I posted this in the group "Who is The Doctor" with only one response so I thought I would post it here to give it a bit more visability.
Well, seeing as no one else has taken it upon themselves to start a discussion on the subject and my bud, Lee Houston Jr. and I used to chat about this on cbgxtra in the olden days, I thought I would continue the tradition here to discuss the new episodes the week after they have been shown. That is if no one is opposed to the idea. No, well then we will continue. Also try to keep in mind that possibly not everyone HAS seen any given new episode so try and avoid an abundance of spoilers
The Impossible Astronaut
I have to say that in season 5, I was NOT Matt Smith's biggest supporter and the vibe of the show altogether was a bit too kiddified for my tastes but this episode really changed that HOWEVER, one thing that did bother me was at the VERY beginning. I really appreciated the BBCWales and BBCAmerica (It's new co-producer) for taking the time to remember the late Elisabeth Sladen at the top of the show but why didn't Nicolas Courtney get the same acknowledgment? I realize possibly an oversight and maybe they will give him a memorial at the beginning of the second episode. Some might see that as nitpicking but I think the man earned it.
The intro to the show as well has changed with an introductory monologue done by Amy, which while a nice touch for the newer viewer I am still not sure about. Especially keeping in mind that the rumour mill (maybe it has been confirmed, I don't know) that she will be leaving by the end of the season. Also Arthur (Rory) Darvill has gotten a credit in the show's opening, I wonder how long it will be before Alex Kingston gets one as well. Speaking of our favourite Dr. Song, she seems to have a real thing against head wear. In "The Big Bang" she vapourizes The Doctor's fez and in this she shoots his stetson off his head. If she had been around after the regeneration from the first to second Doctor, I would have hated to see what would have happened to his stovepipe hat.
One of the biggest cheers I have to give this episode is the performance and the depth that it gave to River Song. Sure, there was the usual "Spoilers", "Hello sweetie" and "The worse day of my life" but beyond that there is a scene between her and Rory which really gives a melancholy to the relationship between River and The Doctor and you get the feeling that on some level when she met the Tenth, she knew it was all over. On a lighter note, we also see the return of The Doctor turning one switch to have The TARDIS one thing which it doesn't and then River flicks another to have it do what he really wanted it to do.
Again, on the side of the pluses, we see the return of the amazement that the new characters have when they experience The TARDIS for the first time, such as Richard Nixon gobsmacked when he sees The TARDIS dematerialize and Canton Delaware III going through a BELIEVABLE shock with the "bigger on the inside". I think to some extent the viewers, and through this the writers, have become a bit jaded with the wonders of the old Type 40 and every once in a while you need that WTF moment to remind of just how amazing the whole thing is.
NOW THIS MIGHT BE A BIT SPOILERY SO YOU MIGHT WANT TO LOOK AWAY FROM THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH
We have in this story a new alien life form but something somewhat familiar in a sense. A race that you forget if you are not looking at them (Maybe they should team up with the Weeping Angels ;) who have technology we have seen before. Rory and River Song by the end of this episode have found a command center of sorts and looking back, the technology is a re-use of the deck of the ship from the episode "The Lodger". Maybe they are connected, maybe not. Have to wait to see part 2 of the season opener to find out I guess.
SPOILERY BIT OVER
Just one or two final observations here: A) Is it just me or is Amy's accent getting thicker? and B) I really wish they wouldn't age The Doctor with the age of the show. As the main action of the show goes on we find out he hasn't been with Amy and Rory for six months and when he later states his age, he is 909. I know he has companions he likes to travel with but seriously, based on this, he has gone through his tenth life in the 4 years we saw him on the TV? I would have maybe left it open and added a few years if for no other reason than to give the novel writers something to work with. At this rate, I don't think he will make 920. But then again, which of us will ;) Mind you it does kind of explain WHY he is a bit gun shy about walking in to a trap having just regenerated about 18 months ago in his own timeline.
Anyways, those are my thoughts. Discuss.
The Rebel Flesh/Almost People:
BBC America decided that despite their hard fought efforts to match Day/Date with BBC1 for Doctor Who that the Memorial Day weekend was too much of ratings killer so they decided to delay airing the Almost People, till next week and delay the finale by a week (a huge mistake in my opinion). Weirdly for those of us that download the episodes from Itunes, The Rebel Flesh was also delayed (released on Tuesday rather than the wee hours of Sunday Am).
I enjoyed the Rebel Flesh -- lots of creepy setup. Spooky castle, isolated island, antagonists who think just like you do. The Doctor even before the last scene is acting sneaky.
I am going to talk about the Almost People below!!
The Almost People --
I ended up watching the "Almost People" online, I have become too hooked on my doctor who twitter list, and my favorite podcasts, The Oodcast, Two-Minute Time Lord and Radio Free Skaro, to risk being spoiled by waiting a week. Stayed up late on Saturday night to watch. It was quite the ride. The downside of watching online is that I don't yet have my own copy to rewatch. I would love to see it again, this time trying to keep better track of who is who. I thought it was interesting that nothing was mentioned about Rory's time as Auton as part of the reason he might be sympathetic to the plights of the Gangers, beyond his natural nurse instincts.
And how about those last 5 minutes?
I watched the Doctor's Wife last night. Moffatt has a fanboy's love of playing with the central mythology of Doctor Who, rather than using it to tell new stories. I'm always wary of properties starting to turn in on themselves like this, but perhaps the season where such a push is made to bring in a new American audience mightn't be the best time to get so self-referential.
(But then again, in one of the earliest stories, The Edge of Destruction, the TARDIS crew find themselves trapped in it as it seems to be setting them against each other.)
The Doctor's brief personal scenes with his beloved TARDIS were affecting, and probably long awaited by fans though.
The curious thing for me is that Moffatt seems to be using a lot of the ideas of Lawrence Miles, one of the most original writers of the 90's tie-in books. We saw in the first episode that the Doctor's body has to be disposed of as it is an object of terrible power. In this episode, we see a TARDIS in human form. Both of those are elements of Miles' book Alien Bodies. The Pandorica opening in the presence of all the Doctor's enemies was very similar to one of the concepts in Alien Bodies too.
The most intriguing thing about all these Miles references is that even though Moffatt has declared admiration for Miles' Dr Who work, Moffatt and Miles are on far from friendly terms these days. Moffatt manitains a dignified silence for the most part, but Miles uses his Doctor Who blog to very publically critically eviscerate all Moffatt's recent Doctor Who work!