Since it returned in 2005, each new series of Doctor Who has re-introduced us to some classic villains whether it be the Autons, Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Master or Silurians. The return of these villains has been a mixed bag mostly because of either design (Cybermen) or story (Daleks, Silurians) but none of them have been as well recieved as the Weeping Angels. The Angels made such an incredible impression in 'Blink' that the two part story on this set, 'Time of Angels' and 'Flesh and Stone' is arguably the most anticipated return of a recurring monster ever. It is also fitting that their creator and writer, Steven Moffat develops them further and takes them to even more terrifying heights. Now I have never been scared of a Doctor Who monster, even as a child when I watched the classic series on VHS, but even I admit that the Angels get to me.
Following a stunning opening and two mixed but generally solid efforts, the fifth series of Doctor Who really kicks itself into high gear with the epic 'Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone' double. This doesn't mean that anything should be taken away from the also impressive 'Vampires in Venice', but the Angel two parter is the kick starter to developing the arc of the whole the series and beyond. The visuals are great and the angels themselves are given some new powers in a show stealing scene where Amy Pond finds herself at the mercy of a Weeping Angel recording. One example yes but a prime one of just how simplistic yet effective these monsters are. More crucially however is the return of Alex Kingston's River Song, another Moffat creation, who is a mysterious recurring character that has more importance to the Doctor than arguably any character who's ever appeared in the show (classic and new) before. More of her background is revealed to keep her intriguing but the bulk is saved till later. Many dislike River Song, I however find her a great character who enjoys great chemistry, like Gillan, with Matt Smith's Doctor.
'Flesh and Stone' is a more complex part 2 than the first and the twist development in the episode is a major departure from previous series' where the overriding threat would only manifest in the finale. This twist does add greater menace but at times you can argue whether it takes too much attention away from the Angels themselves, regardless however, there are some great moments featuring them still in this episode. The divisive Amy Pond also strikes again here and has the critics complaining about the new direction with this companion in a rather daring scene (for Doctor Who standards) that fleshes out the rebellious nature of her character and resolves the question of the wedding dress at the end of the first episode of the series. This takes you right into 'Vampires in Venice'.
The main problem, at times, with the relationship between Amy Pond and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), established in 'Vampires in Venice', is that the writers seem to retread old ground with them in later episodes, but intially it is a bold and new departure from previous series to have two companions in a relationship and in the Tardis together for a significant amount of time. Darvill I find more charming than the feisty Gillan and his development more satisfying as the character gains more confidence in the presence of the charismatic Smith. Visually impressive again with a nice little Doctor Who take on vampires. It doesn't boast a major plot enhancement the same way the the last 2 episodes did but from a character perspective it is one of the best of the series by focusing on the 'love triangle' that runs for a few episodes. It's not Twilight so don't panic in this regard, the actors are too talented and dialogue quirky and funny to be so predictable but 'Vampires in Venice' in general is just plain old entertainment.
It's a great set for Doctor Who, the best arguably since series 4 volume 3 with the Library double and 'Midnight'.