When the news broke that the Weeping Angels would put in a return visit for the current season of “Doctor Who,” my initial reaction was “They were a great one-time monster, but will they work in a recurring role?”
This attitude completely overlooks that at one time or another all the monsters on “Doctor Who” were brought on as one time foes for the Doctor to face, going back all the way to 1963 and the introduction of the Daleks. (Just watch the first Dalek story and you’ll see they were pretty much intended as a one-time thing.) It also went in the face of one of my bigger criticism of the modern series–that it hadn’t created any really memorable monsters that could play a prominent, recurring role.
And so it was that I approached “The Time of Angels” with equal parts caution and optimism. I was optimistic because the Weeping Angels were a creepy, effective monster in their first appearance (unlike the Slitheen) and equally cautious because I wasn’t sure that Steven Moffat could necessarily live up the the huge expectations fans had for the Angels based on “Blink.”
As if that weren’t enough, the script also threw in our second meeting with River Song. Song, who we met in series four, has a long standing relationship with the Doctor, though the two keep meeting out of order. She apparently knows something about his future but she won’t tell for fear of giving away too much and changing things. Or is there something more to it?
The script certainly seems to hint at that pretty broadly. If there’s one drawback to the Moffat era so far, it’s that the foreshadowing is pretty obvious. We’ve seen it with the crack following the Doctor and Amy through time and we get it again this week with exposition moment in which we find out that there may be more to River’s relationship with the Doctor than meets the eye. And I get a feeling that she may not exactly be telling the Doctor the entire truth of things.
Lack of subtle foreshadowing aside, the episode itself works fairly well and while it doesn’t quite fully recapture the edge-of-your-seat thrills and terror that powered “Blink,” it still does a good job of keeping things fully atmospheric and tension filled. Seeing the Doctor slowly realize what the Angels do and that they’ve walked into a trap is nicely done. Once again, Matt Smith continues to impress in the role of the Doctor, bringing a nice blend of youth and ancient wisdom to the role. Seeing the Doctor disconcerted by River’s presence was nicely realized throughout the script and it was nice to see Smith all the right notes there.
As with all two-part stories, it’s hard to really say much about the story itself until we see part two. For now, it’s a solid start and hopefully this new era will buck the trend of two-part stories for the new “Doctor Who” and deliver a second installment that’s as good or better than the set-up.