3.10: Blink

Information

  Format:   TV
  Written by:   Steven Moffat
  Directed by:   Hettie MacDonald
  Duration:   45 minutes
  Transmission Date:   9/6/2007
  Reviewed by:   Shawn Lunn, Nick Murphie
In an old, abandoned house, the Weeping Angels wait, as Russell T Davies's Doctor Who continues. However, when people start disappearing, a young woman called Sally finds cryptic messages bleeding through from 1969 – messages from a mysterious stranger called the Doctor. But can she decipher them before the Angels claim their prize?

Review

  Submitted:   18/8/2007
  Reviewer:   Shawn Lunn
 

The Doctor (to Sally/Larry):
“Don’t turn your back, don’t look away and don’t blink”.

Okay it’s the time of the season again where The Doctor and companion take a break and let someone else drive the plot while making their lack of presence felt and eventually addressed.

Last year the show pulled off this audacious stunt with the probing “Love & Monsters” which seemed to have left a bitter taste with some viewers and Torchwood’s attempts with a similar tactic in “Random Shoes” also failed to impress. You think with two failings with this format, the writers would make the decision to stay away from trying it again. Well think again!

The episodes opens with a young blonde haired girl staking out a creepy house in the middle of the night and just now that I’m starting to get into the Buffy Season Eight comics, the resemblance the young girl has to Sarah Michelle Gellar is a little uncanny to be honest.

Her house raid however is interesting and set the tone to this episode perfectly. While “Love & Monsters” set out to be self-analysing and goofy, “Blink” aims to be somewhat more creepy and when the lady question passes over some creepy Angel statues and rips the wallpaper off to find a message telling her to beware of the Weeping Angels by The Doctor from 1969, the stage is set brilliantly.

Anyone who got a cryptic message about Weeping Angels directly for them who probably either scoff or run for the hills but the girl in question is more determined to find out what the frak is going on and let’s just say Sally Sparrow is someone of a very curious mind.

No sooner is she calling her mate Kathy and then bumping into her mate’s nude brother but Sally drags her friend back to the very creepy house to do even more snooping than usual. Mind you, it takes very little to persuade Kathy who seems to have a curiosity streak every bit as big as Sally’s but you more or less knew that Sally was leading the girl to inevitable doom during her quest.

Now I’ll be honest and I’ll admit the first ten minutes of this episode start off reasonably slow but I was impressed that within the space of two minutes, not only did Kathy get sent back to 1920 when Sally wasn’t looking but Kathy’s grandson knocked on the door and was able to give Sally an envelope which she refused to open. Naturally Sally thought he was a quack.

However Kathy is something of a strange thing. In this world she’s really dead but she got sent back in time, had to adjust to a conservative era but managed to find someone she loved and had a family while laying pity on Sally and hoping her friend would be able to explain to her brother what happened to her without actually revealing the truth of course.

Jumping from 2007 to 1920 and back to 2007 we then have to see Sally do a bit of old detective as her intentions from trying to explain Kathy’s disappearance to Larry then shift when she sees The Doctor on DVD trying to communicate with whoever was watching him but was mostly being paused by a none the wiser Larry.

It’s a genius idea having The Doctor in this state because while it’s painfully obvious that he’s trying to communicate with Sally, his attempts are at first ignored in favour of the girl trying to figure things out for herself. To lighten the mood Sally also has fun teasing Larry for his nude streak the night before she finds out that The Doctor’s message seems to be spread out through 17 unrelated DVDs.

After Sally made her excuses about Kathy, some genius then told her to go to the cops in regards to the creepy goings on within the West Of Drumlins house and it didn’t take much to figure out that the cops would be dismissive of Sally’s theories but luckily we’re spared some incredibly clichéd dialogue and the arrival of DI Billy Shipton only further moves the plot along.

