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Review: The Time of the Angels

The Time of the Angels is the fourth episode in the 31st episode of Doctor Who.


After the so-so third episode, the series needed a fantastic fourth to get back on track, and “The Time of Angels” delivered on every level. From the brilliant opening with the Doctor rescuing River Song to the dramatic cliff-hanger of being trapped by an army of Weeping Angels in a Maze of the Dead, everything is great. This is mainly thanks to the combination of two of Steven Moffat’s best creations during the Tenth Doctor era, the Weeping Angels and the enigmatic Professor River Song, with his best creations so far in this series – namely the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond.

Moffat is quite rightly very proud of The Weeping Angels, which appeared in the BAFTA and Hugo award winning episode “Blink” (29.10). The Angels are a fantastic creation; monsters who move when you’re not looking at them and turn to stone when you do. The catchphrase of “don’t even blink” was just inspired and “Blink” was truly scary. The return of the Angels sees these same elements repeated to great effect but on a bigger scale. I can honestly say that the moment Amy is trapped in the pod with the image of the Angel coming out of the TV screen at her, I was tempted to hide behind the sofa. The scariness is increased with the deaths of the young clerics and the creepiness factor rockets up even more when Moffat takes another element from his past stories; an enemy using the reanimated consciousness of a dead human through which to speak. He did it before in “Forest of the Dead” (30.09). Here the Angel uses Bob and it is disturbing on a primal, atavistic level.

The other wondrously acclaimed element that Moffat reuses is, of course, the character of River Song from “Silence in the Library” (30.08), played marvelously by Alex Kingston. The mystery of River Song and her relationship with the Doctor was one of the most intriguing aspects of “Silence in the Library.” Is she his future wife? Is she a past adversary or perhaps companion? Who is she? In this episode, Moffat teases with that idea by having Amy question the Doctor and River Song over their relationship which does at times play like an old married couple – the bickering over how to drive the TARDIS and how to get into the pod contrasting with their complete synchronicity when they realize the statues only have one head.

Matt Smith and Kingston have great chemistry which has to have been a relief to all because there was a chance that they wouldn’t. After all, much of the reason why River and the Doctor worked so well before was Kingston’s on-screen chemistry with David Tennant. But from the moment River lands on the Doctor in the TARDIS, the two just spark off each other again as though there hadn’t been a change of actor at all. And Kingston clearly loves playing River Song. She brings a sass and swagger to the character that is just awesome. I loved the whole opening sequence which starts the adventure with a bang.

The set-up in this first part is very well done and the episode moves at a rocketing pace. The exciting teaser of the rescue 12,000 years in the making moves swiftly onto Amy’s run-in with the Angel in the pod and through to the revelation of the Angels in the Maze of the Dead and the trap at the end. In between the action sequences though, pace is kept thanks to the banter between the characters whether Amy and the Doctor, River and the Doctor, or Amy and River who are also just great together.

Karen Gillan has another great outing as Amy, portraying both her fear and strength in equal measure. But I have to say Matt Smith really holds this episode together as the Doctor. There are just some really lovely touches – like accidentally snapping something off in the pod in a clumsy ‘oops’ manner, and the way he interacts with River and Amy. There is his compassionate handling of Bob and his lack of grace in handling the Bishop. It’s all a peculiar mix that makes the Doctor very mercurial. I love it. And Smith absolutely nailed the final scene with the passionate speech which was underscored wonderfully with the same music note from the Eleventh Hour when the Doctor told the Atraxi to run.

The music in “The Time of Angels” is done well, ratcheting up the tension at every step and that shot of the Doctor, beautifully lit with his arm stretched out holding a gun and looking grim and determined is just stunning. It provides a fantastic cliff-hanger to the episode and when the credits appeared I couldn’t believe that it was over already and I wanted to watch it again. Indeed, the only thing I wanted to watch more than watching “The Time of Angels” again was to begin watching the second part “Flesh and Stone” right then and there. Luckily I only have to wait a week.

This was just great entertainment, and if the rest of the series lives up to this quality, I will be a very happy bunny.

Previously published at Geek Speak Magazine.




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