Review of Doctor Who ‘Blink’ (Series 29)
In the run up to the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ in November 2013, Neela Debnath with the help of BBC DVD, will be reviewing one story from each of the previous 31 series of the show. Each review will offer readers a snapshot from every series of ‘Doctor Who’ and celebrate the longest-running science fiction television programme in the world.
‘Don’t blink. Blink and you’re dead. They are fast. Faster than you can believe. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. Good Luck.’ Those are the most chilling words to be said on Doctor Who ever.
There is of course the phrase ‘Are you my mummy?’ But now we’re just splitting hairs. Blink is arguably the best (and scariest) episode of Nu-Who to date and ironically enough, this adventure hardly even features the Doctor.
But first thing’s first, the Doctor has a new companion. Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) was sucked into a parallel universe following a battle between the Daleks and the Cybermen in Doomsday. The Doctor is devastated and travels alone for a while. However, he does encounter a certain Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) in The Runaway Bride. They have an adventure together but it’s not long before he returns to his solitary journey.
He eventually meets trainee doctor Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), when the hospital she is working at gets transported to the moon in Smith and Jones. Martha decides she wants to see more of this Doctor and the universe and steps on board the Tardis. Added to that, she has fallen in love with the Doctor after he performed a genetic transfer by kissing her.
Throughout the series Martha remains in unrequited love with the Doctor while he continues to think about Rose in one of those Sci-Fi love triangles. Although Sally Sparrow (Carey Mulligan) is the star of the show in Blink, Agyeman’s companion is my favourite assistant from the tenth incarnation’s era. She is smart and tenacious, using logic when she finds herself in a sticky situation. The only thing that undermines her strength is her feelings for the Doctor. It’s frustrating because without this one vulnerability, Martha would be a force unto herself.
Like several new companions, Agyeman made an appearance on Doctor Who before she won the role of Martha Jones. She first starred on the show as Torchwood scientist Adeola Oshodi in Army of Ghosts. Unfortunately, her character was killed during the Cybermen attack on Earth. The striking similarity between Adeola and Martha is explained away by the pair being cousins.
But on to Blink and the Weeping Angels. This is Steven Moffat’s finest hour. He uses his favourite wibbly wobbly timey wimey technique to produce this rich piece of escapist fantasy. We even have stories within the main story. The lives of the people who the angels have ‘killed’ are woven cleverly into the main plot. This is a crafted television masterpiece that effectively manages to cram loads into the allocated 45 minutes.
This is the story that I and other Whovians like to think launched Mulligan’s career. She is now a major Hollywood A-Lister, having starred as the leading lady in Baz Luhrmann’s lavish re-imagining of The Great Gatsby this year.
Sally Sparrow carries this episode without much help from the Doctor. It is a mean feat but she manages to do it. Her determination to solve the mystery of the Weeping Angels and the loss of her friends spurs her on. She is very likeable from the start and her fearlessness is enticing. While most of us would run away from creepy statues, she takes them on and wins.
The absence of the Doctor illustrates that the show can still be brilliant without him playing a major role. In recent years the Doctor always seems to be standing centre stage from the first five minutes until the end. He is always saving the day by himself. So, it’s a welcome change when he does step into the background sometimes.
I can’t fault this episode. It’s all so simple and brilliant. The narrative structure, the aesthetic, the characters – everything fits perfectly. Even the villains are inspired by the children’s game ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’ The game involves children approaching a person who has their back turned. They must ‘freeze’ on the spot when the person turns around to look at them. The aim of the game is to try to touch the back of the person when they are not looking. It’s very much the Weeping Angels’ modus operandi.
When the credits roll, viewers will be left in the grips of a cold psychological fear. You will be jumpy and continuously turning to look over your shoulder at the slightest noise. Fans of the classic series who remain sceptical about Nu-Who should give this story a go. Just don’t blink.
DVD & image credit: BBCTagged in: Billie Piper, David Tennant, doctor who, Doctor Who 50th anniversary, Doctor Who Blink, Freema Agyeman, steven moffat, Weeping angels
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