Doctor Who – Ascension of the Cybermen & The Timeless Children Review (or “Ugh”)

March 4, 2020

Writing this review on a Wednesday morning, the echo chamber that is social media is in full swing. There are people raging about Ascension of the Cybermen & The Timeless Children and there are people who enjoyed it, and that’s fine; everyone is allowed an opinion.

But what always gets me is that people don’t seem to want others to have an opinion if it conflicts with their own. You’ll see tweets like “Anyone who is annoyed about canon is a baby” or “I guess it’s only woke people and social justice warriors who like this“, and there are people out there who only want to follow people who share their own opinion and start to block those who disagree.

It’s unfortunate that people can’t quite accept that others have views that don’t match their own.

I’ll put this out there upfront; I didn’t enjoy the finale, and by saying that, I don’t take the view that anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. I welcome the debate and if you read this and agree or disagree with what I have to say, let’s discuss it. Is that not the way these things should go?

What I would say though is that the BBC cannot ignore that large numbers of viewers have switched off and that there are a lot of reviewers out there who are criticising the quality of the writing.

A year ago, I think the debate around the quality of Doctor Who was clouded by the female Doctor issue and the furore surrounding it, but I would suggest that is no longer a pressing concern to many. I think people largely think that Jodie Whittaker is fine, even if they’d rather have a male Doctor, and I would hazard a guess that if you offered fans the choice of either having Jodie Whittaker working under a different showrunner or a male Doctor working under Chris Chibnall, that poll would come back overwhelmingly in favour of keeping Whittaker.

At this stage, there will be some of you who are reading this and thinking “What a load of rubbish; I enjoy it” but look at the ratings! Look at the various polls out there where the Seasons 11 and 12 consistently finish in last place. Our own individual opinions have to occasionally make way for the general trends, and when viewers are switching off in such large numbers there is clearly a problem.

We weren’t having these arguments during Russell T Davies era, were we? Of course we weren’t.

And I’m not saying that everything Chris Chibnall has penned is crap, because he’s shown he can occasionally write a good episode, but I am saying he’s a bad showrunner and he – along with anyone else with a significant hand in how the last two seasons have been formed – should make way for someone else to have a go. It’s not like there wouldn’t be plenty of willing volunteers out there.

Anyway, you can probably guess the tone of this review, but you may be surprised as to why…

Doctor Who – Ascension of the Cybermen & The Timeless Children Review: What’s This One About?

Well depending on who you speak to, it could be anything from a thrilling adventure that was Doctor Who at its best, all the way down to an abomination where Chris Chibnall ruins a classic TV show.

For me, it’s a confused mess.

Thoughts – Continuity Issues: The End of the World?

I could probably write 5000 words on all the different ways that continuity has – or perhaps has not – been buggered up by the revelations in The Timeless Children but I won’t. I’ll simply say this…

There’s a long history of Doctor Who messing up its own continuity over the years and if you’ve read my reviews you’ll know that I have a pretty fluid or even contradictory approach to whether or not I get

Let’s bring this boy back to be the next Doctor.

annoyed by it.

So for example, I don’t care that the Doctor suddenly has two hearts in Spearhead from Space when he hasn’t before, but I do care that Terry Nation completely messed up the mythology of his own creations in Genesis of the Daleks. And by the way, so should most people, but they never seem to.

My rationale is that I don’t really expect Robert Holmes et al to have gone back and checked other writers’ work, but I do expect Terry Nation to remember what he wrote previously.

On the flipside, it bugged me that future writers put so much credence in a throwaway line in The Deadly Assassin about Time Lord regeneration cycles when they didn’t need to, because it was simply a line designed to explain the Master’s appearance. It could have been ignored.

There are loads of others that I could use as examples.

So the idea that the Doctor is the Timeless Child and has had numerous regenerations before his/her ‘First’ one is something I think is a little unnecessary, but is workable and feasible if we take the view that everyone was made to forget it. That is fine. If I was the sort of person who needed to find some way to justify it then I would look at the scene from the Brain of Morbius, which of course is what was referenced.

That’s all ok.

The Doctor Ruth with a Police Box stuff isn’t. My line in the sand is that it was established in the second episode ever transmitted – and then subsequently referenced numerous times – that the TARDIS landed in 1963 and disguised itself as a Police Box before the Chameleon Circuit broke. To use Doctor Who terminology, that is a fixed point and it should not be ignored. The only way around this is to somehow manufacture some tale about how she’s a Season 6B Doctor or she’s actually the next one. If they do that, then fine, but what’s the point of it relative to what we’ve just discovered? And if they don’t explain it that way or indeed if they just drop it and never bring it back up then it’s shocking writing.

