Sunday, April 25, 2010

Doctor Who - The Time of Angels Inside Trekker Review

This episode was fantastic. Just bloody fantastic (I'm saying this in my best British accent so you know).

The Time of Angels is the first episode of a two-parter in which Steven Moffat re-introduces us to two of it's most fascinating Doctor Who creations: the very popular Weeping Angels and the mysterious Professor River Song. I don't know what stroke of genius keeps hitting Moffat but it definitely works here.

Biggest. Museum. Ever.

Before I go on, has anyone else noticed that Moffat likes his story locations big? We had the biggest library in the universe in Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead, and now we have the biggest Museum in the universe ever - to which the Doctor has brought a literally bored to tears Amy Pond. But things will pick up really soon for her and the Doctor.

The Doctor and Amy looking on River Song 12 000 years into the past.

It's a lovely introduction when the episode begins with River Song making her way through a spaceship corridor in heels so high I've no clue how she can walk in these, and she's obviously up to no good (no good for a certain Alistair in this case). We then skip 12 000 years into the future with the Doctor and Amy currently in the museum.

I'm coming over for a visit Doctor! Weeeeeee!

There's a great scene where the Doctor finds an artifact - a ''Home Box'' (akin to a plane's black box) – inscribed in Gallifreyan script which literally spells out ''Hello Sweetie.'' The Doctor instantly recognizes that it's a message from River Song, and after stealing the box, the Doctor pinpoints her location and goes to retrieve her (it's a really lovely scene where she flies out of the Byzantium's airlock and the Doctor catches her in space. Highly improbable too because, you know, a second in space and you freeze to death in the empty vacuum or your eyes pop out of their sockets. Just saying).


At this point the first question that popped (haha) into my head was how does River Song know how to write Gallifreyan? I hope Steven Moffat will provide us with an answer but I guess we must surmise that she learned it from the Doctor. I don't believe that River is a Time Lord herself though and it's clear that the Doctor doesn't know who – and I also add the emphasis on what - she is at that point. But I don't believe she's a bad guy (though we later learn that she was just released from prison). I'm thinking River is more of an Indiana Jones in space type of adventurer.

The Byzantium has crashed on the Aplan Templar. Not good.

Making a return appearance is River Song's little Blue Box Diary, and we learn that River has pictures of all the Doctor's faces; but we also learn that he never shows up in the right order. Basically, everytime she sees him, she's not sure where or when he's at. Which begs the question to how far into the Doctor's future does she first meet him? Is it possible that the Doctor will have more than 14 incarnations? After all, the Master did have more than 14. My head hurts just to think of it.

River Song's Blue Diary

In this episode, Amy is asking the questions that the audience wants to know the answers to – questions that the Doctor dares not ask (spoilers for him you see) since River comes from his future (one can also argue here that she comes from his past since the first time he met her was in his tenth incarnation). The question on everybody's lips? is River Song the Doctor's wife from his future. We still don't get a clear answer to that in this episode. Maybe the mystery will finally be resolved in next week's concluding episode Flesh and Stone? Or perhaps in the series finale in which River Song is rumoured to be in?

The Doctor looks upon a Weeping Angel for the first time since Blink.

As for the Weeping Angels, I thought their return was terrifying and effective. The Time of Angels played both like the movie Alien, in which the single alien hunts down the crew of the Nostromo, and its sequel Aliens, where the marines try to escape the advancing, terrifying horde of aliens.

Amy discovers the chilling horror of the Weeping Angels.

Unlike Blink though, the Weeping Angel in this story doesn't gently kill its victims by sending them back into the past - and this is where showrunner Steven Moffat does something more with his creation. Here, the Weeping Angel becomes a creature that snaps people's necks because it needs to take someone's body - or in that case someone's voice - to communicate. We also learn that an image of a Weeping Angel can actually, physically, become a Weeping Angel. There are two positively chilling scenes that move the expanding mythology of the Weeping Angels along.

Nice view of the Maze of the Dead. Nice place for an Angel statue to hide in.

The first one has Amy locked inside the shuttle when she notices that the 4 second recorded image of the Weeping Angel that's been playing on a loop on a television screen is actually moving, quite independently of that recording, because ''that which holds the image of an Angel becomes an Angel.'' For a terrifying moment we see the recorded Angel slowing taking solid shape inside the shuttle.

Amy's got something in her eye. I say, get a bucket of Visine to get the sand out.

The second one is when the Weeping Angel communicates through ''Angel Bob.'' Poor Bob. Once he told the Doctor his name, I knew he was doomed. Using Dead Bob's voice reminded me of what Moffat did earlier with the Vashta Narada in SITL and FOTD, when the creatures used Anita to communicate with the Doctor.

Amy and River Song talking all things Doctor. You are so his wife!

The Time of Angels also introduces us to new characters in the form of Cleric-soldiers who are much like the Knight Templars of Old – or the clerics from the movie Equilibrium. They are led by Father Octavian, Bishop Second Class, played by Iain Glenn whom I almost didn't recognize in all his soldier's gear. It's the 51st century the Doctor tells us. The Church has moved on. There's a funny scene where the Doctor salutes Father Octavian and it felt a bit strange since the Tenth Doctor hated being saluted and could detect a salute even on the phone ha ha (in Planet of the Dead, the Doctor, who was on another planet talking on a cell phone, asked UNIT captain Mogambo if she'd just saluted him. She had).

