Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Or 'What I Did When I Ran Out of Original Ideas, by Steven Moffatt', as he recycles chunks of the plot from his short story 'What I Did On My Christmas Holidays by Sally Sparrow' from the Doctor Who Annual 2006. Given that this comes straight after an adaptation of 'Human Nature', it does rather suggest that the writing team is scrabbling around for ideas.

Nevertheless, sarcasm aside, 'Blink' is rather good. Unusually for the Welsh revival, it actually makes time travel an integral part of the plot rather than simply using it as a means of transporting the Doctor from story to story. The internal logic of the plot works rather well, with Moffat playing with paradoxes whilst avoiding leaving any unanswered questions, although there is a feeling that this is all intended to impress casual viewers who might think it's more complicated and cleverer than it actually is. The highlight of all this is the DVD Easter Eggs scene, as the Doctor uses a copy of the transcript that Lawrence is writing to have a conversation across time, which is very well scripted. In fact, the whole script is very polished, with some good dialogue, such as Lawrence learning that what the seventeen DVDs with the Easter Eggs on have in common is the fact that they are all the DVDs that Sally owns, prompting the incredulous response, "You've only got seventeen DVDs?" The Doctor's line about having to deal with "four things? and a lizard" is also quite funny. And Billy Shipton's comment that the windows of the TARDIS are too small is an amusing nod to the fans.

'Blink' also benefits from some genuinely creepy moments, mostly involving the Weeping Angels, especially during the final encounter in the house, as Sally and Lawrence blink and suddenly find a snarling statue reaching out for them, and end up in a cellar with the lights flickering out. Director Hettie Macdonald does a great job and keeps the story moving along at a cracking pace, with some fantastic shots of the statues appearing in various locations around the city, and wrings every drop of menace out of them that she possibly can. When the nature of the Weeping Angels is first explained by the Doctor in 1969, it sounds worryingly like the sort of one-line infodump used to explain away ill-conceived monsters that Russell T. Davies is prone to, but they turn out to be much better devised than that, with their "quantum locked" nature proving quite satisfying. Although the Doctor's claim that you can't kill a stone does rather raise the question of what effect twatting one of them with a sledge-hammer would have. The means of their defeat, as the Doctor uses the TARDIS to trick them into looking at each other, is also quite neat. Hilariously, the very last scene has bugger all to do with anything else and seems designed *purely* to make kids afraid of statues, which is the sort of thing that even Hinchcliffe and Holmes stopped short of.

With the Doctor and Martha largely absent, it falls to Sally Sparrow to take the lead, and Moffat writes her quite well, although worryingly Kathy is permanently removed from her and Lawrence's lives and it doesn't seem to unduly upset either of them, making her little more than a throwaway plot device. However, on the whole she works very well, largely because of Carey Mulligan's excellent performance. Incidentally, much as I quite enjoyed 'Love & Monsters', she also works considerably better than Elton because she comes across as a real person, rather than a comedic socially-awkward half-wit who sticks his cock in paving slabs. Larry also works rather well because although he's clearly a stereotypical internet-obsessed nerd, he's very much like people I actually know, whereas the cretinous Doctor Who Fan pastiches of 'Love & Monsters' where not. Billy Shipton is also well scripted, albeit not especially well acted in either incarnation (of the two, the younger version fares slightly better due to the Michael Obiora's charisma).

Martha does nothing worth mentioning here, but the Doctor's presence is felt throughout and the fact that he outwits the Weeping Angels from afar is very welcome. Incidentally, trapped in 1969, the Doctor, who wouldn't age, could just hang around until 2007 and sort everything out himself, rescuing Billy and Kathy when he'd got the TARDIS back, so the fact that he goes to such elaborate lengths here suggests that he values Martha's life over everyone else here. Because he meets Sally after she's helped defeat the Weeping Angels but before he has actually encountered them, he just about gets away with this, since he's working to a predetermined plan that has, in effect, sprung up out of time itself due to the inherent paradox at the heart of the scenario, but it still makes him look like a massive sod.

Overall, 'Blink' again demonstrates Moffat's abilities as a Doctor Who script-writer and is a well-made and generally pleasing filler episode. I'm not entirely convinced that a slightly-Doctorless episode every year is wise (and it's a good job that we didn't get one during the Eccleston months), but here it works almost as a reprieve before the season starts to build to its finale, as the next episode trailer shows Jack making his return?

Filters: Series 3/29 Tenth Doctor Television