Aired 9 June 2007
Following last year’s Doctor-lite offering ‘Love and Monsters’ which was met with considerably tepid reviews, there was notable concern heading into this series’s ‘Blink.’ However, with Steven Moffat writing the script, the end result is a masterpiece, offering an intricately detailed and gripping story that’s accessible both to hardcore and casual viewers alike.
The villainous Weeping Angels are one of the most ingenious inventions of the modern series of Doctor Who, playing off of the innate creepiness of statues and their soulless faces. The effectiveness of their threat is intensely heightened by some masterful direction from Hettie McDonald who uses quick shots to show how quickly they move, culminating in close-ups of truly frightening faces that are sure to haunt viewers’ minds for a long time after the story ends. The idea of them being quantum locked, meaning that they can only move when not being watched or observed, is extremely clever and plays well off of a very basic fear. The tension that the incredibly fast creatures meshed with the extremely creepy Wester Drumlins interior create a superb atmosphere.
‘Blink’ is one of the rare Doctor Who episodes that actually deals with time travel within its tale, and it does so very intelligently and uniquely as seemingly disparate and random though eventually intertwine to reveal a very thorough plan of the Doctor’s. With the Doctor and Martha trapped in 1969, sent there after being touched by a Weeping Angel, the meaningfulness of the Doctor speaking to Sally via DVD, Larry writing down the DVD extra transcript, Billy choosing editing as a profession, and Sally buying precisely seventeen DVDs all eventually make perfect sense and culminate in Sally eventually giving the passing Doctor a list of notes to prepare him for when he does eventually get sent back to 1969. What could have fallen apart under gaps in logic or confusion is instead baeutifully structured to make perfect sense. The inclusion of such everyday items like DVDs as the resolution is refreshingly low-key in an era or increasing special effects and overly complicated plots as well.
With the Doctor and Martha sidelined, Carey Milligan as Sally Sparrow is asked to carry the story, and she does so admirably. She instantly creates an aura that she is companion material in the waiting, intelligent and sassy but charming and able to anchor heavily dramatic scenes as well. Her scenes reading Kathy’s goodbye letter, saying goodbye to Billy, and speaking out to the recorded Doctor are particular standouts. Finlay Robertson does well as the suitably nerdy Larry as well, and though it’s tough to believe that these two would end up with each other, their chemistry together makes it a passable possibility.
The other character of note here is Billy Shipton, a commanding presence in both his young and elderly forms. In just a matter of minutes he goes from a young man trying (successfully) to get a date with Sally to becoming a bed-ridden geriatric living out his last few moments after being sent back in time and living out his life, waiting to deliver one final message to Sally. This soft-spoken reflection on the passing of time and missed opportunities is quite moving and a reflection how well these characters are written and brought to life in such a short span of time.
With a masterful alien menace playing off an innate fear and living off of temporal potential energy as they send their victims back to the past, extremely well-written characters and charismatic actors, and a wonderfully self-contained script with no apparent flaws, ‘Blink’ is the epitome of a Doctor Who story, let alone a Doctor-lite one. Tennant and Agyeman are suitably strong in their brief appearances, but this is the story of Sally Sparrow, tremendous and emotional to the extreme. Any of these characters or villains would be very welcome to return after a superb first appearance, and the resolution of tricking the Angels into looking at themselves, thus rendering themselves incapable of movement, is the perfect ending to a perfect idea.