Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Review of Doctor Who's 5x04: "The Time Of Angels"


Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Adam Smith

The Doctor: “Any questions?”
Amy: “Is River Song your wife?”

If you were hoping for a concrete answer to that gnawing question, then that’s one way in which this episode will disappoint you. Yes, River Song might be back but neither she nor the Doctor are anywhere inclined to let Amy know if they are in fact married. Still, this isn’t the only this season that River will factor so I guess I can wait a little longer.

This was one of those episodes that was always going to be a big one because in a lot of ways, it’s sort of a sequel to both “Blink” and “Silence In The Library”/“Forest Of The Dead” due to the fact that the Doctor and Amy find themselves dealing with both River Song and the Weeping Angels.

When I first heard that the former was returning, I admit that I wasn’t exactly doing cartwheels in excitement much as I liked the fourth season episodes she hailed from but time is a great thing and over the last few weeks, I did find myself more and more enthused with finding out a bit more about the mysterious River Song.

She’s even given a rather cool intro into this episode where she’s cornered by Alastair (not that one) and literally throws herself out of a flying spaceship to strategically land into another. Bit of a recurring theme for River – she needs helps and does her damndest to ensure that the Doctor is there to pick her up.

If ever there was a woman to get under his skin and annoy him to a degree, it’s definitely River. What has to be more annoying for the Doctor than to have River show him how to park his own motor? That scene could’ve been a lot cringe worthy than it actually was but it was actually a lot of fun.

River’s return only really meant one thing – danger. She wasn’t here to give viewers answers on her identity, just more answers and more importantly she came packed with another motley crew who needed the Doctor’s help. If he didn’t like being a taxi service, I’m fairly certainly the Doctor was less pleased with the notion of being the equivalent of an army.

In fact, almost true to Doctor form, he actually tried to disengage himself from River as soon as they landed on Alfava Metraxis. The only reason he got involved was because Amy badgered him into staying on the mysterious planet and also if he did scraper, I’m sure River would’ve found some other way of roping him into things.

River was certainly meticulous with her planning on this one. She knew what she was doing when she got to that ship and she also knew that by talking about the Weeping Angels that the Doctor would fall into line and help her and her band of clerics. Yes, really, River’s crew this time around consisted of military priests.

Even the recording of a Weeping Angel and one of them being stored in the crash Byzantium (and yes, it’s that story) was enough to really reel the Doctor in. But it was Amy who had to suffer the brunt of the Weeping Angel image coming to life and trying to attack her with the Doctor and River being unable to help her. The only thing that did help Amy was her ability to use the pause button and even that had a limited effect.

Another Steven Moffat pointed out in various interviews in the build up to Season 5 was the difference between the Weeping Angels in their previous appearance and here. Previously they had been scavengers but here was a race of them determined to swell in power and with enough people around to use at their disposal, the Weeping Angels were certainly gunning for victory.

Amy was the prime example of the Weeping Angels striking dirty. The Doctor warned her not to look into their eyes because the eyes represented a door rather than a window. Amy unfortunately did look into the eyes of one of them and throughout the episode; there was a great emphasis on her rubbing her eyes.

I think twice I wanted to yell at Amy to tell either River or the Doctor that something was wrong with her. The only time she did it was when she thought her hand was going to stone and she was left with no choice. While I don’t ever want to see the Doctor take a bite out of his companions again, I am grateful that it was this that managed to get Amy to snap out of it as the Angels began their homicidal descent in the catacombs.

This lead to my other issue – the Weeping Angels. Do they work a second time around? Well, I don’t prefer this episode to their first one but they are evolving as a creature and while there are many nice nods to their first appearance, the strength of this story is showing how much difference two seasons can make. Sending you back in time really was the kindest thing they did first time around.

Here there is no such luxury. Amy slowly but surely being infected by one of them aside, the rest of the Angels (including the more grotesque looking ones) had a great time eradicating River’s sacred team one by one. A snapped neck is nothing when the likes of scared Bob’s voice is being used to convey the Angels order.

From the bits that Bob does say, it just seems that the Weeping Angels want to evolve from their weaknesses and become supreme but one notable thing was the glee it took in telling the Doctor how much he failed Bob. That was enough for the Doctor to get liberal with a firearm in one of the oddest cliff hangers for a two parter as he shot the gravity globe.

