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30 April 2008 @ 02:06 pm
According to the in flight magazine Series 3 Doctor Who was where he meets up with Martha, then Shakespeare and then gets stuck in gridlocked traffic so I was expecting one of the early season three stories. Imagine my surprise and delight when I switched on the in seat TV thing to find Blink.

This, I thought to myself, as I sipped expensively cheap white wine and ate sour cream and onion pringles, is as good as long haul flight gets*.

I was a little curious to see how well Blink stood up to a second viewing since stories with punchlines are often somewhat lacking second time around. I was also intending to pay more attention to the sound track. I hardly ever notice soundtracks and, as a result, have next to no opinion on Murray Gold's talents as a composer. However I had been reading some extremely interesting essays in Time and Relative Dissertations in Space (upon which I intend to blog in due course) about sound track and sound design in Doctor Who so I was inspired to pay more attention than usual. In the end I still didn't really notice the sound track which also, of course, answers the question about whether the story was still interesting second time around. The only point where I actually paid attention was when Billy is confronted by the Angels in the police garage. The music builds to a crescendo as the camera focuses on his eyes, then he blinks as there is a sort of whoosh sound. This seemed quite close to the conflation of composition and sound effect Louis Niebur was talking about in his essay.

Second time around I did pick up some weaknesses I didn't notice initially. In particular I don't actually like the realisation of the Angels. I spent a long time trying to work out why this was - perhaps their hair wasn't quite right for statuary, etc. etc. but I think, ultimately, they didn't actually look like they were made of stone in some subtle fashion. I also found the emphasis on the happy endings for Kathy and Billy, sent back through time, a little jarring. Sending a 21st century woman back to 1920 and a 21st century black policeman back to 1969 will land both of them in a society where they have a lot fewer freedoms and opportunities. I also briefly wondered if Billy had married Kathy's daughter Sally, but I can't quite make the sums add up, though I guess it's just about plausible if Sally was born in 1930s. Lastly, why do the Angels (or whoever) start by throwing stones through windows at Sally? and why did the Doctor need to leave Sally and Larry behind? the same effect would have been achieved if they went with the TARDIS with less risk they would break the eyeline of the Angels (but then, of course, the actual resolution wouldn't have been as neat)?

On the upside of course the plot is (stones through windows excepted) clever and well-formed. The acting is excellent, especially from Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow. The atmosphere is flawless, melancholy and genuinely creepy. I even found the relationship between Sally and Larry, which I had thought implausible the first time round, was rather sweetly played out by their interactions throughout the script. Stylistically the episode feels very much like a literary short story, not necessarily surprising given its roots. In fact, I was pleased to discover the original short story is now online at the BBC website, go read it if you haven't already because it is equally good. It was easily the best thing I watched all flight, sadly it only lasted 45 minutes and the flight was 10 1/2 hours long but I suppose you can't have everything.

* obviously Business Class would also have been nice but Business Class is not the lot of the academic**.

** this is not strictly true. There are supposed to be professors who fly Business Class. It's just that I've never met one.