THIS EPISODE TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE TV
EPISODE "THE FAMILY
OF BLOOD" AND THE
'THE COMPLETE THIRD
EXCLUSIVE DVD BOX
RELEASED IN NOVEMBER
IN AN OLD, ABANDONED
HOUSE, THE WEEPING
BUT HE'S LOST IN TIME...
9TH JUNE 2007
Rather than have another stab at it himself, this year Russell T Davies has dele-gated the season’s most troublesome episode - the obligatory ‘Doctor-lite’ story - to one of his best writers. Perhaps it was just the luck of the draw, or perhaps Davies realised that an exceptionally talented writer like Steven Moffat could really make something out of nothing. Either way, the net result is blinking brilliant.
Here Moffat handles the Doctor in much the same way that many novelists – particularly the writers of the Virgin New Adventures - did in the past. Blink presents us with a mysterious, off-screen character, pulling the strings from afar. And whilst I quickly got sick of this contriv-ance being used in print (where there aren’t Christmas specials to be squeezed into already overburdened filming schedules), every once in a while the device does works spectacularly, reaffirming that mystery and offering the audience a new perspective.
And so this week the burden of driving the plot forward lies elsewhere. Just like with Elton
in Love & Monsters and invisible Eugene in Torchwood’s Random Shoes, this episode
is carried by a character new to the series - the amiable Sally Sparrow, who is wonderfully portrayed by this week’s leading lady, Carey Mulligan.
“[Sad is] happy for deep people.”
As Blink lives or dies by Sally Sparrow, it is fortunate that she is a compelling and endearing young lady. Sally is instantly likeable; clever, funny, and armed with a decidedly dry sense of humour. Something of a 21st century Benny Summerfield, then.
After a bland pre-title sequence and an unusually sluggish start, Blink suddenly zaps Sally’s best friend Kathy back in time and the story begins apace. When Kathy found herself in Hull, 1920, I had to laugh out loud. Not only is Hull the butt of the old Blackadder joke, but it is also the “top of the crap map” city… where I went to University and where I just so happen to work. It’s the Hull Daily Mail, mind, not “the Hull Times”. You would think that Moffat would have at least done his homework!
“Because life is short and you are hot.”
From that point on, I was ensnared by Moffat’s fascinating, temporally-twisting plot and even more so by his frighteningly real and incredibly funny characters. I especially liked the suave young police officer, Billy Shipton, whom the Weeping Angels zap back to 1969 to “live to Death”, where he bumps into the stranded Doctor and Martha…
The Doctor gives Billy a message to deliver to Sally; a message that it will take him over 38 years to deliver. The scene inside the hospital where the old, dying Billy finally gives that me-ssage to Sally is beautifully written and performed, and really quite melancholy. Whilst on the whole Blink may be much more upbeat that Moffat’s peerless offering last year, it still has its Girl in the Fireplace manly-tear moments.
“It’s the same rain.”
What’s more, Moffat has really tapped into something with his “Doctor as a DVD easter egg” idea. This is one of those fantastic concepts that seems so obvious once it’s been done. It’s contemporary and cool, and children are sure to love the magic of it. More than that though,
this conceit allows Moffat to create one of those seldom-used, head-scratching time travel predestination loops that Doctor Who just doesn’t do enough of for my liking. Here goes: one half of a conversation is recorded in 1969 and eventually published on just seventeen DVDs as an easter egg. The other half of the conversation is then transcribed in 2007. This transcription is then delivered to the Doctor
in 2008 so that when he eventually gets trapped in 1969, he can record his half and thus complete the circle… or should I say complete the “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey ball”?
“They are quantum locked. They don’t exist when they are being observed.
The moment they are seen by any other living creature they freeze into rock... And you can’t kill a stone.
Of course, a stone can’t kill you either, but then you turn your head away. Then you blink. And oh yes it can.”
But above all else, Blink will be best remembered for its scares. There is one particularly terrifying moment where on the DVD, the Doctor says that the transcript has run out. The Weeping Angels are coming. Larry is another brilliant character, but amusing as he may be (with all his nerdish quips like “I’ve got that on a T-Shirt” etc), he’s even more entertaining when, if you’ll pardon my French, he’s shitting himself. It’s those almost comical, wide-eyes. He’s desperately trying not to blink. But that’s the instinct – to cover his eyes. Turn his head away from the monster. But if he does, he’s dead. You can’t hide behind the sofa, because that’s when they’ll get you. Inspired.
The most frightening sequence though is outside the TARDIS in the basement. When one
of the Angels does something to the light and it begins to flicker, the Angels begin to move
in short bursts. Hettie MacDonald – the first woman to direct an episode of the series since 1985 – has shot and edited this scene beautifully; it’s absolutely nerve-jangling. The statues move almost like a piece of animation; a quick series of grotesque freezes. But thankfully, even in absentia the Doctor still manages to save the day. He allows Sally and Larry into
the TARDIS which then dematerialises around them. Of course, those pesky Angels were outside it, shaking it about. What they didn’t see coming though was that once the TARDIS had dematerialised, they would all be looking square at each other. Checkmate.
“Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead. They are fast. Faster than you could believe.
Don’t turn your back, don’t look away, and don’t blink. Good luck!”
And so given the choice between a ‘Doctor-lite’ episode of this standard or a Stargate-style clip show, I know which I’d choose every time. The fact that this episode was far better than either The Lazarus Experiment or 42 - both of which had big-name guest stars and a glut
of CG effects - says it all really. In fact, Blink really holds it own against most episodes that I could mention. The closing montage of all those statues and gargoyles juxtaposed with the Doctor’s repeated “don’t blink” speech will doubtless leave a generation of children with a deep-rooted fear of statues, gargoyles and grotesques. And if we’re honest, probably quite a few adults too. Indeed, this one is sure to chill Britain on a warm summer’s night.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
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