Monday, March 24, 2008

BLINK. I don't know if this episode from the 2007 season of DOCTOR WHO has been broadcast in America yet but it was hands down the best episode of the entire season (which was rather mediocre). You may have already noticed (if you took part in the voting for the Rondo Awards on the link list over there on the right hand side of this blog) that "BLINK" won for best TV episode; beating out the season finale of LOST entitled "Through the Looking Glass". Now, I actually voted for LOST since I hadn't seen the Doctor Who episode yet. However, now having seen it I would probably change my vote. This is one of the best episodes of the series and, since it doesn't require much of a working knowledge of DOCTOR WHO other than the fact that he's a time traveller, it's a stand alone episode which anyone can enjoy (unlike LOST which requires you to have seen every episode -- not that that's a minus, you understand).
The story of "BLINK" is one of the most original I've ever seen and was provided by the same writer that gave us the previous excellent Doctor Who episodes "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" two-parter and "The Girl in the Fireplace" from the first and second seasons respectively. And that writer is Steven Moffat. This episode is actually one of the "Doctor lite" episodes: meaning it features very little of the Doctor since it had to be filmed simultaneously with a Doctor Who two-parter. The episode focuses on a woman named Sally Sparrow who, while exploring a dilapidated old ruined house, discovers a message for her underneath the wallpaper from the Doctor -- in 1969! The message tells her to beware the weeping angels. Outside the house, Sally sees four weeping angel statues covering their eyes with their hands. Unnerved, she goes to her friend Kathy Nightingale's place. In the apartment, Kathy's brother has several TV's set up playing warning messages from guess who: the Doctor, right. Of course, Sally doesn't know who the Doctor is and what he's talking about. Yet.
Sally and Kathy return to the old house. While exploring inside, the doorbell rings. Kathy waits in another room while Sally answers the door. A man is there with a very old letter addresses to her. He was instructed by his grandmother to deliver the letter to this house on this date at this very hour. His grandmother, who died in 1987, was named Kathy Nightingale. Meanwhile, in the other room, Kathy is nervously eyeing the weeping angel statues -- they seem to move when you look away. Sally, thinking it's all a joke, calls for Kathy and goes into the next room to find her gone completely. Kathy, meanwhile, finds herself in a field in Hull . . .and the year is 1920. In 2007, Sally reads the old letter and it is indeed from Kathy. Somehow, she has been transported back in time and had to live out her entire life from 1920. Sally also finds the weeping angel statues are now in the house; in the room where Kathy disappeared. From the hand of one of the statues dangles a key which Sally takes. She then goes to the police station to inquire as to any strange occurrences noted at the old house. A policeman named Billy Shipton, obviously smitten by the lovely Sally, shows her a group of cars which were found at the house abandoned -- sometimes with the engines still running -- and the car owners were never seen again. Also they found a blue police box at the site (naturally the Doctor's time travelling TARDIS) which they cannot unlock. Sally gives the cop her phone number and leaves. Billy turns to see 4 weeping angel statues inside the basement with him. Outside, Sally suddenly remembers the key and returns thinking it may open the police box. When she re-enters the police HQ basement, Billy has vanished as well -- only to appear in the year 1969. The Doctor and his companion Martha almost immediately track Billy down and inform him that the "weeping angels" are actually a type of interstellar assassins who kill you in the nicest of ways: they send you into the past and let you "live to death". Then they consume the energy potential of the days you would have lived in the future but now will not. The "weeping angels" also sent the Doctor and Martha back to 1969 without their TARDIS; trapping them as well.
Meanwhile back in 2007, Sally goes to see Kathy's brother Larry and asks him about the guy (The Doctor) he was watching on all those TVs. Larry explains that there are 17 DVDs with this guy hidden away in Easter eggs. The Doctor talks but only appears to be one half of a conversation. In the DVD easter eggs, the Doctor warns them about the "weeping angels" and that they can only move and attack when they are not being observed by another living being. And the Doctor tells them that the weeping angels are coming for them. He warns them not to look away -- "Don't even blink! Blink and you're dead!"
This is only some of an episode so jam-packed with novel ideas it's almost criminal. There are moments of genuine humour, of creepiness, one or two truly frightening moments and even a tear-jerking scene. The cast is top notch: Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow and Michael Obiora as Billy Shipton are particularly fine while Lucy Gaskell (Kathy Nightingale) and Finlay Robertson (Larry Nightingale) are equally good although having a little less to do. While I don't know if this is the best of the David Tennant episodes, it sure is up there in the top few. I really can't recommend this episode highly enough.

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