50 for 50 — The Greatest Stories in Doctor Who History — #31

Surprisingly so far in this countdown, the two latest incumbents of the TARDIS have yet had a review written for one of their stories. I have been fairly vocal at times regarding my feelings on the direction the series has gone in the last couple of years, producing less ‘classic’ stories since 2010, than the previous four series had racked up in each run (ooh, controversial, but hey….only in my opinion), but jumping back to near the start of Moffat’s time, one of my faves is the return of the Weeping Angels en masse, in The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, and Mr. Smith’s first run in with the already iconic monsters.

When you consider this was Matt Smith’s first recorded story, he shows from the off the reasoning behind his casting, and it feels more reined in here, although the zaniness is there, it’s bubbling under the surface. Like Davison before him (and one of the reasons I liked the Fifth Doctor), Matt seems able to convey the hundreds of years old Time Lord, despite their age. Karen Gillan likewise, both are new to the show, but the scenes with her trapped with the emerging video taped Angel, and in the latter part, her fighting her fears with having to keep her eyes closed, going against everything she’s been previously told, she comes across very competently.

Of course River Song makes a welcome return also, the first of too many, but here it’s welcome. Before overkill with her story, and becoming bludgeoned to death by it quite frankly, Alex Kingston sparks off of Smith, making it seem completely plausible that these two could be more than just friends….? Her teasing of the new Doctor, with her claiming he has always left the brakes on, hence the vworp vworp noise, is a classic moment….The Doctor’s frustration that she knows him better than he knows himself, is very well written.

Designed as an action sequel to Blink (hey, how did I get to leave that out of my countdown…oh dear, too late now), Moffat clearly bases this two-parter on Aliens, the settings and designs echo this. The Vale of Glamorgan filming is some of the most realistic seen in show, the same with the caves scenes. Claustrophobia plays a large part in this, and helps the tension, making this story truly chilling, with an excellent cliffhanger in between. Rarely has the show been as good since….  — Andy

Alan’s #31 — Resurrection of the Daleks
David’s #31 — Remembrance of the Daleks
Steve’s #31 — The Talons of Weng-Chiang

Holy buckets this countdown is going quickly, we’re already 40% done (do the math kids) with #30 coming next week.