A roundup of selected quotes from the media for the premiere of The Angels Take Manhattan last night – links to the full review can be found via the author’s name. You can also read our own review here.
Please note that as these are reviews, spoilers may be present within the text!
That was so damned good. I laughed. I cried. I was on the edge of my seat. I jumped out of my skin. That to me is perfect entertainment. Every piece of my emotional machinery was fully engaged. I’m now going to have to have a lie down and take a valium because I don’t think I can actually get through the rest of the day!
Amy and Rory left the only way they really could. The Weeping Angels felt like they were created for this very scene: Amy and Rory zapped back in time to live out their long, happy lives without the Doctor. Since the Tardis crashlanded into her back garden, Amy’s story had been one about growing up. At the start, she chose a life of adventure with her Raggedy Man over the prospect of normality with Rory. But now, faced with that decision again, there was no contest.
This was a fitting end to a golden era, and bravo to Steven Moffat for telling such an involving, emotional story with such style. That last scene, as the Doctor darted through the streets of New York – grabbing at the final page as it flapped in the wind, speeding toward the ending he’d refused to accept was coming! Here ended Doctor Who’s ultimate fairytale in the way it had begun – in the pages of a storybook.
The Angels Take Manhattan brought this mini-run of the series to a close with easily the best episode of the five: a powerful, taut, compelling, filmic, emotionally punchy affair which re-established the Angels as one of the standout monsters of the series and gave Amy Pond a fine send off.
The Angels take Manhattan was a wonderful swansong to the duo, it drew on the film noir genre and combined it with fantasy and horror. Added to this, the cinematography was superb and everything looked very stylish. The Weeping Angels haven’t been this scary since Blink and there was a real sense of danger. On top of this the introduction of the baby cherubim Angels was a devilish little touch that added to the fear factor, not to mention the Statue of Liberty becoming a gigantic Angel. The only flaw was the rule that time cannot be changed if one knows what is going to happen. After watching the last series though it is probably best not to question the timey wimey side of things and just accept it and enjoy the adventure.
What a momentous end to this half of the series, apart from the Christmas special there is no more Doctor Who in 2012. The cyclical ending to this episode takes viewers right back to the start, back to a young Amelia Pond with a suitcase in her back garden waiting for her raggedy man. This image alone inspires a compelling urge to return to The Eleventh Hour and re-live the Ponds’ adventures from the beginning.
It was shocks and tension all the way, and anyone who wasn’t riveted probably wasn’t paying attention. Doctor Who now demands attention, and it’s simultaneously a wonderful and a rather sorry thing that one of the most challenging dramas on TV at the moment is ostensibly aimed at kids. But heck, why let them have all the fun?
In The Angels Take Manhattan, it’s the heroines who often take the lead, dramatically and emotionally, with River’s anger that the Doctor would waste his regeneration energy on her, and Amy’s truly heartbreaking decision that mutual suicide is preferable to a life without the man she so completely and utterly loves. Beautiful yet terrible, believable without ever being mawkish, it was a true statement of love between two characters who – let’s face it – we’ve all come to love just a bit over the last two and a half years of Who.
The episode also had a great noir feel, which director Nick Hurran captured perfectly. Even a simple scene such as River and Rory being driven around 1930s New York in the back of a car looked stunning. Hurran also excelled in the creepy scenes; Rory being menaced by the baby angels in the basement was strong stuff, with some excellent sound design (that freaky giggling).
Thank God the departure of Amy and Rory was delivered with such gutwrenching emotion, because the dramatic clout of their bittersweet exit from the show distracted you from the fact that this was a bit of a multi-“Huh?!” episode. On one level it’s a glorious, daring, gutsy, high-concept and hugely entertaining slice of Who, with individual moments of the show at its best: creepy, funny and visually arresting. On another level, it’s downright baffling…
Wrapping up a three-year character arc and writing out two much-loved actors at the same time is no easy task, and for the most part Steven Moffat pulls it off with style. And beyond script and performance, ‘Angels’ also boasts superb production design, another in a long series of enthralling Murray Gold musical scores and dynamic direction from Nick Hurran, who also handled the excellent ‘Asylum of the Daleks’.
Doctor Who’s final episode ’til the festive season is easily the equal of that hugely impressive opener. Is it perfect? Perhaps not – but it did leave us feeling both moved and almost entirely satisfied.
Den of Geek
Steven Moffat’s script gave both Gillan and Arthur Darvill an awful lot of work to do. Confronted with their potential separation, there was humour, action and emotion, and the performances from Gillan and Darvill were both up to the job. We’ve said before that we’re particularly going to miss Arthur Darvill. His performance as Rory has evolved and impressed more and more as the episodes have rolled on.
