TV REVIEW: Doctor Who, Series 7 Episode 5 – “The Angels Take Manhattan”

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After five short weeks, we’re finally here in New York for the last pre-Christmas episode of this series. Steven Moffat is back on writing duties for his first episode since Asylum of the Daleks. As regular readers will be aware, I’m normally a fan of the show-runner’s episodes, but does this one end the run on an emotional high or low? Does the story conclude what it should in a satisfactory manner? Read on after the break for the full review …

New York’s statues come to life, and with Rory in grave danger, the Doctor and Amy face a race against time to locate him. Luckily, an old friend has come up with a novel way to guide them.

The pre-titles tease this week sees us following a Private Detective in 1930s New York. Asked to investigate a specific address by a rich art-collector who is convinced that statues move. As he arrives, the angels are revealled to the viewer and our poor detective gets a shock when he encounters one of the building’s human occupants. Chased by Angels, he makes it to the roof, where he encounters the mother of all angels.

The action for the Doctor and company kicks off in present day New York, where the group are taking a break in Central Park. Being a tale involving the Angels, River Song and being written by Mr. Moffat, The Angels Take New York uses Time as a plot device quite integrally. Unlike some of last year’s stories, however, I thought the usage was simple and clear for the audience. It’s not long before the Time Lord makes it to 1938 and the main action.

There is a great deal of foreshadowing going on throughout the episode and I think it’s a testament to the Writer and Director both that the episode is tight enough to nicely fill one episode without feeling rushed in any way. I think the temptation would normally be to have a two-parter here, which would have worked well, but the audience should in no way feel short-changed. The cast, director and writer are all on top form and there are moments of genuine tension, even if a lot of the “horror” element of the Angels seems to have been lost. Indeed, the most disappointing element of the episode are the scenes of the Angels moving. Somehow, the speed and danger of their instantaneous motion from Blink in particular seems to have been lost, and a scene where Rory is being menaced in a cellar was somewhat lacking as a result.

I did like the Angels’ plan though. It makes sense given the internal logic too. A morbid, twisted plan. But sensible.

Personally I thought the Liberty-Angel was irrelevant and a little nonsensical too. Other than to provide a pre-title shock, the giant angel appeared only once more and in a role in which a horde of regular angels could easily have filled. On top of that, I’m sure there can’t be many moments when absolutely no-one in New York is glancing at the statue, even out of the corner of their eyes. Also … aren’t the Angels meant to be stone? not Bronze?

Of course the real heart of this episode revolves around the departure of two of the series’ regulars and though I sort of rolled my eyes at Rivers’ presence in the trail last week … I was wrong to do so. Her presence was entirely relevant and Alex Kingston, as always was a joy to watch. While I personally feel that the Ponds should have left last year when The Doctor gave them their house (with cameos!), this was definitely an exit to remember. I only remember actually shedding tears while watching the goggle-box once before, but this episode saw a few salty-traitors emerge from my eyes.

In summary, this was a great episode and offered a conclusion to the Pond Saga that should leave even the hardest person with a lump in their throat at the least.

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Rating: 4.5 /5
Reporter: WedgeDoc

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