Hell’s Angels

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Steven Moffat is a genius, and by now it must be very unlikely that anyone would dispute that.  His contributions to the last two years of Doctor Who have produced the very best stories which the new series has to offer.

So when it was announced that he would be handling the infamous ‘random’, budget and regulars–lite episode 10 spot this year, many of us might have thought that the programme’s ‘other Paisley star’ had met his match at last.  Without a lavish war-time two-parter or Sophia Myles and mirror-smashing equestrianism, could Moffat really make it a hat trick?

We needn’t have worried.  Not only does he once again come up with the series’ finest, but Blink is also the first story since new Who began which has genuinely scared me.  What Moffat did for gasmasks and ticking clocks he now does for statues, which were always kind of creepy, anyway.

Like last year’s under-rated Love and Monsters, Blink only features the regulars in the present narrative at the very end of the story, allowing us to get to know the story’s other characters without having them shoved into the background by Tennant’s ‘mouth-and trousers’ Tenth Doctor.  As much as I appreciate and enjoy all that he’s brought to the programme, I’m also aware that this is the second time this series that the Tenth Doctor ha been absent from a story until the very end – and I haven’t missed him.As Steven Moffat says, we get a ‘hot girl’ instead, so who cares? Sally Sparrow is a lovely creation, who’s courage and determination has already earned her Fan murmurings of ‘companion material’ and ‘own series’.  First seen wearing a slightly ‘Doctorish scarf’, later on she even has a ‘taking companion by the hand’ moment which echoes Rose and Smith and Jones.

Eventually charged with rescuing the Doctor and Martha in a plot which not only seems more ingenious every time you think about it but even appears to make sense, Sally must also face one of the programmes’ eeriest threats ever.  In the hands of clever Mr Moffat, we’re not risking your run-of-the-mill mutilation, possession or invasion here, but a ‘sudden change of circumstances’ which at least two victims make the very best of and might even be grateful for.  One of the wonderful aspects of Moffat’s Who is that no-one is ever killed by the menace, or not on-screen at least.  Despite images of WWII body horror, futuristic organ harvesting and a long list of unsolved disappearances, the only death he’s ever presented, Blink’s ex-DI Billy Shipton, is from natural causes and sensitively portrayed.

Unfortunately, an unnecessary two line sub-plot explaining why the Angels want the TARDIS seems out-of-step with the rest of the episode, perhaps clumsily inserted during script editing to make the episode seem a little more conventional? If so, it seems a shame. More than any other, this episode is unique and rather beautiful in it’s own right, outside of the context of the rest of the programme.  Blink can be frightening, but also most effective when giving us glimpses into the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.  A brave companion who never was, a woman who enjoys a long and happy life that she should never have had and a dying man who waits forty years for his first date with a girl he’s just met.

Blinkin’ marvellous!

AH

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