But shocking writing is what we’ve come to expect from Chris Chibnall, and it’s because of that – not the continuity issues – that I disliked this story.

Unoriginal, Unexciting and Unbelievable

When formulating his plan for a thrilling finale, Chris Chibnall managed to arrive at the conclusion that what we needed was a two-part story involving The Master and The Cybermen. That’s such a fresh idea that

“It’s ok Doctor, I’ll sacrifice myself,; you get along him”
“Cheers mate”

we haven’t had that in a whopping three years.

With all of time and space to work with, the decision was made to use the same characters in a finale that were used a mere two seasons ago.

That’s pathetic.

I possibly could have ignored that if it was any good, but it wasn’t.

Some of the issues – from a storytelling perspective – I had with it included…

  • The idea that the Master managed to blow up Gallifrey and kill everyone. No Time Lords managed to escape in the numerous TARDISes littered around, and nobody regenerated, even though it was subsequently established that the bodies of those Time Lords were then able to regenerate when in Cybermen costumes.
  • And how did he manage to move all the bodies to wherever he dumped them, on his own?
  • The Cybermen, nice costume designs aside, were boring again. But then without a strong leading character or the original Mondasian design, they always are. Really, they’ve just been overexposed.
  • The Lone Cybermen was not a strong enough character to last over three episodes and by the Ascension of the Cybermen had past his sell-by date.
  • But even then, if you are going to build him up, don’t just kill him off when a character you prefer comes up against him. This was very similar – for any wrestling fans out there – to Goldberg beating The Fiend in Saudi Arabia last week.
  • Not for the first time – and this isn’t exclusive to Chibnall – a threat has been built up to be so big that nothing could stop it, only for it to be resolved with the push of a button. It’s the cheat code of writing.
  • And so was the way the Doctor was saved from killing herself because someone else offered to do it for her. Writing like that always makes the Doctor look sketchy as hell. And even if there is precedent for it, it’s never been so on-the-nose as it was here.

Really, I just thought it was a bit rubbish, and it just summed up what a lazy, out of his depth writer Chris Chibnall is.

The Master – Should Have Stayed Buried With Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo.

The worst thing about the story though was The Master. I wish The Master would just fuck off.

Again, if you’ve read my reviews all the way through, you’ll know that I have an issue with the character and how it’s been used over the years. Roger Delgado was brilliant; we all know that. His character is what the Master should be and the character has only ever been effective since when it’s been played in a similar way. And the only people who have managed to play it in a similar way have been Derek Jacobi in a few short moments, and John Simm in – and only in – The Doctor Falls.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Missy but Missy felt like a different character entirely because it was moved in a different direction.

And though I wouldn’t have ever thought that her demise in The Doctor Falls would have been the end of her, the fact is that it probably should have been.

So why in Spyfall did we all come together and say “Wow, the Master is back? That’s great!”? Because it was a surprise. Another example for the wrestling fans among you is that time John Cena came out as number 30 in the Royal Rumble and got a huge cheer from the fans who soon remembered they hated him.

With the Master, that short period in Spyfall where I thought it was nice to see him back was soon overcome, not just by rewatching The Doctor Falls and remembering how much better the actors playing him were, but also by remembering that the character had actually developed in that episode and was given a proper send-off that was just completely ignored by this new version arriving so soon after.

Now maybe I’m being a little harsh on Sacha Dhawan as an actor, because he could well be playing the part as the writer intended, but I didn’t like his portrayal at all. Someone – either him, Chibnall or the director

Let’s build up a character as an unstoppable force, only to bring back a tired old character to easily defeat him. Is this Doctor Who or WWE?

– wanted the Master played like he was the Joker and so the constant gurning, head touching and wacky close-ups were added in so we as viewers thought he was ‘Proper Mad, Innit’.

It’s just rubbish.

But my problem with the Master isn’t just because I don’t like how he’s played, it’s because his character epitomises that reset-switch mentality of writing that I hate. Time and time again The Master gets put into situations where he – or she in Missy’s case – is put in mortal peril or trapped with no chance of escape, and then he just turns up again, no questions asked. In the Doctor Falls – and I will say again that The Doctor Falls is Doctor Who at its very best – Missy was killed off. It was the perfect end. But no, let’s just forget it without explanation.

In this episode, he was put in a situation where all organic matter was destroyed, and yet no doubt he’ll be back next year.

