After what can only be described as a bit of a dream start the new series settles down a tad and heads towards its first two-part story without a second thought for viewers trying to catch their breath. This review is culled from the previews I wrote earlier for Kasterborous. I have not changed my views on each episode, in fact I enjoyed them even more the second time around.
The Doctor is recruited by Father Octavian (Iain Glen) to track the last of the 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 â€“ 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, thereâ€™s Amyâ€™s frustration at the lack of alien planet action, thereâ€™s hints of the Doctorâ€™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 doesnâ€™t grate. But Iâ€™m getting ahead of myself.
Back to the story and whispers between River and Father Octavian add another dimension to the story, we know theyâ€™re up to something untold and the Doctor seems unaware and by the time weâ€™re into the Maze Of The Dead (a place littered with weathered statues) the story has gathered quite a pace and weâ€™ve forgotten thereâ€™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.
Flesh And Stone
We left the Doctor, Amy, River Song and various members of a depleted army surrounded by an army of Weeping Angels. The Doctor must escape through this forest of stone and help everyone to safety.
As with the first episode this story pounds along and builds with an ever increasing sense of claustrophobia. The Doctor and Amyâ€™s relationship grows and matures with a wonderful and emotional scene between the two nearly half way through. Instead of slowing the narrative it adds to it, defining each character with so much emotion it makes you ache for them and their situation.
It answers many questions such as the relationship between River and Father Octavian, the crack seen across time and why Amy didnâ€™t recognise the Daleks. This plotline of Amyâ€™s lack of alien invasion recall is a real turning point which is combined with one of the most tense and thought provoking moments of the series so far. The last 15 minutes of the episode will have you at the edge of your seat, close to the TV set shouting and urging our heroes on. Memorable moments that are injected with small but wonderful levels of humour and heart. Look out for specific clues to the future of the 11th Doctor, thereâ€™s some subtle hints which are far more interesting than the Bad Wolf arc from 2005.
The final moments in Amyâ€™s bedroom brings Doctor who into a more mature age. This was a totally unexpected scene and one that for me is truly justified and defines Amyâ€™s personality and lust for life.
Vampires Of Venice
Dessicated corpses, terror in the canal and a visit to the sinister House of Calvierri â€“ the Doctor takes Amy and Rory (Arthur Darvill) for a romantic mini-break, as the TARDIS touches down once again. But 16th-century Venice is not as it should be. The city has been sealed to protect it from the Plague, although Rosanna Calvierri (Helen McCrory) may have other plans…
The tone of The Vampires Of Venice is light hearted for much of the story but it does have some rather sinister moments of darkness. This vampiric tale from Toby â€œSchool Reunionâ€ Whithouse is a Hammer Studios style romp with nice science fiction touches. The Doctor is in full flow here landing in 1580â€™s Venice and doing his best to impress his new guest. Cue lots of smugness. Matt Smith is hitting perfection here working his body and hands in a way normally reserved for Jeff Goldblum. Supported very amiably by both Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, playing a couple lost, not in time but with each other. This is not another Rose and Mickey relationship, this is more mature, more grown up and more needy.
Directed by Jonny Campbell with more than a nod to those glorious golden days of Hammer (minus the heaving bosoms), the directorÂ cranks up the pace to a rather dialogue driven story. There are lovely tunnel shots lit by burning torches, wonderful set dressing with sumptuous costumes. Talking of props and stuff look out for a real neat touch that will have fans whistling in delight. Effects wise the episode is a tad ropey with some obvious CGI taking your eye off the main happenings. The humour doesnâ€™t spoil the drama, instead it gives the more serious situations slightly more edge.
All the episodes do suffer every now and again by poor “green screen” effects that stand out but the transfers of each story are nice and clear. For those who like to know such things, the teasers for â€œNext Timeâ€ have been removed though the â€œPreviouslyâ€ at the start of the Flesh And Stone episode is here.
Monster Files â€“ From the people behind Doctor Who Confidential, this short 10-minute feature looks at some of the Doctorâ€™s most cherished monsters and opponents. This entry concentrates on the Weeping Angels and is far too short to really celebrate these wonderfully scary creations. We do get to see the ladies behind the masks and its good to see how the masks are created.
This selection of episodes showed the direction in which the series was heading, things were going to get darker, more mysterious and pretty scary. Oh, but even more wonderful stories were to follow.