The Angels Do Manhattan

With apologies to my friend Anne-Marie for the title of this blog post. I have to confess: I was a little bit disappointed with Saturday’s Doctor Who episode (The Pond Farewell – or, to give it its proper name, The Angels Take Manhattan). It just… well, it didn’t really work for me.

Those of you who’ve been long-time readers of this blog will probably remember that I am no fan of Torchwood: with the brief exception of Children of Earth (which I still think is one of the best things the BBC did that whole year), I think the programme as a whole promised much but delivered little. But Doctor Who I have pretty much resolutely remained a non-critical fan of. Well, on the blog, at least. Sadly I think I’m going to have to break that record for this episode, the reason being it seems … well, symptomatic of some of the problems with Steven Moffat’s DW. But first, let me talk about this episode in particular. (Also note: this review may contain spoilers, if you haven’t seen the episode already)

First things first, then: angels. There were lots of them in this episode, weren’t they? Now, the angels were creepy as hell in ‘Blink’, and – to Steven Moffat’s credit – they are still scary. Well, I think they are anyway. But, what on earth was going on in that episode? The Statue of Liberty, for a start – oh. my. word. In some ways it was kind of funny, but at the same time it required a suspension of disbelief which even Russell T. Davies would have struggled to match. Not to mention the rooftop scene at the end where Rory and Amy both seem to take their eyes off the angel statue – and yet, mysteriously, it doesn’t seem to move. Hmmm.

Speaking of the rooftop, what was that building all about? A farm for the angels to … send people back in time? That wasn’t really explained either. Maybe Steven Moffat was being really clever, or I am being really dumb, but it just didn’t quite make sense to me. Then there was the first scene. Who were those people with River? And why did they capture Rory, and throw him into the cellar?

The whole thing just didn’t fit together in my mind. And finally, let’s talk about the last scene: the leaving scene. I don’t know about anyone else, but to me it just felt like an anti-climax – and I didn’t really get the emotional impact. I could see that it was supposed to be emotional, but I just couldn’t empathise. I think this is one of the differences between Moffat and Davies: Moffat can write intricate plots, do clever things with a story line – but he just can’t do those big emotional moments like Davies could. If I think back to the episode where Donna left, emotionally that hit me like a train: I was able to really sympathise with Donna and the Doctor, drawn inexorably towards their tragic parting. When Rory and Amy left, I just … well, I didn’t feel anything. They’re gone, and I don’t really care.

Maybe it’s just me who feels like this, I spoke to at least one other person today who thought the episode was very emotional! However, I think the main problem for me is not so much the lack of emotion – it’s the lack of a particularly coherent plot in this instance coupled with something of an anti-climax. I feel like I’ve been let down, and that’s not something I felt very often during the RTD era :-/

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4 thoughts on “The Angels Do Manhattan

  1. I wondered about the Angel farm myself. Were they trying to say that the angels repeatedly sent these folks back in time to capture the time energy?

    I also had issues with the emotional ending of the episode – but my issue was I felt they undercut the emotional punch of the episode by sending Amy and Rory into the past to live out their lives. Yes, they died, but the death wasn’t immediate, which robbed the moment of the emotional impact for me.

    But it seems the ending had an emotional impact for lots of people.

    • Yeah, I also wondered about the angels repeatedly sending people back – but then, that wouldn’t work, because people would die eventually – also, surely the way it would give them most energy is by sending them back a long way in time – which basically means they could only ever do it once. Bizarre.

      Agreed about them living out their lives – I think with Donna, the pain was because you knew she would always have to live out her life without the Doctor. This wasn’t quite the same 😦

  2. I liked it at first, but the more I think about it, the bigger the holes for me. 2 thoughts:
    1) The “weeping angels” weren’t weeping much! I couldn’t see any of them who had their eyes covered. Having the Statue of Liberty as an angel looked cool at first, but when you think about it, New York is meant to be the city that never sleeps, and so someone is always looking at it!
    2) RTD maybe overdid the emotional stuff, and so I was quite glad the Rory and Amy didn’t die, and was glad that they could live their lives out together. I guess the emotional impact is more to empathise with the Doctor who is now left on his own, when he knows that he shouldn’t travel alone.

    • Agree on your first point. Given the ending to “Blink”, I did wonder how the angels were supposed to be able to move given that I noticed at least one point they were looking at each other!

      Second point – I know what you mean. I reckon the ideal Who writer would be someone in between RTD and Moffat. RTD definitely overdid the emotional stuff. That said, I didn’t massively empathise with the Doctor much anyway – maybe because Amy and Rory have been kind of out for a while now. Hmmm.

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