And as well as that, how often can a character come back and never get a win, and yet we’re expected to take that seriously.

It just really bugs me.

So once again let me say, The Master should have stayed buried with rock and roll hoochie koo (it’s an obscure reference I like; look it up).

Random Observations

  • It should be noted that this review has so far almost exclusively focussed on the second part of the story. The first part to me was ok, but was almost entirely padding.
  • That being said, I quite liked the Earthshock vibe on the ship.
  • “Captain Charisma” Tosin Cole once again did nothing of notw. His character didn’t even have the common decency to be killed off.
  • But speaking of being killed off, I noticed that the first person offed in the second episode was the girl with the foreshortened arm.  I wonder if the foreshorted arm community will be up in arms…erm…let me rephrase that…outraged by the BBC disrespecting them in the same way as the LGBTQ+ community were raging about the security guard in Resolution being killed off after 30 seconds. We need justice! We need Digital Spy to write an article on it!
  • Speaking of Resolution – a Dalek episode broadcast in the festive season – I think we should applaud Chris Chibnall for thinking outside the box and having a festive broadcast episode later this year called Revolution…of the Daleks. He is an inventive son of a bitch, isn’t he?
  • It didn’t escape my attention that there wasn’t one single white adult male Time Lord in flashbacks. There were two black men, two white women, one white boy, one white girl, two Asian girls and one Asian boy. Now for what it’s worth, I would say that if the BBC have a philosophy of inclusion and representation – which I totally understand and agree with – then that’s not it. Representation surely doesn’t mean ‘Exclude the largest section of the population’, it means ‘include the minorities as well so that there’s a fair balance’.
  • Now further to that, I would argue that if casting directors are going to be so intent on showcasing ethnicity – and again I need to stress that I have no problem with that – why is it Latinos never get a look in? Are there not enough of them in the UK to make the cut? This is obviously an issue that people will take a lot more seriously than me, but it’s just an observation. Again, knowing that this will be a touchy subject and that in the echo chamber of the internet people will take grave offence at almost anything and will twist what people say to suit their own argument, it’s not me saying that the entire cast should be white males. What I am saying is that by making it so obvious that they deliberately not casting white males, even if those white males are extras with no dialogue, it looks like they are trying to make a point, and all it does is provide ammunition to the people who accuse the show of being woke.
  • On a lighter note, where the hell was Captain Jack? And why bring him in just for that small segment.
  • Having the Doctor be captured by the Jadoon while saying ‘What’ was a terrible copy of the finales of the RTD seasons.
  • Are we to assume the Master spent time designing the Time Lord Cybermen costumes?
  • Again, every time we see a classic TARDIS design, it’s much better than the one we’ve got.
  • Almost the only part of the show I enjoyed was the scene with Graham and Yaz. Yaz and Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor are the only consistently decent part of the show lately.
  • Where does Rassilon fit into all of this?

Doctor Who – Ascension of the Cybermen & The Timeless Children Review: Final Thoughts

I think in theory I’m supposed to have liked the finale, but I didn’t, and I’ve explained why. Bad writing, convoluted dialogue and exposition and terrible characterisation made this the shit-show that it was.

There’s always a chance down the line that I’ll soften to it, but there’s a large part of me that also dislikes it out of principle.

Doctor Who is meant to be family entertainment, and too often, it’s as if they’ve forgotten that entertaining the viewer is the main aim of the show.

Instead, Doctor Who as it stands is bogged down by sloppy writing and forced agendas.

It’s just not great right now.

Don’t get me wrong, occasionally it’s been good, with Spyfall, Prisoner of the Judoon and the Haunting of Villa Diodati proving entertaining. Even Can You Hear Me? was good, but it was marred by the different, easily avoidable issues that seemed to piss off everyone who watched it in some way.

What frustrates me as a viewer now is that under both RTD and Steven Moffat, the highs were amazing and the lows were occasional blips. Under Chris Chibnall, the highs are only middling at best, and the all-too-frequent lows are as bad as bad can be.

I really hope the BBC steps in and decides that they need to freshen things up, but I’m not sure they will. Someone at a high level must like Chris Chibnall, and simply couldn’t give a toss about ratings or reviews.

Having said all of that, I remain a Doctor Who fan through-and-through, and an optimist into the bargain, so by the time Revolution of the Daleks is on, I’ll be excited and ready to go. All will be forgiven and forgotten.

See you then.


Doctor Who – The Haunting of Villa Diodati Review (or “The Doctor Finally Takes The Lead”)

February 24, 2020

Another episode of Doctor Who is in the history books and thus we are another week closer to Tosin Cole leaving the show. Hurrah!

