Doctor Who 3.5: The Angels Take Manhattan review

Review

The Angels Take Manhattan

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River: He doesn’t like endings.

Production Code: 3.5.
Doctor Who Season: S33 (Ep5).
Story Number: 230.

The ending of the story of the Ponds…

Was it a good ending?

Well, ultimately it was a happy ending – of sorts – for the Ponds, but that’s not really what is being asked. Was it a good ending for this story we’ve been watching these past three years?

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Yes it was, as it tied together a lot of the running themes of two-and-a-half seasons in a satisfying way. (Rory – almost – being separated from Amy by death, in so many previous stories.) The eye motif that’s been going on, that even got a skyscraper-sized mention: the blinking eye.

Don’t blink. We all thought the story of the Moffat era began with Silence in the Library, but really, Blink was the start. When the Weeping Angels returned for their second story – giving Amy the first real fright of her TARDIS adventures – their M.O. had changed.

This third time, the “classic” Angel thing of zapping people back in time has returned too. There’s a new twist for the old foes though, in the form of the cherubs. The New York scenes look great, and I believe the same “Angel Fountain” of Central Park is used for this as well as HBO’s Angels in America.

Was it a good ending? Yes, as the stories that went before made this story all the more meaningful. (All the River stories before this. After The Wedding – we watch knowing yes they really are a married couple. River seduces and scolds the Doctor.) The collection-museum-piece of River’s black-box recorder of The Time of Angels had its echo in the message-by-ancient-vase moment of the story.

As I wrote earlier, this “Series Pond” has been about stories. The narrative device, (this time, the Doctor is the “audience” of the book) the book written of the Doctor Who story, is ingenious.

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The chapter titles could equally be from a hard-boiled detective story paperback or from a Target novelisation. The Doctor ripping out the last page is very appropriate for someone who doesn’t like endings, but it allows Amy (the publisher!) to have a final message after she’s made her final “Amy’s Choice“.

Was it a good ending?

Yes, as the stories that went before made this story all the more emotional. The mysterious scene of young Amelia hearing the TARDIS sitting on her suitcase waiting didn’t really make any sense before. That scene of The Eleventh Hour?

Now we know it was the Doctor taking the advice that Amy had left for him in her afterword to the “Melody Malone” paperback. (The additional advice for his future of “Don’t be alone, Doctor” echoing the Western story that went before.)

The actual final farewell from Amy to the Doctor – as she goes to join her husband – was a hugely moving emotional scene, one built on everything that had gone before.

Was it a good ending?

Yes, yes it was. Goodbye Ponds.

Rating: 5/5
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(The Angels Take Manhattan on bbc.co.uk/programmes/)

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One Response to “Doctor Who 3.5: The Angels Take Manhattan review”

  1. gloomyharvester Says:

    As you say, all the River episodes that went before contributed to making this story so good; What I kept hearing in my head during the end was a sequence from another River episode, in fact the first lines she ever had on the show; “When you run with the doctor, it feels like it will never end. But however hard you try, you can’t run forever. Everybody knows that everybody dies, and nobody knows it like the doctor.”

    When I first saw Silence in the Library I thought that line was about Donna. By the end of the episode I understood River to be talking about herself. Now I know she was also talking about Amy and Rory.

    One of the things I love about Moffat; You’ll get more out of repeat viewings with him not because you missed them the first time, but because they actually will take on a greater meaning in the context of future events. I don’t know how he does it, but I’m glad he does.


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