Monday, 8 October 2012

Series 7a Review: The Angels Take Manhattan

It's been over a week since the Ponds disappeared from our screen - quite literally - and I've been mulling over my opinions of it.  And I've really struggled to come up with anything much to say other than: it was great.

On the one hand you think that it shouldn't work.  The whole episode seems to be a collection of Steven Moffat's Greatest Hits.  All of the best bits of his previous episodes seem to crop up somewhere here.  Let's run down the list:

i) River Song.  Hardly a great surprise to see her here in Amy and Rory's final appearance given her relationship with them.

ii) The Weeping Angels.  Easily Moffatt's greatest monster creations.  A very simple idea well executed which is probably why they've proven so popular.

iii) The Doctor reading about his own future.  Obviously there's the whole 'wrist breaking scene' in this episode.  Similarly, the Doctor has a transcript of his entire conversation with Sally Sparrow in the Angel's first episode, 'Blink'.

iv) Rory and Amy die - and then come back to life and then die again.  Or in Rory's case: dies, lives, dies, lives dies.  Yes he finally hits the hat-trick.  Honestly, I've lost count the number of times that they've killed one or other of them off during the past two and a half years.  I would say that we might not see that with the new girl only they appear to have killed her off before she's even made her first official appearance which must be some sort of record surely.
But are Amy and Rory really dead?  Or is it more a case of...

v)...Everybody lives!  See 'The Doctor Dances and particularly River Song's first appearance in 'Silence in the Library'/'Forest of the Dead'.  Moffatt really doesn't like killing off his favourite characters so manages to  both kill them off and give them a happy ending, thereby theoretically keeping the majority of viewers happy.

vi) The Doctor receives one final, written message from the person he has just lost.  Seen here in the Afterword written by Amy and also in the conclusion to 'The Girl in Fireplace' with the letter from Reinette.

So with all of the above crammed into just 45 minutes (and I've not even mentioned the general 'timey-wimey' nature of the story - something so common in a Moffatt story that it's barely worth pointing out) it's a miracle that the whole thing works at all.  And yet it does.  There are flaws in it certainly but I can overlook them for the sake of the drama.  Although the faults that I find with the episode are fairly minor compared with some of the criticisms I've read elsewhere.  For instance, the Angels apparently keep their victims prisoner in their 'farm' at Winter Quay until they die but who look after them until they die?  Who feeds them, tidies their rooms etc?  Is there some Angel that comes around providing room service?


 And so ends an era.  Much as I've liked the Ponds it does feel like it's time for a change.  I'm certainly interested to see how the Eleventh Doctor changes and develops when he has a new friend travelling with him.  And I really want to find out more about the new girl.  We still don't even know her name yet.  I've heard the name 'Clara' bandied about in the forums although Jenna Louise Coleman's character in the Dalek episode was called Oswin.  So might that be the new girl's name?  I honestly don't have a clue and I'm genuinely looking forward to finding out what's going to happen next.  The Pond's journey might be over but the Doctor's carried on.

Next stop: Christmas.  

Friday, 5 October 2012

Book Review: The Angel's Kiss - A Melody Malone Mystery

It's not often that I buy a brand new Doctor Who book on the day that it's released.  In fact it's not often that I buy any book on the day it's released.  It's even rarer for me to read a book that I've just bought from beginning to end on the day that I bought it.  But, needless to say, that is what I've done with 'The Angel's Kiss'.  So I thought I give it a quick review.  

For those who aren't aware, 'The Angel's Kiss' is a Doctor Who novella that ties in the with most recent TV episode, 'The Angels Take Manhatten'.  It's written in the style of a 1930s style pulp fiction novel and is supposedly written by Melody Malone aka River Song.  And, if the cover looks familiar, that's because it looks very similar to the book that the Doctor was reading in the episode and which ended up being rather crucial to the whole story.

At this point I feel that I should point something out which I think certain fans may not be aware of.  Whereas the book in the TV episode seemed to detail events of said episode, including an afterword written by Amy to the Doctor, this novella IS NOT that book. Rather, the novella acts as a prequel to the TV episode.  A couple of characters from the episode briefly appear or are referred to but to all intents and purposes this can be read pretty much independently from the episode.  In fact the link between the two stories only becomes really clear towards the end of the novella.

The book itself is really good fun.  It centres on Melody Malone helping a movie star who believes someone is trying to kill him.  As I mentioned above it's supposedly written, in the first person by Melody Malone/River Song herself.  The real author is regular 'Who' novelist Justin Richards who does a great job is capturing River's character.  With one or two exceptions I could almost hear her voice in my head as I read it.

It's actually nice to see River having adventures on her own for a change (neither the Doctor nor Amy and Rory appear in this) and one can certainly see the potential in the series of such novellas.  In fact, given it's relatively brief length and it's pace, it almost felt like a 45 minute TV episode so if the BBC are ever looking for a new spin off series they could do worse than look at the adventures of Melody Malone.

Much as I enjoyed this book I do have a couple of minor issues.  The first is the fact that this has only been released as an ebook for the Kindle.  To my (admittedly limited) knowledge it hasn't  been released on any other e-reader device like the Kobo or Nook.  Now while that's not an issue for me personally it does mean that people who don't have a Kindle or a Kindle app are going to have trouble getting hold of this which is a real shame.

My other issue is with the climax of the story.  As the book's only just come out, I don't want to spoil anyone so before you read any further you might want to go off and finish reading the book first because there is a spoiler ahead.  I'll just wait for you.


Finished?  Good.  Well my issue is basically with the Angel that appears at the end.  Apparently the Angel seems to be able to somehow transform people into clones of other people (albeit ones with limited lifespans) and then somehow use the life force of those people to sustain itself.  Now I've either misunderstood what I read or the Angel is displaying a power that has been seen or, to my knowledge, mentioned in the TV series before.  

Minor quibbles aside this really is a good, fun if undemanding read and, if you can get it, I'd certainly recommend downloading it.