Doctor Who: The Time of Angels

This story has nice classic format; small group of isolated humans on a remote alien world threatened by a creeping and overwhelming alien menace. And when I say ‘classic’ I don’t just mean classic Doctor Who when this was a formula that seemed to reach its peak during the Patrick Troughton years. The idea of a small group of humans stranded in an isolated location while battling with some alien threat reoccurs throughout science fiction and is often interpreted as a metaphor for human isolation in a hostile post Darwin universe.
Add to this creepy tunnels, that are in fact a graveyard, and deadly statues that are more menacing then when we saw them last time in Blink and we end up with a story that promises to live up to what we were hoping for from Steven Moffat. Being a two part story also allows the story and tension to develop at a more sustainable pace, though some of it seemed so fast (especially at the beginning) and accompanied by loud dramatic music that I had trouble following the dialogue.

It always good when you feel you can engage with a character in a story. I believe that Doctor Who has occasionally been guilty of masking two dimensional characters with glib and clever remarks. So how good to have Bishop Octavian reprove the Doctor by reminding him that, “I’ll be the one to tell [the dead brothers] families while you go off in your blue box.” A statement like this suggests that the writer has given this characters some depth by making them emotionally real.

I like the idea of having warrior clerics. It is so refreshingly different from ‘today’ that it adds credibility to the assertion that these events are happening in the future (something let down a little by the early 21st Century styling of clothes and weapons appearing in the far future museum and on the planet Alfava Metraxis). The idea of warrior monks is made more credible by its precedence in history; specifically the Templar Knights established as a military monastic order to protect pilgrims to the Holy land after the First Crusade.

One of the irritating features of current TV science fiction (not just Doctor Who) is the use of current weapons, particularly small arms in stories set in the future. There may be cost or practical reasons for this and I can even accept an argument that firearms are so reliable and sophisticated now that they would be continue to be used by humans as they expanded out into the universe for centuries to come. But surely they would continue to develop? Couldn’t the application of a little CGI make them behave like a design of the future? Couldn’t we have exploding, incendiary and heat seeking bullets? After all these ideas have been around in Judge Dredd for some time now so they wouldn’t be too radical to include.

Interestingly this is the first episode of Series 5 to be filmed and was therefore Matt Smith’s first full episode outing as the Doctor. Perhaps, for that reason he sometimes looked like the school prefect telling off the headmaster. Early days yet, but I think his youth is working against him so it may take him longer to develop a style that can counteract that disadvantage. On the plus side he does have a suitable non-human quirky manner about him and I’m convinced that his performance will improve.

Overall a good episode and I’m left eagerly looking forward to seeing Flesh and Stone this Saturday.

written by Peter Grehan



4 comments


    Frank Sable

    April 27, 2010

    I remember those ray guns they used to have on Doctor Who years ago. They were about as deadly as a penlight torch. Still I don’t think UNIT’s guns were much better.

    Ben

    April 28, 2010

    After a dissapointing episode last week, this was a much welcome step in the right direction. I was very pleased to see the return of the crying angels ,villains from what may well be my favourite Doctor Who episode in recent years (Blink).

    With regard to the weapons and uniform, I must agree. It seems a little lazy to make no notable alterations to uniform or weapons.

    As an example having done it better, take another look at the weapons they used in The Doctors Daughter. Essentially, modern looking machine guns, but the muzzle flash and sound effect used made it different enough to seem alien/futuristic.

    jude garner

    May 5, 2010

    I also thought this was a step in the right direction, and I liked the thought of soldier clerics,however I still think a lot of work needs to be done before we are back in the realms of ‘classic Dr Who’. The Doctor seems to be racing through his dialogue without giving any thought to the words he is saying ,as if speed is of the essence ,which I’m presuming isn’t the case for a Time Lord. I am waiting for the actor to connect with his character as David T did and not just go through the motions.The dialogue also seems a little random as if an idea has been thrown at the actors and they ae playing with improvisation,that idea worked on Whose line is it anyway,I’m not sure its a technique that should be used on Dr Who. All this being said I am definitely warming to the Doctor and Miss Pond,and I have no intention of giving up on them yet.
    It would be nice to see a new menace and not to revisit the past and I’m less than happy with the new look Daleks who look as though they have been made from discarded dodgems from the fair ground.Lets hope they don’t collide with each other and damage their bumpers!!!!!!!!!!!

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