Steven Moffat’s always game for a good script. Even on his worst days, he writes at a level Chris Chibnall can only dream of. Now Blink, this year’s Doctor-lite episode, was a very good script. It was scary, funny, cleverly plotted, with some good characterisation and dialogue served as the metaphorical icing on the cake.
But was Blink great? Not quiet.
The trouble is that once you start moving out of obvious kiddie territory (eg anything by RTD) and up the ladder towards young adult, my patented Helm of an ADHD Eight-Year Old gets thrown to one side, the quality bar starts getting raised, expectations start getting greater and things we could have excused in a jolly runround can’t get swept under the carpet so easily.
The Weeping Angels were great. In fact, of all the New Who monsters, the Weeping Angels are probably the first that could be called classics – monsters that you’d love to see again some time. A brilliant simple idea, massively scary, the kind of monsters that linger in the mind for days, weeks and even years after you first see them. The blinking light scene was a piece of pure genius, both in its writing and its direction. The ending, which implied that all statues are in fact weeping angels, should have kids terrified for weeks to come and probably traumatised for the rest of their lives. Yey!
But it doesn’t take more than a few seconds of adult thought before you realise they can be stopped by walking with your back up against a wall while wearing a pair of mirror sunglasses and carrying a torch; the intrepid investigator could probably rig up an exciting shiny outfit covered in lights to allow greater freedom of movement.
Not so frightening now are they?
The pre-destination of the entire plot, while a nice touch, particularly the pre-recorded conversation, was a little too reminiscent of Back to the Future: Part III and Paycheck (Ben Affleck movie based on a Philip K Dick story, in which the protagonist can see the future but before he has his memory wiped, leaves a packet of useful but mundane objects for his future self to use at pre-destined points in the plot) and the Easter eggs bit was a little Ring-ish . No plot is original, of course, but it’s what you add to the plot that differentiates you from the crowd and I wasn’t getting that much more from it that I hadn’t gotten elsewhere.
With an adult script, you also expect greater depth of characterisation. The characters who disappeared – Nightingale and Shipley – worked nicely but Sally Sparrow wasn’t that interesting. She worked fine as a character until she became a mere plot instrument towards the end: would she really have spent a whole year obsessing about the Doctor, putting her love life on hold until the exact moment he returns? Her friend/boyfriend-to-be was little more than a standard Steven Moffat nerd, the type that’s populated Coupling and other Moffat shows for years. And after all her work, wouldn’t it have been nice to have the Doctor show up and thank her (Sally sees Doctor and Martha run off. She turns round and there’s the Doctor. “Thanks, Sally”)? Some kind of emotional payoff, rather than simple tying up of plot-threads would have been satisfying and would only have taken a few seconds.
All the same, this is all overly picky on my part. It really was a great bit of Who, although there was very little of Who himself. With a bit more polish, it would have been up there with Girl in the Fireplace, but it was a fine episode in and of itself, even if it wasn’t out of this world.
The Murray Gold Watch
This week, Murray Gold was mostly drowning out the dialogue and removing all sense of drama by deriving music from… the films of Jerry Bruckheimer.