Sunday, 19 July 2009

Scarecrows and statues

I recently discovered that some of my favourite episodes of Doctor Who are contained on one boxset disc, which, if you're me, is exciting. The two-parter 'Human Nature' and 'The Family of Blood' and the episode 'Blink' are the show at its best, and ironically the Doctor is hardly in them at all. When it's not just a big fight and lots of running, when it's creepy and intelligent, Doctor Who is brilliant. These episodes achieve what very few things can - they are clever, epic, personal and sad all at the same time. And they have genuinely scary monsters. Daleks and Cybermen are nice, but scarecrows and statues are more menacing. Asking 'did that statue just move?' and 'why is that scarecrow waving at me?' is far more entertaining than metal aliens.

In 'Human Nature' the Doctor is stuck in 1913, having stored his Time Lord consciousness in a watch (does this make sense to anyone outside of Britain?). As John Smith he has to decide whether he wants to back to his 'real' life, to be immortal but lonely. It raises the 'what does it mean to human?' question the writers like so much, but it rarely works as well as it does here. He also has to consider whether anyone would have died if he'd never turned up. It's heavy stuff for Saturday night television. And 'Blink' features the best time-wimey stuff of any series. Statues that move when you blink send you back in time to 'let you live to death.' What could be better than that?


  1. I loved the "Blink" episode, My June 1 post had a bit about it. It just seemed to contain so much. The writer for that episode has been made the head writer, I understand. Also, I thought the actress was terrific.

    The Family of Blood I enjoyed for the playing out of the trebly "To be a pilgrim" at the beginning with the last surviving old guy in the wheelchair at the end - fun with with a very hoary cliche.

  2. I'm glad that Doctor Who gets watched outside of the UK. It's pretty much part of culture over here, which isn't strange at all.