Friday, January 28, 2011


It is with the kind of smug satisfaction that normally only someone like RTD could accomplish that I can firmly state that those in the know regard "Blink" as one of the best episodes of this era despite the fact that the Tenth Doctor scarcely appears. It's quite curious to realise that in spite of its premise, Doctor Who very rarely does time travel/time paradox stories and that the last time it was done, in "Father's Day", it involved something as totally absurd as ridiculous, needless monsters showing up to "cleanse the wound" or whatever.
Although he would go on to do the opposite, Moffat shows off a very deterministic view of time travel in this story, which is to say that even by travelling in time you are only fulfilling time - events and places in time are all interconnected and dependent on each other. The cleverness makes this episode continually satisfying to watch, with the sudden old ages of Cathy Nightingale and Billy Shipton, the idea of the Doctor being 'stuck' in 1969 (but Martha's not all old in 2007 or something so surely we know they escaped?) and the conversation between Sally and the Doctor using time travel, a future encounter and a DVD player. It does rather suggest that free will is an illusion, contrary to the Third Doctor's remarks in "Inferno", but nonetheless it provides an interesting example of what you can accomplish through a bit of time travel. Now we know all that 'part of events' crap in earlier Doctor Who stories was just because no one else could be bothered thinking out the consequences of reversing causality.
The Weeping Angels are very effective as well, and I remember the very first time I watched this episode being incredibly pleased about the use of the term "quantum lock". At last there was finally an element of real science in the explanation of an episode. It's good that just as Sally and Larry never see the Angels move nor do we, and I think just in general it's interesting to have a creature that can only exist when it's not under observation. It is ridiculous, though, that they feed off "potential energy". Potential energy isn't a time-related concept, that's not what 'potential' means in that context, it's just energy which could be released by an object due to some force or reaction. Also apparently the Angels zap you back in time and then sneak into your house and eat all the dinners you should have had, or something, consuming the 'energy of the days you never had' which is complete nonsense. Unfortunately this little piece of silly RTD-esque magic thinking spoils the tone a little, as do some of the cringeworthy moments from DI Billy Shipton and Larry without pants but other than that it's pretty good. Sally Sparrow comes across as incredibly pretentious but I think she's meant to be and in spite of the fact that Moffat's clearly having a bit of a dig at the Internet generation with Larry he comes across as a good-natured sort.
I'm not quite sure why the Angels were in the house besides wanting to be spooky, or why they threw a rock at Sally early in the story, or how they manage to get the TARDIS from a heavily-populated urban centre out to the countryside unobserved but a lot of these things are glossed over for narrative convenience. Fortunately the relative cleverness of the plot makes up for most of it and although I can't help wonder why Billy for instance let himself be a stooge for the Doctor to live out the rest of his life in his personal past you can generally accept most of the logical steps. In fact it's so acceptable that the Doctor's hand-wavy timey-wimey explanation is totally unnecessary. It'd be better in the context of this story to say it's a line where you can, with the right means, jump back and forward. Unfortunately there are so many conflicting depictions of time travel in this series - the "cul-de-sac reality" of "Father's Day", the "Back to the Future effect" of "The Shakespeare Code" and the non-sequential determinism of this one that I suppose you have to accept the slightly odd "fixed and unfixed points in time" explanation.
Nonetheless this episode is, yes, without a doubt the absolute best episode of the Tennant era and in all probability the entire RTD era, and in combination with "Smith and Jones" and the good elements of the "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" two-parter definitely elevates this series of the Tenth Doctor above the others by a significant margin. You see I've come back from the future of these reviews and I've seen what I will write about the next series...

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