In the past we’ve had the likes of Slitheen attacking Downing Street, Cybermen surrounding the Doctor and company, a hybrid Dalek and the sky being choked by Sontarans but here, it’s the Doctor shooting up at the Byzantium in the catacombs with Father Octavian’s gun and telling the Weeping Angels they made a mistake by putting him in a trap. It’s not terrible but it does seem a little odd by comparison to the above cliff hangers I’ve mentioned.

As for the dynamic between the Doctor, Amy and River – I could get used to this. This show works better with two companions (did I mention I was looking forward to Rory returning recently?) and the scenes with Amy and River ganging up on the Doctor are wonderful. Amy and River also work brilliantly together that it’s a pity we didn’t get this sort of stuff with River and Donna last season. But I am still safe to assume that River’s the Doctor’s wife or not? Now that it the question.

Also in “The Time Of Angels”

I don’t know why but I was slightly disappointed that Alex Kingston’s name wasn’t in the opening credits.

River (to Alastair): “Like I said on the dance floor, you might want to find something to hang on to.”

Mike Skinner from The Streets played a security guard at the start that River used her hallucinogen lipstick on. I can’t critique his acting because he didn’t do much to critique.

The Doctor: “Parked us? You haven’t landed.”
River: “Of course we’ve landed. I just landed her.”

River (on driving the TARDIS): “Oh, I had lessons from the very best.”
The Doctor: “Well, yeah.”
River: “It’s a shame you were busy that day.”

The blue things are apparently the stabilisers or boringers as the Doctor now likes to call them. I felt bad for him when he made that wheezing noise with the TARDIS and River and Amy looked unimpressed.

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

River (to the Doctor): “Sweetie, I need you.”
Amy: “Anybody need me? Nobody?”

We got the Doctor and Donna in a library for River’s first story and here, the Doctor and Amy had to nab a home box from a museum to locate River in this one.

The Doctor: “River, hug Amy.”
Amy: “Why?”
The Doctor: “Because I’m busy.”

Father Octavian (re the Doctor): “He doesn’t know yet, does he about what you are?”
River: “It’s too early in his time stream.”
Father Octavian: "Well make sure he doesn't work it out or he's not going to help us."

What the hell is River then? Also, didn’t both of them talk about her being prison as well at one point?

The Doctor: “Sacred Bob? More like scared Bob?”
Bob: “Yes, sir.”

Amy: “I thought they were all dead.”
The Doctor: “So is Virginia Woolf, I’m on her bowling team.”

This was the first episode to be filmed for this season. Other with New Who, later stories end up being the first ones filmed. And we got Gallifreyan writing in this episode.

The Doctor: “Don’t be an idiot; the angels don’t need you alive. Bob, keep running but tell me, how did you escape?”
Bob: “I didn’t escape, sir. The Angel killed me too.”

Amy: “You know you can’t die here.”
The Doctor: “Time can be rewritten. It doesn't work like that.”

River has a spotters guide on the Doctor and knows the look of every incarnation of him. She even called this one “baby face” at one point.

Amy: “I don’t need you to die for me, Doctor. Do I look that clingy?”

River: “No pressure but this is usually where you have a really good idea?”
The Doctor: “There’s always a way out.”

We can add the Bone Meadows as another in a line of Doctor/River adventures that have yet to be seen on TV. She was also surprised to learn that she was going to be a professor someday.

The Doctor: “Trust me?”
Amy: “Yeah.”
The Doctor: “Trust me?”
River: “Always.”

The Doctor: “Didn't anyone ever tell you, there's one thing you never put in a trap if you're smart? If you value your continued existence. If you have any plans about seeing tomorrow, there’s one thing you never ever put in a trap.”
Bob/Weeping Angel: “And what would be that be, sir?”
The Doctor: “Me!”

The Confidential for this episode gave us a look into the upcoming BBC games for the Doctor and Amy, coming out on June 5th – my birthday.

Okay, it’s not as good as the previous episodes that it’s being a sequel to, but I did enjoy “The Time Of Angels” massively. It’s certainly better than most first two part stories of a season and both River and the Weeping Angels are nicely utilised. Plus, the trailer for next week promises a lot on another lingering issue.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

2 comments:

Just said...

Nice review! I fully agree with you. I'm also on page with I wasn't thrilled at the idea of River Song coming back, but then through the weeks leading up to it, I've become more and more intrigued with who she is and how things will play out.

Loved this episode!

shawnlunn2002 said...

Thanks, it was certainly a lively episode last night and I think we did have a lot of time to adjust to River returning in the series. Looking forward to the second part of this one.