Doctor Doctor Who Guide


05 Jun 2007Blink, by Dave Kelly
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Frank Collins
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Lawrence Wang
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Matthew Carlson
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Will Valentino
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Angus Gulliver
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Geoff Wessel
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Shaun Lyon
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Paul Clarke
05 Jun 2007Blink, by A.D. Morrison
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Eddy Wolverson
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Adam S. Leslie
05 Jun 2007Blink, by Billy Higgins

Aside from the emotional finale in Doomsday, I don't remember the last Doctor Who episode that had me rewinding back to scenes multiple times and still experience the same thrill I got when I first watched them.

This was an episode that stands out as a classic. It was well-acted, atmospheric and downright creepy

The scene is set from the start. Spooky house (the line from Larry about Sally living in Scooby Doo's house was great) and strange messages from the Doctor hidden behind the wallpaper. Quite how the owners of the house didn't see the messages when they put the wallpaper up is a question that doesn't really need answering. This is the Doctor contacting Sally from nearly 40 years previously.

The potential of the episode is realised when Kathy's grandson delivers her message to Sally on the date and time that his grandmother insisted upon. Kathy, hiding behind the door, is unaware of the angel behind her. The reveal shots that show how the statue has moved are unexpected and worth waiting for. You never know when the angels are going to appear.

Throughout the episode, the camera work to imply movement works hundreds of times better than actually *seeing* the angels move. Quick cuts as the four angels are moving in on Sally and Larry along with the musical score helps to keep up the tension.

One slight niggle with this was the reveal of the feral angel face rather than the calm one, when Sally and Larry realise that both of them have taken their eyes off the statue. I have to say, it still made me jump as was intended, but an implied threat is far more effective. The robots in Robots of Death didn't need expressions to be scary.

Did this episode benefit or suffer from the lack of the Doctor's physical presence ? Unlike "Love and Monsters" last season, I'd say a resounding no. There was enough of him as a guide in this episode to firmly anchor it. I don't want to spend too much time comparing "Blink" with "Love and Monsters" but L&M was an experiment that had great potential but was ultimately let down by the Abzorbaloff. I've read the various threads on the Outpost Gallifrey forums where there is a definite divide between lovers and haters. The lovers explain that L&M was told from Elton's perspective and, as such, is less reliable in it's narrative, the haters focus on the Abzorbaloff. The lovers enjoy the effect that the Doctor has had on the various characters' lives, the haters focus on the Abzorbaloff. I'm not a hater but, it has to be said, none of the pre-show publicity was about how the episode was an enjoyable description of a group of people, with a common interest in the Doctor, getting together to discuss their experiences. No, it was a collection of pictures on how Peter Kay was going to be dressed in a green fat suit designed by a Blue Peter competition winner. If Peter Kay had remained as the Victor Kennedy character, I would have enjoyed the episode more because I thought he acted very well. As the Abzorbaloff, he was Peter Kay.

"Blink", on the other hand, was a traditional episode. No narration, no commentary. This was the viewer watching events unfolding rather than being told what was going on.

Carey Mulligan was excellent as Sally Sparrow. She was sensible, down-to-earth and, importantly, intelligent. Her realisation that she was the crux of events was well done and it was good to see that she wasn't star struck when she finally met the Doctor. I would have preferred that Finlay Robertson hadn't played Larry like the eldest son in My Family but it didn't detract from the overall story. Everyone else was really extra to the narrative apart from Billy Shipton. I admit that I didn't like the "wide boy" approach of young Billy but old Billy, played by Louis Mahoney, was a poignant character who had lived knowing the precise time that he was going to die and holding out until he'd met up with Sally again.

This was the third (or fourth ?) episode that was based on previously published works. I don't have a problem with this. If I were a Doctor Who author (and there are many days when I wish I was) and Russell T. Davies approached me to film an episode based on one of my books, I would feel this would be a dream come true. If you're immersed in Doctor Who, as we know a lot of the writers are, who wouldn't be crying like a baby to know that you contributed to the canon of your favourite series ? Okay, maybe it's just me then !

Steven Moffat has demonstrated that he's supremely capable of writing for Doctor Who. The Empty Child, The Girl in the Fireplace and now Blink are all standout episodes. Long may it continue.

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The serious amount of hype from the production team for this episode has ultimately served to be its undoing for me. No episode could have lived up to the 'scariest episode yet' tag and completely fulfilled the brief of being 'Doctor-Lite'. In the end it was a good episode, where expectations for it to perform were unfeasibly high, but I do think it suffered from the lack of the Doctor and Martha dynamic and relied on surrogate companions that you needed more time with to develop the necessary emotional connections.

If you look at 'Love And Monsters' from last year, which was also fulfilling the same brief, it connected not just to the Doctor and Rose but also to the supporting characters and environs that Rose brought to the series. There was a direct connection to Jackie, to the estate and to events past with the flashbacks to the Autons, the Slitheen and the Sycorax. In 'Blink' I think the hardest thing I struggled with was this lack of connection - perhaps it should have featured Tish or connected more to the locations and spaces in which the Jones family operate?

It had a water-tight 'time travel' plot full of conundrums, something which Moffat always excells at, and some very witty lines which again he's good at, particularly his jibe at the nit-pickers of the on-line community with the 'wrong size windows' line where the police officer is describing the TARDIS to Sally, the penchants of drama commissioners at ITV with the 'Sparrow and Nightingale' gag ('Rosemary and Thyme', take a bow) and the effects of a 'timey-wimey' detection device on hens - that would be a sight to see!

The triumph of the episode certainly lay in its desire to scare the living daylights out of its younger audience. With this in mind, 'Blink' connected directly to classic television scares such as 'Sapphire & Steel', 'Children Of The Stones' and 'Escape Into Night'. You could also connect this to 'Ghost Light' another Doctor Who story set in a strange old house. I am grateful that Moffat is bringing this kind of unsettling drama to a 21st Century child audience. And the idea of 'quantum lock' as a way that the angels manifested themselves took us into 'Schroedinger's Cat' territory too.

Children need to understand their fears and healthy scares are few and far between in today's 'cotton wool' television landscape. His concept of alien angels killing people by trapping them in the past and then feeding off the energy released was a beguiling one. Their predatory nature keyed in with the 'dare to scare' potential of children's playground games and it's the episode's ability to understand the psychology of of those games that provided the highlight for me. The most significant scene was certainly where Sally and Larry are trying to get into the TARDIS - you have double jeopardy from the advancing angels, brilliantly caught in those rapid cuts by director Hettie MacDonald, and the imminent demise of the lightbulb. What could be worse? - horrible things creeping up on you [I]and[/I] fear of the dark.