I know that’s a bit of a negative thing to start off with but I’ve arrived at the conclusion that Ryan is the worst companion in Doctor Who history. If he does get turned into a Cyberman, he’d be their first ever conversion to benefit from the personality upgrade.

Just awful.

What isn’t awful though is the most recent episode of the show, The Haunting of Villa Diodati.

Doctor Who – The Haunting of Villa Diodati Review: What’s This One About?

It was on course to be a standard cookie-cutter historical figure episode until a Cyberman turned up.

Thoughts – Saved From Mediocrity

If The Haunting of Villa Diodati had not included the Cyberman, then I don’t think it would have been anything more than a ‘meh’ episode. It was alright up to that point but it would just have felt like any other

The statue in the background is more emotive than Tosin Cole

‘Insert Historical Figure Here’ episode that has been done to death many a time.

But rather than being about Mary Shelley finding her inspiration for Frankenstein’s monster, it was about The Lone Cyberman. That she found her inspiration for her book in the Lone Cyberman, and yet it was presented as a clever – almost unsaid – addition to the plot, I thought was a neat touch.

And I think it’s important that the monster in the episode was a Cyberman, because otherwise that wouldn’t have worked. Can anyone really remember the alien from the Tesla episode, a mere few weeks later? I can’t, because they had no aura about them.

In some ways, The Haunting of Villa Diodati is like Utopia. Had Utopia not included those last few minutes where it turned out Yana was the Master, which set up the finale, it would have been an inoffensive, yet barely memorable episode alongside the likes of…well…I can’t remember off hand, but you get the point.

And the Lone Cyberman itself was very good. I loved the design, I enjoyed the personality (the precedent is there with Christopher Robbie and David Banks), the backstory and I thought the guy acting the part – Patrick O’Kane – did a good job.

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in the finale.

The Doctor Takes The Lead

I think it’s fair to say that Jodie Whittaker – and the character she plays – is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people will never be won over because she’s a woman, but I’ve enjoyed her portrayal of the Doctor more in this season than last.

The main issue – and I mentioned this in some of my Season 11 reviews – is that she doesn’t always stand out from her co-stars as the lead, and that’s in part down to her own acting ability, but also because she’s not always written to. This whole ‘Flat team structure’ has worked to prevent it.

But when you are supposed to be the star of the show and you can’t stand out ahead of a plank of wood or ‘Television’s Bradley Walsh barely trying to act’ then you have a problem.

So I was pleased with the way that flat structure was thrown to the side and at last the Doctor said “I’m in charge here”. That’s what we want!

There are a lot of issues with the show right now, but Jodie Whittaker isn’t one of them.

What’s In A Name?

Do episode titles matter? Probably not that much; people tuned in on Sunday to watch ‘Doctor Who’, not ‘The Haunting of Villa Diodati’.

The Doctor has a cheeky fag while trying to sort out the Lone Cyberman

But it wouldn’t hurt to have episode titles that are memorable and hopefully a bit snappy.

In this era, there have been some utterly honking titles, including The Tsuranga Conundrum, Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror, It Takes You Away and the finale from the last season that is so bad that I can’t remember it without looking it up and thus refuse to look up out of spite.

This one isn’t great either.

I appreciate that there is a haunting and that it takes place at a venue called ‘Villa Diodati’ and therefore there shouldn’t be a problem with the name. It’s no worse than The Horns of Nimon or Image of the Fendahl but it’s just that people are never going to remember it.

Maybe I’m being too harsh?

Random Observations

  • To be critical, I thought the stuff with being unable to get out of the rooms went on a little long.
  • A common complaint I’ve read about this episode is that it’s too heavy on exposition, but I personally thought it was fine. If you want an example of bad exposition, go watch Orphan 55.
  • Graham was written with a lot more cockney dialogue than usual in this one. It was a little jarring,
  • I did like that the ghost stuff Graham personally came across was never explained.
  • Three cheers for the reference to Bill being converted. For a moment there I thought all mention of Doctor Who’s past was being excised.
  • The final scene with the poem, culminating with ‘She Was The Universe’ was a good way to end it.
  • Seemingly the writer of the episode, Maxine Alderton, has been invited back for the next season. I’m happy with that.
  • As always, I keep up with the reviews others do of the show, and I am baffled by the reviewer from The Independent, who loved Orphan 55 but found plenty to criticise in this. People are allowed opinions of course, but he needs to give himself a shake.
  • There was no moral message this week. Yay.

