The Time Of Angels – A Review

Doctor Who

Angels With Dirty Faces

Well, if last week’s return of the Daleks wasn’t quite the unmitigated success that everyone had hoped for, then this week’s installment saw two returns for the price of one but the question was, could they live up to the hype? The answer: a resounding “Yes” and the pre-credit sequence alone was worth the price of admission. First up, and making the most memorable of returns was Alex Kingston, clearly having a whale of a time repising her role as the Doctor’s bickering future “love interest”, River Song. Not qualified as a professor yet, this version of Song was obviously younger than the one we saw at the end of her real-world life in The Forest of the Dead two years ago. Devising an ingenious escape from a starliner by etching some ancient Gallifreyan on the ship’s black box in the knowledge that it would be found in a museum at some point in the future and that the Doctor would return to save her, was almost the perfect illustration of Steven Moffat’s promise that there would be a bit more playing about with time in his version of Doctor Who. There was even time for a cameo from The Streets’ Mike Skinner. The cleverness of such a five-minute scene reassured us that we were in safe hands.

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The relationship portrayed by Kingston and Matt Smith was so beautifully observed, that it was a little jarring to watch some clips from Silence in the Library during Doctor Who Confidential later on when you had almost forgotten that it was David Tennant in one of those roles back then. Speaking of DWC, it is probably worth mention that that has really stepped up its game a level this year, proving itself to be a charming, if still slightly overlong companion to the main show. The cleverness of the writing continued to shine after the titles with an amusing little scene as the Doctor and River bickered back and forth over the controls of the TARDIS, with gags about the blue stabilisers and the hand brakes being thrown about with abandon. As an aside, I wasn’t sure whether River’s comments about being taught how to fly the ship “by the best” and that not being the Doctor, was a gentle dig at him, or some kind of hint that another Time Lord might yet appear.

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Either way we were soon on the planet and assessing the damage to the Byzantium, along with the revelation that the cause of the crash (and the aforementioned “second return”) was the Weeping Angel (last seen in the award winning episode, Blink) that was being carried in the hold of the ship. I get the impression that this two-parter might be in the running for an award or two itself. It was at this point that everything became a little Alien-esque. After the Star Wars references of previous stories, we moved in to epic territory here albeit with a different movie reference at it’s source. Assisted by Bishop (you see!), leader of an ill-defined quasi-religeous/military organisation who were enlisted by River to help in the capture, a camp was set up, there was a bit of necessary yet still entertaining exposition for a minute or so before the next great scene is played out for us. Amy gets herself trapped inside and air-locked, dead-locked (for want of a better word) Portkabin, where an image of an angel becomes dangerously real. Again, Amy demonstrates ingenuity and common sense in the face of extreme adversity, even to the extent of employing the “dont-blink-but-wink” solution that those incredibly few critics of Blink cited as a reason to dislike that, now classic, tale.

Throughout this the dialogue sparkles…

The Doctor :“River, hug Amy!”
Amy: “Why?”
The Doctor: “Cos I’m busy”

… and still we’re only twenty minutes in. We then find ourselves with The Maze Of The Dead, the perfect hiding place for a Weeping Angel being this cavern full of statues. The creepy factor kicks into overdrive at this point and mention needs to be made of Adam Smith, who has directed another cracking episode following the Eleventh Hour, although, in a real-life wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey way, this was actually filmed before that one. The lighting and varying effects shots looked sumptuous, especially in HD, which also happily avoided the unnecessary inconvenience of a second Norton Invasion, as Graham Norton once more inadvertantly interrupted the Doctor, this time with one of those extraordinarioy annoying digital “Coming Next” banners to advertise the BBC show that follows. Facebook groups, Twitter outrage and strongly worded emails from a number of the 6.8 million who tuned in, have already elicited an apology from the Beeb.

Doctor Who

There’s another little moment, in which River Song drops some hints about her true relationship with the Doctor when she says that it is too early in his time-stream for him to know who and what she is and that she does not want to go back to prison. We are assured, again from The Moff himself during DWC, that there is a whole story planned out here. I am convinced that there are plenty more stories beyond this pair to play out before this little arc is concluded and I would not be at all surprised if we had a River Song episode in every year of Moffat’s Who… and that would be a wonderful thing indeed. As the group work their way through the maze, some of the soldier/clerics are bumped off by the Angel in a Star Trek redshirt way, although the use of Bob as the voice of the angel is another wonderful conceit, before which they suddenly realise that this is not a cavern full of statues but, in fact, a cavern full of Angels, hiding in plain sight like all the best movie twists.

Doctor Who

Then we arrive at the cliffhanger, the Angels trap is set,  the group surrounded and seemingly nowhere to run to. The Doctor grabs a gun gives a wonderful little speech and fires upwards. Do I really have to wait a week for the next part?

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