The Angels Take Manhattan

With only Sandshoes, Chinny and The Eyebrows left to fan edit, I thought it was about time I made up for the fact that I hadn’t that many Amy Pond episodes. Unlike her replacement, Clara Oswald. And so, for my first Amy Edit in a long time what better story to tackle than her last one!

When it comes to what story to do next, I’ve just done whatever I felt like tackling at the time. Apart from The Key To Time season which were all done in order, and had to be as they each needed a Next Time trailer. So of all the available Amy episodes this was the one I fancied having a go at first. Mainly because I knew what I wanted to do with it before I even started work on it, which always helps. There was one scene in particular that I knew I wanted to ditch, and I’m sure you can guess what it is…

The Statue of Liberty is a Weeping Angel? Nah.

I’m sure it seemed like a fun gag at the time but surely somebody would notice that the damn thing was missing when it went walkabout? And since it would get quantum locked whenever anybody saw it why have there never been Breaking News headlines that the statue has come to life as a giant gargoyle in the middle of the city? You mean lady Liberty goes for a wander and nobody in The City That Never Sleeps ever sees it when it’s gone AWOL from its plinth on Liberty Island? Not only is the whole idea just nuts, the statue isn’t even made of stone! It’s made of copper, so how the hell can it be a giant Weeping Angel???

Since the whole thing was just ridiculous it was the first thing to get cut, shaving five minutes off the running time before I’d even started. The first cut to the episode proper was to lose the last couple of superfluous statue shots from the establishing montage at the start. That was followed by a fix to the scene where the Doctor rips out the last page of the book to get rid of the continuity error…

If you look at the shots in this sequence, you can see that the visual grammar is all wrong. As a result of how the shots are cut together, Smiffy ends up putting the last page in the hamper twice! The giveaway is to keep an eye on Matt Smith’s left arm. If you follow it you can see that he puts the last page in the hamper out of shot at the bottom of the frame. But instead of cutting away to that shot as he does so Director Nick Hurran continues to hold on the two-shot and then cuts to the insert of Smiffy putting the last page in the hamper! Why he cut it together like this I have no idea, but in this version the last page goes in the hamper once instead of twice!

We also don’t need Smiffy padding out the story by taking a side trip to China either. In this version, River texts him, he locks on to her signal and turns up so we can get on with the story. Neither do we need Grayle getting done in by the creepy Mother And Son statue, we just want to get to Winter Quay as quickly as we can. Of course, once we do get there it means dealing with the consequences of cutting the SoL at the start of the edit by removing her from the end as well…

In order to achieve that the first thing to do was to cut the music during the Doctor’s explanation of what’s going to happen to Rory in the hotel room. The reason for removing it from the scene was due to the way the 5.1 for this ep was mixed. The thunderous footsteps of the SoL approaching Winter Quay aren’t on the dialogue track but the music track, so I had to lose the music in order to lose the SoL from that scene in order to keep her out of the edit. After that I then had to remove the references to the sound of its approach in the dialogue. That left a bit of a jump cut after Amy says she won’t let the Angels take Rory, which was annoying, but it’s pretty minor and couldn’t be avoided. See if you can spot the moment I mean when you watch it.

With that out of the way it was a case of fading the music back in and then tackling the tricky business of cutting the SoL from the end rooftop scene when Rory & Amy plunge to their non-deaths. 

That turned out to be less tricky than I thought as all I had to do was to create two masks for the long shots on the Winter Quay rooftop where the fangs of the SoL could be seen screen right. If the statue is no longer there in the shot then you would be able to see the city instead, which meant finding a shot of the city to use in place of the giant statue. Having found one from another shot elsewhere, I flipped it vertically and used it as the mask for the two slightly different shots that I couldn’t cut. All of which brought this edit in at just under 35 minutes.

Watching this again for the edit, my fan brain began to wonder how this story fits with what we later learn in The Time of the Doctor… If Dr Smiffy is The Last Doctor, how has he got regeneration energy to spare to heal River’s broken wrist? If he’s the thirteenth & final incarnation, and doesn’t have any regenerations left, where does the energy come from???

If Steven Moffat will be remembered for anything other than statues that come to life, it’ll be as the man who gave the world the phrase Timey Wimey. Moffat was the first Doctor Who writer to really explore the whole notion of time as a plot point, which is a bit odd given that time travel has been part of the show’s storytelling DNA since the very beginning. But no other writer explored the idea of Time, of the interconnectedness of Past, Present and Future, quite like the Moff did. Almost everyone else just had the TARDIS turn up at a crucial point in history and that was it.

But here we get a much more satisfying use of the concept of time travel than we did in the awful conclusion to the previous season. The idea that knowing what your future is going to be is what actually makes your future happen is at the heart of Amy & Rory’s departure. There’s none of the temporal shark-jumping of The Big Bang here but the one question we never get an answer to is how and why the Doctor picked up that Melody Malone book in the first place…

2 thoughts on “The Angels Take Manhattan

  1. This was one of the Matt Smith era episodes I’d been anticipating you to tackle, so worth the wait. Removing the Statue of Liberty was very well done. I’d much rather that stay in Ghostbusters 2 where it belongs. Wasn’t expecting Alien In New York to be removed too, but I guess that was due to making sure another cut work

  2. Regeneration energy, a few ideas: when Tennant 1 becomes Tennant 2, he doesn’t use a full quota, or some left over from River, or maybe Time Lords don’t always get exactly 12.0 units of regeneration energy in the first place, perhaps it’s more like 12.1 which means any attempted 13th regeneration might start then fizzle out. Assuming there was a little to spare helps make sense of Lake Silencio, if time was changed there (the first time around would require an actual partial regeneration), otherwise if it was always the Tesselecta then it was just a light show all along. That kind of thing used to bug me but I think the real question is whether the writer got a good scene in exchange for the long term continuity. Don’t get me started on The Lie of the Land.

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