The dark streets and skyscrapers of 1930s New York suit the “film noir” detective drama genre perfectly. Rain swept streets, shady characters in long coats and hats, shadowy corners and hidden menaces, majestic buildings with stone statues.
But what happens if those statues can move? And only move when you are not looking at them. Keep an eye on them and they are frozen and still. But then if you turn away. Or if you blink. Or if the light goes out. Then they move like lightning. The Weeping Angels have taken Manhattan – an atmospheric backdrop to the mid-season finale of Doctor Who.
This is the climax we have waited for. The Doctor parts company with companions Amy and Rory for good. We were promised an emotional farewell. And Stephen Moffat delivers tears.
Cynics would argue that the only reason for the New York setting was to allow the pre-credit sequence to culminate in the shocking reveal that the Statue of Liberty is a giant Weeping Angel towering over its victim with fangs bared. But the city that never sleeps is perfect for the story and the feel of foreboding.
I love the scenes in modern-day Central Park before the action shifts to the grim shadows of the 1930s. And Moffat ingeniously weaves the time travel element into the story with the Doctor reading from an old detective paperback describing past events so that he can interact, now, with events that happened 70 years earlier.
Of course the Angels kill people in a nice way by zapping them 50 years into the past so that they can live themselves to death. When the Angels dispatch Rory to that earlier age, Amy elects to allow the Angels to send her back as well despite the Doctor’s tearful protestations. We feel the sadness of knowing that Amy and Rory are dead but also realise that they still lived to a ripe old age and lived happy ever after. Sort of.
The regulars, including Alex Kingston returning as River Song, act their socks off. The Angels are as scary as ever. Especially the giggling little cherubs blowing out candles and the mother and son statue watching from across the road.
A fabulous finale which leaves me waiting in anticipation for the Christmas episode. After the credits roll we get a tiny glimpse of the festive story complete with new companion played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. How on earth will she fit into the narrative given we last saw her as a Dalek in the season opener?
Over to you: Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who The Angels take Manhattan? Were you sad to see Rory and Amy leave? Were there tears? What about the Angels? Still scary or have they been over-used? What about those cherubs? Share your thoughts and comments below.