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Doctor Who 3.10: Blink

June 10th, 2007 (09:23 pm)

Family, friendship and loss are recurrent themes of latterday Doctor Who. Blink was suffused with them, but managed to be much less mawkish than many of the previous efforts. Steven Moffat has a knack for writing believable relationships, whether between friends, between brother and sister (the Kathy/Sally/Larry interaction in the flat at the start of the episode was superbly economical but set up so much for the rest of the story) or between the Doctor and his companion - it's absolutely appropriate that the Doctor would send Martha to get a job to support him, confirming that he's still a would-be Edwardian gentleman scientist-adventurer beneath the estuary glibness.

The casting of Kathy's grandson was surely intended to add a frisson of eerieness for thirtysomething viewers. There is something not-quite-familiar about him, a feeling that Sally must have... and then one sees the name of Richard Cant in the cast list and realises that the actor is the son of someone who had an influence on my childhood comparable to Eric Thompson, Oliver Postgate and Tom Baker. (How many other acting dynasties have been represented in two generations in Doctor Who? I can think of the Troughtons and the Watlings at the moment.) There's something of a disdain for the historical past that sits oddly with the depiction of 'Hull' as open fields; perhaps it was thought returning to St Fagan's for a period scene straight after Human Nature/The Family of Blood would have stretched audience credulity.

It wasn't until I watched Doctor Who Confidential that I realised that the Weeping Angels weren't props, but were played by actors; who would have thought that some of the most effective supporting performances in this series would come from actors who had to remain absolutely still?

There were a few neat foreshadowings here; Kathy's northern accent and idea that Sparrow and Nightingale could be a series on ITV, in the context of Doctor Who's assertive modernity and BBC-ness, perhaps makes her look old-fashioned. Later on, the Doctor says that the power of the Weeping Angels, once they had consumed the TARDIS, could turn off the sun; and as Sally and Larry try to enter the TARDIS, the Angel manages to interrupt the light. Moving laterally, Banto is the smaller of this week's nods to interstitial Doctor Who, as Banto Zame was a character in a Big Finish CD co-created by Clayton Hickman, editor of the book in which Sally Sparrow herself first appeared.

This still didn't have quite the effect on me which the previous story had - I found HN/FoB more disturbing - but it was another welcome change of tone, and is competing with Gridlock to be my second favourite episode. Next week we are promised one of the turning points of Doctor Who's mythology, and (pleasing many of those reading) the return of Captain Jack.

Comments

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: June 10th, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
Outsider

How many other acting dynasties have been represented in two generations in Doctor Who?

I'm pretty sure some child actors in the show have been the children of actors who've appeared. Certainly Sylvester McCoy's young sons played non-speaking roles as child Haemovores in The Curse of Fenric, and the children of Paul McGann, Wendy Padbury and Peter Davison have appeared in Big Finish audios. According to the DVD commentary, one of the extras in The Caves of Androzani was the father of the actors who played the twins in the following story.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 11th, 2007 12:02 am (UTC)

I'd forgotten these - Les Conrad was the name of the father of the Twin Dilemma boys, I think.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: June 10th, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC)
cyberleader

I can think of the odd married couple (Jean Marsh / Jon Pertwee, Anneke Wills / Michael Gough, Tom Baker / Lalla Ward) but no father / son, mother / daughters apart from the ones you mention.

What we need is Sophie Ellis-Bextor in 'Return of the Nimon'...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 11th, 2007 12:02 am (UTC)
JamieZoe

Exactly! Have you a storyline in mind?

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: June 11th, 2007 11:32 am (UTC)

What we need is Sophie Ellis-Bextor

I couldn't agree more ;-)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 11th, 2007 11:39 am (UTC)

I don't find her as attractive as her mother, to be honest - a bit too sharp-featured and stylised.

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: June 11th, 2007 11:39 am (UTC)

I do know what you mean.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: June 12th, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
dalek

Sophie Ellis-Bextor? Seriously?

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: June 12th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC)

Yep ...

Posted by: Alice Dryden (huskyteer)
Posted at: June 11th, 2007 12:19 pm (UTC)
Pertwee bike

Scariest this series, by far. I think 'Gridlock' is still my favourite, but that's mostly down to the talking cat (can't we have him as a recurring character instead of Captain Jack, please?).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 12th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
JamieZoe

Why not? I'm sure Brannigan might be up for some interplanetary travel.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: June 11th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)


I liked this, although I did not find it all that scary - more of pleasurably creepy. Someone on Confidential (I forget who, but I *think* it was not Steven Moffat himself) said that kids would be scared, and adults would say "oh clever". The latter was more my reaction.
Although... the thing about the conversation *is* paradoxical; I thought about it a lot (yes, I am that sad...), and it really is a closed loop. Not sure if that counts as not so clever after all, or too clever for its own good, but it didn't really distract from my enjoyment the second time round. (My flatmate hadn't seeen it on Saturday, so I sat in when he watched the tape - in case I need an excuse :-) )

As to the angels being actors, there is a little feature on the episode in this week's Radio Times, including an actor-to-angel picture series; just about still in the shops...

KT

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 11th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
Sylvester

This just goes to show how little attention I pay to the Radio Times these days, alas. It was once my bible.

The closed loop only makes sense if somehow it is allowed to be one 'event' by itself. "Timey-wimey stuff", indeed.