The Time Of Angels

Matt Smith in Doctor Who: The Time of Angels

“Time is not the boss of me!”

The Weeping Angels are probably the most interesting and scary monsters to evolve from the new era of Doctor Who. Their appearance in the Doctor-lite episode Blink returned the series to its darker roots and was a triumph of writing from Steven Moffat. Being a pessimist I expected their much publicised return in The Time of Angels would water their creepiness down, much in the same way as the Daleks have now lost any sort of “scare factor”. Well, I can’t be right all the time, can I?

The Doctor is recruited by Father Octavian (Iain Glen) to track the last of the Weeping Angels through the terrifying Maze Of The Dead. This is down to the mysterious River Song (Alex Kingston) who has re-entered the Doctor’s life – but can he trust her?

With an opening that has touches of James Bond and Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Time Of Angels is instantly classic Doctor Who. How? Well, there’s Amy’s frustration at the lack of alien planet action, there’s hints of the Doctor’s mysterious past, a baddie with a more frightening back-story than you could have imagined, an ever increasing feeling of breath taking claustrophobia and a returning character that doesn’t grate. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We start with the Doctor and River 12,000 years apart but with some cunning plotting on River’s part their paths cross and she takes the Doctor and Amy to a planet where an army (who already know her and are working under pseudonyms) are examining a space craft. With the Doctor engaging in cryptic talk with River, Amy is soon left behind and almost forgotten by the Doctor. Obviously she’s soon in trouble, with a Weeping Angel threatening to send her somewhere in time with just a single touch. It’s here we get to see Amy’s intelligence, working out her own escape thanks to some very level headed thinking.

Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Alex Kingston in Doctor Who: The Time of Angels

Amy holds her own and thanks to a managed but emotional performance from Karen Gillan she takes the whole audience with her. Talking of Karen, she really is making an impression on me, she’s a very intelligent actress, giving Amy an authentic side so the whole audience can relate to her. Smith’s Doctor is also on top form, bounding around with energy but never entering the “shouty” territory that Tennant’s later years suffered from. Also the concept that the Doctor and River Song keep meeting each other “in the wrong order” is smart without being too contrived.

Back to the story and whispers between River and Father Octavian add another dimension to the story, we know they’re up to something untold and the Doctor seems unaware and by the time we’re into the Maze Of The Dead (a place littered with weathered statues) the story has gathered quite a pace and we’ve forgotten there’s a secret to be revealed. The plot enters traditional sci-fi territory here as we witness a group of soldiers investigating caves where an alien menace is stalking them and taking them down one by one. But here Moffat plays his masterstroke, one of the dead soldiers communicates with the Doctor via a walkie-talkie delivering scenes so dark it does make uncomfortable but truly memorable viewing.

Script wise the episode crams a lot into its duration. It is overflowing with fan-boy wonderment, we even learn where the “wheezing” and “groaning” noise the TARDIS make comes from! What more could a fan want?

Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Alex Kingston in Doctor Who: The Time of Angels

As for the Weeping Angels, well Moffat has explained that the difference between this and their first appearance is akin to the movies Alien and Aliens, and it does have a slight Aliens feel to it. Now I didn’t care for the movie (yes, I know I’m in the minority but like to be honest) and thankfully The Time of Angels doesn’t rely on this influence.

The final moments build into the first real cliffhanger of the new series, the Doctor brandishing a gun and seemingly flushing their way out of trouble, I for one can’t wait to see how he does it. The only problem I can envisage is that Moffat has set such a high standard with his scripts that I hope other writers can match his masterly take on the series. Let’s not worry about this yet though and wait with baited breath for part two of this adventure. A fantastic first episode for a much anticipated pair of episodes.

As a side note, I was lucky enough to view this without the intrusive Graham Norton banner sliding onto screen during the last few moments, hopefully this wonderful piece of television wasn’t ruined for you too much but I assume if I had been watching “live” I would have been truly gutted. Think, BBC – think of not ruining cliffhangers next time.



About

James has been a Doctor Who fan for as long as he can recall. A child of the 70s and 80s, he weathered all the storms and controversies the show encountered, though he didn’t buy the “Doctor In Distress” single.


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