Posts Tagged ‘weeping angels’

Continuing a theme of titles ending “of the Doctor” (Name, Night, Day) it’s been announced that the final adventure of Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor will be The Time of the Doctor.

The official synopsis runs:
“Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe’s deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars. And amongst them – the Doctor. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.” (more…)

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Doctor Who - The Angels Take Manhattan wallpaper

As the Last Days of the Ponds arrive and The Angels Take Manhattan time can’t be rewritten to save Amy and Rory as they bid farewell to their daughter and their Raggedy Man.

Chapter 1 The Dying Detective

Quite often Doctor Who works best when evoking the spirit of other genres and giving it a special twist to make it something extra special. For example,The Crusades from the William Hartnell era was David Whitaker’s spin on Shakespeare (with lines quoted as belonging to Love’s Labour Won used in The Shakespeare Code decades later); the entire 7th season (Jon Pertwee’s first) called upon the classic Quatermass serials of the 1950s; and the central plot element of Soylent Green in which corpses are recycled as food for humanity was at the heart of Eric Saward’s Revelation of the Daleks.

With the air of a 1930s pulp novel with a dash of film noir thrown in The Angels Take Manhattan commenced with detective Sam Garner (Rod David) investigating the building “where the statues live” at the behest of wealthy collector Julius Grayle (Mike McShane) and ended with a great tragedy for the Doctor as he is separated from Amy and Rory forever.

Chapter 2 The Angels Take Manhattan

Originally Steven Moffat intended to feature the Daleks in the Ponds’ grand finale but whilst visiting New York in 2011 the idea of using the Weeping Angels against the backdrop of the Big Apple came to him. Since the transmission of the highly-acclaimed Blink in 2007 fans had regularly postulated that the Statue of Liberty itself was a giant Weeping Angel. No Ghostbusters II-style romp across for New York preceded the statue’s looming appearance at Winter Quay as this time the city’s most famous icon was there to scare. The concept of the temporal battery farm recalled the scene in Blade Trinity where Blade and Abigail discovered a warehouse containing hundreds of humans in chemically-induced comas waiting to act as a food source for the vampires.

With each appearance the tactics of the Weeping Angels evolve. From barely-surviving scavengers on Earth to manipulative hoards on Alfava Metraxis, the continually changing facets of the Weeping Angels are akin to the progression from the atmospheric Alien to the action-orientated Aliens. Thankfully The Angels Take Manhattan doesn’t parallel Alien 3 or Alien Resurrection for controversial missed opportunities or sheer direness respectively.

Chapter 3 Missing in New York

Virtually from the moment of their conception the departure of Amy Pond and Rory Williams had been planned for. Their connection to the mysterious River Song and their undying love that conspired to survive the birth and death of time and space itself proved to be the most emotional and complex character arc ever granted to companions. Take a moment out and appreciate the genius of the Grand Moff, who created Amelia Pond with the explicit intention of linking her to River Song. Thanks to the impact of the intended one-off character from Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (bought so magnificently to life and death by Alex Kingston) Moffat created two friends for the Eleventh Doctor who will continue to resonate when the series reaches its 50th, 60th, and 70th anniversaries…and beyond…

The presence of the Ponds in the TARDIS (pre- and post-marriage) categorically debunked the long-held view in numerous quarters about the programme’s format working best when the Doctor has a single companion. Some of the best TARDIS crews have featured a male and female duo alongside the Doctor. Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield/Zoe Herriot in the Patrick Troughton era; Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan during Tom Baker’s first season; and Tegan Jovanka and Vislor Turlough in the 20th and 21st seasons alongside Peter Davison. The advocacy for the single companion is often made by lazy and unimaginative scriptwriters who can’t create an interesting narrative for more than two regulars.

