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Saturday, 29 September 2012

Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan


As predicted there were tears with the Ponds' last hurrah, The Angels Take Manhattan. Tears of laughter. Steven Moffat was clearly taking the piss when he decided to make the Statue of Liberty into a Weeping Angel!

When the Weeping Angels were first introduced by Moffat in Blink, they were generally regarded as the most frightening and innovative aliens in Doctor Who for decades. But subsequent appearances have only managed to dilute their fear factor until now they're pretty much a joke.

Even if we can accept Lady Liberty tip-toeing through the streets of New York so it could sneak up on the Winter Quay hotel, how come it didn't just clock its victims from about a block away with its torch? That would have cut out a lot of silliness.

I'm sorry, but I just couldn't take this episode seriously - especially when Moffat gave away the "big surprise"  about the Statue Of Liberty before the opening credits even rolled, thus totally undermining the tension of The Doctor and co in the hotel hearing the heavy "thumps" and wondering what monstrosity was approaching.

What passed for a story in The Angels Take Manhattan was basically a flimsy retelling of Blink, but with a pulp novel (written by River) replacing the DVD easter eggs, as an excuse to wrench Amy and Rory away from the Doctor.

The problem, as with many of the more powerful monsters in Doctor Who (again I cite the Vashta Nerada), is that the angels as described are simply so all-powerful (and especially if they've taken over The Statue Of Liberty... does that mean anyone who goes up inside the statue gets thrown back in time as well?) that they would have taken over New York, and probably the world, before anyone realised... if they could just squeeze in around The Silent who are also, apparently, everywhere!

Mike McShane popped up as Grayle, a gangster who supposedly collected the angel statues, but really he added nothing to the story except a slight roadbump for The Doctor and his colleagues.

Rory had been sent back in time by a Weeping Angel and meets his daughter, River Song, who is posing as a detective to get in with Grayle, who has been hiring detective to investigate the moving statues.

The Doctor and Amy eventually turn up, but not before Amy has peaked ahead in the pulp novel The Doctor was reading and found out partially what was going to happen - thus setting the moment in stone. This is compounded when The Doctor scans the chapter titles and sees one he's not happy about at all.

Quickly moving on from Grayle, our heroes head to the Winter Quay hotel, where the angels have taken Rory (as they've suddenly developed the power to move people just in space, but not time - something they've never done before), as this is their feeding ground.

There's some potentially powerful, emotional interaction between Amy and Rory on the roof of the hotel - but for the whole time the angelfied Statue Of Liberty is gurning over them in the background (again, I ask why did't it reach out - as all the other angels do - and zap them with its supersized hand?).

The real emotional stuff came later, in the graveyard with the old "ah ha, one got away" chestnut. But even an old cynic such as I has to admit that the final fate of The Ponds had a certain poignancy about it.

That said, there's no escaping the rank lunacy of the fact that The Statue of Liberty is the most useless Weeping Angel in history. I'm sorry, the tears are coming again... and I think my sides might be splitting.

It's a shame that any companions should have to leave through such a weak episode (although it tries hard to be emotionally manipulative), but I think The Ponds had run their course, so it'll be good to have some fresh blood in the TARDIS.

Just need to get some fresh blood on the production side now...

It's hard to believe this Steven Moffat is the same man who created Sherlock. The difference in quality is so astronomical as to be staggering.



This Christmas:

10 comments:

  1. i find all the new dr who to be written for old women - has more in common with charmed story telling than old dr who - i like amy as character but i find all the crap of companions love lives and families tedious

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charmed, at its best, had better storytelling than this season of Doctor Who ;-)

      There seems to be this misguided idea that audiences won't be able to "relate" to the companions unless they have soap opera lives.

      That's why we don't get alien companions any more as well - because audiences can't relate!!!

      Clearly the Classic years of Doctor Who had no companions that audiences could relate to... oh no, waitaminute...

      Delete
  2. This season so far has been a let down, hopefully thing pick up during the second half.

    ERIC!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The main interesting thing of this episode, to me, was the introduction of the idea that witnessing an event (or for that matter learning about it) "fixes" it, at least relative to oneself. That's a time-travel idea I first ran into in gaming, in John M. Ford's GURPS Time Travel, where Ford termed it the "observer effect".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I understand it right that's quantifying what has always (general) been the rule in DW that historical events are fixed points and cannot be changed.

      Delete
    2. Maybe so, but it is a change from the previous version ("there are some points in history that are magically fixed and unchangeable as needed by the plot") to the new version ("things that are observed ot otherwise known to a certain degree can't be changed").

      Delete
    3. I think you're so right to mention "as needed by the plot" as I'm sure this new rule will be forgotten as soon as it gets in the way of a new story idea ;)

      Delete
  4. A dire end to a disappointing season. I'm hoping a fresh start with a new companion in 2013 can get things back on track.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ Eric & @Wulgar22 - let's not get overly optimistic though, the companions may be changing on-screen but the same production team, writers, directors etc are still putting the show together behind the cameras.

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete

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