April 30th, 2011
|11:28 pm - Doctor Who: Day of the Moon|
I often say that the key to good TV writing is to maximise the carrying capacity. You get as much content as possible into the viewer's brain, using just a moving square of light with sound. There are many different ways to do it but one way is tight plotting, and efficiently conveying information, so the story bounds along without any longeurs. Criminal Intent before the opening credits provides a very good example of compact and efficient story-telling, conveying a murder mystery and several distinct characters in three or four quick scenes.
Anyway, the first sequence of The Day of the Moon, shown today, was another very good example. I honestly can not remember a crisper tighter bit of storytelling in modern Who.
So, for about a minute I didn't understand what was going on, but it was possible to hold in mind everything that was happening: people scribbling on their bodies, Canton shooting the companions, the Silence are everywhere, the Tardis crew have worked it out and - and the scribbling is how they keep track - and the shootings were fakes - and it all fell together very rapidly. I was slightly disappointed that after the opening credits there was a bit of talky explanation, because I had been pleased that they didn't need to explain what we had just seen. I suppose for the kids though.
This episode showed very effective storytelling, going at a much faster pace than usual. The script was crisp and neat, while the structure and the plot were complex - this is the perfect way round - tell a complex story in a sharp way. I was impressed. It assumed an intelligent audience, and expected you to keep up.
I could have done without the shoot-em-up resolution: I think it's a good discipline to keep reliance on ordnance to a minimum, and that discipline also distinguishes this show from the run of the mill. People will say there's been shooting before - well, no doubt, but I would prefer none.
(Obviously I don't mind TV gunfighting in general, I just think the aesthetic of Who is a distinct one, and works better without resorting to this type of scene)
There are a lot of explanations still to come. I have no idea who the female Travis was, peeking through a window which then disappeared, she said something like 'She's still dreaming' - but that could be fun to find out.
Best script I've seen so far for this Doctor. I think Moffat is at the top of his game, and he doesn't care who knows it.
I thought that about River at first, but now I have changed my mind. I think if the climax of this season were River killing the Doctor then it wouldn't make sense to begin the season with someone else killing the Doctor.
Unless the little girl in the spacesuit is River at a young age, which I guess is possible, but I don't think that's where we are going.
Like you I am not a devotee, but I thought this was well done.
It's quite possible that the child is River -- Moffatt's the one who's seriously into exploring time paradoxes. I think that possibility is intended to be one of the things the audience should be considering, even if it's not what happens in the end. (We're also clearly supposed to think about whether the Schrodinger's pregnancy is the child.)
The really interesting bit for me is the child regenerating - not least because it's also possible to effectively kill the Doctor long-term by stealing his regenerations.
I'm torn, because I really think it could be River, given all the different time paradoxes we're being presented with - and the heavy, knowing sadness she carries with her.
Ah well. Whomever it turns out to be, it's compelling viewing!