Chapter 4 Taking the Case

Alongside the return of the Weeping Angels came Moffat’s other popular Doctor Who creation: River Song. The presence of River in the final outing for her parents was pretty inevitable and she’s now been freed from the convoluted timey-wimey continuity that had been established throughout her previous appearances. Now a professor of archaeology River doesn’t have to spend any more days in the Stormcage Containment Facility. After all, how can she be imprisoned for the murder of a man who never existed? As always the chemistry and interaction between Matt Smith and Alex Kingston was a delight to watch. Only in Doctor Who is it possible to become a recurring guest actor after a debut story in which your character dies. It’s a fair bet that River Song will continue to appear as long as Steven Moffat is the show runner and a part in the 50th anniversary series seems to be a given.

Chapter 5 Night in Statue Park

In the 1980s overseas filming came across as more of a perk for the production team rather than as an integral aspect of the unfolding story. Locations in and around Seville added nothing to The Two Doctors that couldn’t have been achieved with filming in the Home Counties, whereas the original proposed setting of New Orleans had been woven into Robert Holmes’ script almost as a character in its own right. Nowadays a Doctor Who story goes abroad for concrete reasons. The Fires of Pompeii, The Vampires of Venice and A Town Called Mercy could not have worked as effectively without the inclusion of appropriate foreign backdrops. The excursion to Dubai for Planet of the Dead was a complete waste of time though as it all looked like an infamous BBC sandpit with a touch of CGI.

Locations in Cardiff and Bristol were superbly used to render locations such as Winter Quay, the lair of the Weeping Angels, whilst three days of intensive filming for Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill in and around Central Park gave the episode a sense of scale, romance and atmosphere it would otherwise have lacked. Rory’s eerie encounter on the lower terrace of Bethesda Terrace and the journey of the Doctor and Amy through Times Square (the latter done in a single take) are highlights of the near guerrilla filmmaking that the BBC undertook. It’s impossible to spot which are the British locations and which are the American ones unless you already know. The meeting of Rory and River was achieved with Arthur Darvill in New York with Central Park as an establishing background and Alex Kingston in Cardiff. The BBC Wales Doctor Who team are certainly at the top of their game seven years in.

Chapter 6 The Gargoyle

As with The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone River’s entry into the narrative came as a result of her investigation into rumours about a mysterious statue in the possession of a wealthy collector. Thankfully this one was chained and damaged and so was unable to run riot. There remains a wealth of backstory to be told about the Lonely Assassins and their presence through time and space. Perhaps a visit to Notre Dame de Paris or the Peace Tower in Ottawa and their respective gargoyles could happen in a future season…

Technically the Weeping Angels seen so far are in fact grotesques, a carved stone figure. A gargoyle contains a water spout through the mouth whereas grotesques don’t. In the Middles Ages, the term babewyn (derived from the Italian word babbuino, meaning babboon) was used to refer to both gargoyles and grotesques. In the November 2001 BBC Books 8th Doctor novel The Adventuress of Henrietta Street by Lawrence Miles (for whom controversial is perhaps the best and politest term) the villain of the piece Sabbath is assisted by savage, demonic apes called babewyns.

Doctor Who can be so damn timey-wimey…

Chapter 7 The Skinny Guy

Rory’s had a rather rough time since meeting the Doctor. Killed and wiped from existence, reborn as an Auton, discovering his daughter was a time-travelling archaeology professor bred to assassinate the Doctor. On any given morning he’s probably trying to remember if he’s human, plastic, or the Last Centurion. No wonder he looks bemused so often…Yet throughout life, death, and rebirth his primary focus remained Amy and her happiness. Time after time he was prepared to give her up as he thought that was the best thing to do – but love always won through. Arthur Darvill will be a much-missed element of Doctor Who and it’s likely to be a while before anyone tries putting another regular male companion aboard the TARDIS.