Sally Sparrow (another Moffat connection to last year's Doctor Who annual) was a likeable enough character, although I do think she took an awful lot in her stride to come across as entirely believable, and it's unfair to use her as a stick with which to beat Martha which seems to have been the tendency from other reviewers. I didn't feel as solidly connected to her as I did to Elton in 'Love And Monsters' and I put that down to too little emotional development and where Moffat did try to do this, it seemed a little forced because it hadn't been paid enough attention to during the rest of the story. Up until the final act of the episode, the pacing and development was a little slow and often padded but Carey Mulligan's central performance as determined yet vulnerable Sally did hold it together.

Hettie MacDonald also contributed some very atmospheric direction and editing, with the decaying house and its overgrown gardens populated by the observing angels providing potent images for young nightmares. The shots of the angels looking out of the windows of the old house, the backlit shot of Sally in the empty hospital ward and the quick cutting as the angels closed in were elements to be savoured. More women directors please!

It's difficult to comment on Tennant and Agyeman because obviously they're not in it very much at all but I did like the idea of having their presence strung through the story as an easter egg on a series of DVDs. It's a novel way of getting round the situation and the brief. The weakest performance was from Michael Obiora as the detective Billy. I'm afraid he didn't convince me that he was a detective. And I wasn't entirely sure the sub-plot about Kathy re-starting her life in 1920 actually came off and again I put that down to trying to keep a complex, logical plot together to the detriment of our emotional investment in these characters.

Overall a good episode that like 'Love And Monsters' finds the virtues of not having the Doctor and his companion as the focus of the story and therefore has an opportunity to approach the universe that the series inhabits from a very different point of view. It's refreshing that the series can continue to do this and I would certainly be delighted to see the Weeping Angels in a return match with the Doctor himself and a cameo for Sally in a future episode. It does not match 'Love And Monsters' for me. It doesn't have the same emotional connection that the characters, and by implication the audience, had with the Doctor's universe. And certainly Moffat's 'The Girl In The Fireplace' remains his best contribution to the series thus far.

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Season 3 has been a bit of a let-down for me.

Except for 'Gridlock' and the excellent 'Human Nature/The Family of Blood' two-parter, Season 3 has been fairly disappointing. This is particularly galling because I had high hopes for season 3, what with new blood (coming in the shapely form of Freema). Season 3, I thought, would be the beginning of something wonderful.

Then came 'Mr. Smith and Jones'. Why, Russell, why?

The opening episode was dull, easily the weakest of the opening episodes for the current series. The Judoon were an awesome concept that turned on its head, and the less said about the MRI-bomb-thingy, the better. It would only become worse. The rather fetching Freema Agyeman as the Doctor's latest companion is nothing special, which I mostly blame on the writers: either she is a screaming nitwit or pining after the Doctor in not-so-obvious ways. The idea of having the relationship between the Doctor and Martha be more as a rebound/forlorn love is in concept do-able but in practice simply gets really old really fast. So far only in Paul Cornell's two-parter has there really been even a real exploration into her character and background, namely dealing with her race (and why not? After all, being a time traveller means that eventually Martha will be exploring times on Earth when difference in race was not so tolerated. Though I hope it doesn't become her defining characteristic - that too will become annoying very fast). 'Gridlock' was a grateful reprieve, and 'Human Nature/The Family of Blood' made me believe that perhaps Season 3 was not entirely doomed. But the in-between episodes left me feeling very cold and lonely in the Box of Hope. Then I saw that Stephen Moffat was writing the next episode, and my hopes rose.

They haven't been dashed.

They just exploded out of pure delight. (Possibly orgasmic; a gentleman never tells.)

'Blink' is hands-down the best episode out of the current series that doesn't have the Doctor as the main character. I'm even going as far to say the best single episode this current season. It has it all - time paradoxes, romance, the Doctor at his most entertaining, even more romance, loads and loads of humour and oh-my-god horror. Never, NEVER have I been on the edge of my seat for a TV show. Never. 'Blink' changed that. The moment that Sally (is it curious that Moffat seems to have a penchant for women named Sally? There was one in Coupling. Anyway...) enters the house and I saw the angel I thought, 'Oh my God.' And then she was walking away and its face was open and I thought, 'Oh dear Lord.' I only caught my breath when I heard the theme music, because surely she wouldn't die now! (Not unless Moffat manages to destroy the sacrosanctness of the title!...interesting idea) I was on the edge of my seat (quite literally) and thinking this is awesome.

And it continued to be awesome. When Sally's friend was alternately looking back at the angel and watching Sally talk with her as-yet-unknown descendant I was fairly near screaming 'Run away you mad woman!' Alas she did not. Though it IS happy that she had a great time, even in the past. Poor girl.

The Detective Inspector was fantastic. Oh man, I was so sorry to see him be 'Blink'-ed, because I thought, I can't get enough of this man. He's zany. Even as an old man he's worth a good long chuckle or too.

Which, I add now, is one of the greatest strengths of this episode, and Moffat in general. These characters, even the small ones, live and breathe in a way that just doesn't happen in the other episodes. They're funny and captivating and genuinely intriguing, and you are actually sorry for them to go. Can you say that about Lazlo and Tallulah, or Mr/Ms/Mrs. Generic Character that populate the Who-vian world, and who are useful as corpses (or, more likely, floating atoms) solely?

(The line 'Why does nobody ever go to the police?' is brilliant, by the way. A very effective way of both furthering the story and getting a genuinely niggling problem out of the way.)

The use of the easter egg DVD is top-notch, and genuinely inventive. The way how time, all 'wibbly wobbly' as the Doctor babbles, connects is both intriguing and frankly welcome (Wikipedia states that these are predestination paradox as well as an ontological paradox. I'll go with "big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff", thank you very much.). Come on, this is a show about TIME-TRAVEL, some stuff to do with time paradoxes and exploring time as an issue for episodes is actually interesting! Hopefully this will lead the way for future writers to do a bit more on this.

'You're not looking at the Angel.' 'Neither are you.' - these two predictable (and very entertaining lines) lead to some of the tensest moments in Season 3 history, nevermind series, and it's all having to do with simply staring. How absolutely fantastic is that? The Weeping Angels' change from scary-gothic-morbid to scary-they're-going-to-eat-me left me with chills. Top props to the art department, they really got these down. I was biting on my fingernails as it looked like Lawrence (or is it Laurence?) was about to bite it. This time I actually spoke to the television: 'For god's sake Sally, stop being a twit and get back to Lawrence, how long do you expect the boy, never mind a frightened boy, to stand staring at a thing of death without blinking?'

This too is a rarity. Speaking to the television, that is. Not that staring at a thing of death without blinking is a usual occurance.