Billy works as a character quickly with him filling some blanks and noting that the same house has had a slew of cars just abandoned there as well as Billy showing Sally the TARDIS and lamenting about not having the very key to open it. When Sally took that key of one of those Angels earlier on, I knew it belonged to the TARDIS. Clearly those things want it but why?

If there was some light flirting with Larry, then the flirting Sally receives at the hands of Billy is a lot more rampant and rather cute too might I add. Carey Mulligan is really impressive throughout this entire episode and Sally’s chance of meeting the guy she could’ve made a life with is cut short by those nefarious Weeping Angels.

Yeah Billy becomes victim Number Two and soon enough the poor lad meets up with The Doctor and Martha. Seeing as with “Love & Monsters” we had to wait until the last ten minutes before Ten and Rose showed up, there needed to be a pretty good explanation as to why The Doctor and Martha couldn’t help and the one we got here was satisfactory enough.

Keeping things simple, our Timelord and his companion managed to get themselves trapped in 1969, by what I presume is the doing of those pesky Angels. As per usual The Doctor gets a bit overexcited and starts spouting off while Martha gives Billy a sympathetic “smile and nod” speech. Billy was hoping to score a date with a beautiful girl, not get stuck in a period where Neil Armstrong has yet to land on the moon.

If The Doctor was using Kathy and her grandson to get a message of help to Sally, then his later attempts by getting the girl to visit a much older version of Billy in hospital would prove far more effective.

Easily the most poignant part of the episode, Sally who obviously quite fancied Billy had to meet a much older version of the man she could have married and there was a tremendous interplay between Mulligan and Louis Mahoney with both actors giving it their all. Regardless of whether this was an episode you liked or not the one thing that is undeniable about this Doctor Who is that the writers really make you care for the guest stars and Billy’s death was really sad I have to admit.

Still though it only helped with furthering the plot and that’s the great thing about this episode, things really keep moving a lot and soon enough Sally knows the DVDs are meant for her. That makes sense bearing in mind, The Doctor managing to write a warning to her from 1969 after all.

With enough clues and consequences for an episode of Miss Marple, Sally’s only course of action left is to get the DVDs from Larry along with a portable DVD player and then watch them at the creepy house. Okay I could say this time Sally sort of knew she was gonna put someone else’s life in danger but she really did need Larry’s help and I guess a part of her wanted to get some justice for Kathy as well.

The real fun of the hour is then listening to these particular Easter Eggs and having The Doctor then answer and converse with both Sally and Larry as they begin to figure out what is going on.

The sheer essence of fandom is another thing this episode shares in common with “Love & Monsters”. Anyone who is reading this review is a fan of Doctor Who or just curious and despite what most of us would like to think we all have some level of fandom so when Larry talks about scripting The Doctor’s messages and coming up with his own theories, it’s something you can essentially identify with.

Basically what Larry is doing here is what I do nearly every day in regards to the plethora of TV shows I love. Does it make him sad? You know what, no it doesn’t! And in case you’re wondering it really isn’t that sad to be vocally fandom.

With Martha being slightly disruptive during one of those messages, the biggest information dump in regards to Weeping Angels is dropped on us and once again after the malicious Family Of Blood, this lot are also an unconventional threat.

First off all, the Weeping Angels kill their victims only when they blink at them and the death they choose is to put their intended in another era where they have to die naturally and can never return. The Doctor saying their execution is almost kind could be a telling statement but when looked at this lot freeze into rocks and therefore cannot actually be killed. That part is definitely the most interesting of the bunch.

The next part proves because after The Doctor warns Sally and Larry not to blink, four of the Weeping Angels are quick enough then to attack the duo and once again, some major acting is required by both Mulligan and Finlay Robertson as not only does Sally try to find a way out of the place but she also has to stay alive, keep Larry alive and then head down to the cellar in order to get to the TARDIS.