Chapter 8 Julius Grayle

The characters of detective Sam Garner and the dangerous collector Mr Grayle were just two of many elements that cried out for elaboration but constrained by the single 45 minute episode format. The entire undertaking could easily have become a two parter building upon Rory and River’s investigation of Winter Quay in 1938 running in parallel with the attempts of Amy and the Doctor to land the TARDIS there. Especially noticeable by their absence are new great villains. Where is a new Mavic Chen, Tobias Vaughn, Sutekh, Magnus Greel, Sharaz Jek, Sil or the Master? Mr Finch from School Reunion and Lillith of The Shakespeare Code are the closest the Doctor come to a new worthy humanoid adversary. Far too often 21st century Doctor Who is told at a breakneck speed that barely allows the viewer to take in the happenings in once scene before plunging into another frenetic round of action. At several points in the past 6 1/2 series poorly developed single episodes should have been abandoned early on in favour of expanding a tale crying out for more time. The Wedding of River Song cried out for an additional 45 minutes, and surely no one would have lamented the absence of The God Complex or Closing Time?

Chapter 9 Calling the Doctor

Whilst River’s personal timeline might now be simplified Moffat didn’t completely abandon his trademark approach to the interconnectivity of time in which past events can immediately impact upon the present by becoming a fixed point in time. The Doctor’s reading of Melody Malone: Private Detective in Old New York Town instilled an ominous sense of foreboding as the Time Lord began to realised he was destined to loose his little Amelia Pond and there was nothing he could do to prevent it.

Chapter 10 The Roman in the Cellar

…And now poor old Rory finds himself trapped in a cellar with killer cherubs several decades before popping off to get coffee…

Chapter 11 Death at Winter Quay

Unfortunately after all the planning and hype the conclusion to the saga of the Ponds stumbled at the very last. Amy and Rory’s final scene should have been their Reichenbach Falls-style fall from the roof of Winter Quay as they deliberately sacrificed themselves to destroy the Weeping Angels through the creation of a time paradox. The love and nobility channelled by Gillan and Darvill as they effectively chose suicide, together with the horrified reactions of Smith and Kingston, were as heartbreaking stunning as anything ever seen in Doctor Who. Their disappearance from the Doctor’s timeline during the creation of the paradox and their fate left ambiguous could have been one of the greatest moments in the history of the series. Viewers could have decided their fate in their own minds. And perhaps…just perhaps…the Doctor could have met them again in the labyrinths of time…

Chapter 12 Amelia’s Last Farewell

In terms of companion departures and its emotional resonance Russell T Davies liked to have his cake and eat it. At the time the savage separation of Rose from the Tenth Doctor in Doomsday was without doubt one of the most heartbreaking moments ever in the history of the series (the destruction of K-9 Mark III in School Reunion scores top). David Tennant and Billie Piper had the viewers crying their eyes and hearts out. The two of them forever apart due to the barrier of wall and an impenetrable universe. Yet all that was rendered moot just one series later when Rose got to live happily ever after with the Doctor’s human clone. Being ripped from the presence of a friend or loved one for what is likely to be a very long time, or possibly forever, is one of the most traumatic events that can occur. Rarely in life does there come a moment of permanent separation where all parties have agreed upon the timing and been able to somehow prepare for the subsequent emotional shocks. In Doctor Who the best companion departures have been the emotionally wrenching ones. Amongst the most affecting from the classic series were Jamie and Zoe’s enforced removal by the Time Lords and subsequent memory wipe; Sarah’s eviction from the TARDIS due to the Doctor’s summons to Gallifrey; and Tegan’s sudden decision that she’s had enough due to all the killing that followed in the Doctor’s wake.

Steven Moffat, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have made it abundantly clear in numerous interviews that The Angels Take Manhattan saw the FINAL appearance of the Ponds in the series, bar flashbacks. All three believed that the emotional impact and suddenness of their finale would be undermined if they simply popped up a few stories later with a cheerful wave to the Doctor. If that was a sly swipe at the Russell T Davies era then good on them.

