Recent Posts

Sunday, January 10, 2010

BLINK, and You'll Miss It: An Interesting Thought About the Ultimate Doctor Who Episode

To celebrate (read: mourn) the 10th Doctor's departure, we've been rewatching all Doctor Who episodes starring David Tennant. As always, four stories stand out as perfect examples of everything that's great about this show: Blink, Midnight, Silence In the Library / Forest of the Dead, and Human Nature / The Family of Blood.

The fandom behind the show is so huge, lasting and intelligent that it's near impossible to say anything that hasn't been said before. But one thing about Blink seems to have slipped under everyone's radar: the episode is subtly, delightfully self-referential.

Self-referential art calls attention to its artifice: in a self-referential play, a character might talk directly to the audience, shedding the play's realism and acknowledging the audience's presence; a self-referential book might discuss the reader's reaction to its own story; and a self-referential movie might center around the behind-the-scenes world of moviemaking.

Blink breaks the imaginary "fourth wall" that divides the audience from the action, making the audience part of the events. But it does this in such a subtle way that it's taken me two viewings and several days of contemplation to even notice it: this is easily the sneakiest example of self-referentiality I've ever seen.

So how does Blink make the viewers part of the action? How does the fact that we are watching the episode influence the way the action unfolds? Let me know what you think!


Post a Comment