The two-parter written by Paul Cornell (from which the image to the left is taken) was very strong indeed, doing some genuinely new things with the character (well, if you haven’t read Cornell’s original novel version before, that is – you can download it for free here), and the episode ‘Blink’ is as good as I’ve come to expect from Steven ‘Coupling’ Moffat, who’s rightly won awards for episodes in the past two series.
Saturday’s episode was written by series head writer and general guiding light Russell T Davies, and whilst it wasn’t as strong in its premise, the final third featured some plot payoffs from previous episodes and an unexpected return which left us on a terrific cliffhanger (even my beloved, who has previously said that she doesn’t care for the programme, said “I want to watch the next episode now!”… though this may be more to do with her feelings for the actor David Tennant than anything else).
I don’t know if the final two episodes of this series will hold to this standard (and there were several episodes earlier in the run which were pretty weak, such as the Dalek two-parter), but I had that delightful feeling on Saturday evening of feeling actively excited about what was happening in the programme.
Which is, of course, the trick, and one which isn’t necessarily easy to pull off: making the viewer give a damn about things which, by virtue of being fictional, arguably don’t matter at all. And it’s all the more impressive because it’s the character bits which often feel like they matter the most.
Ironically, this is the very thing which too many of the soap operas seem to lose sight of as they ramp up their various ‘events’ and stunts. Paradoxical that a bit of science fiction should draw its strength from being down to earth, but really, that’s as it should be – if we don’t care about the people who are at risk in the made-up series of events, the fact their planet’s about to explode is hardly going to pass the all-important ‘So what?’ test, is it ?