plain 3-episode volume
|(Doctor Who Story No. 190,
starring Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow,
with David Tennant as the Doctor)
- written by Steven Moffat
- directed by Hettie MacDonald
- produced by Phil Collinson
- music by Murray Gold
- 1 episode @ 45 minutes
Story: When Sally Sparrow and her circle of friends get
caught in a deadly paradox of time travel and quantum physics,
she must follow a series of breadcrumb clues left by a
mysterious Doctor. What secrets does the nearby
abandoned house contain? What connects 17 seemingly
random DVD releases? And why must the phone box be
kept away from the angels?
DVD Extras (box sets only) include:
- Audio commentary by writer Steven Moffat
and composer Murray Gold.
- Doctor Who Confidential featurette:
Do You Remember the First Time? (directed by David Tennant, 12 min.)
with Moffat, Tennant,
Mark Gatiss, Gareth Roberts, Julie Gardner,
Jane Tranter, Russell T. Davies, and Phil Collinson.
- Alternate Scene
- Easter Egg (5 min.)
In-Depth Analysis Review
by Martin Izsak
WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended
for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the
Buyers' Guide version instead.
Yet another Steven Moffat story manages to score big on both the
quality and popularity scales. "Blink" easily features the most
well-developed and successful adversaries he has come up with, wrapped
up in the usual puzzle of intellectual plot lines and freaking us out
with plenty of good scares. Yet two unfortunate factors carrying over
from the rest of the season knock it down in the rankings. After the
previous story has built enormous anticipation for the Doctor to knock
our socks off with his returned brilliant presence, we move on to this
tale which is the double-banked "B" story that can merely give the regular
characters cameos while it is filmed at the same time as
"Human Nature" (the previous story).
And on top of being Doctor-less, we're stuck on Earth again as well
when the season really needs more alien planets to bring some balance
to its supposed variety of settings.
"The Keys of Marinus" (story no. 5)
has the Doctor's partial absence
from an adventure been handled so well. In fact this is probably the best
"Doctor-less" story that the show has ever had. Note that our substitute
main character - Sally Sparrow - does not spend all her time running around
looking for the Doctor in vain. She very successfully does the most
important thing for a protagonist in a Doctor-less adventure: she tackles the
main challenges herself and comes to grips with the story. Excellent!
David Tennant also enjoys a high level of quality in all of the few scenes
that he gets to play, including what is perhaps the most literal version
of the "pre-filmed insert" that William Hartnell's original Doctor was
usually denied for his Doctor-less stories.
The temporal paradox central to the story is neat and self-contained,
confining itself to a single line of time without raising the usual
obvious ugly questions of sacrificing choice or volition in order to resolve
itself. At least not until one gets really picky and asks if,
despite the great resolution we have, an even better one was possible.
Firstly, the genesis of the ideas that resolve the plot seem lost in a
loop of time, with neither Sally nor the Doctor nor any other character
seen to "come up" with them at any point, rather they are eternally learning
the ideas from each other in a loop, similar to the problem of the genesis
of Shakespeare's famous lines in
"The Shakespeare Code" (story no. 184).
More to the point, it does
seem unlikely that characters from the present would be stuck to live out
the rest of their lives in the past, with the Doctor free to rescue them
with the TARDIS at the end of the tale. Don't the characters retain the
choice to do things differently to what the paradox will prophesy for them?
Of course, my driving answer is always a huge YES, while also noting that
the TARDIS should be as likely to deposit the Doctor's rescuees in a parallel
present as in the one that our Sally occupies, and if she believes they
can't be rescued without upsetting the paradox, then that is the present
she chooses her way into. Elegant. Steven Moffat deserves an A+ for his
temporal efforts in this tale, and steering clear of magic on-screen visual
effects does help.
Also, while it might be argued that this is yet another intellectual
pretzel from Steven Moffat designed solely to dwell on fears and freak out
the audience, it isn't really quite as lacking in worthwhile thematic
ideas as his previous Doctor Who efforts. It actually contains the most
outstandingly memorable examples in cinema of one of quantum physics'
newest, most exciting principles. Doctor Who is teaching science once
again, and having a whale of a time at it. Kudos.
That said, the malfunctioning light bulb in the basement of the house
feels a bit like a crutch at a critical point in the story. Better reason
might have been developed for it to help the plot and mood along so nicely.
Reportedly, there were a lot of tasty expansions and developments in the
script that got trimmed for time - unfortunately they don't appear as
deleted scenes on the DVD extras either, if they were even filmed;
we only get one alternative idea for a scene that had some extra
humour in it. However, Moffat does get to fill in some of the
really nice missing character development bits on the commentary,
providing more icing for a great cake.
Carey Mulligan turns in a wonderful performance as Sally in this story,
tastefully reserved for the most part, yet also displaying great emotion
whenever the story truly calls for it. Nice. In fact, it's another great
pity that she doesn't take over as companion for the Doctor. The guest
star outshines the regular yet again....
Great praise is also due for the story's director Hettie MacDonald,
who may have produced the most flawless directorial work on the entire
season. The tale becomes both magnetically engaging and believable,
and if the script had any holes still in it when it was turned over to
the production team, they've all been masterfully filled in and/or
de-emphasized to the point where no one will ever find them.
Murray Gold does his usual excellent work in crafting the score
for this story. The suite available on CD contains a cue that begins
with a wistful, mournful tune indicative of Sally's typical mood,
before launching into a more rousing section as she comes to a
decision and puts on her enterprising hat. The suite then switches to
the eerie and very unique musical sound of the weeping angels.
Unforgettable. Other wonderful bits that feature only on TV include
the bit where Sally chases out of the house after young Wainwright.
The score evokes similar feeling to Mark Snow's work on "The X-Files",
but is counterbalanced by a unique Doctor Who liveliness that keeps
Music by Murray Gold
"Blink (Suite)" and
"The Doctor Forever"
are available on:
The story's concluding beats are very well worked out, giving both
Sally and the Doctor good stuff to do. You could tell this story
from either of their two perspectives, and they'd each have satisfying
climactic heroic actions to perform. Sally's side of things is still
probably the more exciting of the two, so nice that that's the one we get.
The story has a wonderfully relevant and enjoyable wrap up to resolve
a few character and plot issues. Bizarrely, a final weird coda follows,
trying hard to reverse the lasting emotional impression and give the
adversaries even more weight. It really does betray Moffat's belief
that the scares are what it's all about. I disagree and think it's weird,
but this ending is nice, and still works as long as it remains the
exception and not the norm.
In the end, this is definitely a great episode, but for ranking
purposes, I insist on asking a great episode of what? It feels
like it belongs to an anthology series like "The Twilight Zone" or
"The Outer Limits", in which it could take top prize for a season.
But if it tries to rank as a great Doctor Who episode, it just
hasn't got enough Doctor (or David Tennant) in it to rise much further
than the middle of this season's list. Yes, his presence and involvement
is that critical. In the end, "Blink" will just have to settle for setting
a very, very high standard for other Doctor-less stories to live up to.
This story has become available on DVD:
|DVD NTSC Region 1
14-episode boxed set
for the North American market:
|DVD PAL Region 2
14-episode boxed set
for the U.K.
|DVD PAL Region 2
plain 3-episode volume
U.K. format only
Note: The full season sets
contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes
featurettes, and other extras.
The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.
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