Matt Smith, though, was also in tip top form, and the foreboding warning that his Doctor should never travel alone came through loud and clear here. It felt like quite a few things were being established for him to consider in the next run of episodes, and it’ll be interesting to see how those threads develop. For now, not for the first time nor the last, The Doctor was faced with losing dear friends and companions (and just how special Amy was to him was explored in The Power Of Three), and Smith sold the heartbreak and loneliness of this tremendously well.
The departure of the Ponds, and the manner in which they left, is bound to provoke mixed feelings. Many fans will obviously feel bereft while some may believe Moffat has played the “Someone’s-going-to-die!” card once too often, even if he was once again technically correct in doing so. Although I am certainly not among them, there are a few Who followers who have never warmed to Gillan’s spiky sidekick and will be looking forward to an Amy-free TARDIS. But there is no doubt that, as companions, the Ponds played a bigger-than-most role in the life of the Time Lord — or this particular incarnation of it anyway. While the convoluted familial interweaving of Amy, Rory, the Doctor, and River Song may have caused head scratching at times, they were a family — the first, really, to inhabit that famous blue box — and Gillan and Darvill’s exit leaves a sizable hole even in a structure which is, yes, much bigger on the inside. When your writer spoke to Grey’s Anatomy creator and Who fanatic Shonda Rhimes earlier this year, she suggested that, since Amy’s arrival, the show has essentially been told from her point of view. That’s a debatable point, albeit one that seemed to be reinforced this episode by the way Amy was allowed to have the last word when it came to the end of her relationship with the “Raggedy Man.” Regardless, Jenna-Louise Coleman, who will play the Doctor’s new assistant when the show returns with this year’s Christmas special, has big shoes to fill — and four of them.
For me, this was an extremely touching episode that really highlighted the best parts of Amy’s character—her feistiness, her sense of adventure, and her love for Rory. There were great performances all around, but I especially liked hers. I loved that she didn’t struggle with her decision to choose Rory over the Doctor—she made her mind up and that was it. Her end wasn’t a result of the Doctor’s negligence, a quirk of time travel, or her weariness of leading a double life; her end came because she had to choose, and she chose her marriage.
My only complaint about the episode, outside of a few nit-picky time-travel/storyline issues mentioned below, was that the plot was barely affected by the Doctor. He seemed powerless to fix the problems that came up, from River’s arm to Rory escaping the Angels, but perhaps that was for the best. It was Amy’s story, and it came to a satisfying close for me. Sometimes it’s not about the complexities of endless time travel—sometimes it’s just about a girl faced with two men she loves and a choice to make.
As an episode of “Doctor Who,” “The Angels Take Manhattan” benefited from excellent on-location use of New York City and a clever film noir style that sprang from a book River Song was writing under the nom de plume Melody Malone. But that was just the window dressing. The main event of “The Angels Take Manhattan” was Amy and Rory’s goodbye, which was pulled off with suspense, humor and maximum emotional impact.
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.
I wish I had liked “Angels” more than I did, but there was a lot of throat-clearing before we got to the meat of the story: We met a couple of characters (the rich guy and the hard-boiled detective) who didn’t matter in the end, and River simply took up too much space, plotwise and emotionally. She got in the way. And normally, I love film noir, but the big and operatic tone the director was clearly going for clashed with the mood of film noir, which is all about bittersweet cynicism. The scene in Central Park was fun, but it felt like it was from a different episode. “Angels” simply didn’t cohere.
Part of the reason the episode didn’t fully work for me was because I dislike the kind of timey-wimey machinations on display here. It’s just a personal dislike; I’m willing to concede that others may not share it (and yes, I get that this kind of thing is somewhat baked into the premise). The detective novel, the Angels, the apartment building, the clues — I more or less understand how all that worked, but the episode featured yet another Moffat-style house-of-mirrors plot that buried the emotional beats in time math. Trying to figure out how it all worked and what it all meant stopped me from being able to fully bask in the Ponds’ exit.
Overall a well-produced episode with some fine performances, attention to period detail and excellent use of the terrifying weeping angels. It’s a shame then that all of this is somewhat eclipsed by the fact that this will always be seen as Amy and Rory’s last episode and in that respect I feel that more time should’ve been allocated to this exit. It seemed to me to be very sudden and after all the build-up I was thinking we would get something more spectacular than what we ultimately did. Instead this was a very low-key send-off with a couple of nice touches though I thought I’d feel a lot more emotional than I actually did. I will miss the Ponds as Amy and Rory had a great chemistry with The Doctor and will always be associated with this incarnation of the character so now we’ll have to wait till Christmas to see if the new assistant can successfully replace them.