Shiny Shelf

Doctor Who: Blink

By Mark Clapham on 15 June 2007

Following ‘The Empty Child’, ‘The Doctor Dances’ and ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’, writer Steven Moffat continues his faultless run of ‘Doctor Who’ stories with ‘Blink’.

Taking on the ‘minimal Doctor’ slot in the season occupied last year by Russell T Davies’ ‘Love & Monsters’, for most of its running time ‘Blink’ only features the regulars in the form of messages left and passed on to the main character, Sally Sparrow. Sally, played by the excellent Carey Mulligan from the recent BBC ‘Bleak House’, is a typical Moffat creation, a charming, but slightly stubborn, young woman who has a determination under pressure that others around her lack. As such she’s a perfect everywoman lead for a story where the Doctor isn’t around to save the day.

There are three characteristics of Moffat ‘Who’ episodes, the first two of which are present in pretty much all of his none-’Who’ work as well, that are all present and correct here:

Firstly, there’s the precisely observed character comedy, where dialogue is both funny and illuminating. Take the character of DVD geek Lawrence in this one – his disbelief that Sally has ‘only 17 DVDs’ is funny while telling us a bit about Sally and a lot about Lawrence.

Secondly, there’s a certain romantic warmth, tempered with a bit of wounded caution – Moffat’s stories are full of good people making believable mistakes, often harming themselves and each other in the process. Optimism and pessimism sit on a knife edge in these stories, and events are never far from tipping into disaster at any time.

Finally, and this is a quality that most of his lighter TV scripts haven’t really got the opportunity to demonstrate, Moffat can do scary like no other writer working on ‘Who’ at the moment. Each script has at least one creepy central idea (the ‘empty’ child, the ticking noise when the clock is broken, and in this case the… well, that would be telling) which is often expressed in some memorable phrase. ‘Blink’ has even more jump moments than his previous episodes, and a few images that linger in the mind well after the episode is over.

These ‘Doctor-lite’ episodes are proving to be inventive, tightly structured little gems. While they’re as good as this, long may they continue to be a staple of the show.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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