Whilst the slightly wrong ending may have occurred in the graveyard courtesy of the leftover cherub, there’s no denying the impact of Amy Williams’ farewell to her Raggedy Man via the last page of the Melody Malone book. When watching the scene it’s worth bearing in mind that during that just out of shot is Karen Gillan reading Steven Moffat’s lines to Matt Smith. By the end both actors had tears in their eyes…

Afterword by Amelia Williams: Hello, old friend. And here we are. You and me, on the last page. By the time you read these words, Rory and I will be long gone. So know that we lived well and were very happy. And above all else, know that we will love you always. Sometimes I do worry about you though. I think once we’re gone you won’t be coming back here for awhile. And you might be alone. Which you should never be. Don’t be alone, Doctor. And do one more thing for me. There’s a little girl waiting in a garden. She’s going to wait a long while, so she’s going to need a lot of hope. Go to her. Tell her a story. Tell her that if she’s patient, the days are coming that she’ll never forget. Tell her she’ll go to see and fight pirates. She’ll fall in love with a man who’ll wait two thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she’ll give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived. And save a whale in outer space. Tell her, this is the story of Amelia Pond. And this is how it ends.

Following last month’s triple purchase of Doctor Who Magazine the buggers are at it again…special editions of issue 452 on 20 September for The Power of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan. Hope they don’t do this for the 8 stories due in early 2013.

DWM 452 The Power of Three DWM 452 The Angels Take Manhattan

All the Daleks!!! EVER!!!

Dinosaurs!!! ON A SPACESHIP!!!

Cyborg gunfighters!!! IN THE WILD WEST!!!

River Song!!! Baby Weeping Angel!!! IN NEW YORK!!!

Weeping Angels - they're getting closer

All indications are that Doctor Who will be returning for the final 6 episodes of this series on Saturday 27 August. Treats in store include: Hitler, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, and River Song!!!

Plus Karen Gillan is confirmed to be appearing alongside Matt Smith in Series 7, though no word on the actual number of episodes that she’ll be in.

I think, sir, you have known me at my best

Doctor Who - Flesh and Stone

How cool must it be to have your father as the showrunner of Doctor Who? That’s the enviable position of Moffat Jrs and it’s thanks one of them that the conclusion of the River Song/Weeping Angels epic has the title Flesh and Stone. Apt, with the threat of human flesh, mainly Amy’s, being rendered unto stone…

With typical Doctor-panache the Time Lord extricates the besieged clerics and companions from the threat of the Angels in the maze in a single bound only to find themselves being chased through the claustrophobic corridors and artificial forests of the Byzantium. And as if being pursued by the stone beasties wasn’t problematic enough the crack in the universe seen in the previous stories chooses to manifest itself right here right now.

After setting up the genius of a monster that scares without seemingly without moving the shit-yourself factor steps up a notch when the Weeping Angels turn to face Amy upon realising she can’t in fact see them.

The concept of the Angels having a sense of humour and using Amy’s countdown to her fate of becoming one of them as a means to freak out the Doctor is scarier than anything encountered in the series for years. And a big mistake as it really, really pisses the last of the Time Lords off big time.

So with the threat of legions of Weeping Angels and a massive crack in existence itself how in the hell does the Grand Moff deal with the dual threat? Simple, cancel them out using each other. This is what makes this series different to much of what has come in the years before. The Doctor is thinking his way out of a situation and three steps ahead of the game. These Angels may have been erased from history but it’d be foolish to believe there aren’t more out there…

River Song doesn’t have as much to do this episode but Iain Glen’s Father Octavia (possibly underused in the first part) comes to the fore with one of the most moving death scenes ever seen in Doctor Who. He has come to trust the Doctor and knows that although nothing can be done to stave off his fate he is at peace with the universe.

With Octavia’s warning about not being able to trust River Song and her admission that she is in prison for killing the “finest man she ever knew” (how can anyone not pick up on the hint that said person is the Doctor?) the pieces for the season finale have already begin their move into place.

River Song promises to see the Doctor again when the Pandorica opens but the Doctor views the Pandorica as merely a fairy tale…

…a fairy tale within the darker fairy tale that Doctor Who has become in the space of only a few episodes…

Gone is the fluffy pop culture-aware David Tennant version of the Doctor to be replaced with the the most complex incarnation since the late and lamented Patrick Troughton inhabited the role over 40 years ago. One moment comedic and eccentric Matt Smith can spin in an instant to the dark fury of an ancient creature that even gods fear. For a time it looked as though the 10th Doctor would carry on into Steven Moffat’s first year and that would have been a mistake. That Doctor belonged to a lighter pulp sci-fi era of the series…it would have been akin to planting Jon Pertwee’s galactic crusader into The Deadly Assassin. The closest they got to this kind of dark tale was The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit but that fell thanks to the soppiness of Rose and the Doctor towards each other.

