Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Angels Take Manhatten

Here's a thing. I really don't like The Angels Take Manhattan. There I've said it.

That's not to say there are not moments in it that I don't like or that the end of Rory and Amy's time with the Doctor isn't moving. Indeed their desire to be together and their paradox creating willingness to sacrifice their lives for each other (and perhaps the world) is the perfect ending of their story. And highlights again why I think Rory and Amy's 'divorce' really doesn't work for me in Asylum of the Daleks.

It looks great too. Cinematic. We're really filming in New York, which makes it feel much more solid. The performances are great. All of that is in its favour.

Because Rory and Amy's departure is so well done I'm willing to overlook the vomitous worship of marriage in this story as if being married somehow makes people better and more worthy. Yes, that's probably a harsh reading of the story but really how many mentions of 'that's what being married means' do we need. Yes, Mr. Moffat we get it. Marriage is a big deal. Not love itself. No it needs to have a ring on it.

Now I'm aware here that I'm going to come across as grumpy as hell. I know there are a lot of people out there that love this story. Well, I'm sorry but I don't.

I'm not going to quibble about the Angels being metal as well as stone or the Statue of Liberty (which I did at the time). I've realised now that the implication is that the Angels are now so powerful that they've taken over New York effectively running on the battery farm of human time energy that they've created at Winter Quay - which is a genuinely nasty and rather good idea. So they can move everywhere and take over anything and the reason no one makes a big deal out of the Statue of Liberty wondering about is that the paradox flattens the battery. The Angels never got to be that powerful. They never took over the Statue of Liberty, which implies that Sam Garner (Rob David) and Grayle (Mike McShane) weren't caught up in the whole thing either.

Oh and I love the baby Angels with their sinister giggle.

Again though this story seems to be the final emotional kicking that the Doctor has been getting through Series 7 so far. Story after story seems to have functioned a clang in a Cloister Bell of alarm for the Doctor and we get lots of talk about not letting the Doctor travel alone: from Amy in the postscript and from River in the final scenes inside the TARDIS.

I've said before with a story that sometimes a single line has the effect of a thread pulled on a jumper that the more you pull at it the more the jumper disappears. This story has one of those lines. It is River's line:  "Never Let him see the damage. And never, ever let him see you age. He doesn't like endings."

Really. You think after all we've seen of the Doctor this even vaguely rings true.  Don't let him see you age? What. Really? That's what you think the Doctor is. Indeed it echoes a line from The Power of Three where the Doctor talks about enjoying being with Amy and Rory 'fade away', which I'd forgotten about until this moment. It just all seems very un-Doctorish to me. And from the moment that line is uttered the whole story seemed to seem like a beautiful piece of music played on an out of tune piano.

Yes, I'm aware that I have taken against this story purely because it doesn't fit with how I see The Doctor's character. Could a Doctor afraid of endings have left Susan behind? Could a Doctor who can't watch people age really be The Doctor we know? I don't think so.

I feel a bit guilty for not liking this story because I know it means a lot to people. I've really liked Rory and Amy. I love Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill's performances. I just think something about this story doesn't ring true and I think that's because it is Mr. Moffat putting words into the Doctor's mouth that apply more to him. It's not the Doctor that doesn't like endings it's Mr. Moffat.

I'm also feeling a bit guilty because it seems that this story mattered a lot to Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill and that they were emotionally invested in it. I think that shows in the quality of their performances.

But this blog is about my personal reactions to stories and much as there is a lot to like about this story that single River line undermines my whole feelings about it.

It's not a terrible story. It's entertaining and moving. It just feels unfair to the Doctor to me and I really don't like that. It's a personal thing.



  1. First of all regarding that line, it might not fit certain Doctors, but I totally think it fits the eleventh.
    And yes the first Doctor has let Susan go, but has he gone to visit her since? Has any if them? Other than Sarah Jane Smith, has any of the Doctors went back to the commission's they left behind? I think a someone whose favourite Doctor has so famously celebrated childhood you kinda missed the point of that line.
    Re-marriage, yeah ok there's a lot about that, but I think he has a point, there's a lot to marriage or relationships in general than just love. It's hard work.

    Finally, to me this story has a lot to do with the process of writing. It was built in such a way that I'm the end Amy decided to leave the story o of the Doctor and write her own story with Rory. In that respect I agree with you, it was the story of the writer, about the writing and about writing off characters, but I had the opposite reaction, that's kinda why I liked this story. I think I wrote about it, either for TTZ or for my blog.

  2. I don't like being told I've 'missed the point' of something because a) if I haven't got the point then I suspect it hasn't been made clearly enough, b) it suggests you HAVE got the point when actually you've decided your reading of the line is the correct one, which it might not be. My reading of that line is one that doesn't strike true.

    On the going back thing. We don't know as we don't see every story but we know he went back to see everyone when he was regenerating from David in Matt, which doesn't strike me as being 'afraid of endings'.

    On marriage it isn't the point about there being more to it than love that irritates me it is the way he uses marriage as the Holy Grail of relationships.

    You might be right about the writing thing. The point with this blog though is it is meant to be my instantaneous reaction to a story. There is stuff I'd probably add after thinking about it for a while (and I changed my opinion on a couple of things in both this and Asylum since first watching them) but I like to get down the bees that are buzzing in my bonnet immediately afterwards.