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"Time of Angels" review by Matthew Rayner
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Doctor Who - "Time of Angels"

written by Steven Moffatt

Directed by Adam Smith

Executive Producer Steven Moffatt

"Time of Angels" opens with Doctor River Song (Alex Kingston) breaking into some kind of institution on a spaceship, the starship Byzantium, having apparently kissed a young man with hallucinogenic lipstick that rendered him in a drugged semi-conscious state.

12,000 years later - the Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) are investigating some sort of Museum where the words "Hello Sweety" are engraved on the remains of a flight recorder from the starship Byzantium in Ancient High Gallifreyan.

Back on board the TARDIS, the Doctor is able to get a fix on the TARDIS monitor screen on the person who engraved them 12,000 years earlier - River Song. Confronted with a man in a suit and his armed off-siders, she speaks her co-ordinates enabling the Doctor to get a fix on her in space and time and arrive in the TARDIS.

She falls in through the open door on top of the Doctor and commands him to follow the Spaceship she was just on.

She takes control of the TARDIS which she is able to do somehow. A fact which is remarked on by Amy Pond.

The Doctor asks why after materialisation, the TARDIS didn't make its usual wheezing-groaning sound. River says that it isn't supposed to make that sound and that the Doctor always just leaves the brake on.

The Doctor observes that they are on the planet Alfava Metraxis, but having dropped off River Song to where she wanted to go, he wants to runaway as she is part of his future that he isn't ready to deal with yet.

Amy complains that he promised her a planet.

River Song's banter with the Doctor suggests quite strong familiarity, perhaps a relationship with at least one of the Doctor's future incarnations. A fact that doesn't escape Amy Pond and noting that she's "kind of like 'heel, boy'", she asks the Doctor if she is his future wife. (He answers "Yes" with a worried and disappointed look).

There's some soldiers on the planet headed by Father Octavian (Iain Glenn), and River Song has promised them the equivalent of an army - the Doctor!

She also asks the Doctor what he knows of the Weeping Angels. (The living stautues that move when no one is looking and kill people slowly by sending them into the past to 'live' to death...last seen in Series 3's "Blink"). Apparently there is one here that came from the Starship Byzantium.

The Soldiers give the Doctor a run down on the Planet's history up to this point.

Amy watches a Weeping Angel in what she thinks is a recording on a Computer screen. Each time she turns away it gets closer, and changes pose.

River Song asks the Doctor about when this is in his timeline that she is meeting him. He answers cryptically.

Reading from a passage in a diary, the Doctor and River discover that an image of an Angel has the power to become a real Angel.

The Computer image becomes life size and emerges from the screen and continues to move closer to Amy. She is able to use the Computer's remote control to switch it off but she is convinced she has something in her eye.

The Doctor and the Soldiers investigate the caverns - a labrynth full of statues..the "Maze of the Dead". Here they hope to find the Weeping Angel.

Octavian says something to River Song about the Doctor not knowing yet who or what she is. She answers about it being too early in his timeline and also something about not wanting to go back to prison.

River gives Amy some sort of "virus stabilizer".

Amy asks River about the Doctor in the future, and whether she is his wife. She says she's not saying if Amy is right but that Amy is very good.

A Soldier investigating on his own in one section of the maze finds himself face to face with a Weeping Angel.

His voice comes over the communicator of one of his comrades and insists on him having to come and see what he has found.

Meanwhile, Octavian tells a younger Soldier to stay calm. The Doctor asks the young Soldier his name - Bob, and tells him that anyone in this room who isn't scared is a moron. He does this to gain the Soldiers confidence and trust. He tells him that he will keep him safe.

Also all the Soldiers are from the same religion it seems.

The Doctor, having mentioned meeting the architect once and him having two heads, realises he's made a mistake and that they are all in danger.

River works out that what he means is that the Aplans (natives of the planet) had two heads then all the statues only having one head means that they are all Weeping Angels.

Angelo's voice comes over Bob's communicator. He calls on Bob to "come and see...".

Bob soon comes face to face with a Weeping Angel.

The Doctor wonders what happened to the Aplan race. He also realises that they are in the middle of a Weeping Angel army slowly coming to life as they draw energy from the ship.

Bob's voice comes over Octavian's communicator and tells them that the other two soldiers were killed by the Weeping Angels that are on their way towards them. He also goes on to inform the Doctor and the others that he is also dead having had his neck snapped as well but that his consciousness was re-animated by the Weeping Angels in order to trick them.

The Doctor observes that neck snapping is not the usual method by which the Weeping Angels kill...normally prefering to send people back into the past and letting time run its course.

Amy's hand appears to have turned to stone and she can't move it. The Doctor says that this is the Angels playing tricks on her and that they are able to do this because she looked the one that came to life from the Computer screen in the eyes.

Amy tells him to run and leave her to sacrifice herself to the Weeping Angels that are getting nearer. He convinces her that her hand isn't stone by biting her on the hand and hurting it and they escape to catch up with the others.

The voice of Bob talks to the Doctor telling him that the Angels want him to know how Bob died and that he was upset that the Doctor wasn't able to keep his promise to keep Bob safe - this is to make the Doctor angry.

The Doctor ends the episode with the cool line of dialogue about there being one thing you do not put in a trap if you value your life - him.

With the Weeping Angels on their way, this is the cliffhanger for the first episode of this two part story. The continuation being next week's "Flesh and Stone".

"Time of the Angels" strives to open up new layers of mystery to the character of River Song and the Weeping Angels as well - and I guess also to the Doctor in terms of his future.

Alex Kingston's River Song is quite different here to how she was in the David Tennant episodes "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" which occur later in her timeline as indicated by her being a Doctor here and not yet a Professor and also by some of the dialogue.

In this she's a very stylish and fabulous adventurer and there is definitely something having gone on between her and a future incarnation of the Doctor.

Some aspects of her character are reminiscent of the novels/audio characters Professor Bernice Summerfield and Iris Wildthyme respectively and I think the writers drew on these characters to some extent. I'm not sure if Alex Kingston herself is familiar with the Doctor Who spin-off media however but the way she plays the part fits perfectly with this.

There also seems to be a darker side to her character here than in her series 4 appearance with reference to her having been in prison and something she did that the Doctor in this incarnation isn't yet aware of.

In this story she also has amazing dress sense in the opening scenes...especially those shoes!!!

Matt Smith's Doctor is very cool here too and goes from strength to strength. He draws very heavily on Patrick Troughton's Doctor (after having fallen in love with "Tomb of the Cybermen" apparently when he was watching a lot of old Doctor Who stories to prepare for the part and work out how he wanted to play it - and with this story one can imagine it was written with this very much in mind. In fact it wouldn't take much re-writing for it to work very well for the Second Doctor and has some stylistic similarities to some of the serials in his era).

Karen Gillan's Amy Pond is less to the fore here...but she still has some great scenes and some important moments. The preview trailer for "Flesh and Stone" seems to indicate that she is still pivotal to events in the show and there is going to be some fleshing out of the whole crack in time and space thing and its connection to her.

I look forward to the next episode and the conclusion to this story...

Review by Matthew Rayner



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