Karen Gillan, Matt Smith, and Arthur Darvill in DOCTOR WHO - Series 7 - "The Angels Take Manhattan" | ©2012 BBC America

Karen Gillan, Matt Smith, and Arthur Darvill in DOCTOR WHO - Series 7 - "The Angels Take Manhattan" | ©2012 BBC America

Stars: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston, Mike McShane, Rob David, Ozzie Yue, Bentley Kalu, Burnell Tucker  
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director:   Nick Hurran
Network: BBC America, airs Saturday night 
Original Telecast: September 22, 2012

In the fifth episode of DOCTOR WHO Series 7, “The Angels Take Manhattan,” the Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan), and Rory (Arthur Darvill) are in New York when a massive incursion of Weeping Angels introduce a host of problems, including the possible death – again – of Rory. When River Song (Alex Kingston), Amy and Rory’s daughter and psychopath, turns up to help out, you know things won’t end well. Or will they? Perhaps true love will triumph after all, either here and now or somewhere back in the past…

I suppose it was almost inevitable that given my opinion of the storyline that has been an intrinsic part of Amy’s involvement in the series, this would be the one potential misfire in the very short run of new episodes this year. At long last the Williamses are gone (supposedly), and I for one am glad to close the book on that story. But let’s not forget something important – for a group of people watching the show now, Amelia Pond and her long-suffering (and often-dying) husband Rory Williams will always be “their” companions, and the departure of these characters is a sad time after which nothing will ever be the same again. So for all those fans, here’s hoping this departure provided at least a partially satisfying finale to their tale.

And yes, there are plot holes galore in the latest scheme of the Weeping Angels, not least the inexplicable way the Statue of Liberty can just stroll around with no one noticing its presence in the city or absence from its pedestal, and there are also massive inconsistencies in the way in which DOCTOR WHO has dealt with time, fixed points, and so on. In this era, rewriting the entire universe has been on the table at least once, but now we’re back to not tampering with things again, only because it’s time to write out some cast members. Still, there are a few nice moments, a bit of a return to the Angels seeming creepy and effective, genuinely moving performances by the entire main cast that almost manage to transcend the uneven material, and a stunning use of New York locations.

Now – one last time – let’s talk about the baby that’s not in the room. Here was one last chance, especially given how much time keeps getting rewritten during this era, to resolve one of the most aggravating and (arguably) offensive elements of the last several years’ storytelling. Knowing there’s a young toddler Melody/River in old New York from episodes past, why not reunite the family, unwrite the River we know, and instead leave a happy couple with a baby that will now be raised by her true parents and not by aliens hell bent on programming her into a lethal killer? Even when Amy tells the Doctor at the end to go back and tell little Amelia about all the things she has to look forward to (hey, doesn’t that rewrite history? Oh, never mind…), she doesn’t even mention having a child that grows up to be the very same crazy adventurer that just shared their final journey with the Doctor. Slips her mind easily, that whole having a daughter thing. Alas, it seems Melody is forever lost and years of child abuse by Kovarian and her minions will remain part of the Moffat-era canon. Family entertainment indeed.

Although it’s nice to know Amy and Rory live a happy life together, even that revelation feels misjudged at the end by leaving it off camera. We only have Amy’s voice over to tell us rather than provide one single shot of the two of them reunited in the past and at long last freed from the Doctor’s meddling (which is definitely how it felt in the last several stories – remember when traveling with the Doctor was supposed to be exciting and make you into a better person?). Even in trying to provide some sort of conclusion to one of the series’ most convoluted stories, this episode manages to miss the little touches that would have made it better. For my part, I’d just like to move on now.

Well, that’s all the new DOCTOR WHO we get until Christmas, and with the 50th anniversary looming ahead as well, all I can think is: remember when we used to get 13 episodes of new WHO in a row? Whatever they wind up doing in 2013, let’s just hope it is special…and not “Planet of the Dead” or “The Waters of Mars” special either. Ho ho ho!

Related: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 7 – “The Angels Take Manhattan” – Review #2

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RelatedTV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 7 – “The Power of Three” – Review #1

Related: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 7 – “A Town Called Mercy” – Review #2

Related: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 7 – “A Town Called Mercy” – Review #1

Related: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 7 – “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” – Review #2

Related: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 7 – “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” – Review #1

Related: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 7 – “Asylum of the Daleks” – Review #1

Related: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 7 – “Asylum of the Daleks” – Review #2

Related: First Look Images of DOCTOR WHO Season 7 episode posters

Related: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 7 Prequel Web Series – “Pond Life”

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ArticleTV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 7 – “The Angels Take Manhattan”

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Comments:

  1. Young River regenerates in New York 1969, doesn’t she?
    The Ponds are sent back to the 30′s?

    But I get your point.

