“ it is drama and not spectacle that drives the beast.
Cover story by Wally Hirst
FANTILIGY (THE ART, THE FILM OF THE FANTASTIC)
Fantiligy issue 8: Dr Who: Series 3 Episode 10. BLINK
Having just undertaken a fabulous interview with filmmaker Simon Roptell (Quest for Steel Discussion coming shortly) he left me with the notion of reviewing the Dr Who Episode Blink after mentioning it had a strong influence on him. Here is what I have to say about the 2007 masterpiece.
Firstly, I have seen many a Dr Who episode. I grew up on Tom Baker and saw a few of the Ecclestone episodes. After seeing Blink I did continue forth with the rest of the Tenant series and consider him to be the greatest of the Doctors. I love the concept of the Who. I may be from Australia but I am a proud Britophle, meaning I love British drama and culture. However, I was not watching the series religiously and came across the episode when I was researching Hugo and BAFTA award winning Drama. In 2011, I slipped the series 10 DVD into the player and went straight to episode 10.
As Blink is obviously a favourite for many, I will focus on what it does for the very underrated short 45 minute genre.
To begin with,Blink feels like a packet of crisps that is just about to burst because the chip company has put too many crisps in the packet. As you know, this does not happen. Most bags are filled with 30 per cent air. If you were to open this magical packet of chips, each individual crisp would be the size of a baby’s face (not the thickness, that would be insane) and if you were to read the dietary information it would read that health practitioners recommend you consume this product at least once a day – that is how much pound for pound wonder you get from this particular episode.
We did not pay an admission for Blink and yet we were given more in this 45 minutes than a multitude of 2 hour films put together. Each scene has a riveting beginning and an end and is so inventive with what is deals with that we are aghast with the outcome. Okay, there may be a bit of riffing on Back to the Future 3 with the figure arriving at a precise time with letter in hand for an occurrence that has only just taken place but look at what is being established while this is happening. Moreover, It is only now through the High Quality rendering of Blu Ray that you can see the statues in the background changing motion every time Sally Sparrow moves.
Blink, can be shown to everyone. I have shared this episode with a multitude of people from all walks of life and all succumb to the spell Moffat crafts in this episode. You can be a working petty criminal on parole or an old lady unfamiliar with the genre of time travel and still be on the edge of your seat throughout this piece. In fact coming into this with no knowledge of the Doctor or indeed the genre may be one of its unique strengths. Importantly, it is perhaps one of the least action packed episodes,instead opting for tension packed, proving that it is drama and not spectacle that drives the beast.
The phrase Doctor light gets brandished around for this episode. I don’t think this is fair. It sounds patronising to say Tenant is not in it much, therefore it should not be considered in keeping with the show. If you were to way up the screen time Marlon Brando had in the Godfather I would wager it would be less in ratio. What makes the Doctor so great in this is that he is omnipresent. The woman in the Woman in Black is given less than 2 minutes screen time yet her foreboding presence is throughout the 2 hour horror.
Let’s look at the positioning of Tenant. This Doctor is in three scenes. He is seated in two of them. When we first encounter him he is, propped up by a chair and breaking the fourth wall through DVD extras. When Shipton is thrust back in time, the Dr slides down to squat with him. The effect of such a position is that of puppet master. This is a Doctor-light episode, but his presence is always felt. He is the seated master of the marionettes. The Brilliance of the writing in the talking head scenario is that this is featured three times and each time the same lines have a different effect in each scene. This is minimalism at its absolute best. Tenant as the Doctor is brilliant; dry, sarcastic and eccentric. He may blame the Angels for the deeds committed but he has been active in the alteration of lives too. When Sparrow finally meets him after the climax we are for a second in Heaven Can Wait /Somewhere in Time territory. He is oblivious to her, to the drama he has played a part in, yet Sparrow just wants closure. She thrust the manuscript in his hand and we are given monetary reprieve before we focus our gaze to the monuments and statues present in the city.
The scene in the hospital is inspired. How did we get to this great moment? Every now and then a part of you tries to find fault such as “A bit of a coincidence that he should die on the very night they met” but then you are provided with a reason, he should have died before, every bit of strength has kept him alive so that he can fulfil this moment. Now I know all time travel scenarios do not bare close scrutiny and this is no exception but this type of campfire storytelling myth making does not come around too much and we should continue it a sin not to introduce Blink to as many people as we can.