Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Impossible Countdown - The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone

Right then, let's start with a massively positive opening to the comments... classiest cold opener ever.  Seriously, in the whole of Who this two parter starts with possibly the best opening action of any story, ever.  And I have to admit that it stays pretty good for most of the first episode and probably quite a bit of the second one as well. It also sets up a few "key statements" about the ongoing plot which will turn out to be very important over the next few episodes...  which is where things then start to go a little wrong.

So anyway, after the superb cold opener (and after the less than superb titles which still leave me cold) we get a feisty TARDIS scene with the Doctor, River and Amy.  First gripe about the episode, River suggests that the only reason the TARDIS makes the noise that it does is because the Doctor leaves the brakes on.  Which would then suggest that EVERY OTHER TIME LORD DOES IT.  Sorry, I know it's supposed to be a charming joke about River and the Doctor's abilities but it still really rubs me up the wrong way. On the beach we get a diary scene and when Octavian turns up we find out that River has secrets that the Doctor doesn't yet know about which aren't going to endear her to him. We then get the start of some major "changes" to the angels nature.  Now, if you look one in the eye you become one (after a while).  Does that mean that Sally Sparrow (from Blink) is slowly turning into an angel?  A simple picture of an angel becomes an angel as well and we also find out that they also kill in nasty ways because they enjoy it. It's all wrapped up in some very well directed sequences though with Amy and the monitor screen so it just about moves you on before you have too much time to think about it.  The trek through the statues is exceptionally well done with full use made of caves as location footage and it's another mention of perception filters which again means we've got a story about how things are perceived and seen and disguised.  The cliffhanger is then... just a little strange.  It's one of those ones where you know what's going to happen next but aren't quite sure how it will happen.  Then it happens with a bit of technobabble and the story moves on.

So episode one was running through caves, episode two is running through corridors and running through woodland.  It doesn't quite look as stylish as the first episode did as the corridors look, well I suppose they just look like rather standard corridors and the woodland bits have a weird look to them that I can't quite put my finger on.  It's also a very crack heavy episode...

Things we learn:-
The cracks can be closed by throwing complicated space time events into them
The crack can move and looks as though it's following Amy around
The crack was caused by a very big bang and the Doctor can work out the date of the explosion
Fall into the crack/get too close to it and you're erased from time and everyone forgets about you.  However the universe carries on exactly as it was which means that, as the Doctor puts it, "Time can be rewritten".  Once the soldiers are in the crack presumably 99.9999% of the universe remembers some weird way that Amy managed to get into the middle of the woodland area on her own (that's got to be some majorly weird re-writing going on!).
If you're a time traveller then you don't forget the people who fell into the crack.  And that's probably quite an important one as it might be cropping up again in a few episodes' time
Even though it looks like the crack is following Amy, the Doctor suggests that it might have been there when the cyber king stomped over London and rewrote that as well somehow.

It's quite neat the way the Doctor solves things in this one but there seem to be an awful lot of times in the second episode where it looks as though the angels are clearly looking at each other when they're moving (it's certainly the impression I got anyway).  More mysteriousness on the beach (River remembers being there when the Pandorica opened) and then the final scene which is the start of the bullying Amy appearing.  To be honest, I really wish it hadn't happened.  From this point on Amy becomes very dominant in pretty much every episode and it feels once more as though it's a show about her rather than the Doctor.

Overall, episode one is much better than episode two, the angels are very different this time around and it does look pretty.  It is also clearly setting up future episodes so...

Things we learn about River:-
She knows old high gallifreyan
She's travelled in time and views herself as a complicated space time event
She remembers the pandorica (even though the Doctor seems to now think it's just a fairy tale?)
She killed a good man.

It's ALMOST back to the levels of the Tennant years but it seems too ongoing plot fixated in the second part to really thrill me and the constant repetition of the "time can be rewritten" didn't half get on my nerves...  Still, an improvement on Victory of the Daleks :)  Mind you, pretty much anything would have been...

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