After starting this two parter with one of the funniest scenes in the history of the series the story concludes with the funniest scene. Ever. Amy doesn’t mope around after the Doctor like Rose and Martha did. But that doesn’t stop her trying to jump him for a quick shag in the spur of the moment of being grateful to be alive. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan can play humour, emotion, darkness, and everything else. Long may this pairing continue.

And rude hand gestures to those accusing the series of trying to “sex up” with these scenes. Get a humour transplant.

Hello sweetie…

Doctor Who - The Time of Angels

During the RTD era Steven Moffat created not only one of the most memorable characters “Doctor Who” has ever seen but a set of the most memorable monsters ever seen on Doctor Who. River Song and the Weeping Angels demanded encores during the Grand Moff’s era of the series. That they make their sophomore appearances together is icing on the cake of the finest quality, and The Time of Angels develops their respective mythologies in grandly mysterious and scary style.

Moffat plays beautifully with the concept of time being all “wibbly-wobbly” for the Doctor with River Song’s stylish and frankly gorgeous 007-homage re-entry into the Time Lord’s life. Yes he saw her die towards the end of looking like David Tennant but for a time traveller that’s all pretty irrelevant and within moments of her flying through the TARDIS doors the two of them are bickering in the manner of an old married couple. And within the first third of the story Amy voices the question on all fans’ lips “Is she your wife?”

One of the most glorious laugh-out-loud moments in the near 50 year history of the series comes with the revelation that the iconic sound of the TARDIS’s materialisation is all due to the Doctor leaving the handbrake on!. This is made even funnier by the expressions employed by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Alex Kingston throughout the scene. Indeed the three work so well together it would create an interesting dynamic to have River aboard the TARDIS full time as a companion. But, on the other hand, it would probably dilute the mystery of the character. She’s a huge spoiler for the Doctor’s future and with luck this will be teased out through the 11th Doctor’s life.

There’s no indication how long before Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead River’s story is taking place but at this point in her life she’s seemingly in the shit and working for gun-toting 51st century clerics. Interestingly many of the Grand Moff’s previous tales have been connected to this period in Earth’s history: Captain Jack worked as a Time Agent in this period, the clockwork androids of  The Girl in the Fireplace originated here, and River Song’s debut/swansong took place in the same century.

River’s “mission” was to track down a deadly creature aboard the Byzantium, the last of its kind: a Weeping Angel. In Blink we met scavengers, here it’s a malevolence at the height of its powers with a whole slew of powers not seen before. Including emerging from the TV and scaring the shit out of Amy and most of the children in the UK. Numerous adults too…

With the descent into the Maze of the Dead and the wealth of statues Doctor Who becomes the creepiest the series has been since the days of the great Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes. In fact the series has not been this good since that Golden Age.

One of the most spine-tingling moments ever, ever, ever occurs when the Doctor and River both realise that all the statues have a single head when, given the inhabitants of the planet, two heads should be the order of the day. Every statue is a Weeping Angel, and they’re all regenerating thanks the radiation pouring out of the wrecked Byzantium. 

Then comes one of the great cliffhangers…surrounded by Angels…no hope of escape…no possibility of survival…but the one thing you never, ever put in a trap is the Doctor…

Even when a cartoon of Graham Norton appears and attempts to ruin the tension…

Is there truth in the rumour that a Weeping Angel was sent to visit the BBC moron who authorised the trail for the next programme in this moment of cliffhangerness? Let’s bloody hope so…

So all the Doctor has to next week is figure out what the Weeping Angels have done to Amy, stop River Song trying to get him annoyed every 5 minutes, and defeat a legion of regenerating and deadly Weeping Angels…

Could take a little more than a kettle and a piece of string this time around…