The Doctor trying to make Bob feel better. Poor Bob

Investigating the maze.

Though the episode is meant to be very chilling, we also find bits of humour interspersed in it. For example, the question of whether or not River Song is the Doctor's wife comes back a few times. The scene where Amy and River talk about the Doctor is both sweet and funny, and the bickering between River and the Doctor as if the two were indeed an old married couple makes for light and interesting moments. The part where the Doctor bites Amy on the hand to convince her it hasn't turned to stone is downright hilarious and also unexpected (I learned in Doctor Who Confidential that Matt did bite Karen hard on the hand to get a genuine reaction out of her). It all works very well because Steven Moffat knows how to mix the genres just right.

As I said, poor Bob. He'll never know what hit him.

The performances were all very solid, with Alex Kingston playing River with a great sense of fun. It was wonderful to see the character and the actress back. The only let down of the episode was the cliffhanger which was pretty meek but was sensibly the cutting off point. Oh and there was no crack at the end of the episode but it will definitely make it's re-appearance in a big way in the upcoming concluding episode Flesh and Stone.

Trapped by the Weeping Angels, the Doctor makes a desperate gesture.

My grade for the episode: A/A+

Some Favourite Quotes:

Amy: You got a time machine. What do you need museums for?
The Doctor: Wrong! Very wrong! Ouh! One of mine! Also one of mine.
Amy: Oh I see! It's how you keep score . . .

The Doctor: There are days, there are many days these words could burn stars and raise up empires and topple Gods.
Amy: What does it say?
The Doctor: Hello Sweetie.

River Song: They're going to warp drive! (another Star Trek reference)

The Doctor: Parked us? we haven't landed.
River: Of course we landed. I just landed her.
The Doctor: But it didn't make the noise.
River: What noise?
The Doctor: You know, the [makes breathing noises to copy the sound the Tardis makes when it materializes]
River: It's not supposed to make that noise. You leave the brakes on.
The Doctor: Well its a brilliant noise. I love that noise. Come along Pond. Let's have a look.

Amy: How come you can fly the Tardis?
River: Oh, I had lessons from the very best
The Doctor: Well . . . yeah . . .
River: It's a shame you were busy that day.

The Doctor: It's a long story and I don't know most of it.

The Doctor: I can run away from anything I like. Time is not the boss of me.

River Song: Two things always garanteed to turn up in a museum. The home box of a category 4 starliner and sooner or later . . . him. It's how he keeps score.
Amy: Ha ha I know!
River: It's hilarious isn't it?

River: Doctor! Can you sonic me? I need to boost the signal so we can use it as beacon!
Amy: Ouh Doctor! You sonicked her.

River: Where are we up to? Have we done the Bow Meadows?
Amy: What's the book?
The Doctor: Stay away from it.
Amy: What is it though?
The Doctor: Her diary.
River: Our diary.
The Doctor: Her past. My . . . future. Time travel. We keep meeting in the wrong order.

Father Octavian: You promised me an army Doctor Song
River: No, I promised you the equivalent of an army. This is the Doctor.

The Doctor: Well that's interesting, you're still here. Which part of waiting in the Tardis 'til I tell you it's safe was so confusing?
Amy: Are you all mister grumpy face today?

Father Octavian: Currently there are 6 billion human colonists.
The Doctor: Ouh! you lot! You're everywhere. You're like rabbits! I'll never get done saving you.

River: It's strange when you all go baby-face. How early is it for you?
The Doctor: Very early.
River: So you don't know who I am yet.
The Doctor: How do you know who I am, I don't always look the same.
River: I've got pictures of all your faces. You never show up in the right order though. I need a spotter's guide.

The Doctor: River, hug Amy.
Amy: Why?
The Doctor: 'Cause I'm busy.

Amy: You're so his wife!
River: Oh Amy, Amy, Amy! this is the Doctor we're talking about. Do you really think it could be anything that simple?
Amy: Yep.
River: You're good. I'm not saying you're right but you're good.

The Doctor: Bob! Sacred Bob it's me, the Doctor!

Amy: You've got all that stuff with River and that's all gotta happen. You know you can't die here.
The Doctor: Time can be re-written. It doesn't work like that.

The Doctor: Hello Angels! What's your problem?

The Doctor: I'm about to do something incredibly stupid and dangerous. When I do, jump.


  1. First: Since River Song has a diary where she has all the Docotors faces ever and their adventures together and she's the only one who knows his real name, and she knows how to land a TARDIS - which she learned from the best - it's only fair to assume he also tought her Gallifrean.
    AND on next ep trailler it shows that crack opening and Amy saying, "it'a just like the crack on my bedroom wall".

    Again, your review showed me a lot of things I've missed. Thanks!

  2. I've just thought it now reading your review (thanks for sparking this thought, by the way!) that saying how time is not the boss of him is similar to the end of 'Waters on Mars' where the Doctor saved the remainder of the crew. I mean, I'm pretty sure he'll have learnt from his mistake, but that seems like a parallel to me... Or am I just reading into this too much?