Friday, October 2, 2015

“Blink:” Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who Masterpiece Forces The Doctor Almost Entirely Out Of The Show!

The Good: Engaging adversaries, Cool concept, Good tension, Good pacing, Most of the acting
The Bad: No real character development
The Basics: “Blink” is considered one of the best episodes of Doctor Who, but it is incredibly plot intensive as opposed to being a truly impressive hour of television.

Among Doctor Who fans, there are few episodes that are more universally lauded than “Blink” from the show’s third season. “Blink” was one of the early episodes written by Steven Moffat and it is one of his most creative. But for all the alleged greatness of the episode, “Blink” is very much like the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok” (reviewed here!); it holds up less-well on rewatching. “Darmok” was a high-concept episode and while it has a fairly high “wow” factor, it belabors its concept with a lot of explanation of itself. “Blink” is very similar.

As one who has an objective series of standards for their ratings, “Blink” seems less extraordinary because it loses points for character development. The episode is almost entirely devoid of The Doctor and Martha Jones. Instead, it introduces an entirely new protagonist, Sally Sparrow and follows her encounter with a new alien invader. The Weeping Angels are one of the creepiest Doctor Who creatures ever. The episode is well-executed with defining the Weeping Angels, but it does very little other than create tension around the new aliens. Given how viewers have no real investment in Sally Sparrow, it is hard to get truly invested in the tension the way some of the other Doctor Who episodes engage.

Sally Sparrow breaks into an abandoned house where she sees writing underneath some peeling wallpaper. Peeling back the wallpaper and reading the message, Sparrow ducks and avoids getting hit by a rock thrown, supposedly, by the statue of an angel from the garden. The next day, Sally and her roommate Kathy Nightingale return to the abandoned house where they are interrupted by a visitor. The visitor is Kathy Nightingale’s grandson and claims to have been told to arrive at that exact time and place. Sally looks around for Kathy, but she is nowhere to be found and the letter delivered by the grandson informs her that she was teleported in time to 1920, Hull, where she lived out her entire life.

Sally recovers a key from one of the angel statues before going to visit Kathy’s brother at a DVD store where she sees a DVD Easter egg of the Doctor talking about time. Sally goes to the police where she is told about various vehicles from the abandoned house that have been recovered over the years . . . including the police box! The police officer she meets there is suddenly taken away by the weeping angels and moments later, she gets a call from him. He is at the hospital, old and dying, having lived out his life in the past. Clued in by her policeman friend that there is something significant about the DVDs, Sally realizes she is common element (the seventeen DVDs are the only ones she owns in her personal library). Recognizing that the message is for her, Sally and Kathy’s brother go back to the abandoned house where they watch the easter egg, learn about the Weeping Angels and have to outwit them to get access to the TARDIS and return it to The Doctor.

“Blink” moves along exceptionally fast because Sally almost immediately notices that the Weeping Angels move whenever she is not looking at them, though she does not understand exactly why. “Blink” seems engaging, but the viewer and Sally are spoon-fed all of the answers and information they need. Sally is not particularly clever or interesting, she is just given all the answers to the problem she is encountering.

Similarly, Carey Mulligan is not given much room to perform. While she does not play Sally Sparrow as stiffly as she plays some other characters she has played, Sally Sparrow is hardly an incredible role. Sparrow barely reacts to the extraordinary events surrounding her. Sally’s best friend disappears and she barely bats an eye when she cannot find her and has to read the letter from the past. Sally witnesses the death of a man who has been hanging on for years waiting for her and it doesn’t even cause her to tear up. In fact, Mulligan’s best performance moment is probably reacting to the naked brother of her best friend. This is hardly an extraordinary role.

The result is a creepy episode of Doctor Who that introduces one of the most conceptually-frightening creatures of the franchise . . . without doing much more for The Doctor or fans.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Doctor Who - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the second season of the Tenth Doctor here!

For other works with Carey Mulligan, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Public Enemies
Pride And Prejudice


For other Doctor Who episode and movie reviews, please visit my Doctor Who Review Index Page!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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