The Best of Doctor Who: No. 1, “Blink” (03.11, 2007)

Written by Steven Moffat

Directed by Hettie MacDonald

Yeah, I know. This is easy to predict. But it’s easy to predict for a reason. If I did a list of the ten greatest television episodes I’ve ever seen, I think it would have about five episodes of Breaking Bad, a couple of episodes of The Sopranos, a couple of episodes of Frasier, the finale of Twin Peaks, and “Blink.” (If I ever make this list, do not hold me to the current description. This description is just for discussion purposes.)

“What’s good about being sad?”
“It’s happy for deep people.”

Sally Sparrow, a character who only appears in this one episode, is one of the more memorable characters in the Whovian universe. She’s better-defined from her one episode than some companions are after seasons of work. She’s arrogant, confident, obsessive, caring, funny and distrustful. She has depth and dimension that almost no other single-episode character has.

And Carey Mulligan helps with that. She’s so good in the role that every time I see her in something, I call her Sally Sparrow. I seriously have had to edit reviews because I called her that throughout the review as though it was actually her name. Doctor Who doesn’t bring in a ton of well-known guest stars, but Mulligan’s strength in the role is necessary to the episode. We need to care about Sally Sparrow, which is easier to do when the actor is so strong and charismatic. She also needs to be good looking enough that we can believe Billy Shipton is willing to clock out and take her to see the TARDIS and everything else in that storeroom just from seeing her, and it’s tough to get much better looking than Carey Mulligan.

Karen Gillan played a character not at all dissimilar from Sally Sparrow in Oculus (Mike Flanagan, USA 2013), and it’s a tribute to Carey Mulligan that even I didn’t like Kaylie Russell half as much as I like Sally Sparrow, and I think we all know how much I love Karen Gillan.

“Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead.”

The Weeping Angels, in their original form, are a great villain. You can’t kill them because they’re stone when you’re looking at them. We never see them move, so we have no idea what type of movement they’re capable of, and we can always get horror movie-style jump scares out of their presence. And then the way they cause death is so heartbreaking and so very Doctor Who that they fit even better than they already would have.

In horror, the monster is usually the point. And “Blink” is as purely horror as Doctor Who ever gets, since it is built around slowly defining the evil of the Weeping Angels. We see them creeping around and get little hints about them from the Doctor, slowly adding up to a complete picture of the terror just in time for the final battle between good and evil.

“You’ve only got 17 DVDs?!”

Moffat has always had a great sense of humor, and it is on full display even in this nearly pure horror episode. Larry Nightingale is a silly but hilarious comic relief character. Martha’s bitching about being trapped in 1969 with the Doctor is great. The Doctor’s discussion of the wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey nature of time is one of the more memorable bits of Doctor time traveling silliness.

“The angels have the phone box.”

The Doctor’s final resolution is also one of his more clever moments, especially how he sets up his own ability to save Sally by confusedly picking up the folder of information from her, saying, “I’ve got a bit of a complicated life. Things don’t always happen to me in the right order.”

The eighth season of Doctor Who debuted the other night, so I got to see it yesterday and I will put up a review hopefully tonight. Hopefully, some people enjoyed taking a little trip through the show’s first seven seasons in preparation.

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