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06 February 2015 @ 06:37 pm
NuWho Rewatch: Blink  
NLSS Child decided, eventually, that she couldn't wait until I had a weekend free to watch Blink. We sat down right after school today (to allow plenty of recovery time) and armed ourselves with popcorn and haribo ("for stabilisation" she explained). Of course, Blink isn't actually that scary - certainly not as scary as the imagination of a small child catching five minutes on YouTube had managed to make it. At the end NLSS Child agreed that it actually had been OK and that she is no longer afraid of falling statuary in the shower.

I think Blink is one of the best Doctor Who stories out there. Even though I am, to a certain extent, somewhat tired of Stephen Moffat's timey-wimey puzzle box story construction, I don't think he's ever done it so well as he did here and, in this outing at least, it is fresh and different. Carey Mulligan is excellent as Sally Sparrow, but this is very much Moffat writing under the editorial control of Davies. The interactions in Sally Sparrow's flat and, to an extent, those between Sally and Billy Shipton are much more every day than the interactions we tend to get in Moffat's vision of Doctor Who.

There has been some criticism recently that Moffat has a "type" of female character which makes them all a bit interchangeable. One thing that is fairly striking here is that it isn't just female characters he writes to a type. Larry Nightingale now looks like nothing quite so much as a prototype Rory Williams. In fact NLSS Child in discussing her vague memories of catching a fragment of Blink on youtube said she thought she had mistaken Larry for Rory.

Of course the risk with this kind of trick story construction is that it does not bear repeated viewing. Even more so here, where a number of moments rely on surprise as part of their charm - for instance the back and forth video conversations. This is my third viewing of the story and I still like it a lot, even though I know what is coming. That said I had a fair idea when I first saw it since I had read Moffat's "What I did in my Christmas Holidays by Sally Sparrow" in the 2006 Doctor Who annual. (Interestingly I recently got involved in an online conversation where one participant insisted there was an earlier version of the story, by a woman, that was a "beloved Children's story" dating from the 1970s or earlier. Sadly they had been told this by a friend and knew no more, beyond insisting that their friend definitely wasn't misremembering fan gossip about Moffat's story. It would be interesting, if this is true, to track down the original.) That said, the story in the annual, while starting in a very similar fashion, diverges pretty quickly. This is a grown up Sally Sparrow for a start, and the Weeping Angels are a new invention which, I think have rightly become recurring monsters though like all recurring monsters they suffer from the show's need to up the stakes with each appearance. In some ways one of the great things about Blink is that it isn't satisfied to have just one idea (the timey-wimey story telling) but to have two (the quantum locked Angels).

This is still a really good story, for all we've become much more familiar with Moffat's style of story construction and the types of characters he tends to write. It is clever enough and different enough to stand on its own as a genuinely excellent piece of Doctor Who.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/141384.html.
wellinghallwellinghall on February 6th, 2015 07:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, I am pleased that NLSS Child has been able to watch it without undue scariness.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 7th, 2015 12:51 pm (UTC)
TBH I thought she'd be fine once she got going.
shivver13: Ten with kittenshivver13 on February 6th, 2015 11:12 pm (UTC)
I agree that "Blink" is one of the best Doctor Who stories, but I don't rate it as one of my favorites (which I define as "the episodes I like to rewatch") because it really isn't as interesting on rewatch. I particularly like the way the temporal aspects were handled. I always love it when the show plays with time (one of my favorite scenes is in "Smith and Jones", when the Doctor takes his tie off at Martha and then we find out why at the end of the episode), and this episode did it a lot cleaner and clearer than during Moffat's showrunning.

I do think, though, that one of the shining aspects of the episode is its camerawork and direction. The reason why the Angels are so gripping here is that they were shot in first-person, making the audience the ones who had to stare at them to keep them stationary. This was ignored in later Angel episodes, which is one of the (many) reasons they lost their punch. Of course, they can't do the same thing twice, which is why they started adding stupid powers to them to make them new. They should never have brought the Angels back. (Actually, I never liked the Angels. The first time I watched the episode, I had a very difficult time suspending my disbelief with them. It was only the termporal trickery that kept me in the story.)

I never noticed that Larry is very similar to Rory. That's very interesting.
a_cubeda_cubed on February 7th, 2015 12:39 am (UTC)
I thought tha angels as imagined here weere brilliant, but they spoiled them later, and undermined the conclusion of this episode, when they allowed angels to see each other without turning each other to stone.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 7th, 2015 12:56 pm (UTC)
There are, frankly, a lot of problems with the idea that the angels are defeated when they see each other - I mean they'll come back to life once the light goes out. It works in episode but doesn't bear thinking about frankly.

That said, I think changing the nature of the angels was a mistake when they were brought back. I think there were more interesting stories that could be told with them without trying to up the stakes. But I often think that about recurring monsters in Doctor Who.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 7th, 2015 12:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, I do like the conceit that the the camera viewpoint is also looking at the angels. I think it makes them much more effective. That said the angels really do not move that fast, no matter what the Doctor says and I'm not sure the episode needs to imply that they do.

I think they were worth bringing back, but agree they botched it. But I'm only half convinced that a monster has to be scarier, more dangerous, more ambitious, more whatever on each appearance and I think Doctor Who frequently falls into that trap with all its monsters. You can tell a different story about a monster without having to play some kind of escalation game.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on February 7th, 2015 03:11 am (UTC)
Amy and Rory are definitely the successors to Sally and Larry - indeed, ISTR Amy's surname was going to be Sparrow in Moffat's early plans.

Hettie MacDonald is returning to direct more Doctor Who later this year, for the first time since Blink - it will be of interest to see if her visual style remains as distinctive.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 7th, 2015 12:54 pm (UTC)
That would be interesting, among its other virtues, Blink definitely looks good.
bigtitchbigtitch on February 7th, 2015 07:21 am (UTC)
I think Blink is my all time favourite DW story. It's not the just timey-wimey stuff, but just how cleverly Moffatt makes of limited Doctor time. The Doctor is in (I think) 3 scenes, but because on of those is the dvd easter egg it seems like so much more. From a technical writing perspective that is genius.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 7th, 2015 12:57 pm (UTC)
It is exceedingly well put together. It sort of half makes me wish Moffat had double the time to construct his season arcs than he actually does, because he obviously has the craft but this kind of ambitious storytelling structure fails badly if you don't make the effort to put everything in place properly and that does take time.
Adilo Creamon: min1the_marquis on February 7th, 2015 11:32 pm (UTC)
Am I the only one who thinks of NLSS child as meaning No Longer So Scary child a la 'are you my mummy'? ;)
louisedennislouisedennis on February 8th, 2015 09:57 am (UTC)
I suppose she could be no-longer-so all manner of things beginning with an S!!