Sorry about the title, "Blink and you'll miss it" was already taken ;).
This is my first review since my inability to pre-empt and/or grapple sufficiently with my own stupidities during the pre-season warm-up. C’est la vie, &c.
I’ve been slowly absorbing what appears to be a significant change to Who, in writing tone, feel and direction, since Daleks in Manhatten. I’ve kept right away from the blog too, since I’ve found it hard to judge an episode on its own merits if I’ve read any commentary beforehand.
S3 Doctor Who is darker, punchier, more serious - and better written - than S2. I would also (possibly) go out on a limb and say that some of the Torchwood experiments are feeding back successfully into this season. And that this could be one of the best seasons ever.
Gone is the Rose-driven smugness, thank goodness. The stories are more emotionally effectual, more visceral. MURRAY seems to have been throttled back - another “thank goodness”. Or rather, the production team’s directives to Murray, to be more precise.
I think my favourite this season so far has been Blink, although I found the Human Nature/The Family of Blood two-parter very moving, and a great story too boot. No accident that the respective authors were Stephen Moffatt (The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances) and Paul Cornell (Fathers’ Day). (As a complete aside, perhaps we’re beginning to see aspects of the Valeyard beginning to show through in the Doctor's character already - you can hardly call what he did to the Family of Blood merciful.) Some great direction in 42 by Graeme Harper, too, with its rather strong plot, visual and aural echoes of The Satan Pit, although they were ultimately red herrings. There haven’t been any episodes in this season that I don’t want to watch again, although my daughter has re-run Gridlock rather a lot - she loves it.
One of the reasons that I enjoyed Blink (great name, too) was that the episode relied more on other characters (cf. Love & Monsters), with the Doctor and Martha being somewhat sidelined (one Moon Landing too many, eh, Martha?). Somewhat like L&M, only much, much, much better, and no cheap “paving slab” and “bucket” jokes in sight! Carey Mulligan gave a memorable performance as “Sally Sparrow”: nicely balanced with finely judged amusing and dramatic touches, with an excellent sense of timing (just as well too, considering); and she gave the story a real boost.
Her foil, the scruffy brother of her time-switched friend Kathy, Lawrence Nightingale (Finlay Robertson, also giving a very good performance), reminded me somewhat of Jonas Armstong, who played the titular role in the BBC’s recent Robin Hood: the Who production team seemed to be trying to further suggest this with the bow and arrows at the end. Not too sure what that was about, and it seemed a bit forced to me. Maybe it was a BBC/UK in-joke. (It seems that Robertson played “1st Sheriff’s Man” in two episodes of RH, and Captain Benwick in a US production of Persuasion, in which latter role he should be perfect!)
I thought at first that the house was going to be the one that Ace burnt down, except of course that it wasn't burnt, and, well, it wasn't in Perivale.
The final snaring of the Angels was neat, but would of course stop working as soon as someone triesd to move them (e.g., when a developer demolished Wester Drumlins for a housing estate and knocked 'em over ...). Maybe the bow and arrows was a bit of comic relief, or to remind the audience that they were watching a children’s program. In the former case case, it didn’t work; in the latter, it was unnecessary - we knew that Sally and Larry had survived.
The moment when the TARDIS dematerialised from around the fugitive pair of humans, leaving them apparently caught in the gaze of the Angels was good, following as it did the narrow escape into the TARDIS. The resolution was clever, giving way immediately to the realisation that it was actually the Angels themselves who had been trapped.
The episode was elegantly, even beautifully, filmed, and also reminded me several times of one of the better Torchwood episodes, Small Worlds, especially with the blue-grey lighting.
And we have Sir Derek Jacobi and (a post-Torchwood?) Captain Jack in Utopia to look forward to, can't wait!