Doctor Who News dw-s7-angels-grave

Published on October 1st, 2012 | by Christian Cawley

The Angels Take Manhattan Reaction

Doctor Who at its best? A fitting final episode for Amy Pond and Rory? The reaction to The Angels Take Manhattan has been overwhelmingly positive, something that rarely occurs unless the subject matter is one of those really memorable episodes.

So, is Series 7 Episode 5 in the same class as Blink, Human Nature, The Girl in the Fireplace, Midnight, Turn Left, The Doctor’s Wife and The Girl Who Waited? The reaction of the various reviews that have been published would suggest that it is!

Before we with the roundup, however, the overnight viewing figures for The Angels Take Manhattan reveal an average audience of 5.9 million, peaking at 6.4 million as the episode progressed. The average figure represented 26.9% of the available audience, and Doctor Who was BBC One’s highest rated show of the day. We reckon this figure will change considerably once people start catching up with the episode after discussing it at work on Monday morning…

So what about the reviews?

We’ll kick off with SFX, whose 4/5 rating might raise some eyebrows, along with their declaration that “it’s downright baffling…”. However the review is largely positive, with this interesting observation concerning the character development of the Angels.

They won’t just immediately zap you: they may play with you first; they may even have plans for you. Even the idea of a worn-out Angel – who can only grab and not use her timey-wimey powers – works in context rather than seeming like a handy (ahem) plot device.

Popular TV and pop culture website Digital Spy, meanwhile, gets to the bones of the episode, commenting on the success of Amy Pond’s long-awaited departure.

Amy’s exit… is executed in terrific fashion. She gets an emotional exit scene, a touching epilogue in the form of her novel’s afterword and a full-circle return to her introduction in ‘The Eleventh Hour’ – this writer’s initial instinct was that it might have been nice to actually see the Ponds reunited, but perhaps that might have been a saccharine step too far.

Dan Martin reviews the episode in The Guardian, and refers in detail (and delight!) to the success of the final scene back in 2012.

This was a fitting end to a golden era, and bravo to Steven Moffat for telling such an involving, emotional story with such style. That last scene, as the Doctor darted through the streets of New York – grabbing at the final page as it flapped in the wind, speeding toward the ending he’d refused to accept was coming! Here ended Doctor Who’s ultimate fairytale in the way it had begun – in the pages of a storybook.

We’ve been hugely critical of The Telegraph’s Gavin Fuller reviews (with good reason, truth be told) over the years, but who could argue with this week’s appreciation?

Karen Gillan, looking very fetching in reading glasses (and shooting Dorothy Parker’s theory about bespectacled women down in style), was the star here, really pulling out the emotional stops in the last half of the episode. The scene in the graveyard where she determines to join Rory back in time was almost as heartrending as Rose’s being stranded in another dimension in Doomsday.

We’ll end our reviews coverage with the words of someone who has been in Karen Gillan’s situation as a departing companion who never saw the Doctor again – not for many years, at least – Katy Manning, the Third Doctor’s companion Jo Grant. She reviewed The Angels Take Manhattan for the Radio Times, and her insight into the show brought some gems.

That was so damned good. I laughed. I cried. I was on the edge of my seat. I jumped out of my skin. That to me is perfect entertainment. Every piece of my emotional machinery was fully engaged. I’m now going to have to have a lie down and take a valium because I don’t think I can actually get through the rest of the day!

She’s boundlessly positive about the Tardis tag. “I don’t think about it often, because I’m so busy taking on life and its vicissitudes, but watching Doctor Who reminds me how absolutely joyous I am that I’ve been involved in that programme. What a treat! To watch this wonderful piece of modern television and be so proud that I was a part of it, all those years ago.”

I think that says it all, doesn’t it?

In previous reaction roundups we’ve taken into account our own reviews and our reader’s votes. This time around, that won’t be possible as the review isn’t due for a few hours, and the voting is ongoing! You can check back later in the week for the results of both, however.

Until then, let us dwell on what was, overall, a success!


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

6 Responses to The Angels Take Manhattan Reaction

  1. avatar Baxonline says:

    I enjoyed this story very much. Beautifully acted and filmed BUT WHY WHY WHY!?

    This story does not stand up to any logical analysis. I think Charlie Jane Anders writes the review I haven’t the time to here:

    It’s not enough to leave actors desperately pouring out their hearts to make us believe in the story if the story can’t support itself. It’s the ghost in the machine almost every week.

    Also, bring back Rory’s dad or many characters like him! I’ve actually missed the emotional grounding RTD gave us with the real world (never thought I’d say that). I adore much of the Grand Moff’s writing but for 3 years Amy & Rory have felt like characters completely disconnected from the real world and fish and chips. The only time the Doctor asks how they are is in DVD extras! Who are they, who are their parents and friends? What actual struggles have they overcome?

    I feel the audience loved The Lodger, The Girl Who Waited, The God Complex and Closing Time because the characters were real individuals out of their depth.

    This lil comment has gone on way longer than planned! Goodbye!

    • Hi Baxonline – some valid comments, although the ghost in the machine problem has been in Doctor Who for a long, long time now, at least as recently as The Parting of the Ways (with a literal interpretation of the term!) and I don’t think we’ll ever be rid of it…

  2. avatar DavidF says:

    I’ve come round to the idea that the ghost-in-the-machine get-out is an unavoidable side-effect of the Doctor Who concept, and has been ever since the purely historical stories were phased out.

    If there were a way of consistently writing the show without resorting to GITM, someone would have found it during the last five decades, but they haven’t. A series about a Time Lord whizzing around doing fantastic things in different places might not function for long if that technique were outlawed.

    Of course writers should tidy up shaggy plots, but we might find that consciously avoiding these convenient resolutions would knock the rest of the show out of shape.

  3. avatar James says:

    The latest ep was hopelessly flawed. Why don’t they simply wait a year or two and pick up Amy and Rory say, in England, they could get a boat over, avoid the whole painfully thin Moffat plot. Also, the much vaunted big emotional farewell fails because in new modern Who, every week has some emotional drivel in it. This is just the latest in a long line of such slush. The main problem, imo, is the trunkating of ideas, over pruned down to fit 43 minutes. This last Angels ep suffers from that a lot. Then you look at a lot of it especially in the biginning and start thinking why are they wasting time on River and sundry other pointless characters. Thus we are dished up another disappointing mess this week.

  4. avatar castellanspandrel says:

    “Why don’t they simply wait a year or two and pick up Amy and Rory say, in England, they could get a boat over, avoid the whole painfully thin Moffat plot.” – I can only assume that they’re still under the cosh of the Angels to some extent in their ‘Trapped in the past’ lives as I can’t see any other reason for them not to just leave NY and get picked up in the TARDIS, either.

    However, if the Angels do still have them in their grip, that would raise 2 questions:

    -Why? Unless they keep sending them back through time to feed off the resulting energy, which doesn’t seem to be the case

    -Why would Amy say she and Rory had had good lives in the past in her last page of the book, if the Angels were still around?

    • avatar Jenny says:

      Actually, I think that it was River’s decision to have Amy write the afterword and the Doctor’s decision to read it that really led to the Doctor’s inability to go pick them up somehow from New York. It is clear from what Amy wrote that she is writing after she and Rory have been in the past for a long time–and in fact she is probably nearing the end of her life. It is also clear that she and Rory have not seen the Doctor in the interim. Now, there are ways around this, too, but if we trust the Doctor when he says that reading something about your future timeline makes it fixed, then it is when he reads the afterword that he inadvertently closes the door on them forever.

      (It’s also interesting that River seems to have had a huge causative influence on all that happened and on the finality of the result.)

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