If you have not watched the latest episode of Doctor Who, "The Angels Take Manhattan," then just skip this review as I may spoil some things as I rant and rave. Go. Close this and go watch it if you care, then come back and give me another hit on the website. Do that anyway, if you are feeling funky. Hint, hint.
Also, I am going to rant and rave about the new Doctor Who in general because I do not think I have done that, at least in a while, so if you have not watched since the Christopher Eccleston days, probably spoilers there, too. They are all on Netflix, go nuts. Start with
, not because it pertains to this episode but because it's just really good television.
Okay, on to the ranting and raving.
The Angels are back and in Manhattan. After Rory gets sent back in time, Amy and the Doctor follow and with River Song attempt to put right what once... well, things happen.
What I liked:
- The atmosphere and overall noir-ish feel that it kinda sorta had. Could have used more of this. New York is given full treatment and I really wanted to visit it again after watching this episode.
- The cast. I really like to see these people play. Matt Smith, Karen Gillian, Arthur Darvill and Alex Kingston, regardless of how you feel about their characters, are really, really good at making everything seem fun and in the moment. I never question why these people are together.
- The Angels. I am probably the first person to say this on the internet, so here goes: The Angels scare the crap out of me and I really like the opportunities they give for the writers to play with time in story. Plus, baby Angels and the pitter patter of little feet. Shudder.
- The good use of a goodbye. Done twice, but the first time is more effective.
What I disliked:
- The last minute fix to the paradox. This was a blatant rip-off of the Rose goodbye in Series Two, but with the Doctor having nothing to do with the final decision. There is only tension and storytelling goodness when there is hope that the hero will save the day and he does not. That is what makes a character send off good. Which is what they realized so the writers wrote...
- The twist. Out of nowhere, with little to no foreshadowing and almost disrespectful to a character that for the last four years is the only one to see even the smallest amount of growth.
- The unexplained. How are the Angels back after being erased? How do they get around the galaxy? What happened to that whole "look them in the eye thing?" What happened to "they can not move even if they see themselves?" And how does that one statue walk down the middle of Manhattan with no one noticing? I think it would be pretty awkward if it just got stuck because a homeless dude could not sleep. Blah, plot holes, plot holes, sticky sticky plot holes.
- River Song in general. Do not get me wrong, I like the idea of the character and enjoy seeing her on screen working with the others, but she just seems to show up and know everything. Which I guess is what the Doctor does, but now knowing her back story this seems improbable.
On the whole, a good episode that seemed to be a monster of the week. Care did not seem to be taken to give the send off that we had been waiting for and I hope this becomes relevant in the future. The tired themes that people age while the Doctor does not and that the Doctor needs a companion have been told better and way too many times. Seems they could come up with more interesting themes and stories for a being that has traveled all of space and time for 1,200 years is all I'm saying.
About Moffet's 11th Doctor run in general: I like it, but it does not have the cohesiveness of the Davies run that I came to expect. The grand story lines, multi-part episodes that all build to a conclusion seem to have been dropped, which has lead to a lack of character development in general. The stories do not serve the characters or give them depth. Ask yourself: what do each of these characters need and what do they want and how are those at opposed at any given time? The Doctor needs companions and wants adventure, so he gets it. Rory needs a backbone and wants Amy, so he gets it. Amy needs a life and wants adventure, so she gets it. Who the hell knows about River... This is boring and more in tune with a monster-of-the-week type show than the grand spectacles we have seen in previous series where the characters grow from week to week. Martha went from doctor to field agent. Donna, one of the greatest companions, went from secretary to the most important person in the universe "Doctor/Donna," changed profoundly from what she was in a single season. Even Rose, arguably the weakest of the companions, had her eyes opened from an innocent shop girl with a family to a kinda badass that hopped dimensions. And all of these had great send-offs that made us want to see what happened next in their lives.
This is odd coming from Moffet, who gave us some of the more memorable multi-part episodes of the Davies run. The threads they do use, apart from the Centurion/Pandorica, fall flat, are predicatable and have poor endings. I do not feel triumphant when the 11th Doctor wins, and that is a sad thing to have happen to a great character.