I too was panicked as the Angels closed in and the light drifted on and off. It was a brilliant way to scare the living bejeezus out of the audience. And the way that the Doctor defeats them...classic! Especially since we think oh Hell, the two kids are going to bite the dust. The ending was nicely done, getting back into the whole time paradoxes and seeing some David Tennant at work (don't you just find that just even speaking he's entertaining? Ah well.) The only critique I have at all is the absolute end, the many shots of the different statues and monuments of London. Was it necessary? I mean, if it had been to a lone Weeping Angel, watching from a balcony, oh sure, that would've been a great ending and made a good, loopy sense. But this, this is ambiguous. Are they trying to say that all these statues are 'Weeping Angels', and all that keeps them from killing us all is because they're in public places? Or that these days will one day become the Weeping Angels that hunt the Doctor and Martha down? see, quite ambiguous, and I can't figure out for the life of me why. Yet it really really really doesn't matter. Because this was one helluva show and my faith in the Season, and Doctor Who, has been restored. Steven Moffat has saved the day, once again by producing another top-notch, high-quality episode. He keeps on getting better and better - 'The Doctor Dances' two-parter was good, 'The Girl in the Fireplace' is still one of my favorites, and 'Blink' has just been added onto that list as well. If the rest of the season is as good as this, then there is nothing to fear, nothing to fear at all.

(Then again, Davies wrote the next show, so perhaps we do have to fear something.)

I end this with an uber kudos to the team behind this episode. Hettie Macdonald's direction is no small part in making what may be the most classic Doctor Who episodes ever. The art department should be given medals - the angels were genuinely terrifying, and the set designs were spooky and decrepit and perfect. The actors and actresses must be accorded due honour for a fantastic performance, with Ms. Mulligan as Sally Sparrow getting a free spin in the Tardis for a job-well-done. The Doctor Who production team have outdone themselves again.

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Blink is what is called by the production team as a "double banking" episode. These episodes have limited parts for the regular actors in order for the production team to crank out an extra story. One of these a year is now the norm for Doctor Who (and Torchwood it seems.) The tradition of stories told from a different perspective than the main characters is not new in science fiction television being employed by the X-Files (The Lone Gunmen, Michael McKeon's Area 51 episode) to Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Andrew's Vampyre movie...for the purposes of this review its science fiction) just to name two. The double banking procedure for the Doctor Who production now has turned the "outsider" episode in to a habit.

The success or failure of these types of stories has to begin, in my opinion, with the writing. Love and Monsters from the second series was passable. The oblique and not so oblique references to fandom in that story were entertaining enough and the main character was mildly engaging. The Torchwood episode Random Shoes was, however, a failure. How does Blink stack up to these precedents? It is not even close. The script for Blink was, as the author Stephen Moffat put it in an interview, a waste of a great theatrical movie idea it is that good. The Doctor, although rarely seen, is integral to the plot which gives Blink an edge up on other outsider stories which tend to sideline the main characters rather clumsily. There is nothing clumsy about The Doctor in this story. Here The Doctor is stuck in the past and must use his guile to get the Tardis back while defeating the dreaded weeping angel statues. The viewer is rewarded for his or her patience when The Doctor is on screen ( a little joke there......) as the easter egg DVD idea could have easily come across as just a writer's gimmick but is quite effective (and eerie) as the "window" for the outsider in to The Doctor's world.

When horror and science fiction mix sometimes what you do not know is another testament to a good script. If you try to explain everything more often than not the explanations are either too mundane or too exhasperating to be entertaining. The weeping angels in Blink are given just enough explanation to make you marvel at their existence while not trying to over analyze their motives for punishing/killing people by sending them back in time. The story focuses on the tension of The Doctor trying to communicate through time in what is another rightfully ambiguous set of circumstances. If we knew why he had to be so surreptitious in trying to avoid tipping off the future would we really be better off for it? Our imaginations are left to fill in the void which makes Blink even more entertaining as a story. This intentional ignorance is reinforced by a running theme in the story that sometimes you will "never know" the answers to some questions.

Writing an outsider story is a huge challenge in itself but it is only the first hurdle. Random Shoes in my opinion was further pushed off the rails of good entertainment by the director going for too much whimsy. With Blink Hettie Macdonald was not saddled by a throwaway script so she was graced with the challenge of producing a piece of art instead of a filler episode. She rose to the challenge admirably. If you try to imagine the angel statues being produced by 70's or 80's Doctor Who you realize just how far this institution has come. Since it's reinvention it really has become a form where artists excel at their work instead of the advanced sock puppet theater it really was before. The gothic horror here was, just as the script, movie quality.

The final hurdle for an outsider tale to overcome is the "new cast." After all the production ducks are in a row if the main character of the story is miscast all the superlatives I heaped on Blink above would not be enough to make the episode a success. Carey Mulligan as Salley Sparrow sealed the deal. In less than five minutes I was aware that Blink was the short end of the "double bank" habit (not really having seen much about the story before viewing I did not know before hand) but Mulligan had me hooked. The gravitas of Macdonald's direction could have been let down by a sub standard lead perforance. Mulligan was flawless, however. The only quibble I do have with Blink is a minor one. Finlay Robertson as Larry Nightengale reminded me too much of the nerd/geek patrol that pretty much killed Random Shoes. It would have been nice for Larry to be a little less cliche' especially in the final scene right before The Doctor and Martha hit the street.

Some might consider this blasphemous but I rank Blink in the top ten episodes of all time Doctor Who episodes. I may over time be inclined to put it in the top five. Despite it being an outsider story what we all know and love about The Doctor himself was present for us to revel in. The half interaction and then the full interaction of the DVD conversation seemed to exemplify the mystery that is the best part of The Doctor. David Tennant in the five or six minutes of screen time he had was brilliant. From his description of the poor hens in 1969 to the final DVD conversation it is really hard to not just smile when he is strutting his stuff. With each new face it takes a while to be convinced that the quirks and mannerisms are our precious Doctor. At some point if you are not convinced you are thoroughly put off by them (Colin Baker springs to mind.)

With Blink I have finally and irrevocably been convinced that Tennant is vying for title of "the best" Doctor while having only a limited amount of minutes do the convincing. It is hard to think of Christopher Eccleston anymore. Comparing Tennant against the sock puppet Doctors is an excercise in reviewing apples and oranges because the huge chasm in quality in production values and direction between then and now really makes it two different shows and thus for comparative purposes two different characters. I am a Tom Baker devotee but it is getting harder and harder for me to picture anyone else but Tennant as The Doctor. Thankfully I have the DVDs to show me just how good Eccleston was in the role. Maybe sometime soon I will go hunting for easter eggs and remind myself but for now The Doctor is a guy with hair gel telling a confused police detective how his temporal displacement detector has the bad side effect of exploding hens.

