Characters within narrative are given roles, these roles generally allow audiences to understand the rights and wrongs, who to side with, and who to stand against within their narrative. As quoted by John Hartley in ‘Communication, Cultural and Media Studies: The Key Concepts (Third Edition):
‘In the presentation of a narrative, what types of individuals are chosen as heroes, victims, villains or innocents may reproduce common cultural assumptions about such individuals. Accusations of stereotypes arise in analysis of narrative presentation’
In Doctor Who, audiences are lead to believe that the Doctor is inspirational and unstoppable due to the narrative positioning of his character. This positioning being that he’s a highly intellectual, empathetic, and just hero. From this, Doctor Who usually tends to follow the narrative structure trope that the Doctor resolves the situation, threat or problem within the given narrative.
For Doctor Who’s episode ‘Blink’, this is instead subverted as Sally Sparrow, a rather ordinary character, must rescue the once all-powerful, but now helpless, Doctor. The narrative for ‘Blink’ is both linear and non-linear, as Sally Sparrow’s narrative is linear, whilst the Doctor’s isn’t. Audiences follow the narrative perspective of Sally Sparrow, and (seemingly only) watch on as Sparrow overcomes the threat that previously rendered the Doctor hopelessly useless.
This threat is known as the Weeping Angels, and appear to only be stone statues when seen. As their stone form, which is also their defensive form, they cannot move or be killed, and practically cease to exist. When unseen, the weeping angels come alive and are given the ability to move. This mechanism is known as a ‘quantum-locking’. For more on why the Weeping Angels are so powerful click here to watch a video on the Doctor’s depiction of ‘the lonely assassins’.
Usually the narrative of Doctor Who is seen through the eyes of the Doctor, which audiences watch on from. This gives off a sense of embedded narrative as the plot is already set in stone as the story has already been told, only that the audience is practically watching on as if it was a picture-book. However, as the Doctor isn’t the hero in ‘Blink’, the audience sees the narrative through Sally Sparrow’s. As Sparrow lacks both experience and knowledge, the narrative practically makes the audience the hero.
This is due to the use of the cinematographic medium, moving imagery. This medium is ‘a form of entertainment that enacts a story through the use of a sequence of images that give off the illusion of continuous movement’ (vocabulary.com). As the screen is the only view audiences are given, the use of this medium was easily used to create the effect that the audience is in-fact keeping an eye on the Weeping Angels. This is further expressed as characters, such as Sally Sparrow, only keep an eye on Weeping Angels when also shown to the audience. This means that any scene lacking a character watching the Angels is only being kept in its stone form due to the audience. From of this, the audience is given some power over the narrative (even though the end result of ‘Blink’s narrative is always the same).
Through the clever use of this medium and the mechanism of the narrative threat, the Weeping Angels, Doctor Who’s episode ‘Blink’ ultimately makes a hero out of the audience.
As quoted from ‘Communication, Cultural and Media Studies: The Key Concepts (Third Edition) by John Hartley:
‘Narrative is driven by a series of questions and answers in the movement between opening and closing equilibrium. Which character or discourse underpins these questions is often referred to as the point of view that leads to a preferred reading of the text’
So next time someone questions why a Weeping Angel is still in its stone form when it has clearly shown that no character is watching it, remind them that they’re the hero controlling the narrative.
Found on United Diversity, written by John Hartley, third edition published in 2004, (Link: http://library.uniteddiversity.coop/Media_and_Free_Culture/Communication_Culture_and_Media_Studies-John_Hartley.pdf), (Accessed on the 6th of March, 2018)
Vocabulary.com, (Link: https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/moving-picture%20show), (Accessed on the 6th of March, 2018)
General Information (on topic):
Tardis Wikia, (Link: http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Weeping_Angel), (Accessed on the 6th of March, 2018)
Tardis Wikia, (Link: http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Quantum-locking), (Accessed on the 6th of March, 2018)
Georgetown, last edited on the 14th of September, 2014, (Link: http://narrative.georgetown.edu/wiki/index.php/Embedded_narrative), (Accessed on the 6th of March, 2018)
Multiverse, by Gerben Grave, last edited on the 7th of May, 2015, (Link: https://multiverse-narratives.com/2015/05/07/emergent-narratives-in-games/), (Accessed on the 6th of March, 2018)