Fri, 5 October 2012
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The Angels Take Manhattan" is the fifth episode of the seventh series of the revived British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast on BBC One on 29 September 2012. It is the last in the first block of episodes in the seventh series, to be followed by a Christmas special. The episode was written by head writer Steven Moffat and directed by Nick Hurran. The story takes place in New York and features recurring monsters the Weeping Angels.
This is the final episode that features Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill). Alex Kingston reprises her role as River Song, the Doctor's wife and occasional companion, the daughter of Amy and Rory.
In the prologue, private detective Sam Garner in 1938 New York is hired by the shady Mr. Grayle to investigate "moving statues" at the Winter Quay, a set of apartment blocks. There, Sam finds an elderly version of himself dying in a bed. Chased by Weeping Angels to the rooftop, the man is confronted by a grimacing Statue of Liberty.
In present-day New York City, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory enjoy a picnic in Central Park. The Doctor is reading to Amy from a 1930s detective pulp novel, "The Angel's Kiss: A Melody Malone Story", while Rory leaves them to go for coffee. As he reads, the Doctor tears out the last page, noting he does this to avoid endings. Continuing, the Doctor and Amy are surprised to find Rory turn up in the plot of the novel. The Doctor and Amy continue to read in concurrence with events in the past, as Rory is joined by the book's lead character, Melody Malone, who turns out to be River Song. They are both abducted by Grayle's henchmen. River tells Rory that New York is subjected to unusual time distortions which would prevent the TARDIS from landing in this time period. As the Doctor and Amy return to the TARDIS, he scolds her to not read ahead in the novel for fear of creating a fixed point in time that they must follow, as she has already read about the Doctor breaking River's wrist.
Grayle has Rory locked up in his basement with cherub-shaped Weeping Angels with only a box of matches to protect himself, while River is taken to his secured office. Information she provides via the book allows the Doctor to signal her via the writing on an old Chinese vase, and she activates a homing beacon, allowing the Doctor to guide the TARDIS to Grayle. In the meantime Grayle has shown River a damaged Weeping Angel, part of his collection, and allowed it to grab River's wrist to gain information about the Angels from her. Amy deduces that River will write the book and correctly guesses that she would have left hints. They identify Rory's location from the chapter titles in the novel, and the Doctor sends Amy to rescue him. However, the Doctor finds the last chapter is about Amy's farewell and frets. Upset, he tells River to free herself from the Angel without breaking her wrist. The Doctor joins Amy and finds that Rory has run out of matches and with no means to look at the Angels was snatched by them. River appears, having freed herself apparently without harm from the Angel, and soon locates Rory nearby at Winter Quay: he has unusually been moved in space and not time. However, as they race to leave, the Doctor grabs River's hand and discovers that her wrist is broken. Realising the events of the book are still coming true, the Doctor uses his regeneration energy to heal River.
At the Quay, Rory is drawn to an apartment labelled with his name, just as the others catch up to him. In the apartment, they find an elderly Rory on his death bed, calling to Amy before dying. The Doctor realises that Rory's fate is now assured; the Doctor recognises that the Quay has been used by the Angels many times within the populous New York City as a battery farm, leaving their victims to live out their lives in solitude, whilst the Angels feast on their energy. Rory and Amy refuse to accept their fate, insisting they can run from the Angels forever. The Doctor and River agree, and help to distract the Angels converging on them.
Amy and Rory make it to the roof of the building, where the Statue of Liberty, a giant Angel itself, awaits to take Rory to the past. Rory determines there is another exit — were he to die by jumping from the roof before the Angels take him, a paradox would be created, ending their preying methods and wiping them from existence. Rather than pushing him as he requests, Amy opts to join him, and just as the Doctor and River reach the roof, the two jump, creating the paradox and killing the Angels.
The four find themselves in a New York graveyard in the present era again, though the Doctor notes with the paradox, he can no longer travel to that point in time for fear of destroying New York. As the others enter the TARDIS, Rory spots a tombstone with his name on it — moments before he is touched by one surviving Angel and disappears into the past. A distraught Amy convinces herself that if she were touched by the same Angel, it would send her to the same time it sent Rory. While she is still staring at the Angel she tearfully says goodbye to River. The Doctor tries to talk her out of it, knowing he can't return to the past to see her again, but River insists she goes. Amy finally says goodbye to the "Raggedy Man" - her early nickname for the Doctor - as she turns to face him and lets the Angel take her. The tombstone then changes to reflect Amy's presence in the past with Rory, both having died at an old age.
In the TARDIS, the distraught Doctor asks River to travel with him, which she agrees to do, but "not always". He considers this, and suddenly realises that while River may be the author of "The Angel's Kiss", Amy would be the one to publish the book, and may have left a final message in the afterword. He races back to their picnic spot to find the page he tore out earlier containing the afterword. In it, Amy tells him that she and Rory love him and assures him that they lived a good and happy life together. She also requests that he pay another visit to her younger self to reassure her that he will come back for her and take her on amazing journeys. As the episode ends, young Amelia Pond waits for the Doctor in her garden, looking to the skies as she hears the sound of the TARDIS engines.
When River asks the Doctor whether the bulb on top of the TARDIS needs changing, he says that he has just changed it; flickering light bulbs have been a common motif throughout the current series, as well as a tactic used by the Angels in their previous appearances. In Amy's voice over, references are made to "The Eleventh Hour", "The Curse of the Black Spot", "The Big Bang", "Vincent and the Doctor", and "The Beast Below".
