW ’s sauce levels in 2005’s The Doctor Dances , a title that meant “dance” like Smith’s Doctor means “hiding”. Yes, it’s Carry On Doctor !
The swimming-pool agenda returns
Remember how Matt Smith sprang sopping wet from the TARDIS swimming pool at the opening of series 5 opener The Eleventh Hour ?
Well, the pool is back and ready for incoming travellers to take a dip in a fabulous sight gag. Could it be a series arc? Will River be revealed as the one who whiddled in the shallow end in 1483?
The gay agenda returns
Russell T Davies’s show tenure saw some tragic corners of the message-board kingdom whingeing about the rebooted series’s so-called “gay agenda”.
To his credit, Moffat gooses the naysayers in quality style here.
Because him from out of Battlestar Galactica is in it
From Carey Mulligan to Michael Gambon, Who has a great track record for support casting – and Astronaut is no exception.
Chief among the roll call here is Mark Sheppard, last seen playing dodgy legal dude Romo Lampkin in Battlestar , also of X-Files and Supernatural vintage and here playing a no-bull FBI man.
Because the Doctor dances
Well, a little bit. Sort of. But the best thing about it is the people he gets into his high-kicking groove with.
Blink and you’ll miss it – but it’s a great gag, which plays up to Smith’s heightened silent-movie-actor physicality with apposite good humour. Talking of which…
Matt Smith is on fire
Funny, fidgety, warm, wily and looking like a proper dude either under a Stetson or behind a beard, Matt Smith continues to ace Doctor 11.
After David Tennant got a bit “Wheee, look at me, I’m the mad mockney!”, Smith’s natural oddness and febrile energy might make him the most Doctor-ly Doctor since Patrick Troughton. Yeah. We went there.
Theres some Trekkie love in there
Just a quickie joke, mind, but never let it be said that Moffat doesn’t know how to play to the science-fiction fanbase.
And the gag is repeated, with good plot reason, just in case you don’t get it first time.
Something grim happens in a toilet
Many scary things happen in the episode but one of the best takes place in the bathroom. Going for a pee will never feel the same again.
And yes, it does involve one of those weird-looking bum-faced alien critters, who might just be the last things you want to look at when you need to poo.
Its very, very funny
There’s a TARDIS-load of gags teased into the script. An Easter Island crack and a line about “the legs, the nose and Mrs Robinson” number among the finest.
The Doctor getting all tangled up in a bit of engine work is equally hoot-some, as is his embarrassed silent apology at a key point.
A River runs through it
Alex Kingston’s River Song busts out of prison again to look cool with guns and wallop the Doctor.
But she also gets a three-hankie-weepie monologue providing moving respite from the tear-arsed action. Albeit a monologue of a time-twisting kind that requires two Nurofen, a calendar, a calculator, a flow chart and a spare fortnight to unravel.
Ponds run deep
Crowded TARDIS-es traditionally leave some characters resembling spare parts but Moffat makes the most of his four-strong TARDIS crew.
Everyone gets some gags, a bit of action and a fright-load of scares, especially Karen Gillan’s Amy, who wants to tell the Doctor a secret but gets distracted by all manner of unspeakable nastinesses.
Dicky stays tricky. Well, a bit...
Historical figures in nu Who have tended to be worshipped, revered and celebrated, give or take the odd bit of matey ribbing: Dickens, Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Churchill.
Richard Nixon is played as quite a nice chap, true, but the Doctor does rip the piss out of his future legacy a bit.
Murray Gold goes all Morricone
DW ’s secret weapon is soundtrack godhead Murray Gold, whose epic scoring turned the towing-the-earth climax of Journey’s End into a rush of giddy joy.
Here, his music sounds like it was composed by a man wearing chaps and puffing on a cheroot. The Gold standard isn’t just maintained, it’s left for dust.
The end will make you scream
Don’t go for a beer, don’t grab an Easter egg and DON’T BLINK. Some climaxes make you go “Ooh,” others “Ooooh!” and others a satisfied “Mmmmm”.
The very, very climax of Moon will have you screaming at the BBC for the rest of the series. And if you hear loud bangs afterwards, don’t panic: it’ll just be internet forums everywhere exploding...
For more Doctor Who goodness, pick up the new issue of SFX , which has just gone through a regeneration of its own...