About time for Doctor Who's "Time for Angels"
Well. Holy moly. This is the Steven Moffat I've been waiting for.
Oh, I've only watched the first of two parts (and Doctor Who is notorious for climaxes which don't live up to their foreplays) so it is entirely possible the next episode will leave me bitter and disappointed and bitterly disappointed — but even a complete phail won't be able to take away from the pleasures to be had from "Time of the Angels".
At the 30 minute mark, I felt as if I was seeing the episode Moffat had meant to be his first episode, the one with which he'd wanted to start his tenure as show-runner, as if the first three had been awkward contractual obligations. (Obviously, that can't have been the case; but they feel like throwaways, where as this (so far) definitely feels like the real thing.)
But I get ahead of myself.
I'm reacting almost in real time here, so I may change my mind when I re-watch — but for the first time this season I want to re-watch. And that alone somehow also makes me really want to post my first reactions.
And so what follows is not too far off a live, twitter-type blog, rather than considered review.
First thought is that River's wearing one hell of a pair of heels. Regular knee-busters, they must be.
More to the point, the first five minutes, exposition and all, move like lightning in a time-tunnel. Speaking of which, have they tweaked the opening theme? If so, it's a big improvement; if not, the changes introduced with the first episode are growing on me (a lot. Hopefully someone else has noticed and done the compare and contrast.
Loved River's 2001-esque escape through vacuum (even if I don't quite believe it), but would have prefered if she'd had a little bit of bruising to show for the exertion (she did spend 10 or 15 seconds in outer space after all).
In the Tardis
The lack of bruising aside, River Song's introduction was beautiful. She falls into the Tardis and immediately takes command, like a drill-sergeant coming upon a wandering platoon of raw recruits. The bit at the 6:00 minute mark, when she fixes the blue stabilizers was a lovely piece of business. As was Matt Smith's channeling of Tennant: "Hah!" (And I can't imagine the fan who won't swoon when Smith makes the Tardis noises.
All that before we're seven minutes in. We've had laughs, some tension and a lot of mystery. This is how to write episodic television!
Time enough for Angels
All the crap CGI we've been subjected to this season has clearly been inflicted in order to gift us with a bloody gorgeous bunch of sets this time around. The crashed space-ship, the broken temple (and — man! — the tardis interior!), all look gorgeous and — better still — believable (at least on my small screen).
And later, as they're underground and heading up towards the crashed ship: am I alone in being reminded of the caverns of The Satan Pit? Could this be the same world?
All in all, we get a much better sense of Amy, in particular we learn that she is brave and imaginative and has a wicked sense of humour.
The second half of the episode manages to both continue to develop character and to start creeping us out. Moffat's re-use of the Weeping Angels is still creepy, still scary (as it should be). What exposition there is, is given quickly and unobstrusively. The only complaint I have was with the red-shirts, who were explained away pretty well towards the end, when "Scared Bob" becomes the Angels' spokesman.
And earlier, when Amy (was the) first (to) discover that the Angel wasn't sleeping, we were both frightened for her and proud of her as she managed to be quite a bit more than a hostage in a mini-skirt.
Better still was the resolution to what had seemed like a pretty obvious "Amy's going to turn into an Angel sub-plot. The Doctor's bite managed to be funny and a reasonable way to save the situation, plot-wise.
Moffat's batting pretty close to a 1000 at this point.
I know I'm missing a lot, and I know a lot can go wrong, but damn, if Time of the Angels isn't why I still love Doctor Who, I don't know what the reason might be.
I hope to hell next week's conclusion lives up to its genesis, but even it it blows the set-up completely, Time of the Angels will remain 41 minutes and 37 seconds I will never regret having spent watching it.
Whee! Happy aging fanboy is happy.