The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone

* Bloody hell, it’s Mike Skinner. That has to rank as one of the most incongruous pieces of guest casting of all time. I seem to remember his star was already waning somewhat in 2010, but he was still a very recognisable face to choose for a part that lasts all of ten seconds. Later in the episode, Father Octavian is your man from Game of Thrones – I don’t even watch Game of Thrones properly, but his voice is always so distinctive in the few bits I’ve seen.

* So, does River know Amy’s her mum at this point? I’m genuinely not sure – I always assumed even though the whole River Song story was confusing while it was playing out, it would make sense to me by the time it was finished. But even now, I feel like I need a diagram, so I’m going to do my best to piece it all together properly on this rewatch. Thus far, her time-twisting, Bill & Ted-esque escape from the Byzantium is the first major example we’ve seen of why The Doctor will eventually come to love her.

* Doing a sequel to Blink is a tough job, so Moffat went down the route of taking the original monster and adding shitloads of them, a la Aliens. They also have a whole raft of new abilities – the image of an Angel becomes an Angel, they can use the voices of the dead to communicate, and they can even turn you into an Angel if you look them in the eye. Sally Sparrow’s lucky none of this shit happened to her.

* The speech about what not to put in a trap is a big moment for Smith, and he does it well. We’re starting to get a real grip of his persona now; he’s child-like and over-excitable to some extent – which is a trait that I recall was toned down over time – but he still commands enormous respect, and when he wants you to take him seriously, you totally do. Also, that scene is so much more dramatic on DVD, without an animated Graham Norton dancing all over it.

* After a more action-heavy first half, it becomes more like a horror movie again in the second, which must be partially due to the fact that the soldiers/priests are getting killed off so fast that it’s no longer a fair fight. The moment you realise that Amy is involuntarily counting down to zero is when the tension starts to ramp up, and by the time she’s walking through a crowd of angels with her eyes closed, because if she opens them for more than a second she’ll die… well, you daren’t blink.

* The fabled crack in time turns up in all its glory after only five episodes. Things seem to be moving a lot quicker these days, but it’s more that the series arc is becoming a bigger part of each episode – this isn’t an early culmination, it’s just that they’re taking the time to flesh the idea out more along the way to the actual culmination. If anything, it’s a bit of a shame that the Angels took a backseat when the crack starting eating people, scary and fun though that was. People forgetting other people existed mid-conversation will always make me think of Red Dwarf‘s Out of Time.

* This time round, I totally noticed that The Doctor suddenly had his jacket on when he came back to talk to Amy… but then I was looking out for it. Totally passed me by originally.

* Oh I say, I’d forgotten how racy that final scene is. I have very conflicting feelings about seeing Amy Pond acting in that way. Moffat said recently that he regrets the way that scene ended up, and on balance he’s right to do so, although it’s nearly all worth it for The Doctor offering to sort Amy right out.

RATING: 9

Blink

* I fear I have nothing to add that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over the last ten years, but yeah, that was amazing. Just like it was the dozen or so other times I’ve watched it. It’s the perfect episode of Doctor Who, so much so that you barely notice that The Doctor isn’t in it. As well as being so good as a piece of timey-wimey trickery that it coined the phrase “timey-wimey”, the video message was a great way of maintaining his presence with very little material.

* I still can’t believe that Sally Sparrow wasn’t the next companion after Martha. I remember being absolutely convinced that this was the plan all along – to introduce her as a one-off character and then have The Doctor run in to her again in the future. But no, Carey Mulligan had to go on to become a huge film star, and instead the same thing happened with a different, vastly inferior, one-off character.

* It’s kind of unfair to compare this to Love & Monsters, because one’s a fun romp for the kiddies and the other is a dark, twisty, horror story. I am fond of L&M, but Blink completely shows it up, especially when you consider the differences between Elton and Sally. She’s a protagonist that’s every bit as brave and extraordinary as any regular companion, while still feeling real and relatable. I would totally watch Sparrow & Nightingale. Come on, Big Finish.

* If you’re going to steal, steal from the best. And when you’re talking about complicated time travel stories masquerading as fun-filled family entertainment, the best is Back To The Future. I almost wish Kathy had been transported back to the Wild West, just to keep it themed.

* Ray Peacock/Ian Boldsworth! This is the first time I’ve seen this episode since Ian has become a bit of a cult figure among Red Dwarf fans, thanks to his role as the regular warm up man on audience recordings for the revived series. He’s not appeared on screen, yet he feels like one of the gang, so it’s lovely to see him in my other favourite show, playing a role that surely pushed his acting skills to the limit.

* For the second story in a row, we’re presented with a supposed romance between two characters that we don’t know, played out in barely minutes of screen time, and yet totally compelling and believable. In a script with a lot of competition, the initial car park scene contains two of my favourite bits of dialogue: Billy complaining about the windows being the wrong size on the TARDIS, and Sally accidentally pre-empting their eventual marriage. This little moment feels so real and human, which is what sells the sadness of the subsequent hospital scene. Just lovely.

* But the best scene overall has to be the full conversation between Sally in 2007 and The Doctor in 1969. The type of writing that’s above and beyond almost everything else on TV, and which cements Moffat’s place as one of Who‘s greatest ever writers. I literally have “The Angels Have The Phone Box” on a t-shirt. And, as we noted on my other site at the time, it’s a little bit Future Echoes, which can’t be a bad thing.

* Then it goes into full-blown horror, to such an extent that it gave someone I know, who was already a fully grown adult at the time, actual nightmares. Much has been said about the writing in this episode, and quite rightly so, but Hettie MacDonald’s Hitchcock-inspired direction deserves a special mention too. That very final sequence of statues and sinister music is there for the sole purpose of scaring the shit out of tiny children, which is to be applauded.

RATING: 10