The Doctor Who Project: At the behest of TVAngie (and many, many of my students), I’ve been catching up on the 2005 revision of Doctor Who. I’ll be posting my thoughts on some of the big episodes as I make my way up through the series. For now I’m up to season four, but before I move on, I thought I’d tackle ‘Blink’, the Doctor’s tenth episode of season three.
Let’s bitch it out…
Thus far I’ve really been enjoying Doctor Who and I’m a little annoyed at myself for not checking it out earlier. If we’re being honest, it was because the first season had Christopher Eccleston (I’m not a big fan) and because the special effects looked really cheap. Imagine my surprise when Eccleston turned out to be really good in the role and the special effects – although not always great – grew on me.
And so began what I’ve been affectionately referring to as The Doctor Who Project aka a giant marathon to get caught up before the show returns in the fall. I’ve covered three seasons worth of episodes (including Christmas specials) in about three weeks, often gorging on two episodes a night and even more on the weekends. While I’ll say that I’m frequently frustrated that some of the weakest episodes turn out to be two parters (ex: 3×04 ‘Daleks in Manhattan’ and 3×05 ‘Evolution of the Daleks’), overall the show is brimming with great ideas, fun adventures and great acting from both Doctors and both companions (Side Note: For those of you who care, I prefer Tennant and Piper to Eccleston and Agyeman, although I’ve enjoyed them all).
Which brings us to ‘Blink’, the second Tennant Doctor-lite episode after 2×10 ‘Love & Monsters’ (which was also a great episode).
So what can be said about ‘Blink’? Well I had heard about the episode in advance for Who enthusiasts, who informed me that it was one of the best episodes of the series and that the main antagonists, The Weeping Angels, were terrifying. So my expectations going in were pretty high, even as I wondered how the show could churn out a masterpiece from a Doctor-lite episode that mostly focuses on a single actress.
So imagine my surprise when Carey Mulligan turns up! Her imdb.com page indicates that this is around two years before she broke out with An Education, but for me, this is a crazy casting coup because I think Mulligan is super talented (see my review for last year’s Shame). And Mulligan, in large part, is one of the big reasons why this episode works for me. In the space of just a few minutes, we feel connected to Sally Sparrow and in just over forty minutes Mulligan takes us – and Sally – through the emotional ringer. She’s breezy, funny, strong and vulnerable as she loses friends and potential lovers, deciphers the 17 DVD extras and uncovers the truth about The Weeping Angels. The writing is very supportive in this regard, as writer (and future executive producer) Stephen Moffat crafts a whip-smart screenplay that entertains and moves at a quick pace.
Other strengths include the creature design and general mood of the piece. As a huge horror fan, it takes quite a bit to put me on edge, but I was practically jumping around in desperation once the Angels began to move. The herky-jerky, “stop-footage” style attacks were incredibly creepy and suspenseful, especially when you process the Doctor’s warning lines: “Don’t blink. Blink and you’re dead. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. Good Luck.” (Side Note: It’s a bit of a misnomer since victims don’t die if they blink, they simply time travel in an inconvenient way). On the whole though, the entire episode is extremely unnerving – the idea of still objects moving is suitably nightmare-inducing.
‘Blink’ struck me as a perfect Doctor Who episode. This is a great introductory episode for those unfamiliar with the show since it’s not particularly mythology heavy (you don’t even really need to understand who – or what – the Doctor, Martha or the TARDIS are). Obviously watching this and then digging in would be challenging since the quality of this episode might make other, more traditional episodes, pale in comparison. On the flip side, ‘Blink’ is actually rather reflective of the show: Tennant is amusing as always and there are the core elements of the show’s premise such as aliens, time travel, and mysterious disappearances.
Overall, it’s easy to understand why ‘Blink’ has entered the pop culture lexicon. It’s amusing to see that you can actually buy t-shirts and busts of Weeping Angels – although I don’t think I’d like to have one of those on a shelf in my house. I think I’d always wonder whether it was safe to turn my back on it!
Doctor Who is currently on hiatus and will return for season seven in fall 2012 on BBC America