Doctor Who Reactions: "The Angels Take Manhattan" (SPOILERS)

1)And the damned statues again. This is an inherent problem with having the show-runner be the main writer. Writers fall in love with their favorites, and tend to overuse them unless there's someone to restrain them, i.e., the show-runner. But when the writer is the show-runner...

 

2)I'm totally not buying the "Statue of Liberty is secretly a Weeping Angel" business. For one thing, Lady Liberty isn't a proper statue - it's effectively a statue-shaped building. I know, I've been inside it. For another thing, I doubt very much that there's ever a time when someone isn't looking at it, even if only security guards.  Even if people took their eyes of it long enough for it to dive into the water out of sight, people would notice it missing almost immediately. Back in the day, the light from its torch effectively served the same purpose as a lighthouse beacon for ships going into and out of New York Harbor. And even if it somehow made it all the way to shore without being missed, it would be noticed the instant it came ashore!  New York really is "The City that Never Sleeps" - as soon as it came ashore in Manhattan, someone would see it.  Pretty quickly, there would be a crowd that wouldn't disperse anytime soon. The idea that it would be able to make it any distance at all without someone looking at it is complete and utter nonsense.  In my opinion, what this really is, is that the idea of the Statue of Liberty as a Weeping Angel makes for a cool visual, and in current Doctor Who, "It makes for a cool visual" overrides "It doesn't make the least bit of deity-condemned sense whatsoever".

 

3)"I hate endings."  Gosh, the Doctor is hyper-emotional in this. I understand that having friends leave is never fun, but go watch the end of "The Green Death" to see how a leaving scene can be acted in a way that is understated but still emotionally powerful.

 

4)"Hello, Dad."  She sounded just like Jenny in "The Doctor's Daughter", there.

 

5)Oh, and River again. See my first note, above.

 

6)"In 2012".  Except there's no way it can be 2012 - viz. the two years at the end of the Narnia one, Amy's "ten years" remark in "The Power of Three", and the fact that a year passed in that same episode. Really, it ought to be at least 2020 for Amy and Rory. One imagines the writer sitting down and thinking "'UNIT dating controversy'? Bah! I'll give them a 'dating controversy'!"  Well, congratulations would be in order if that was the case, we're approaching Golden Age Universal Mummy films continuity inconsistencies here.

 

7)Rory's middle name is "Arthur". How imaginative! ;)

 

8)Never saw him use regenerative energy that way before, but fine, OK, he learns new tricks as he gets older, whatever.

 

9)"You think you'll just come back to life?" "When don't I?"

 

10)"One psychopath per TARDIS, don't you think?" How about no psychopaths in the TARDIS, would that be doable?

 

11)So, the Doctor can't go back, but River can? He can't go back to just 1938, or is it that he can't go back to New York while they're living there? Well, we know he went to New York in 1965 without any problems, but that was a couple of continuity revisions ago, so maybe it doesn't count. Could he not go back and visit them later? Granted, because he's seen their tombstones, he knows they have to live out their lives in that time frame, but I still don't get why he couldn't go and visit.  See, this is the thing: I don't like artificial sentiment. I don't like "Special This is the Point in the Program Designed to Get You All Emotional" moments, and this is what this feels like. It's too "manufactured" - the whole thing smacks of "Plot Convenience Playhouse", i.e., "The Doctor can't ever see Amy and Rory again for no other reason than that the writer has decreed that that he can't". And for me, that undercuts any emotional impact their departure might've had.

 

12)Sure hope the Doctor and River did something about that one Angel left at the end, and didn't just leave it there to prey on random New Yorkers.  And how did that one Angel survive? Was it the only one to remember to put on its Anti-Paradox Cream that day?

 

13)Also, sure hope the Doctor and River went back and let Brian Williams and Amy's parents and all of their friends know what happened to them, and I hope poor Brian doesn't blame himself for what happened because he encouraged them to go off with the Doctor at the end of the last story.

 

Overall:

Well, I suppose all that seemed a bit negative. I don't mean to seem like I hate the show or anything. It's quite possible to enjoy watching these, so long as one doesn't think about them at all critically. There's always been something to harp about with this show, whether it's the cheesy effects in the old days, or the cheesy writing nowadays. But I still love the show and can't wait to see the Christmas special!

 

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I really love Blink, but the “Weeping Angels" are in real danger of dilution from over-saturation. And if I never hear the phrase “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey” again it’ll be too soon!

You observations about these recent episodes (such as the Statue of Liberty/Weeping Angel thing) are cementing my theory about Moffet’s approach to the show.

I don’t see River any differently than, say, Rose’s mother Jackie (and this one has about run its course).

There’s that Amy/Rory timeline issue again. I try not to think about it so hard.

