WRITER: Steven Moffat[SPOILERS] The concluding part of the "Time Of Angels" was even more tense than last week's preface, and simply because it ended in a rational way left me feeling relieved and satisfied. So many Russell T. Davies-scripted episodes of yore failed to deliver a convincing pay-off, but writer Steven Moffat's scripts were always the exception and he's lost none of his touch.
DIRECTOR: Adam Smith
GUEST CAST: Alex Kingston, Iain Glen, David Atkins, Darren Morfitt, Mark Monero & George Russo
Adding an extra twist was the surprising decision to tackle this year's motif of the glowing crack that's been following the TARDIS since it appeared in Amy's bedroom in "The Eleventh Hour". I say surprising because nu-Who has previously kept the season's motif unexplained until the finale, but Moffat has wisely chosen to subvert expectations and give us an information dump mid-way through. The crack is, as many suspected, the aftermath of a terrible event yet to occur in The Doctor's timeline; damage to space-time which has the power to "unwrite" time wherever it appears –- hence Amy's inability to remember the Daleks just recently, and possibly many other troublesome issues of Doctor Who canonicity.
"Flesh And Stone" was a very good, furiously-paced action-adventure -- partly because its core was a simple chase/siege story, allowing the setpieces and performances to breathe around it. Smith put in a winning performance as The Doctor, able to show an angry and impatient side to this latest incarnation, and it was great to see The Doctor take charge of the situation more overtly. Consequently, River Song was pushed into the background as a result of the Doctor taking the lead, which did feel a shame, but we at least got to discover some of her backstory. Turns out she was a prisoner of the clerics, arrested for the murder of a very important man (The Doctor?), and trying to accrue leniency by helping Father Octavian (Iain Glen). The mystery of River Song will no doubt continue for awhile yet, as she leaves the story in handcuffs but will apparently return when "the Pandorica opens" (i.e the finale, right?)
Still, there was plenty to enjoy here; from The Doctor's one-liners ("I made him say comfy chair") to the surprising denouement when Amy ravished The Doctor in her bedroom after returning home from this adventure. It was so bizarre to see Amy throw herself at The Doctor that part of me can't quite believe it stems entirely from her character's infatuation with "the raggedy Doctor" and there's something else going on –- not least because Amy's alarm-clock read "26.06.2010", which is a date The Doctor feels particularly troubled by now. Has taking Amy away with him on an adventure somehow caused the crack that's now chasing them down across space and time?
- There's a fun theory floating around that we actually saw two versions of The Doctor in the forest, because in one scene The Doctor spoke with Amy before he left to be with River while wearing the tweed jacket he'd lost beforehand. A continuty error? Maybe. But if you watch the scene, The Doctor's dialogue does sound like that of a future-version who's just arrived through the time-space crack to help Amy. Or are fans reading too much into a production goof?
- River Song mentions the opening of the Pandorica (as she did in "The Silence Of The Library"), which The Doctor was told has already happened by Patient Zero in "The Eleventh Hour". I'm not sure why The Doctor dismissed River's tease out of hand, rather than look intrigued that the Pandorica was mentioned for the third time. Maybe the Pandorica dialogue in "Eleventh Hour" wasn't written until after this episode was filmed?
- Steven Moffat came up with the idea for the "crack in the wall" motif after he noticed one above his son Louie's bed, shaped like a smile. Louie also suggested this episode's title. I sense another writer in the family...
- The date of 26.06.2010 "coincides" with the scheduled airdate for series 5's finale (unless Eurovision delays it.)
- Filming took place in the 14-acre Puzzlewood, part of the Forest Of Dean, for nine nights in July 2009.
- I just wanted to mention that Doctor Who's notoriously overblown music sounds a lot better on BBC HD, on account of the fact its Dolby Digital 5.1 mix does a better job of evening out the dialogue and score.