Blink is a “Doctor-lite” episode, a recurring event once per season that gives the main cast some down time and gives the writers the chance to do something a bit different, the chance to show what the Doctor is all about from an outsider’s perspective. Love & Monsters was pretty naff, although it showed promise. With Steven Moffat writing this one, Blink is, shall we say, a considerable improvement. In fact, it’s not only my favourite episode of Doctor Who, it’s one of the finest 45 minutes of British television I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch.
It’s remarkable to think what this episode achieves within such a short space of time. It introduces us to the life of Sally Sparrow and her friends, while creating an incredibly clever story around a predestination paradox. It’s the first mention of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff, and, of course, it’s the first appearance of the Weeping Angels, a brand new scary monster, the first new baddies that are good enough to stand toe-to-toe with Daleks and Cybermen. Monsters so good that they have been gradually ruined through overuse and degraded into shadows of their former selves.
But all of that is still to come. For now, these ‘quantum-locked’ creatures are terrifying, preying on our deep-rooted childhood fears, the monsters that exist when we close our eyes. Not only is the idea of creatures that turn to statues when you look at them a wonderful piece of science-fiction, it plays into the real world, making any children watching at home suddenly fearful of the statues they see around them in a brilliantly cruel way. “Don’t blink, little Timmy, or they’ll get you!” That’s so much worse than the clockwork clowns, Moffat, you ingenious bastard.
Blink manages to tell this terrific and complicated story without falling over itself. Here we have a story whereby the Doctor and Martha have been zapped back through time by the Weeping Angels and have to use a specially-prepared set of documents to communicate by forty year delay with the person who gave them said documents, before she gave them to them, in an effort to get her to activate the Tardis and send it back to get them. The scenes with the DVD recording are particularly well done, and what’s great is that it handles all of this with good humour and wit and doesn’t dwell too much on the technicalities. It’s both clever and excellently structured.
Blink is one of those rare episodes that you could equally turn to as a great introduction to newcomers and as something for long-time fans to enjoy. It’s not often that Doctor Who deals with the perils of time travel in such a thoughtful way as this, and to create the best new monster the series has had in forty years as well is an amazing achievement.