About the Doctor not being able to go back to save Amy and Rory, here’s how I see it. The TARDIS can’t go back to Manhattan, but I see no reason why it couldn’t go to New Jersey (or Pennsylvania, or however far west the “writer’s fiat” extends). But, keeping in mind the parameters established for this one story, Amy and Rory’s fate is now a fixed point in the Web of Time (or whatever) because the Doctor read it (on their tombstone), Just as River’s wrist had to be broken because Amy read it in the book. That theory may contradict 50 years of Doctor Who, but it’s internally consistent with itself.

NOTE: I’m responding to your post as I’m reading and I now see that you came to much the same conclusion as I did. Regarding “Plot Convenience (I would say “Contrivance”) Playhouse,” this separation might have carried a lot more emotional weight if we hadn’t known months in advance it was coming. When the BBC promotes it as Amy Pond’s last appearance as a companion, the anticipation switches from “What’s going to happen?” to “How is it going to happen?” and for me, that undercuts any emotional impact their departure might've had.

I wondered how they dealt with that last remaining Angel, too.

I’ll be back shortly with my view of Steven Moffet’s approach.

Just as an FYI to anyone who wonders where I got the phrase "Plot Convenience Playhouse", it goes back to the episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 where they watched Gamera vs. Zigra.  MST3K drastically changed the way I watched TV, some for the good and some for the worse - worse for anyone trying to watch TV with me, sometimes.

I look forward to having that opportunity someday soon. ;)

A couple of weeks ago I watched an interview of Carole Ann Ford, one of the extra features on the “Planet of Giants” DVD. During the interview, she expressed the opinion that the show became campy in its later years, whereas in comparison, the show, albeit a children’s show, took itself deadly serious in the early days. I have compared the appeal of Doctor Who to the appeal of comic books many times in the past, and I think the development of each describes a similar arc. Both were aimed at a similar audience originally, but it is the simplicity of the plots combined with a certain smartness of the scripts that made the contemporaneous media appeal to both adults as well as children.

But, as with comics’ readers, Doctor Who’s viewers grew up, and the show grew along with them. Starting in 2005, Doctor Who became less of a children’s show that adults could enjoy than an adult show children could enjoy. What I am about to say next may sound like an unfavorable criticism, but I don’t intend it to be taken that way. The general inconsistencies and lapses of logic inherent in show under his aegis used to bug me until I can to the realization at what Steven Moffat has done, I believe, is to reclaim Doctor Who for children.

Think about it. Children live in the moment. They’re not going to be overly concerned about establishing a “timeline” for Amy’s adventures with the Doctor; they’re not going to examine whether or not the Statue of Liberty being a Weeping Angel makes sense or not; they’re not going to fret over previously established “continuity”; they’re just going to accept it. It doesn’t have to be logical or make sense. If the Weeping Angels are cool in one episode, then they’re twice as cool in two. And need I even mention the coolness factor of dinosaurs on a spaceship?

Speaking of Grant Morrison (as you did in your review of “The Power of Three”), here’s something he said about comic books, children and adults: "Then you've got an adult, and adults cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality. You bring them fantasy, and the first thing they say is 'How did he get that way? Why does he dress like that? How did that happen?' It's not real. And beyond that, when you're dealing with characters, they exist on paper. They're real in that context. I always say they're much more real than we are because they have much longer lives and more people know about them. But we get people reading superhero comics and going, 'How does that power work? And why does Scott Summers shoot those beams? And what's the size of that?' It's not real! There is no science. The science is the science of 'Anything can happen in fiction and paper' and we can do anything.”

Furthermore, the theme of the underlying story arc of this fall season, Amy and Rory growing up, is aimed squarely at a young audience. Sure, there’s plenty for adults to appreciate, too, that maybe the kids wouldn’t get, but nevertheless I think Steven Moffat has reclaimed Doctor Who as a children’s show. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Interesting notion, Jeff.  And I understand that he isn't necessarily writing the show for us continuity-obsessed nutjobs - and, in fact, I am capable of largely turning off my inner continuity-obsessed nutjob and just enjoying the show for what it is and not worrying about timelines as such. (Working out timelines is a fun hobby for me, but the fact that Doctor Who or the Universal horror pictures don't have consistent timelines doesn't stop me from enjoying them.)  Occasionally, however, there are things things that are harder for me to ignore - the notion of Lady Liberty wandering around Manhattan with no one ever looking at it being one of these.

And need I even mention the coolness factor of dinosaurs on a spaceship?

 

Speaking as someone who reaction to 2001: A Space Odyssey is the same now as it was when I first saw it in 1969, I can dig that.

 

Said reaction being:  "It's got space rockets and monkey-men in it, what else do I need?"

