Right, where were we?
Last week, you will recall we left Doctor Smith and his friends in a tricky situation on an alien world. All seemed lost, surrounded by psychotic killer statues and threatened by the Terror of the Nortons – how would our heroes escape this time? All was revealed in Flesh and Stone (BBC1, Sat). Always remember – spoilers…
What to say about this week’s episode? Where the hell do I start? Quite frankly, my fanboy heart is singing tonight. This bloody show has had a stranglehold on my soul since I was seven. I’m pushing forty now, and Doctor Who has never, ever been as good as it is now. Last week’s episode was wonderful. This weeks… was even better.
You know what? It all works. Doctor Who is working. The great moments and setpieces piled up almost too quickly this week, so that a second viewing today was necessary to catch them all. What a hardship, to end up watching something you love more than once. Only to find it’s even better the second time around.
The Doctor, fizzing with ideas, compassionate and caring in all the right places, righteously impatient with the humans he’s been saddled with and roaring his fury because to actually admit that the situation is hopeless… well, he just doesn’t do that, does he?
It was genuinely surprising and not a little upsetting this week to find Eleven losing his temper during his exchanges with River. The panic in The Doctor’s eyes as he desperately tries to salvage things, followed by the boyish glee when he comes up with a workable solution… the wealth of hurt and compassion as he realises that he can’t save poor doomed Father Octavian… and best of all, his relationship with Amy. Our hero was at his best this week. Matt Smith contains multitudes, obviously, and Steven Moffat’s script allowed him to show so many different sides to his Doctor that it was almost dazzling.
The retooled, rebooted Weeping Angels continued their relentless march towards the top table this week. I wasn’t too sure about certain changes that were made – the fact that they suddenly started to move, for a start. But then, as Steven has pointed out, this lot are not the same mob as we saw in Blink. It does kind of blow the remarkable idea that the Angels are only motionless because we’re watching them, but who knows? There’s obviously more to discover.
Like any good sequel, these two episodes built on and expanded the established mythos. I’m sure we’ll meet them again, and I’m equally certain that they’ll scare the bejeezus out of us even more than they did this time. Genuinely disturbing and freaky monsters in Doctor Who? Who’d a thunk it?
There are images in last night’s episode that I can’t get out of my head. Father Octavian bravely facing his final end with courage, grace and dignity. Amy, alone and scared but pushing on in the dark because of her total trust in The Doctor. The Angels, turning out the trees (and that’s something you just don’t get in any other series).
Most of all though, the thing that sticks in my brain is that shot of Eleven being dragged backwards as the Angel grabs his jacket. Just marvellous. Speaking of which… that jacket gets shucked as The Doctor escapes. As was pointed out to me today, when Eleven leaves Amy in the forest to go and save the day in the control centre, he’s not got it back. When he pops back for just a second, it’s back on.
Continuity error? I don’t think so. Because I think something so basic and simple wouldn’t have been missed in the edit. This being a Steven Moffat timey-wimey special, I’m guessing this is a future Doctor popping back in from wherever he is in order to offer a lonely, scared little girl a moment of solace when she needs it most. Bless him.
The Angels are defeated by a uniquely Doctorish solution, and we reach the end of another cracking episode. Except we don’t, because there’s ten minutes to go. This unimaginable luxury allows us time to propel Doctor Who off down yet another unexplored path – Amy’s feral, overwhelming urge to enjoy something short-term, passionate and above all dirty with the man who’s just saved her life.
We’ve never seen this in Doctor Who before. Come to that, we’ve never seen The Doctor so utterly wrong-footed either. In the last five weeks he’s defeated the marauding Prisoner Zero, been vomited out of a Star Whale’s mouth, ended up being blindsided by The Daleks and seen off a horde of psychotic killer statues. But he can’t cope with what Amy throws at him, and Eleven’s discomfiture bouncing off Amy’s determined lust threw out so many sparks that I’m surprised my telly didn’t ignite.
As I seem to keep saying in these reviews, Doctor Who keeps surprising me this year. Five weeks in, and I still don’t know where we’re going. Long may it continue, because this is one relationship where the fire’s been rekindled.
Doctor Who aggravates, infuriates, enchants and bewitches me in equal measure, sometimes all within one episode. It’s not often that it leaves me gasping for air with the pure unexpected surprise of it all. The last ten minutes this week did, and the Vampires in Venice (or are they? Seem to have the same dental work as Prisoner Zero) would appear to be the least of The Doctor’s problems next week.
As the voiceover on the end credits said last night, “don’t you wish it was next Saturday already?” Damn right, Announcer Boy. Damn Right.