Review: Doctor Who – 3×10 – Blink


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.

  • I know two eight-year-olds who say they can never look at a statue again thanks to this episode! We should have watched Grease!

  • “walking with your back up against a wall”
    I’m sure we saw them go through walls at least twice.

  • Mark H Wilkinson

    I’m sure we saw them go through walls at least twice.

  • I don’t think they can go through walls. I think they can go round walls very quickly. Otherwise (subject to sci-fi wrangling about impervious nature of said TT capsule) they’d be able to get into the TARDIS quite easily.

  • Ah, but the Tardis control room isn’t on the other side of the outside wall, is it?

  • Mark H Wilkinson

    The interface between the TARDIS interior and exterior appears to be at the doorway itself, as illustrated by appearance of the interior doors. So, being able to phase through said door should be enough (subject to suitable sci-fi wrangling Rob mentioned).
    Now, the question you evaded: when did we see them go through walls?

  • Sorry, Linda, I missed your comment up there! I’m sure you can slowly build up an immunity to statues by exposing your kids to gnomes, statuettes, etc, then telling them if they’re really frightened, all they have to do is alternately wink instead of blink – they’ll always have one eye open so the statue will never move.

  • I’m not evading, Mark: I’m going from memory of watching the episode on a small screen in a hotel. I thought they went through walls when they attacked Larry in the house. I’ll watch it on video when I get home tonight, if you really want a game of Alpha Geek (although I’m quite happy to cede the title to you, to be honest).

  • Mark H Wilkinson

    Ah, sorry. I hadn’t realised the ability to grasp and recall the plot of a recently watched episode of television conferred special geek status. I’ve always thought of it as merely having my eyes open while awake.

  • Now, now, boys. Calm down, calm down. Tis only tele.

  • “Tis only tele.”
    Ouch. LOL!
    Watched the episode finally last night. For me the best hour of TV so far in 2007. (But still half a year to go…)

  • Revenge of the Shoe Hand

    Agreed, Tube.
    And it is, of course, TV… I thought it was a very well rounded episode, good “non-companion” companion characters (unlike Love & Monsters…), a script that just kept moving, and a presence of the Doctor even in his absence.
    I at once noted the aroma of Back to the Future, but yeah, this is sci-fi and so many ideas are conventions. I liked this episode because the conventions weren’t used like cliches. They were there, but they fit so smoothly into the story I gave it to them.
    My seven year old son and four year old daughter loved the episode. All around good fun. What’s wrong with kids hiding behind couches?!
    That’s what’s missing from childhoods these days. Good old fashioned Sci-Fi fueled terror!!

  • Anonymous

    I loved the episode of doctor who blink! it really blew my was creepy and fantastic at the same time! my sister thought it a bit confusing but i got it all right.

  • Anonymous

    I hated it. it was too creepy for me.! only joking! it was great! i love all horror movies and it wasn’t the scariest programm ever but boy was it good. best hour yet.

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  • Anonymous

    [this is good] ‘But was Blink great? Not quiet.’ great typo, of course it wasnt quiet, it was loud and proud!

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