I loved Human Nature...but Cornell's two parter had its arse handed to it tonight.
There aren't many episodes of Doctor Who that leave me with such a smile on my face as the credits roll. Since I'm currently getting my arse kicked from a debt collection agency over a bill I'm not liable for, I think the reaction Blink got from me can safely be called a Result.
I mean, seriously, this was an absolutely perfectly-constructed piece of television. It's Doctor-lite style automatically had people comparing it with Love & Monsters but in reality it's far closer to Torchwood's Random Shoes than it is to Peter Kay in a fat suit. The nominal leading lady? Intelligent without being patronising. The script? Witty without being smug. Blink sashays into the new series's elite with such ease and confidence that when I look back at last week's good-but-overrated The Family Of Blood I just want to laugh; I never thought Love & Monsters was terrible but if there's a single episode to make it look like utter crap then this is it.
The one thing the episode didn't do was scare me, though. It may be because the episode taps into the old grandmother's-footsteps routine so obviously and deliberately that the super-scary Weeping Angels end up feeling ironically clinical – the scares are overwhelmed by the sound of buttons being pushed. But then just because an episode didn't scare me doesn't mean it's a bad episode. I mean, it's not there to scare me exactly, is it? Those scenes where the angels creep closer as the vision cuts briefly are superb and I can imagine eight year-olds pooing their sheets tonight. I did love that ending, which has no narrative purpose but is merely there to freak out kids and prevent them leaving the house; only an episode as good Blink could get away with a twist so audacious. All I can say is that I'm glad this episode didn't air two weeks ago as I actually was a living statue (long story) and I'd have got screamed out of my job. I'm a bloody good living statue, by the way.
The plot is absolutely ingenious and has remarkably few holes – I usually find that most plot flaws come to light on a first viewing, so I don't think I'm missing much. For once the resolution seems poetic and appropriate, in a series quickly becoming ridiculous for its reliance on deus ex machina. Lucky there are only four angels on Earth though, eh? What happens if more turn up? And how did the Doctor lose the TARDIS? There was a bit of an “I'm not telling, ner ner ner” vibe to that.
The characters? Beautiful. Billy's death: now that's how you do subtlety. It doesn't linger on the moment, but cuts away – and the music? A single clarinet. Perfect. Only in the end scene featuring the Doctor does Murray Gold lapse, trashing a piece of very English whimsy with the full Titanic treatment.
I'm sure I'll pick this episode apart much more in due course. But for tonight: best episode of series three? Unquestionably. Best episode of the new series to date? I'm not making a judgement like that on a first impression. But put it this way: I have a feeling that Blink is going to age well.