“Doctor, what do you know of the Weeping Angels?”
Watching things in the wrong order can certainly have it’s disadvantages, but it can also be incredibly rewarding, particularly if this episode – in my first series of Doctor Who – is your introduction to the brilliantly horrifying creatures, the Weeping Angels. I watched this episode glued to the screen, I could not look away, which is handy, because apparantly if I had I may have died. It was upon watching this episode that I was sold on this show last year. Yes, The Eleventh Hour reeled me in with it’s infectious charm, but The Time of Angels made me realise that this really was no silly children’s show. This shit was scary.
The whole thing is just pure sci-fi horror, from the Ring-like angel emerging from the TV screen (seriously, how could a child EVER watch this) to the ‘maze of the dead’ – part Mines of Moria, part Aliens. The concept of a monster equivalent of ‘what’s the time Mr Wolf’ – one that could only move when you looked away – was inspiring to me. I told all my friends what a great and scary episode of television I had just seen, what an ingenious concept. And then someone told me that they had already used the Weeping Angels in season 3’s infamous Blink.
Despite my initial awe of the idea not being present, the quality of this episode does not diminish with repeat viewings. For one thing, now knowing that River Song was also an exisitng character in the show – from Steven Moffat’s last contribution to Russell T Davies’ era, the wonderful Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead – makes watching the Doctor’s reunion with her here all the more poignant. The last time they met, she died, and not before mentioning the Crash of the Byzantium that we are now watching. (Although wait a minute, the Doctor says here “we keep meeting in the wrong order”, does this imply he has already met her more than once? My thoughts of a David Tennant/Alex Kingston passing-of-the-screwdriver moment is still very much alive!)
I digress. With the knowledge of also what is to come for our characters in the finale of this series, it is now even more fun trying to dissect River’s clues here. Are they married? What did she do to end up in prison? Why does she take such delight in teasing the Doctor? How can she fly the TARDIS? Alex Kingston is playfully brilliant here, and Matt Smith is wonderfully grumpy. There’s a completely different dynamic here than when we last saw River and The Doctor together, a different clash of personalites. This Doctor certainly seems very spoilerphobic, and does not want to get involved in the adventures of a woman he knows he is still to meet many more times. There is a shift in power and it makes the Doctor uncomfortable. The mystery of River Song has truly begun now she has returned to the show.
But then the real horror begins as we see Amy trapped inside the command ship with an angel slowly advancing from the TV, a four second recording which is now moving. Again though, Amy saves herself when the Doctor cannot, a seemingly common theme in this series.
But there is no time to dawdle as the episode keeps going and our team of companions and military clerics (how fun) enter the catacombs and start their creepy ascent. The way Moffat lays out the threat against them, and then sends the characters headlong directly towards this threat is brilliant, not to mention the terrifying concept of basically playing hide and seek with a weeping angel in a maze full of statues.
If this idea wasn’t chilling enough, the reveal/realisation from the Doctor and River – that the race who built this temple had two heads, and that EVERY statue is infact a dying Angel, is not only excellently revealed – so obvious as it is the second time around – but also scary, really scary. Suddenly the chase is on, Angel Bob is mocking their every move, and all hope is lost. And then the Doctor gives a brilliant little speech, Murray Gold’s score strikes up, and the Doctor does something genius – which we don’t see as the episode ends.
Just a quick word on Matt Smith again here, sorry if I gush praise too much, but his delivery throughout this episode is just amazing. As is the wrtten dialogue, mind – bravo Steven Moffat – but the rambling stream-of-conciousness works so well with Smith and this Doctor, showing both the shambolic nervousness and the brilliant genius of the character.
FEZ SEZ: “A seamless marraige of Steven Moffat’s two most inspired creations in this show, set to a truly terrifying sci-fi horror backdrop. A fantastic beginning to a superb two-part story”