Well, the Ponds are gone and, don't take this the wrong way, but I have to say . . . finally. To-day's episode of Doctor Who, "The Angels Take Manhattan", isn't a bad episode but it brought back to me again the feeling I first got with "Asylum of the Daleks", that the show is long overdue for a change.
The presence of the Weeping Angels, and the episode calling back to Weeping Angel story elements we haven't seen since their introductory episode, "Blink", emphasise this. "Blink" worked so well, it was a crazily inventive ride. It was a chain of seemingly fearless story elements that worked very well--a Doctor "light" episode, where the main character is a guest star, the funny gimmicks like the Doctor speaking to her through the television that add together in a satisfyingly clever and sinister way, all of it helped by a relaxed, considerate pace that has become sadly uncharacteristic of the show.
The New York environment does add some juice to the story, actually involving the Angels' power of sending people back in time with the mechanics of the story was nice and there are some nice, moody moments. River's in the episode being slightly less annoying than she usually is, but still pretty annoying. I guess a lot of people like her, but every time she shows up I feel a little like someone I don't know has wandered into my house and made herself comfortable and after seeing her sporadically over about a year I still don't know her any better, yet she acts like not only do I know her but she's clearly the best thing since sliced bread. As I've said before, she began as an intriguing concept that never really managed to get off the ground.
Though I think the best moment in the episode involves the breaking of River's wrist--no, not because I hate her so much I want to break her bones--but there's a moment where the Doctor makes a sacrifice that he thinks will please everyone but ends up just pissing off River and Amy. That, with the business with the gravestones being a not quite but close to distant second, was the most emotionally interesting moment in the episode for me. There was a lovely bit of business at the very end that was sabotaged by slow motion running and overdone music. I do wish the show would cultivate a lighter touch. Sometimes it's like pretty sonnets read VERY SLOWLY through a loud speaker turned up so high that the sound's bleeding over itself, obscuring the content. Can't we trust people to have emotions anymore?
I hope the new companion reinvigorates the show. She certainly felt like a breath of fresh air in "Asylum of the Daleks". Otherwise, I hope Steven Moffat hands the show off soon. If I could have anyone I wanted in charge of the show (aside from myself, of course), I would really, really like to see Neil Gaiman have a few seasons. If not that, I hope at least he's the one writing the fiftieth anniversary episode. I think Moffat's already waxed sentimental about the show so much he doesn't have any wax left.