[I wrote this review on the Saturday evening after watching the UK transmission: However, I placed a delay on posting to prevent spoiling too many of my foreign readers]
It opened with the Doctor hiding under a woman's skirt with no clothes on. It ended with one of the strangest cliffhangers that this show has ever produced.
"The Impossible Astronaut", the first part of the Season 32 opener, is definitely a character piece: I'll get to that in a little.
The plot is definitely one of the most intriguing I've seen for a long time. President Richard Nixon is receiving daily telephone calls from a young girl. Amy, Rory and Dr. River Song, the last one being a... I can't find the right words, you've got to experience River for yourselves... are all summoned by TARDIS blue envelopes to the same space-time location (Utah in 2011). For River this means escaping from prison - again. They meet up with the Doctor, who is wearing a Stetson until River shoots it off his head (seriously, this Doctor is acquiring a poor track record with hats). After a picnic, the Doctor has a rather nasty encounter with a person in a spacesuit, but not before instructing them to go to "Space, 1969".
Going to a diner, they meet the Doctor again, for whom the previous events are two hundred years in his future (Steven Moffat breaking out the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey again. It's now bumpy-wumpy as well). Not being able to tell the Doctor what they have seen, lest they create a paradox and unleash killer-time-monkeys, they still manage to get them to take the TARDIS back to 1969...
This is a very character-driven piece, not a big bombastic episode. There's no big explosions, only two deaths and a lot of quiet introspection.
All the leads play it quiet and reflective: Matt Smith's Doctor in particular, who is particularly alien in this, but still has the playful boffin element to his portrayal. The guy playing Nixon was OK, but I managed to wonder when watching the prequel on the BBC website if it was actually meant to be Lyndon Johnson...
The one-liners are truly brilliant. We've got lines like "She's packing again", "I tried careful once" and of course "I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool". The dialogue sparkles and crackles.
Then there's the Silents. I won't spoil their particular party trick, but it's one of the most frightening concepts that Moffat has come up with.
The music isn't that overblown either, with familiar themes (such as "I Am The Doctor", Eleven's leitmotif) being played in a toned-down manner. I don't remember the musical term for that.
After a great and intriguing episode, we get a cliffhanger which is rather disappointing. It's more of a "what on earth is going on?" rather than "what happens next".
Still, I'm looking forward to next week.
4.5/5. I'm docking half a point for the cliffhanger, which was a rather large let-down.