Doctor Who: Season 6, Episode 1

The Impossible Astronaut (23 Apr. 2011)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family
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Ratings: 8.9/10 from 3,017 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 7 critic

River Song, Rory, The Doctor and Amy are reunited in the Utah desert



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Stuart Milligan ...
Carl (as Chuk Iwuji)
Sydney Wade ...
Little Girl
Nancy Baldwin ...
Kieran O'Connor ...
Prison Guard
Adam Napier ...
Captain Simmons
Henrietta Clemett ...


Four envelopes, numbered two, three and four - each containing a date, time and map reference, unsigned, but TARDIS blue - begin the latest series of the time-travelling adventures. Who sent them? And who received the missing number one? This strange summons reunites The Doctor, Amy, Rory and River Song in the middle of the Utah desert and unveils a terrible secret that The Doctor's friends must never reveal to him. Placing his life entirely in their hands, The Doctor agrees to search for the recipient of the fourth envelope. Just who is Canton Everett Delaware the Third? And what is the relevance of their only other clue: "Space 1969"? Their quest lands them in the Oval Office, where they are enlisted by President Nixon himself to assist enigmatic former FBI agent Canton in saving a terrified little girl from a mysterious spaceman. Written by BBC Press Release

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Release Date:

23 April 2011 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


When the Doctor is calculating where and when to go to find Canton Delaware III, he states that Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursday afternoons are boring times for the TARDIS to go. It then directs him to April 8, 1969, which was in fact a Tuesday. See more »


The Doctor leaves the picnic with a bottle of wine, but when the shot flicks back to him, the wine bottle is gone and is not visible on the shore. See more »


The Doctor: Fellows, the guns, really? I just walked into the highest security office in the United States and parked a big blue box on the rug. Do you think you can just shoot me?
River Song: They're Americans!
The Doctor: [puts his hands up] Don't shoot.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Following the death of former companion Elisabeth Sladen, The Impossible Astronaut opened with a dedication in her name. See more »


Featured in Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty (2013) See more »


Doctor Who Theme
Written by Ron Grainer
Arranged by Murray Gold
Performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales
See more »

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User Reviews

An underwhelming start to the sixth series
23 April 2011 | by (Clydebank, Scotland) – See all my reviews

After the hype surrounding the commencement of the sixth series of NuWho, I like so many other waited with baited breath for the first episode to hit our screens which would herald the first two part story to actually open the series. "The Impossible Astronaut" written by current executive producer Steven Moffat, a gifted writer with a formidable imagination has had the odd story which to be fair I have found a bit underwhelming and sadly although not a bad opening episode I felt a bit cheated overall. 

It's premise is intriguing with current Doctor Matt Smith leaving messages for companions Amy and Rory as well as River Song to meet him in the Utah Dessert for some unbeknown reason. After they all meet something unexpected occurs involving what appears to be an Apollo mission Astronaut which further leads to the Doctor, Amy Rory and River Song to travel to the Whitehouse in 1969 where they meet Richard Nixon who is being plagued by mysterious phone calls from what sounds like a little girl. I can't give any more away than that as to say more would be to reveal too much and for considering this is a story that is is about It's surprises there are several of those. 

I'll start with saying that there are some things to credit the TIA with in that the production values as with the series in the past several years is very high with excellent recreations of the oval office and 1969 USA to the interior of as run-down alien spacecraft. The stories premise is interesting given what unfolds as events play out and for the most part the performances by all are first rate, with only Karen Gillan as Amy failing to convince slightly in one early scene. There is some great interplay with the characters and some of the usual banter before things shift in to darker territory. The problem however is that Moffat reveals too much too soon which means as the story progresses the pace is forced to wind down too soon leading to too many padded out scenes. Everything has been stretched out a little too thinly. One particular scene in the oval office involving one of President Nixon's Bodyguards itself feels a bit stilted. Add to this the whole conceit of the Doctor leaving his past self and his companions messages and messing around with the whole non-chronological nature of time travel, a all too convenient and over used plot device that was utilised back in 1989's "Battlefield" and further exploited by Moffat at first with fabulous ingenuity has now become a bit laboured and tiresome. Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing and It's beginning to show.

The alien menace without giving too much away are genuinely menacing and although much has been left unanswered so for I am fascinated with what they are and what there purpose within the context of the story will revealed to be. While there powers when displayed hint at a ominous and imposing threat everything culminates in a cliffhanger ended which while appropriately baffling seems a bit anti-climatic.

All in all TIA is a case of being filled with promising ideas but so-so execution but with a wonderfully played scene with Rory and River Song where the latter tells how every time she meets the Doctor he gradually knows her less and less due to their unusual non-chronological relationship to help bolster what is another wise mediocre script It just feels like something that could have been so much more than it actually is.

13 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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