Ratings for Doctor Who‘s sixth season premiere, “The Impossible Astronaut,” are in on both sides of the pond, and it seems the good Doctor isn’t what he used to be among fans in his home country (well, technically his home country is another planet, but you know what I mean).

BBC News reports that “The Impossible Astronaut” garnered 6.5 million viewers in the United Kingdom Saturday night, down from 8 million for last year’s season premiere, “The Eleventh Hour.”  More than 36% of the entire TV audience in the UK were watching the show on average, but it’s still the lowest opening the show has seen since its return in 2005.

Meanwhile, in America, The Doctor saw a surge in numbers. Deadline reports that “The Impossible Astronaut” drew 1.3 million viewers on BBC America Saturday night, the highest-rated telecast on that network in history. Of course, neither of these numbers counts the undoubtedly large group of people who watched the show via covert internet means after it aired (Yes, we know it was you. Don’t worry. We won’t tell.)

So, why the drop in Britain? The BBC chose to report a few choice snippets of negative reviews of the episode, among them a claim that “The Impossible Astronaut” is simply “impossible to understand.” There’s no doubt that many of executive producer Steven Moffat’s new stories have grown in complexity, and “The Impossible Astronaut” was certainly not a good starting point for new viewers, but does that point to a drop in quality?

What do you think? Is Doctor Who going downhill, or is it simply becoming a bastion for the diehards while losing some of its mass appeal?


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