Unpopular Opinion: Blink
Guest contributor Jacob Whittle gives an alternate viewpoint on the 2007 episode.
Now, I’m fully aware this will be quite a controversial choice of subject, so I’m going to set out my stall very early and clearly. I am NOT arguing that Blink is a bad episode. On the contrary, it has decent moments, such as introducing the excellent Weeping Angels, and Carey Mulligan’s strong and self-sufficient character. However, my belief is that this episode, while good, is fundamentally flawed to the point where it cannot be considered a truly iconic and defining “NuWho” episode, as most episode polls would have you believe.
The first problem with Blink is the format of the episode itself: the “Doctor-lite” format. Now I don’t have a problem with this particular format, but I think Blink missed an opportunity. The characters, while enjoyable, are very short-term, and could quite easily be picked up and dropped in any episode of any series without batting an eyelid. That’s fine if it’s a one-off assistant or companion, but this was the main cast of the episode, the replacement for the Doctor in this format. Blink could have slotted in any series at any time, and I don’t believe that stand-alone episodes do a lot for Doctor Who’s long term prospects and a series which greatest strength is its in-depth development of all central characters and companions. After all, the defining story of Series 3 is the marvellous 3-part, multiple-layered finale.
A much better idea would have been having Martha as the central character, perhaps trying to rescue the time-displaced Doctor. Martha makes sense as the main character as she really turned a corner in Human Nature/Family of Blood. Having spent the first part of the series ogling her beloved Doctor, she finally started to grow into a much more independent and likeable character. It would be have been nice to see further development on that by having her striding out on her own, having to save the Doctor and escape the Angels, perhaps dealing further with her family now they know who the Doctor is. It would have been a great chance to utilise the heavily under-used father and brother and the heavily overused mother and sister of Martha. A trick I think was missed in a lot of Series 3, Lazarus aside. Turn Left is a fine example of a Doctor-lite episode used to good effect for the overall series arc, and Blink would have been all the better with something similar.
My second problem is I felt the supporting cast was a little contrived. Take Billy, the cop and flirty interest of Ms Sparrow. His sole purpose in the episode was to put the Easter Egg in the DVD for Sally to find. So why was he a policeman? It seems odd and a bit convenient that a policeman turns into a DVD creator all of a sudden. It would’ve made much more sense for him to have been a salesperson to begin with, perhaps instead of Larry. Then he would’ve been selling the DVD’s in which his older self had planted the Sally Easter Egg, a nice use of the timey-wimey concept introduced in this episode. It may seem like a small point, but these small points and flaws are often the difference between a good episode and a great episode, and as any Torchwood fan will know contrivances are extremely annoying (poison antidote from aeroplane oil anybody?)
Also there is a great stinking plot hole in the story, something that happens all too often with Moffat’s writing. Near the end of the episode, the Angels are tricked by the Doctor who has quantum-locked them to stare at each other. However, this is dependent on the bulb above them, the sole source of light in the basement. How long is that bulb going to last? Maybe 10-15 years? For the apparently ageless Angels this a mere blip in their existence. And once that light goes, they will be able to move and Sally Sparrow’s days are numbered. It would’ve taken 5-seconds to have a scene of the Doctor sonicing the light to solve this problem. Normally with Moffat I will accept one plot hole for the sake of an enjoyable adventure, but then there are very few Moffat episodes I consider truly great.
Once again I remind you of my argument, that while Blink is an enjoyable episode, the above flaws cannot make it a truly great episode worthy of topping so many episode polls all the time. That’s not to say there aren’t other episodes which are of such a high standard to be worthy of greatness. For example, the beautifully poignant The Doctor’s Wife, and equally so for School Reunion. There’s also the wonderful Impossible Astronaut two-parter and Turn Left as mentioned previously. All examples of great Doctor Who television at the very peak of its potential. Sadly I feel Blink does not fit into this category and while I’m sure that there will be many disagreements of this view, I hope I’ve at least given you pause for thought that perhaps Blink isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.