The closing view of young Amelia waiting in her garden reprises a scene from "The Eleventh Hour".
In December 2011, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat announced that Amy and Rory would leave in the seventh series in "heartbreaking" circumstances. Amy's exit was a mutual decision between Moffat and Gillan. Gillan wanted her character to have a final ending, and ruled out returning to the show in the future as she felt it would take away from the impact of her final scene. Moffat stated he felt "tremendous pressure" writing Amy and Rory's ending. He later revealed that he "completely changed" the ending as he was writing it, feeling the emphasis was wrong. Gillan refused to read the script for a few weeks after she received it because she "didn't want to make it real". She said in an interview, "I literally couldn't read it without crying. It was the most highly-charged read-through I've ever experienced. But I couldn't have asked for a better exit. I don't think it'll be what people expect." However, the final episode Gillan and Darvill shot as Amy and Rory was actually the previous episode, "The Power of Three". Moffat was also interested in coming up with a new form for the Angels, and so he introduced the putti.
Much of the episode was filmed in Central Park in New York City in April 2012. The cast and crew were met with thousands of American fans, which surprised Smith, Gillan, and Darvill. Other scenes were shot at night in the city, involving old-fashioned cars. Moffat was in New York City when he came up with the story, and thought it was appropriate for the Weeping Angels. He described the city as "a different backdrop" to shoot a Doctor Who story in, and made use of its architecture. Fellow executive producer Caroline Skinner felt that the location "has such scale and romance" which "[gave] the episode a real atmosphere and a very different tone for Doctor Who". This marks the second time Doctor Who has filmed principal photography in the United States, the first being the opening sixth series episodes "The Impossible Astronaut"/"Day of the Moon". The week spent filming in the city was done by a "small unit by American standards" according to producer Marcus Wilson. They did not take any props of Angels or the TARDIS, which were instead added in post-production. Other filming locations included University of Bristol, Cardiff University  and a cemetery in Llanelli. The New York skyline was added into the cemetery in post-production.
The Doctor Who logo in the title sequence featured a texture showing the Statue of Liberty's crown, in keeping with the varied "blockbuster" themes for each of the opening five episodes of the series.
The Angel's Kiss: A Melody Malone Story
The story that the Doctor reads in this episode is titled The Angel's Kiss: A Melody Malone Story. BBC Books is due to publish this as an ebook on 4 October 2012.
Broadcast and reception
"The Angels Take Manhattan" was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on 29 September 2012. Overnight ratings showed that it was watched by 5.9 million viewers live, an increase of 400,000 from the previous week. It also received an Appreciation Index of 88, the second highest of the series behind "Asylum of the Daleks" (89).
The episode received positive reviews. Dan Martin of The Guardian gave a positive review, writing, "This was a fitting end to a golden era, and bravo to Steven Moffat for telling such an involving, emotional story with such style". He also praised the concept of the cherubs and the Angels in New York. However, he noted that he was "flummoxed" as to where in River's timeline the episode took place. The Daily Telegraph reviewer Gavin Fuller gave it five out of five stars, concluding "'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". While he praised the four actors he felt Gillan was the star, and noted that Rory did not "get any sort of send-off". Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club gave "The Angels Take Manhattan" a grade of A, attributing its success to "the way it does double duty as a twist adventure and a highly emotional story of farewells".
Sam Wollaston, also writing for The Guardian, wrote positively of the scare factor in the episode, as well as the sadness. Neela Debnath of The Independent described it as a "wonderful swansong to the duo" and particularly praised the "stylish" cinematography and sense of danger. However, she considered the "only flaw" to be "the rule that time cannot be changed if one knows what is going to happen ... though it is probably best not to question the timey wimey side of things and just accept it and enjoy the adventure". IGN's Matt Risley rated the episode 9 out of 10, writing that it "stood strong as a heartfelt, emotional end for the TARDIS' longest serving companions (since the show's noughties' return at least), and the best episode of the season thus far". Risley also praised the three leads, though he did admit the episode "left a few nitpicky questions".
Digital Spy reviewer Morgan Jeffery gave "The Angels Take Manhattan" five out of five stars, despite noting "plotholes ... and slightly-too-convenient plot contrivances" and that Rory did not get a heroic exit. Jeffery particularly praised the build-up to Amy and Rory's departure as well as the "superb production design". Dave Golder of SFX awarded the episode four out of five stars, believing that the "bittersweet exit" of the Ponds distracted the viewer from various narrative problems, such as the Statue of Liberty. He felt that Gillan and Darvill "were on top form" as well as Smith's "brilliant performance" and a "less over-the-top River", and also wrote positively about the noir theme and the Angels using the Winter Quay as a battery farm. The Huffington Post writer Maureen Ryan was more critical of the episode, worrying that the BBC's international promotion of the show was to the detriment of the quality of the writing. She felt that Amy deserved a better exit and "was crowded out by the distracting presence of River Song and by the fact that Rory was the one to make the essential choices first". She also personally disliked the "timey-whimey" devices, and commented that the "big and operatic tone the director was clearly going for clashed with the mood of film noir" and that the Angels "felt less menacing" and the "pace was a little too frantic".