Blink

DVD NTSC
Region 1
14-episode
box set

DVD PAL
Region 2
14-episode
box set
DVD PAL
Region 2
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.


Not since "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.


Dr. Quantum

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.

Infect the quantum field with your desire...
The extended "Down the Rabbit Hole Quantum Edition" of "What the Bleep Do We Know?!" now on DVD. It's now a different movie with new discoveries each time you watch!
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.

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 things interesting.
Music by Murray Gold
"Blink (Suite)" and
"The Doctor Forever" are available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who:
Original Music from "Series 3"

More info & buying options

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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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "Utopia"



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