 

 

Yep, this one pretty much makes no darn sense.  It works OK as long as I turn off the critical parts of my brain and enjoy the visuals and the funny lines.  That's OK, at least some of the time.  But I know Moffat is capable of better than that.

MST3K drastically changed the way I watched TV, some for the good and some for the worse - worse for anyone trying to watch TV with me, sometimes.

I look forward to having that opportunity someday soon. ;)

If you two have a party and don't invite me, you're both of my Christmas list. ;)

If you two have a party and don't invite me, you're both off my Christmas list. ;)

And that would be your Patrick Swayze Christmas list!

P.S. Count me in! :-)



Jeff of Earth-J said:

But, as with comics’ readers, Doctor Who’s viewers grew up, and the show grew along with them. Starting in 2005, Doctor Who became less of a children’s show that adults could enjoy than an adult show children could enjoy. What I am about to say next may sound like an unfavorable criticism, but I don’t intend it to be taken that way. The general inconsistencies and lapses of logic inherent in show under his aegis used to bug me until I can to the realization at what Steven Moffat has done, I believe, is to reclaim Doctor Who for children.

Think about it. Children live in the moment. They’re not going to be overly concerned about establishing a “timeline” for Amy’s adventures with the Doctor; they’re not going to examine whether or not the Statue of Liberty being a Weeping Angel makes sense or not; they’re not going to fret over previously established “continuity”; they’re just going to accept it. It doesn’t have to be logical or make sense. If the Weeping Angels are cool in one episode, then they’re twice as cool in two. And need I even mention the coolness factor of dinosaurs on a spaceship?

Speaking of Grant Morrison (as you did in your review of “The Power of Three”), here’s something he said about comic books, children and adults: "Then you've got an adult, and adults cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality. You bring them fantasy, and the first thing they say is 'How did he get that way? Why does he dress like that? How did that happen?' It's not real. And beyond that, when you're dealing with characters, they exist on paper. They're real in that context. I always say they're much more real than we are because they have much longer lives and more people know about them. But we get people reading superhero comics and going, 'How does that power work? And why does Scott Summers shoot those beams? And what's the size of that?' It's not real! There is no science. The science is the science of 'Anything can happen in fiction and paper' and we can do anything.”

Furthermore, the theme of the underlying story arc of this fall season, Amy and Rory growing up, is aimed squarely at a young audience. Sure, there’s plenty for adults to appreciate, too, that maybe the kids wouldn’t get, but nevertheless I think Steven Moffat has reclaimed Doctor Who as a children’s show. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Well don't worry about ruffling any feathers, Moffatt has stated as much during interviews & I think even on commentaries on the first Matt Smith Season. Personally, I don't have any real issue with aiming it at kids especially now that SJA has now sadly ended. My problem is that sometimes things like the original 'fish fingers & custard' gag sometimes force humour in to the show at the expense of drama. Say what you like about the original series but even during some of the most flagrant of Tom Baker's antics, he didn't seem to reach as hard for a joke as the Matt Smith era has. THAT being said, the stories this 'season' have had a much more serious tone to them. It goes to show that you can have a show aimed at kids with an occassional laugh in it without talking down to anyone.

Finally made our way to this episode. I completely agree about the Statue of Liberty. Great visual, but it makes no sense. 

And even worse, there was also the opposite problem. There were plenty of moments where Amy and Rory weren't looking at the Statue, and it wasn't moving at all. So the gawkers arrived only at the very last minute?

It's been ten years of travelling with the Doctor for Rory and Amy (maybe, it seems like a lot longer than that--especially for Rory), but it's only been two years for their friends and family. Amy says something about that in one of the episodes, it might be this one--that their friends are going to notice how much they're aging.

Whatever has the image of a Weeping Angel becomes itself a Weeping Angel. That rule was introduced in the Time of Angels. Whether this is an evolutionary advantage or something that was always true, I don't know. Yes, it's a bit silly--but no more silly than anything else. This is a fantasy series.

So, my take is that the Statue of Liberty takes the image of a Weeping Angel and therefore becomes itself a Weeping Angel. That might not have always been true and might not be true now--with so many people looking at it all the time, it can hardly move except under special conditions. I assume that there were special conditions on that night.

As for why Weeping Angels sometimes don't move--maybe someone or something out of frame is in their sightline. Another Weeping Angel could get in the way and then neither can move.

Something curious happens when Amy gets sucked into the past by the Weeping Angel at the end. She turns, so she's not looking at it, and she's in between the Doctor and the Angel, so the Doctor can't see the Weeping Angel, either. But River is off to the side and should be looking at the Weeping Angel. So long as River keeps her eyes on the Angel, Amy is safe. So what happened? River must have blinked.

A lot of guilt for a daughter to carry around for the rest of her days. But did she blink on purpose--realizing this was best for her mother and father?

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