Maybe it’s not surprising that the very thing these Angels want is The Doctor’s spaceship but at the same it’s a hell of acting for Sally to get to the TARDIS and then get in with Larry as the Angels wreck havoc with the lights but luckily enough the girl is clever enough to actually get in there.

However instead of simply going back to 1969 with the TARDIS to retrieve The Doctor and Martha as soon as the machine is operated, Sally and Larry are booted out and once again look like they could face death in the past. Heck these Angels even tried to knock the TARDIS on it’s side in order to get at it so it is rather surprising but cool when it’s revealed that the Weeping Angels are now positioned to look at one another instead.

As you’ve noticed this doesn’t mean that they are dead but it’s a sufficient stalling tactic and a year onwards a more coupled up Sally is only able to move on from her experiences when she happened to chance upon seeing the very man who sent her on this goose chase to begin with.

The Doctor and Martha’s appearance at the end is a bit random and there is the thing of him not actually remembering Sally but he’s more intrigued with the girl’s certain Intel and gratitude than he is fighting a lizard. As for the end sequences with all those statues and The Doctor’s “don’t blink” running around? Enough said!

Also in “Blink”...

Did anyone notice there was no dialogue in the opening tease? Even with only one character seen in it, it’s a first I think.

Kathy: “Sparrow and Nightingale, that so works”
Sally: “Yeah for ITV”.

Sally had started an entire dossier on that house and the Weeping Angels even before Kathy’s disappearance.

Sally (re Kathy): “Told me you were eighteen, lying cow”
Larry: “We’ve met haven’t we?”
Sally: “It’ll come to you”
Larry (remembering being nude): “Oh my God”.

Steven Moffat never really explained what got Sally onto that house in the first place.

The Doctor (to Sally/Larry): “People assume time is strict progression of cause to effect but actually from an non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff”.

Sally: “Okay what’s the big question?”
Billy: “Will you have a drink with me?”

A nickname The Doctor dubbed the Weeping Angels was “Lonely Assassins”. This lot also feed on stolen moments too.

Billy (to The Doctor): “What in God’s name are you talking about?”
Martha: “Trust me just nod when he stops for breath”.

Billy (to Sally): “Look at my hands; they’re old man’s hands. How did that happen?”

Martha mentions seeing the landing on the moon four times and it’s becoming apparent how exciting she’s finding her travels with The Doctor.

Sally: “I’ve seen this one before”
The Doctor: “Quite possibly”.
Sally (re The Doctor): “This is impossible”
Larry: “No this is brilliant”.

It’s a creepy moment when we see these Angels actually make faces. They give the Clockworks Droids and Gas Mask kid a run for their money.

Sally (to the Weeping Angels): “I know how this works, you can’t move if I can see you”.

The Doctor and Martha randomly chasing down a monster at the end of this episode is exactly what The Doctor and Rose did at the start of “Love & Monsters”.

Larry: “Some things you never find out and that’s okay”
Sally: “No it isn’t”.
The Doctor: “What was your name?”
Sally: “Sally Sparrow”
The Doctor: “Good to meet you Sally Sparrow”.

Chronology:
We’ve had 1920, 1969, 2007 and 2008 this week. RTD needs to sort out what year is Saxon’s election – is it 2007 or 2008?

A couple of things Steven Moffat said about “Blink” I can now easily answer. First off I have no idea how this will fair in “best of” polls for Doctor Who episodes but I will be incredibly surprised if the hostility for this episode is anywhere near the same as “Love & Monsters”. Now I liked that episode but this one was easily better thought out and executed. As for Sally Sparrow being the best companion ever, if I didn’t like Martha so much I would insist on The Doctor bringing the resourceful Sally along. Carey Mulligan was excellent and what could’ve easily been a gimmick episode, just worked superbly. I love that this show has no qualms with taking risks and with efforts as wonderful as this, long may it last.




© Copyright Shawn Lunn & Doctor Who Online, 2007.

