Friday, 14 May 2010

ONE LAST WORD ABOUT THAT WEEPING ANGEL BUSINESS, AND THEN WE CAN ALL MOVE ON




Okay, last week’s ’Doctor Who’ was so unworthy of comment that I’m simply not going to. Comment on it, that is. I am not going to mention, for example, how the Doctor finally finds the crack is “all about” Amy, that “possibly the most important thing in the universe is that I get you sorted out right now” and this somehow translates into getting her back with her boyfriend. Nor about how it’s all such a tired reprise of Mickey as the metal dog. Not a whsiper about the annoying way that every line sounded exactly like a line. And I shan’t be making scathing gags about sequels, ’Werewolves in Worcestershire’ or ’Mummies in Marlborough’ or the like.

Instead I’m going to go back to talk about those Weeping Angels.

I pointed out that Moffat had craftily fine-tuned the rules from ’Blink’, to create a story in which the Angels fitted better. Everyone Else in the World complained how he had violated the earlier story’s elegant simplicity.

Upon reflection, I am willing to consider a rapprochement with the rest of the world by suggesting we’re both right.

Moffat himself has described the shift from ’Blink’ into ”Time of the Angels’ as the same as from ’Alien’ into ’Aliens.’ But as Everyone Including Me noticed, he was also riffing heavily off ’Ring.’ And indeed, you could equally compare the shift to the one from ’Ring’ to ’Ring 2’.

Like ’Blink’, ’Ring’ was an intimate psychological horror story built around an elegantly simple concept. “Don’t blink” equates to “don’t watch the video.” One comes from a child’s game, the other an urban myth, but that’s the only real difference.

But as soon as we get to the sequel, this very simplicity turns from selling point to albatross, from neat notion to constraint. There’s no way to retain the same set-up without retelling exactly the same story. It would be like reloading a gun, for the bits to fit together at all they need to fit together the same way. “Still don’t blink” is mere second helpings.

Both sequels wisely decide it is time to sidestep. ’Ring 2’ is essentially based around asking what happens if you catch a partial view of the video. ’Time of the Angels’ serves up monitor-screen Angels (the direct lift everyone noted), talking Angels, taking-over-people Angels, even moving Angels. From there they cram themselves so full of crazy ideas they virtually dazzle, but in the process becomes somewhat scattershot. Once everything locked into place with a chilling precision. Now we get so many more ideas. True, those more ideas equal less. But if the only way is down we may as well take the scenic route.

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