    ChristinaB
  2. Right, and Moffat could just as easily have written an ending that fits the times we were given concerning toddler Melody, but he didn’t. I consider that a shame, but some folks don’t. Oh well, they’re gone now. :)

    ARNOLD T. BLUMBERG
  3. Errr we don’t know when they were sent back, only that Rory was previously sent back to the 30s. The gravestone looked new and they were in their 30s when sent back so the 60s would make sense *and* River was insistent that going back was the right thing for Amy to do, she knows more than she’s let on (could that have been more obvious).

    So glad the happy ending was kept off screen, it dulled all emotional impact of Rose’s send off by having that cheesy happy family scene shown to the audience – what we got with the Ponds farewell was a beautiful bittersweet parting, as it should be.

    Another review than convinces me ATB has no appreciation for a little subtlety.

    Alex
  4. 50 years of plot holes and you’re just noticing now?

    Guy
  5. Pingback: Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan: Press Reaction | K e s s l e r K o m i c s

  6. I for one cried when they jumped and then cried harder when Amy said goodbye.

    One question: The Last Scene

    If I understand it correctly, the Doctor returns to 1996 the morning after leaving Amelia and tells her the things Amy told him to tell her. But….

    …we know that the Doctor returned to 1996 (although it was in the night not the morning) in “The Big Bang” and brought young Amelia into the house and put her to bed telling him the story of how he “stole” the TARDIS before he stepped into the crack and disappeared.

    So, I’m confused. How could he have seen young Amelia in the garden in the morning if he brought her to bed the night before?

    Desariella of Aresia
  7. Lack of continuity from series to series, episode to episode, and even within the same episodes have been a hallmark of Doctor Who dating back to the original series. The only thing that has ever been fixed on the show is the police box looks of the Tardis and the Daleks. Everything else on the show, from the actors to the Rules of Time is up for grabs. If you want hard science fiction with consistent continuity, best to find another show. This episode provided a sweet, sentimental ending to the story of the Ponds, and was one of the better sendoffs for companions in the history of the show. If your biggest issue with the episode is how the angel Statue of Liberty sneaks around, I am sad for you. While watching Amy’s final scene in the graveyard, I was reminded of a theme Moffat introduced to this show before 11 and the Ponds even showed up, which was delivered, fittingly, by River; “When you run with the doctor, it feels like it will never end. But however hard you try, you can’t run forever. Everybody knows that everybody dies, and nobody knows it like the doctor.”

    gloomyharvester
  8. “50 years of plot holes and you’re just noticing now?”

    I’ve been reviewing the new series as well as the classic one for years and years, pointing out plot holes when I see them whether I find they affect enjoyment of the story or not, and you’re just noticing now? :)

    “I for one cried when they jumped and then cried harder when Amy said goodbye.”

    I shed a tear or two also. Still found it emotionally moving in parts, and very well done by the people involved. But I also find that a show can actually be moving *and* make sense at the same time, and this one didn’t.

    “If your biggest issue with the episode is how the angel Statue of Liberty sneaks around, I am sad for you.”

    Don’t be sad, that’s just what you call an “example.”

    Four weeks of praising the show, no one comments much, but get critical of *parts* of an episode, and the comments roll in. It’s like clockwork. :D

    ARNOLD T. BLUMBERG
  9. By the way, I do want to say one thing sincerely:

    For all those that even bother to comment, whether you agree or disagree, thank you for taking the time and thanks for reading. Even if we differ on one episode or two, or even a character or a scene, we’re only all here because we love Doctor Who as a show, and that’s the only thing that should matter in the end. So I mean it – thanks. :)

    ARNOLD T. BLUMBERG
  10. In regards to the plot holes, I’ve found I enjoy Doctor Who for the characters, the passion, and it’s uniqueness, so for that, I can let go of the flaws. I must admit, until I began reading reviews I never even noticed some of these inconsistancies. I guess I was just enjoying it to much hehe. Most of the things I read are valid but in my mind I say, hey, he’s THE DOCTOR, a time lord, so maybe my brain just can’t compute the complicated, timey wimey..ness..of it all. The only argument I have about River, wouldn’t that be yet another problem all together, wouldn’t re-writing Melody’s past re-write River and her entire life? Therefore..re-writing an unlimited number of moments in both the Doctors life and countless others? I feel it would have been bitter sweet, but totally impossible.

    Ashley
  11. Moffats era seems a step forward in providing plot holes… I know that may sound odd, but with an episode like The End of Time I just don’t know where to start because I don’t know what DID make sense.
    The Statue of Liberty seems post production to me, no one references it on screen, it doesn’t move, do anything, the actors look like they’re facing the door with the incoming angels and Rory’s comment about her coming to them is on a widepan shot…
    …I don’t know why they did it, but they did… but it’s the only part of the episode that doesn’t make sense to me.

    I still find your harping on about the baby baffling, you can’t unwrite that time period as Amy and Rory have too heavily interacted with River… but it’s left open that they find her as a child, she’s in the right place and the dates work. But your claim that period of time should be re-written signifies all that was wrong with the RTD era “here are all the rules, now here is me ignoring them”.

    Mav

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