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We were promised a roller coaster ride for this season of Doctor Who and ten episodes into it, it truly has been a season of stark quality contrast rather than a string of wonderful memorable episodes that go beyond their pure entertainment value .At one end of the fence you have an episode such as DALEKS IN MANHATTAN/EVOLUTION OF THE DALEKS which you would have assumed would be one of the high points on the roller coaster and it turned out to be a poorly written, Frankenstein of poorly connected thoughts and ideas. BLINK on the other hand, this seasons applauded "Lite" Doctor Who episode had the undesirable feat of needing to rise above last years "LOVE AND MONSTERS", but like the 17 DVD's in Sally Sparrows collection, BLINK had one unique common link with two other modern DOCTOR WHO classics such as THE EMPTY CHILD and GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE that set it in the running break down barriers and experiment with new ideas. Of course the common thread between all these wonderfully written adventures is Steven Moffat who with BLINK cements himself into the DR WHO list of great scriptwriters.

In looking at BLINK, you really have to look at Steven Moffat, the writer. Over the past few short years, his stories have been the absolute most imaginative and groundbreaking episodes to grace the new series. With BLINK, Steven Moffat has given us another DOCTOR WHO episode that you would not be afraid to show to a non fan with hopes of helping him see through the sometimes immaturity of the series. DR WHO is after, still, considered a children's show. Mr. Moffat is not afraid to write for a more mature audience and using clever ideas and an almost mystical understanding of the essence of the show to propel his stories beyond the usual entertainment vehicle. Several Days after viewing BLINK you are still thinking about it, because it challenges your mind, makes you think and reminds you of a time, when the series had a corral of writers like Moffat who used alchemy and imagination to turn the series into one of the lowest budgeted best written episodic television series made for children but watched by adults.

This is not intended to dismiss everything we have seen this season as uninvolved bubblegum. The new series strives to entertain in a big way while reaching for higher demographics and ratings points, while sometimes sacrificing imagination and experimentation for retreads of past successes. While Uncle Russell has dipped into the DRWHO canon more this year with a surprise return from the "Macra" and more and more references to the Doctor's time lord heritage, this season has also seen some unbelievable repetition and overuse of successful elements from the first two years of the show- almost duplicating scenes, dialogue and even episodes and forsaking new ideas and concepts. This is confusing and difficult to understand because the series requires constant new ideas and change, otherwise we will see a premature end to this new set of adventures. BLINK most certainly realizes this, and presents to us a most unusual narrative and plot dealing with ageless alien hooligans who steal the remainder of one's days, by transporting them to the past where they must live out their lives, to death. The idea of the Weeping Angels is pure brilliance,"creatures of the abstract, living off potential energy" as the Doctor describes them, moving fast when you looking away and turning to stone when caught in your eyesight. Mr. Moffat has drawn on the "Medusas" of mythology and reversed it to eerie and startling effect to bring his "lonely assassins " to life. The episode boasts the absolute most scariest scenes ever seen on the series, and yet, while the main characters of the Doctor and Martha have limited screen time, the TARDIS is almost a character and major element that stands at the episodes center and ultimately causes the weeping angels to meet their stone cold fate at Eternity's door.

BLINK also explores to idea of the Doctor becoming separated from his time ship and is stranded in 1969 with Martha, who claims she is working in a shop to help make ends meet. This opens doors of much speculation of the Doctor and Martha blending in with the mod culture of the 60's. If only The Doctor could have steered the Beatles away from a breakup or bring the Vietnam War to a speedier close during his layover. BLINK continues to open your eyes around every corner and line of its script. Its characters of Sally Sparrow and Kathy Nightingale and her useless DVD loving brother, Larry are instantly endearing and real, a credit to the actors and first time Doctor Who director Hettie Macdonld who paces the episode into a dizzy, frenetic blur that keeps us on our toes til its conclusion.

Like the 17DVD's in Sally's collection that co-star the Doctor..(You only own 17 DVD's??? asks Larry, in disbelief) BLINK, is literally loaded with Easter Eggs of its own as well, and keeps you guessing and your mouth hanging open at every turn of scenery and dialogue. The episode has hardly even begun and we have Kathy Nightingale falling back through time to the 1920's and lives out her entire life in a blink of an eye literally before the episode even warms up. Moffat delivers excellence in every word and line of his script. "Sad is Happy to people who are very deep" says Sally in professing her love of old things like the unloved and neglected turn of the century mansion that time is turning to dust while the weeping angels wait to turn time against all who enter. Moffat also uses time, in such poignant reference when we see, the libidinous Detective Inspector Shipton suddenly on his death bed after waiting his entire life to meet Sally again and give her a message from the Doctor in 1969, when it's a mere minutes in Sally's life. "Look at my hands, they're old man's hands". He says?"How did that happen?" He tells Sally he has til the rain stops, and she waits with him, until he passes on and the sun is shining again and the hospital bed, empty again. This is certainly DOCTOR WHO at its very best. Moffat also does a great job tying up the loose ends of the story and in the end it is Sally who first meets the Doctor and gives him the transcript and list of DVD's in her collection, before he has ever even stumbled upon the weeping angels, and becomes a prisoner of time himself. The Doctor appearing as an Easter Egg on unconnected DVD's is so fantastical of an idea -- It's a shame the members of L.I.N.D.A. could not be around to help Kathy's brother analyze the mystery! Moffat continues the trend that shows up the idea of the Doctor affecting our modern culture in unique ways, becoming a sensation of Internet sites and bloggers and becoming an anti-hero again, who leaves death and destruction in his wake. And the Doctor's wake, and his footprint is getting so large that people are beginning to notice. I am certain this will lead up to this season's finale. Theres "Timey Wimey stuff going on everywhere.

The episode closes with a final scene that leaves us with a sense of foreboding fear and paranoia and would have had Mary Whitehouse throwing rocks through the windows of the old BBC Television Centre in London back in the good old days when Autons dressed as policemen and Deadly Assassins had her running to save every child in England from this violent scary show called DOCTOR WHO. The penultimate scenes in the basement with Larry and Sally trying to gain entry in the TARDIS while the Angels are quickly encroaching in the shadows are simply some of the best ever seen in the series. When the TARDIS dematerializes leaving them behind to certain death, it is the Doctor who has the final laugh and the Lonely Assassins have turned to stone in each others eyeful glances. Did I just heard Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra?

BLINK puts everybody behind the sofa once again.

Rather unbelieveabely, three days after the shows transmission on the BBC, you could buy your own "The Angels have the phone Box" T-shirts on the Internet. I'm not kidding. I could not believe my eyes! I couldn't even blink!

Steven Moffat is scheduled to write a two-part episode next season, and it is in the wisdom of the show's producers to reward his imagination with subscription to his standard of excellence. Thank You Mr. Moffat, for making DRWHO as good as its ever been!

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I made no secret of it, I hated Love & Monsters. I don't use the word "hate" lightly, I genuinely hate the episode even twelve months on.

So it was with some trepidation that I watched Blink, even with the reassuring knowledge that it was written by Steven Moffat. This was to be another "Doctor light" story, and my revulsion for Love & Monsters is so strong that I was worried.