Review

  Submitted:   18/8/2007
  Reviewer:   Nick Murphie
 

For a television series about a time traveller, Doctor Who has rarely made use of Time itself as a plot device or central theme. It is something the Eighth Doctor novels tried to explore and it was delight to see Time used so brilliantly in the clever and creepy Blink.

If this was the “Doctor-lite” episode, you’d hardly know it, as his presence is so strongly felt throughout the episode. Even without the Doctor and Martha, Blink contained all the brilliance that we’ve come to expect from Stephan Moffat – a great storyline with some witty dialogue and fantastic new aliens in the form of the statuesque Weeping Angels.

Sally Sparrow breaks into a run-down old mansion (why, exactly?) and finds a message written to her from the Doctor, only it was written in 1969, where he and Martha have been stranded. When she brings her friend Kathy to see the inexplicable message, Kathy disappears. Suddenly Kathy’s grandson turns up to deliver a message– that she was transported to 1920. Delivering a farewell message to Kathy’s brother, Larry, Sally finds DVD ‘Easter eggs’ featuring the Doctor, which sets her off following a set of clues that take her back to the run-down mansion, where the Weeping Angels wait to steal the power of the TARDIS. It is up to Sally to get the Doctor his TARDIS back before falling foul of the Angels.

The Weeping Angels are a brilliant concept. The fact they turn to stone when looked at as an evolutionary advance (you cannot kill a stone) is totally barmy of course, but turning a deadly threat out of something everyday and ordinary is genius. Making normally lifeless statues into vampires who suck away “all your stolen moments and possible futures” is very creepy. Fans will liken the Angels to Autons I guess, and that’s fare enough. There is something distinctly disturbing about seeing normally lifeless yet humanoid forms come to life. The Angel’s stillness, even when moving (if that makes sense) is even creepier. The flash-frame shots of the Angels’ advance on Sally and Larry as they try to open the TARDIS was certainly the episode’s scariest moment.

These particular Angels come from the dawn of the universe… doesn’t everything these days? The Racnoss, the Carrionites, the Beast… seems like threats from the dawn of time are having a big revival in current Doctor Who.

Though the Angels were a great addition to the pantheon of Who nasties, the best element in this story was the clever use of Time.

As the Doctor says, Time is not always a straight linear progression from cause to effect, but a great ball of timey-wimey stuff! Just so is the structure of Blink… we never get to see the beginning, where the Doctor and Martha are hunted by the Angels and sent to 1969. (By doing so, they must have feasted on the Doctor’s potential energy for the remainder of his 10th, 11th, 12th and final life!) Likewise at the end, we don’t know what adventure Martha and the Doctor are involved in when Sally finally hands over all the clues. And even more ‘timey-wimey’ is the fact that that last escapade with “four things and a lizard” is set before the whole adventure with the Angels.

The way Sally follows the clues left for her through time is also a work of brilliance. Her progression from being in the house, to reading Kathy’s letter from the past, to Larry’s DVD shop, to the Easter eggs, to the police station and meeting Detective Inspector Shipton, to finding out that it was Shipton who created the Easter eggs, then back to the house to piece it all together was clever indeed. Like a puzzle, all the pieces fit together nicely, ending with Sally handing all the clues to the Doctor so he could use them in his personal future.

Carey Mulligan as the heroine Sally Sparrow was very likeable. She’d make a good companion. And as Shipton says, she’s hot. Also likeable was Detective Inspector Shipton, who was in the episode all too briefly before being dispatched to 1969 to fulfil his vital role back in 2007.

The conclusion to the episode was also a masterstroke, indicating that every statue may in fact be a Weeping Angel.

This series of Doctor Who has tried to do things a little differently and once again, Blink is another different type of story – an impressive addition to an incredibly impressive year.




© Copyright Nick Murphie & Doctor Who Online, 2007.

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Reviewed By

Shawn Lunn
Submitted: 18/8/2007

 

Nick Murphie
Submitted: 18/8/2007


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