Doctor Who review: River Song faces an old foe in Carnival of Angels

In 1930s New York, Melody Malone has to face the Weeping Angels without her husband around to help her, in the final episode of Doctor Who spin-off box set The Diary of River Song: Series 7.

The final episode of The Diary of River Song: Series 7 features a monster that Doctor Who fans know very well. And so does River, in fact. Because, in 1930s New York, she has to face the Weeping Angels once again.

Writer Roy Gill had quite the challenge when it came to this episode. For one thing, he had to write an episode that essentially wrapped up the box set, but also set things up for another adventure. Because, as you’ve probably guessed, Carnival of Angels acts a direct prequel to the classic Eleventh Doctor episode The Angels Take Manhattan.

What’s great about Series 7 is that, just like Series 5 and 6, there isn’t exactly an arc like there was for the first four box sets. So Carnival of Angels didn’t need to wrap up loose threads from previous episodes, but it does feel like a nice “event” story to end on.

Doctor Who

Carnival of Angels is a story that embraces both the film noir and horror genres in equal measure.
(Image Courtesy: Big Finish Productions.)

Horror and film noir

As for the prequel aspect, Gill handles that aspect nicely. We have a story that’s connected to Manhattan, but not overwhelmingly so, allowing Carnival of Angels to be very much its own thing. We know what happens to River next, but it’s nice to hear the story of how she found out about the Angels in New York.

The fact that it takes place at Coney Island is a strong choice, as it gives the episode a different feel and flavor to the earlier (or should that be later?) Eleventh Doctor story. It’s used particularly well too, giving us many creepy scenes involving the Angels lurking at the carnival.

Along with the creepy horror aspect, the story is rich with film noir influences, too. Along with River working as private investigator Melody Malone, you also have first person narration – not something you hear often with Big Finish’s full cast stories – and even your classic New York gangsters helping the Angels. Carnival of Angels embraces its noir influences fully, and it’s all the better for it.

There’s less of a mystery here than with previous episodes – mainly because we know both who the victim and the killers are right from the start. But it’s still a solid story that has fun with both the crime genre and the Weeping Angels, and rounds off this extremely strong box set of adventures for River nicely.

Are you a fan of The Angels Take Manhattan? Do you want to know more about River’s crime-busting adventures as Melody Malone? Let us know in the comments below.