I needn't have been, Moffat has yet again pulled it out of the bag. Taking the constraint that he could only have one day's worth of work from David and Freema, he wove them into the story cleverly. But what made Blink great (and it is great), was that the other characters who had to carry the story were interesting and believable. I cared about Sally Sparrow and her friends. I almost cried when 'old' Billy died.

And the monsters, the weeping angels...creepy, scary and yet so simple. Moffat is a master of an old Doctor Who idea, scaring us with something familiar.

What made Blink work so well was a combination of all these things, woven together with a skillfully written script and great acting from the guest stars - who had far more to do than usual. This time around I didn't miss the Doctor and Martha because they were there just enough to keep this on track as a Doctor Who story. Direction and lighting were superb, I am 34 years old and glad I watched it in the light!

Superb, absolutely superb. Best yet in 2006, Moffat has done it again. But also serious congratulations to the cast, crew and visual effects people.


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No, seriously. As jaw-droppingly awesome as "Human Nature" / "The Family of Blood" were this one takes the season. And look at that, another Steven Moffat episode immediately follows a Paul Cornell one (as "The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances" followed "Father's Day" in Season 1) and immediately pwns it around the block and twice on Sundays.

No there wasn't much of the Doctor in this one but anyone who read the New Adventures shouldn't be too put off by this. Hell, my favorite one (Warlock by Andrew Cartmel) barely had him at all. Doesn't mean it can't be a great Doctor Who story tho, and this one certainly worked. It was scary, which is what allegedly all great Who stories are supposed to be. The Angels were, no pun intended, a sight to behold. Once again continuing the theme of Moffat's of faceless monsters: as the Empty Child wore a gas mask, and the Clockworks wore masks to disguise their faceless ticking heads, the Angels cover theirs with their own hands so as not to look upon one another. Moffat has an obsession with faceless menaces, but let's face it (oo, another bad pun), it works!

With its time travel elements and influences, once again, by the new wave of Japanese horror flicks, "Blink" just GETS to you. Yes it does. Bet you'll never look at statues, or DVD extras, the same way ever again...

And frankly, if you didn't love this episode, you need to quit watching Doctor Who because you'll never get it, ever, and you therefore need a different hobby. Seriously. I'm hardlining on this one. Not even Jack's return next week will temper my resolve on this one, so, you know. Get with it, y'all.

Filters: Series 3/29 Tenth Doctor Television

I have strange conceptions of what Doctor Who should be. I believe it should be about the Doctor, his companions, his adventures. This is one of the problems I had when we started getting novels back in the mid-1990's in which the Doctor was tangential to the action: they ceased being about the Doctor, or his companions, or in fact anything to do with him, but seemed instead to be diversions into universes the writer wanted to piggyback onto the one we love. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, except I refer you to my original comment.

Last year's experiment in Doctor Who sans Doctor was unique, something that tore my opinion in two: nice piece, pity about some of the execution. Apart from my widely-varying opinions on the quality of the story, there was something I decided I held in complete conviction: no more. No more stories that really don't have anything to do with the Doctor or his companions; we get 14 episodes a year, and that's not enough time to spend on other concepts. That's the realm of Torchwood or The Sarah Jane Adventures or Margaret Blaine's Adventures in Wonderland or whatever else Russell T Davies and company come up with. When I first heard that "Blink" was going to be this year's experiment in Doctor Who sans Doctor I was undoubtedly ambivalent; the only thing that kept me from expecting very little was the pen (or keyboard, this is 2007) of Steven Moffat. Moffat's first-season tour-de-force, "The Empty Child," was the highlight of that year, and last season's "The Girl in the Fireplace" was perhaps the closest Doctor Who has ever come to being lyrical poetry. But even though Mr. Moffat was behind the story, my fears of a 45-minute jaunt into the life of someone I have never met were readily apparent.

How wrong I was. Fresh on the heels of Paul Cornell's staggering two-part epic comes this little gem of an episode, so fresh and interesting and unique in its storytelling that, for a moment, I actually forgot all about the Doctor. Which is a hard sell, considering just how omnipresent David Tennant was throughout the story -- the Doctor may not be on screen the entire time, but the episode actually stays about him, and his predicament (shared, of course, with Martha, who's really the only one who suffers a lack of screen time). They're stuck, of course, in 1969, with no way back to the TARDIS except to play one great gamble with time that has roots in, for instance, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: take advantage of the opposing cause-and-effect time travel provides by sending messages through the lives of ordinary people. It all looks like great fun, of course, until the chills start running down your spine, thanks to the Weeping Angels, truly one of the (if not the) most frightening Doctor Who aliens of all time. A masterstroke of design turns innocuous-looking stone statues into terrifying nightmares, and some brilliant direction makes scenes such as the one with Sally and Larry in the cellar of the old house the stuff of nightmares.

The episode may have fallen apart without a good actor in the center seat, and Carey Mulligan (as Sally Sparrow) lives up to the challenge -- she's intelligent, articulate, free-spirited and feisty. Sally is a character worthy of that role of companion (and it's a nice thought that, maybe some day, the Doctor comes back for her and takes her on the trip of a lifetime; he's obviously already impressed with her upon their brief meeting outside the DVD store at the end.) I also must confess that I found some great chemistry between Mulligan and Michael Obiora, who played the role of D.I. Billy Shipton, whose fate I was sure was going to be disasterous the moment she gave him her phone number. How nice it is, though, that from the mind of the man who wrote the episodes in which "Everybody lives," we get another alien race for whom their plan of attack is to let people live to death. D.I. Shipton and Sally's friend Kathy both end up happy, which for victims in a Doctor Who serial is a very nice touch.

One of the things I like most of all in Moffat's script is that everything seems to work logically; here we have a whole succession of improbabilities which, by the end, make perfect sense. The linear structure of time works against most stories like this, but that's where Doctor Who gets to play around with things -- the transcript of the DVD leading eventually to the Doctor making it in the first place, the DVD easter eggs being targeted to Sally in the first place. The only logic flaw I've managed to find is how the Doctor knew which 17 DVDs Sally -- who he just met in front of that store -- had on her shelf. (If she gave the list to him at the end, when did she write it down? In the split second between the time she noticed the Doctor and Martha getting out of the taxicab and running out of the store?) But that's really a minor quibble...

If we're forced to have a Doctor Who sans Doctxor story every year, this is the sort of story I'd like to see: the Doctor is a part of the action, even when he's off the screen, and meanwhile the story is clever and entertaining. "Blink" could have been a nightmare; instead, it only induces them... and I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I'm sure I'm going to see those Weeping Angels somewhere between bedtime and morning.

Wonderful, exciting and absolutely creepy - another triumph.

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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?

