Posted on Monday, May 3, 2010
in culture, television
This series is good. Scratch that this series is damned good. Oh fine episode 3 with Mark Gatiss’ multicoloured Daleks didn’t quite hit the mark (and may have been written for David Tennant’s Doctor anyway), but new series runner and lead writer Steven Moffat is creating the stir with series 5 which has only previously been matched by RTD’s ‘Bad Wolf’ conspiracy in series 1. And Matt Smith isn’t just good as the Eleventh Doctor he’s quite outstanding – youthful passion mixed with an older professorial nature; together they’re making the post-RTD/Tennant era electric. Episodes 4 and 5 should have been good – the two-part sequel to Moffat’s award-winning ‘Blink’, but as I’m going to show you, they’re absolute gems.
‘The Time of Angels‘
Quite possibly the scariest episode of Who I’ve ever seen, balanced out beautifully with darkly funny moments (and intrigue) with the returned River Song (Alex Kingston). The Angels return, at the crash scene of The Byzantium, foreseen by River Song in series 4, and the Doctor is drawn in by a younger version of the woman his earlier incarnation believed was his future wife. But what is her agenda? As the team investigates the danger increases as the Angels demonstrate abilities above and beyond what we already know, and Amy is left mysteriously subverted. The stakes get higher when it’s revealed that River Song isn’t remotely what she appears to be, just at the moment when the Angels spring their trap. How will the Doctor rescue them this time?
It’s a spellbinding episode, energetically directed by Adam Smith, effortlessly balancing wittily scripted banter by Moffat with scenes of sheer terror which outrival ‘Alien’. The scene where the Angel projects itself out of the CCTV tape is quite remarkable for its restrained horror, and is brilliantly acted by Karen Gillan, proving her chops for the first time this series. And the episode really does stand out for the quality of its acting – Alex Kingston chews up every scene she’s in, and has perhaps even more chemistry with Matt Smith than she did with Tennant. He in turn proves ever more each week just how outstanding a choice he was as the Eleventh Doctor, commanding the screen with passion and power in equal measure; in many ways his Doctor is even more interesting and likable than Eccleston or Tennant’s.
Funny, terrifying and sophisticated in equal measure, this is as good as Doctor Who has ever been.
‘Flesh and Stone‘
The intrigue deepens. What is the crack in space from Amy’s bedroom, and why is it following her? As the Weeping Angels close in on the Doctor, Amy, River Song and the Clerics, why does the crack reopen, why does it begin on her wedding day, the day she chose to leave with the Doctor? For that matter how can the Doctor hope to defeat the Angels, keep a now crippled Amy alive, and find out more about River Song’s transgressions? It’s an episode with far more going on than it seems, as the Clerics fall one by one, and Amy, blinded, must navigate through a forest in the Byzantium in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the beings now eager to feed on the time energy of the crack in space. But why does Amy have to remember her first meeting with the Doctor? And can River Song be trusted when the Clerics’ Bishop reveals the man she apparently is in their custody for killing was a future incarnation of the Doctor himself?
The brilliance continues as the mystery hots up. If the the crack in space is formed by something to do with Amy, is it somehow because she becomes River Song? Does the future incarnation of the Doctor appeal to Amy to remember because of what happens in the final episode – presumably on her wedding day? What is it about these two that he’s drawn to? As in part one the direction by Adam Smith is top notch, marrying high emotion with real terror as it seems there’s no way out from the trap set by the army of Weeping Angels. Matt Smith acquits himself even better than the previous episode too, as his compassion for all the humans in his care erupts violently. It’s been said his performance might outdo Tennant’s at his best – I’m inclined to agree. I’ve never seen Doctor Who better than this. We even have a conspiracy as profound as Bad Wolf in series one, but with much greater care taken over the running of the series. Each week another level is revealed, as more questions get set. I can’t wait to find out the answers.
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