The back-story, for those who missed it:
A few weeks ago, I noticed a TARDIS parked across the street from my house and managed to capture a picture of it before it vanished. This got signal-boosted and I was bombarded by an incredulous Internet who couldn’t believe a science fiction writer had never seen a Doctor Who episode before. I tried to explain, mildly, that while I am indeed a science fiction writer, I grew up reading science fiction books and stories and never really got into the movies and TV shows. I’ve seen some, of course. I’ve even enjoyed some. But when I’m not writing, I’d rather spend my time reading science fiction than watching it. Still, the Internet is persistent and so I agreed to watch an episode of Doctor Who if the wise fans of the show could agree on a recommendation.
What was recommended was a show from Season 3 called “Blink” which I purchased from the iTunes store that very day, but which I didn’t have a chance to watch until yesterday. Well, dear Internet and Doctor Who fans, I’ve now watched the episode you recommended and I have a few comments to make on the experience, if you’ll indulge me.
I loved it. You guys were spot-on in your recommendation. That show pushed most of my buttons: time-travel, clever monsters, humor, good writing, and good acting. Coming into this as a complete newbie, there were things that a seasoned fan probably got right away that I didn’t, such as the fact that the fellow in the video Easter-egg was, in fact, the Doctor. (I still don’t know who or what the “Doctor” is and why he is called the “Doctor” but more on that shortly.) The time-travel bootstrapping was very cool, although not completely original. In film, at least, we’ve seen a letter delivered from the distant past at the beginning of the third Back to the Future film. And in the science fiction literature, the earliest story that I can think of1 in which a trapped time traveler communicated with his time through a print medium was Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity (Doubleday, 1955).
But it was those weeping angels that were a brilliant stroke. The cinematography used to capture their motion was very well done, but even better was Steven Moffat’s explanation of the creatures. They appeared as statues because the turn to stone when they are being looked at, but otherwise they move blindingly fast–so don’t blink! The scene in which Sally Sparrow and her friend Larry are in the old house, searching for the time machine and the statues are beginning to surround them was so well done that I found myself at the edge of my seat–a position that television rarely puts me in. And the way in which they are saved from the creatures: they all end up looking at one another, was also a clever and satisfying conclusion. I will say that I was confused slightly in that scene because the Doctor had described the creatures as killing with kindness, but sending the victim into the past. But in that scene with the TARDIS in the basement, those creatures sprouted fangs and claws as if they intended to kill without too much kindness.
The time-travel was very clever, especially the use of the script made from the Easter eggs and Sally Sparrow’s “dialog” with the Doctor. And of course the ending, where she sees him on the street, but he doesn’t know who she is was also pretty clever.
It seemed a little odd to me that there wasn’t more of the Doctor in the show. Is that normal? Maybe that’s what helped make this episode a good standalone episode to watch?
So overall what did I think of the show? I loved it and I want to watch more. Indeed, the more I thought about the episode after watching it, the more I liked it. As it turns out, iTunes is having a special on BBC shows and I can pick up seasons of Doctor Who for $9.99. I’ve already acquired Season 1 of the new series. But I am going to blame you, Doctor Who fans, if the episodes don’t hold up to the quality of “Blink.” And when my editors nag me as to why they haven’t received the stories I promised, I’m going to be perfectly honest with them.
“You see,” I’ll tell them, “this TARDIS showed up parked across the street from my house. I made the mistake of photographing it, one thing led to another and I’m now prisoner to the Doctor Who series. It’s got me hooked.”
And since they are science fiction editors, maybe they’ll understand.
- Not necessarily the first time in the history of science fiction, mind you, just the first that I can think of. ↩