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Before pressing on with my thoughts on this week's offering, I'd like to just backtrack briefly to Family of Blood and, for those few out there who could really give a fig, slightly readjust my verdict: I think I was maybe a touch overly critical of said episode on the hindsight of a second viewing, but this was partly due to the almost overwhelming promise of Human Nature. That certainly was a very hard act to follow, and in many ways Family of Blood didn't do that badly - excepting my numerous criticisms of it last week, which I still stand by. I now think that on the strength of just one scene alone, the beautifully choreographed scenes of the scarecrows being mown down by lachrymose schoolboys (right up there, and even beyond, the opening scenes of Genesis of the Daleks for instance), which is also a kind of rejoinder to The Lazarus Experiment's allusions to Eliot's 'The Hollow Men' ('Not with a bang but a whimper - Eliot' - The Doctor; bear in mind also the poet's words: We are the hollow men/We are the stuffed men/Leaning together/Headpiece filled with straw...'), I would upgrade my rather churlish rating of 6.8 to a far more deserving 8/10. Yes, quite a leap, but bearing in mind Family of Blood holds up well to a second viewing - in spite of a few little irritating/pretentious aspects - and also begs a third or fourth, along with Human Nature, means it is truly worthy of the better stories of the old cannon. It will be, I'm sure, the hit of this season critically, and of the entire new series so far.

Anyway, back into present time, and Blink (or you'll miss it). To be honest, not having the Doctor and Martha in an episode isn't such a terrible thing, especially when one considers that this in turn means a) far less doe-eyed drooling from companion and b) far less pratting around from Timelord. Unfortunately the Doctor does interrupt from time to time, and often to the detriment of the chilling atmos of this episode: ie, when he burbles on about 'timey wimey' and so on in an attempt obviously to explain time travel to the Telly Tubby generation. I hate to say it but at moments such as these, I can't help seeing Frank Spencer in place of the Doctor, and sometimes think a nice little beret might suit David Tenant with the odd little 'Ooooo, Martha' thrown in for good measure. The trouble is, whilst Tennant is undoubtedly a good actor (as opposed to a brilliant one such as Patrick Troughton or Tom Baker), he still lacks the necessary gravitas to pull off 'eccentricity' well enough to convince. I find Tenant strains in this regard and often trips over himself in his enthusiasm to please an undefined audience; the problem is, his enthusiasm jars in the same way that Colin Baker's did back in the Eighties. Subtlety, Mr Tennant, subtlety! That's the key here. His eccentricity just doesn't come across as naturally and unforced as say Troughton's, Baker's or McCoy's. But I think this is ultimately down to the scripting for the Tenth Doctor, which has been highly erratic since his inception. On the whole, this series has tended to highlight Tenant's stronger points over his weaker ones moreso than the reverse of the previous season, however, there have been unwelcome lapses, and the 'timey wimey' speech really is rather annoying. Martha is better in small doses, as served here, with an actually quite funny shot of her accusing the Doctor of sponging off her while they're stranded in 1969: 'now I'm having to support him'. One in the eye for the dole-scapegoating generation then: even the Doctor has to draw benefits from time to time; why should he go for a job as a shelf-stacker when he's a fully qualified time traveller? Better to sit it out and cash in on his National Insurance contributions.

Blink itself? Basically - give or take token lapses into mundanity and vapid Noughties' trendy elements - a very good and solid episode, and yet another nice surprise in what is rapidly developing into the best season of new Who so far. The idea of an alien species who have evolved the perfect defence mechanism of only functioning/moving when not being observed ('quantum locked' - The Doc), is fascinating and inspired, and deeply disturbing. The 'lonely assassins' then are basically a race of interplanetary stone Gorgons who not only turn other beings metaphorically to stone with sheer fright, but also literally each other; hence they're being disguised as weeping angels, covering their own eyes so as not to catch one another's gazes. Of course this could be seen as a slightly silly idea in a way, especially considering their evident teamwork ethic, but nevertheless, it doses the episode with a genuinely chilling concept. The designs of the angels are exceptional, and the shot of them statically stood around the TARDIS is iconic. The flashes of their faces emerging and freezing in ghastly expressions as the two humans try to unlock the TARDIS, is brilliantly done, and the most frightening series of images in new Who since the screaming woman in The Unquiet Dead (well, apart from the drooling lycanthrope in Tooth and Claw, and the tattooed, red-eyed Toby in Impossible Planet). The trick of the Doctor in baiting the angels around the TARDIS, only to dematerialise it so they turn each other to stone by facing one another, is ingenious, and one of the most convincing and satisfying conclusions of a new Who episode (and nicely reminiscent of the Mara's death by its own reflections in the classic Kinda - my favourite ever story by the way). Inspired.

The premise of Blink in general is excellent and one of the most disturbing in the series' entire history. Homage is paid here to The Blair Witch Project (among other films, such as Hammer's The Gorgon), though only very subtly; the idea of not blinking in order to somehow stay in control of the situation (re the girl in TBWP being too frightened to shut her eyes in the tent) is a psychologically powerful play on the instinct to stay wide-eyed and awake when afraid. One could also say there's a shade of Ring here too, but in this case we have nothing more frightening than a bespectacled Jarvis Cocker oggling out from the TV screen (well, actually...)

The acting of the main girl is strong, and this young actress carries her character well and is fairly likeable - albeit typically self-assured for a Noughties' girl - and her comment about her friend's sister passing on that she loved him being 'quite nice' got me smiling. As for the 'friend', well, being a poor man's Rhys Ifans from Notting Hill isn't the best of accolades, but he does the job ok.

The time victims' stories were a nice detail, though one wonders why the Doctor couldn't have taken them back to their futures as it were. Still, the letter and old photos from the girl friend near the beginning of the episode, only just after she vanishes into 1920, is a lovely touch, and rather reminiscent of the fourth adventure in Sapphire and Steel. In this sense then, Blink plays a similar role to Fear Her of last year, in its deft juxtaposition of modern day settings with eerie subversions of trans-generational motifs (ie, children's drawings and moving statues), betraying a thread of inspiration from the brilliantly imaginative science fantasies of the 70s, in particular The Tomorrow People (for Fear Her see The Blue and the Green) and S&S. These are very welcome ingredients to new Who and I hope there are more to come. The ultimate chills after all are those that play on our childhood fears.

Blink is a striking episode, absorbing, nicely written, well directed, subtle, frightening and genuinely unique. It is also an episode that can be watched in isolation from the rest of the series, which is no bad thing, and taken on its own merits. It is, further, a far superior tale to its same-placed and similarly Doctor-less cousin of last season, the deplorably self-indulgent Love and Monsters. Blink is much more the kind of oddity we should get for the season's token 'Doctor-on-Call' episode.

Imaginative and memorable. A minor classic.

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"Don't blink. Don't even blink. Blink and you're dead. They are fast. Faster than you could believe. Don't turn your back, don't look away, and don't blink. Good luck!"

