Monday, 2 July 2012

The Matt Smith Review: Part 4 - Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone


What We First Thought: Is that Angel made of stone, or is it pleased to see River?

There’s no doubt that Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone represents the watermark for all Steven Moffat/Matt Smith episodes. When I say watermark, I don’t mean a dancing cartoon of Graham Norton bouncing along the bottom of the screen at a very tense moment!  Everything about this episode just oozes quality and arguably - they’ve not really hit that same watermark again…

If there’s one thing that hits you about this episode, is that it’s cinematic.  The way in which its shot, the lighting and the scenery is just absolutely superb.  You could whack this up on a big screen, show both parts back-to-back and people would think it’s a movie.   Soon they’ll be purchasing expensive food and drink and demanding it to shown in pointless 3D, so they can wear those funny glasses.  One woman who doesn’t wear funny glasses, is River Song – and she’s back!  Last seen in the memory of a computer, we finally get to see the start of her story (or should that be the start of the end?) and what exactly is her relationship with The Doctor.  Speaking of which – The Doctor! Has anyone really hit if off as well as Matt Smith in their first appearance?  These two stories were the first he filmed and he nails his character better than he’s done from what we’ve seen so far, maybe bar The Eleventh Hour.  After watching this, only those staunch David Tennant fans won’t be able to appreciate what a talent Matt is.

Like many others, I was wondering how the hell could they make the Angels work over two episodes.  Great in Blink, but apart from the ‘sending people back in time’ bit and looking genuinely creepy, they didn’t seem able to offer much more.  How wrong I was!  Not only was another dimension added, I’m now queuing up for some 16D glasses!  The scenes where the Angel was coming out of the television screen was a masterstroke – how many people watching will take that literally and be scared witless by a Angel (or dancing, cartoon Graham Norton) coming out of the telly?  We actually got to see them move too, which looked very unsettling.

Speaking of scares, another bit I liked was Angel Bob.  Just before he was killed, the script allowed for him to have a bit of character to be built up.  He was a young soldier, a bit scared as we’d all be and someone who was comforted by The Doctor.  Then we hear him over the radio, talking normally…and he’s dead…but he sounds fine. It’s pure genius.  Just like Steven Moffat can only dream about writing a ‘hilarious’ list of Fives in a fanzine every 3 months, I can only dream of writing a story as good as him.  (Even though he rips character names off me!)

As mentioned about River, I think it’s great that we get to see her character again so early on.  Her cheek at robbing things from the ship, leaving messages for The Doctor, making him pick her up, then landing the TARDIS, just after hanging her (quite large) shoes up…it’s something which we’ve never really had before.  It’s interesting to note that these episodes are sequels – to Blink AND to River Song.  I’m sure we all know from experience that most sequels don’t often work due to them coming out with the same old plot.  This story actually BUILDS on its predecessors, what with the Angels killing people and ripping them apart to talk and River’s character continues to grow and get more intriguing.

This has been touched on by many people when talking about this story, but I really like the idea of the Clerics.  History has shown that armies have been built up on the back of religion and faith, so why won’t it be the same in the future?  Despite the on-going narrative, I liked how the character of the Bishop was developed throughout.  He went from not trusting The Doctor (Bishop: Do you absolutely trust him? River: I absolutely trust him. Bishop: He’s not some kind of madman is he? River: I absolutely trust him) to telling him about why River was helping them.  Maybe not exactly why, but we’ll get to that (much) later!  His death was also a bit shocking and very well realised.

I think it’s important to remember that this is the 4th episode out of 5 that have been written by Steven Moffat.  It’s obvious that he wanted to get ‘his Who’ across as quickly as possible, to give the series a great chance at settling down.  The story behind the crack could have got very tedious if it carried for a another week or two, but BANG it’s addressed at the end of the episode and we get a bit of an explanation, which only opens up more questions for us to ponder throughout the series.

With many more episodes to go in this series, those questions will undoubtedly grow!

What We Think Now: Yes, I think it was pleased to see River.

Your (5-Word) Reviews 

@JayMcIntyre1: "River Song is Mary Sue"
@Scrobby: "Doctor should kiss Rory instead"
@Mr_Brell: "Good scary stuff all round!"
@Landcross: "There's DUST in my EYE!"
 
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