Rather than have another stab at it himself, this year Russell T. Davies has delegated the season's most difficult episode - the now customary 'Doctor-lite' episode - to one of his best writers. Perhaps it was just the luck of the draw, or maybe Davies realised that an exceptionally talented writer like Steven Moffat could make something out of nothing in the same way that Davies himself did with "Love & Monsters" last year.

Whilst he has more lines than he did in "Love & Monsters", in this episode the Doctor exists for the most part as a mysterious, off-screen character. Moffat handles him much in the same way that many of the writers of the novels -- particularly the New Adventures -- did back in the 1990s. I quickly got sick these of 'Doctor-lite' adventures in print, but every once in a while I have to admit that it works spectacularly. It reaffirms that mystery. Gives the audience a new perspective. And, if I was cynical, I'd say that it also allowed the production team to film two episodes at once so that they might squeeze "The Runaway Bride" into their hectic schedule?

And so this week the burden of driving the plot forward lies elsewhere. Just like with Elton in "Love & Monsters" and invisible Eugene in Torchwood's "Random Shoes", this episode is carried by the non-regular character of Sally Sparrow, wonderfully portrayed by this week's leading lady, Carey Mulligan.

KATHRYN: What's good about sad?
SALLY: It's happy for deep people.

As "Blink" lives or dies by Sally Sparrow, it is fortunate that she is a compelling and endearing character. She is instantly likeable; clever, funny, and with a very dry sense of humour -- she evens laughs at herself quite a bit. She's sort of a twenty-first century Benny Summerfield.

I thought that the episode was very slow to start. The pre-title sequence was distinctly bland and so, at least up until Kathy's was 'zapped' back in time, the episode didn't really hook me. However, when Kathy did arrive in Hull, 1920, I had to laugh out loud. Not only is it the butt of the old Blackadder joke, but it's also the 'top of the crap map' city? where I went to University and where I just happen to work. It's the Hull Daily Mail, mind, not 'the Hull Times'. You'd think they'd have done their homework?

"Because life is short and you are hot".

Once it got going though, I really enjoyed the episode. Moffat's characters are all so funny and real; I especially liked the smooth young cop, D.I. Billy Shipton. Once he had been 'zapped' back to 1969 we were finally treated to some exposition, courtesy of the Doctor and Martha.

"The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely. No mess; no fuss; just zap you into the past and make you live to death."

The Doctor gives Billy a message to deliver to Sally; a message that it will take him 38 years to deliver. The hospital scene where the old, dying Billy finally gives that message to Sally is beautifully written, and really quite melancholy. On the whole, "Blink" may be much more upbeat that Moffat's peerless offering last year, but it still has its "Girl In The Fireplace" moments.

Moffat has also really tapped into something with his DVD Easter Eggs -- what a concept! It's one of those fantastic ideas that seem so obvious once they've been done -- the Doctor as a DVD Easter Egg! It's contemporary and cool and children will love it. More than that though, it creates one of those seldom-used, head-scratching time travel plots that Doctor Who just does not do enough. We have one half of a conversation recorded in 1969 and eventually published on just seventeen DVDs as an easter egg. The other half of the conversation is then transcribed in 2007. This transcription is then delivered to the Doctor in 2008 so that when he gets trapped in 1969 he can record his half and thus complete the circle? or should I say complete the 'wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey ball'?

"They are quantum locked. They don't exist when they are being observed. The moment they are seen by any other living creature they freeze into rock. No choice; it is a fact of their biology. In the sight of any other living thing they literally turn to stone. And you can't kill a stone. Of course, a stone can't kill you either, but then you turn your head away. Then you blink. And oh yes it can."

There is one devastating moment when on the DVD, the Doctor says that the transcript has run out. The Weeping Angels are coming. From thereon in the fear factor goes through the roof. Larry Nightingale is another brilliant character, but amusing as he may be throughout (with all his nerdish quips like "I've got that on a T-Shirt" etc.), he's even more entertaining when, if you'll pardon my French, he's shitting himself. It's those wide-eyes. He's desperately trying not to blink. But that's the instinct isn't it? Cover the eyes. But he can't, or he's dead.

You can't hide behind the sofa because that is when they'll get you. Genius.

I thought that the most frightening sequence was outside the TARDIS in the basement. When one of the Angels (somehow) does something to the light and it begins to flicker, the Angels begin to move in short bursts. Hettie MacDonald -- the first woman to direct an episode since 1985 -- has shot and edited this part beautifully; it is absolutely chilling. The statues move almost like a piece of animation. A quick series of grotesque freezes. It's horrible. But thankfully, even in his absence the Doctor saves the day. He allows Sally and Larry into the TARDIS which then dematerialises around them. Of course, those pesky Angels were outside it, shaking it about. What they didn't see coming was that once it had dematerialised, they'd all be looking square at each other. Checkmate.

"Blink" ends flawlessly -- the closing montage of all those statues and gargoyles juxtaposed with the Doctor's "don't blink" speech will doubtless leave a generation of children with a deep-rooted fear of statues, gargoyles and grotesques. And if we're honest, probably quite a few adults too?

All told, "Blink" was never going to be a monumental episode like "The Empty Child" or my personal favourite, "The Girl In The Fireplace". You just can't have an episode with that sort of weight without your regular cast. However, given the choice between a 'Doctor-lite' episode of this kind of quality or a Stargate-style clip show, I know which I'd choose every time. The fact that this episode was far better than "The Lazarus Experiment" and "42" - both of which had a full cast, big-name guest stars and a bucketload of C.GI. -- says it all really. With "Blink", Moffat has written an episode that will undoubtedly chill Britain on a warm summer's night.

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It's really annoying. A few years ago I had a dream in which a time traveller from the future has a love affair with a young criminal, and repeatedly rescues her from arrest by using details of her exact whereabouts found in her diary he picked up years after the event at a jumble sale (seriously!). I always thought this would make a great short film, but never got around to writing it. Seems I never will now.

The neat paradoxes of time travel make for satisfying storytelling (see Back To The Future, which this episodes references with the letter), yet are oddly underused in a show about time travel. It's strange that there are only a small handful of adventures whose plot revolves around the notion of time travel. Off the top of my head Day Of The Daleks, Timelash, Mawdryn Undead, Father's Day... I'm sure there are one or two others. Though I don't think any have done it quite so satisfyingly as here.

If you don't think about it too hard, it all ties up beautifully; though of course with most of these things, there are gaping plot holes if you give it more than a moment's consideration: for example, how did the Doctor know the exact timing of his conversation with Sally, not to mention some of the incidental details, considering he only had written evidence? How come the Doctor has the TARDIS set up in advance with a device which reads DVDs and gives the bearer a one-way ticket, complete with handy hologram? That said, the actual pre-recorded conversation was done very well, and the messages encoded into DVD easter eggs was quite a Philip K Dick moment, as was the alluded-to cult following that the messages has accrued.

As with last year's Love And Monsters, there was an underlying sense of tragedy behind the frightening haunted house romp, a real feeling of loss; and like last year, the Doctor was stamped all over the proceedings, like Orson Welles in The Third Man, despite his limited screen time. This time around, however, the Love And Monsters trademark silliness was largely absent, making Blink the more memorable and succesful of the two "Doctor Lite" episodes to date.

The weeping angels gave the episode the feel of the childrens drama serials the BBC were so good at during the late '70s and 1980s: The Enchanted Castle, Moondial, The Legend Of Green Knowe, etc. The fast pace and glossy 2007 production values took a fair bit of the edge off the spookiness, and I can't help wondering how much more creepy it would have been done in the slower-moving and more sombre early '80s style. It would probably have scared the bejeezus out of me.

So, other than a (probably) unavoidable modern glossiness and (probably) unavoidable plot holes, were there any down sides? Well, only the usual really. Most of the characterisation felt very standard-issue RTD, and Murray Gold's score undid a lot of the atmosphere by veering into Keff McCulloch territory with those ghastly 'orchestra hits' towards the start - whoever thought they were an attractive or effective noise? And the whole Sparrow and Nightingale thing? This was presumably a dig at low-rent ITV detective drama Rosemary and Thyme, hence the reference to ITV in the dialogue... but if so, why bother including such naffness in the episode in the first place? And anyway, Sally Sparrow (presumably a reference to similar '90s time travel sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart and its protagonist Gary Sparrow) is such an obviously made-up name that it proved tremendously distracting.

These are just small grumbles, though. Blink was yet another Steven Moffat masterclass in how to do 45 minutes of Doctor Who, tantalsingly drip-feeding the viewer information, avoiding the otherwise obligatory last act runaround, and getting the whole thing wrapped up under time (leaving the editors a minute or so at the end to play around with some pictures of statues they had lying around) without it ever feeling rushed. Along with The Shakespeare Code and Human Nature, the third absolutely top notch episode this season. More please.

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Blink marked the return of the popular Steven Moffat with his third script for Doctor Who, making him and Russell T Davies the only writers to have penned stories for all three series of 21st-century Doctor Who (and both will be back for Series 4).

Moffat's previous contributions - The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and The Girl In The Fireplace - were lavish-looking episodes, which would have taken a decent chunk of the show's budget to bring to life, especially the former. Blink, by contrast, was probably the cheapest episode since the series returned, with no CGI required. It was also notable for being what has become known as the season's "Doctor-lite" episode, designed to give the lead actors a break in a hectic shooting schedule.

It is widely known that showrunner Davies provides his writers with a "shopping list" of ingredients to weave into their stories - but "don't write anything which will cost us money - oh, and keep The Doctor and his companion out of as many scenes as possible!" means you're off to Lidl's rather than Harrods. Therefore, it's essential that the script is of the highest quality, which is pretty much a given when the name Steven Moffat is attached to it.

And, having given us faces which transform into gasmasks, followed by clockwork droids which hide under the bed, Moffat has added another ingredient to his own growing Doctor Who "scare list" . . .

Blink was the story of Sally Sparrow, a 21st-century girl who enters an abandoned old house, and is stunned to find warnings to her written on the walls. She returns to the house with her friend, Cathy Nightingale, who mysteriously vanishes as Sally answers to the door to a young man claiming to be Cathy's grandson.

It transpires that Cathy was transported back to 1920, from where she lived her life, and left instructions for her grandson to take a letter explaining this extraordinary situation to Sally. At first, she doesn't believe it, until she sees Cathy's grave.

A similar thing happens to a policeman Sally meets, him being transported back to 1969, where he encounters The Doctor and Martha, also trapped there after being separated from the TARDIS, which is being held by Weeping Angels, a race in the form of statues who feed off energy from other beings. To avoid being consumed by the Angels, and sent back in time, you must stare at them. They can never be looked upon by each other, or they are frozen forever.

The Doctor fears the Angels will attempt to devour the huge energy force from the TARDIS if they gain entry to it, and leaving messages for Sally in the future to help him is the only way he can stop them. He also sends her the TARDIS key.

The Doctor manages to "converse" with Sally in the form of a hidden extra in a batch of DVDs, which Sally owns. Together with Cathy's brother, Larry, Sally returns to the house in search of answers. As the Angels close in on them, Larry and Sally find the TARDIS, and get inside and enter a DVD provided by The Doctor into the console, which enables the TARDIS to ensnare the Angels into looking at each other, and being frozen.

A year later, Sally encounters The Doctor in the street outside the shop she and Larry now owns, and provides him with a transcript of the meeting they'll have in his future, which will enable him to set into motion the chain of events which she has already lived.

Phew. Holy Paradox Batman . . .

A fantastically-clever script from Moffat again. Not just in fulfilling the dual obligations of keeping the costs down and The Doctor's role to a minimum, but for still giving him an integral role and actually making it look like he was in it more than he actually was. And for coming up with a rattling good story, perfectly paced with decent, likeable characters - especially lead girl Sally - and a new, scary monster in the shape of the statues.

More stunning work from the prosthetics team and the performance artists within to realise the statues, to come across as genuinely creepy. Good, fast-cutting work from director Hettie MacDonald to close up on the Angels as their expressions changed, too. Definitely added to the fear factor, along with some understated work from Murray Gold.

Like Marc Warren last year in Love & Monsters, Carey Mulligan was a delight in the guest lead role. And like Elton, Sally Sparrow would, you feel, make a great companion given the chance.

A few chuckles along the way - nice cameo from Martha, muscling into The Doctor's DVD appearance, complaining about having to work in a shop to support him! And a gentle, playful prod at the world of the Internet geek, in the shape of Larry. Would you wear a T-shirt with a Doctor Who quote on it? Hmm . . . still, Moffat gave him the pretty girl in the end - geeks of the world rejoice!

And a nice touch at the end, reminding us that all statues are evil!

Only downside for me was that, brilliant as this script was, I don't really like any "Doctor-lite" episodes in the season, although I appreciate the good reasons behind it. As it's done out of necessity rather than choice, I would rather see just 12 episodes where the eponymous hero is prevalent, if the season schedule is so tight. Doctor Who isn't just about The Doctor, but I missed the dynamic between him and the new characters, which is an important area of the show. And I can't really mark Blink above other episodes in the run which have fulfilled that criteria so well.

Nine and a half out of 10 as a piece of quality TV in its own right, but seven and a half out of 10 as a Doctor Who episode - solid nonetheless, in a cracking season which looks set to be clunker-free, with three weeks to go.

Filters: Series 3/29 Tenth Doctor Television