Doctor Who – The Haunting of Villa Diodati Review: Final Thoughts

What could have been an inoffensive yet instantly forgettable episode turned into one that has set up the finale well and was also pretty exciting.

It won’t be remembered as a classic, but in an era of largely below average episodes overcome by preachiness, The Haunting of Villa Diodati stands out as one of the better ones.

Even if it does have a shit name.

 

Note: I appreciate this review is a week late; if you’re expecting a review of Ascension of the Cybermen, I’m avoiding it until the conclusion next week.


Doctor Who – Can You Hear Me? Review (or “Let’s Just Piss Off Everyone This Week”)

February 11, 2020

It would be nice for there to be a week watching Doctor Who where there wasn’t some fall out of controversy.

Alas, this week was not that week…

It’s time to review Can You Hear Me?

Doctor Who – Can You Hear Me? Review: What’s This One About?

Immortals who feast on nightmares…but also mental health and Yaz having an anniversary dinner for the time she ran away from home for the afternoon three years earlier.

Thoughts – When The Plot Makes Way For The Message

First off, I’d like to say that I thought Can You Hear Me? was a bit of a rollercoaster episode.

The first part of it didn’t do a whole lot for me because it all seemed disjointed, with too many different things going on that didn’t make a lot of sense. In truth, I was set to be disappointed.

The Doctor: Couldn’t Give A Shit.

 

But then once things were explained, and it turned out that it was Immortals feeding on nightmares to regain their power, I was all in. To me, that was a classic Dr Who scenario, and one that could have worked very well.

And it did while it was going on, but like just about every single-part story in this season it suddenly rushed to an unsatisfying, easy-fix ending. Most of the time, that has seemed to be because Chibnall et al spend too much time developing the guest cast and then run out of time to deliver a satisfying conclusion; in this episode though, there was plenty of time left, but it ended up devoted to discussing mental health and Yaz overcoming bullying.

I’m at the point where I just find it all a bit laughable.

Not for a second would I try to argue that highlighting the importance of mental health is a bad thing, because it’s not. And perhaps this was planned considering we’re in the midst of a national campaign about it, with football matches kicking off at odd times to raise awareness etc.

But the standard of the writing is such that when they try to make these points, they just seem clumsily shoehorned into the episodes. I don’t think it was a lecture like the infuriating Orphan 55 one was, but it felt a bit like there had to be a moral message, so that may as well be it.

I think I’ve made this point before, and I’ll make it again; Doctor Who is a science fiction show for all the family; its remit should be to entertain us based on the characters ending up in perilous situations. That is why people have watched the show for as long as it has. Doctor Who can be a show that has a moral message, but it is not a show that needs to have one every week. When you have one every week to the point where it becomes that moralistic then it loses its identity; especially when it seems to favour that moral message over telling good science fiction stories.

And that’s what it felt like here; like they’d taken a great idea and tried to make it fit the issue of the week. And considering so many of these episodes are co-written by Chris Chibnall, maybe that’s exactly what is happening? Maybe he’s taking workable scripts and chopping and changing them to suit his agenda to use Doctor Who as a vehicle to raise awareness of social issues that WE ALL KNOW ABOUT ALREADY!!!

Let’s Just Piss Off Everyone This Week

Now there’s no doubt that the way the show is being used to raise awareness of these issues has become a hugely divisive sticking point within fan circles.

There are lots of people who are bored with it and have turned off, but equally there’s a number of people out there – and realistically this is probably a very vocal minority if ratings are to be believed – who champion the show because of that. And as I’ve always said, that’s their right.

To me, it seems like Doctor Who at the moment is designed to appeal to that minority under the misapprehension that they are the majority, when they’re not. Never base your decisions on what social media is

Upon the examination; the galaxies of space. Images begin to appear; images of strange and powerful forces. But of all the forces of the universe, the two most powerful…Hulk Hogan…and…The Ultimate Warrior, prepare to explode. Champion versus Champion, Title for Title. It’s the Ultimate Challenge. It’s WRESTLEMANIA

saying!

But when it’s clear that the show is designed to appeal to those people, the scene with the Doctor and Graham in the TARDIS just seemed like absolute madness.

And unsurprisingly, it’s been the biggest talking point to come out of the episode.

The sort of people who believe that the Doctor speaks for them are not happy with how she responded to Graham because it doesn’t fit in with the tone of the show or with what they would do.

Meanwhile, the sort of people who hate the moralistic tone of the show were angry because they saw it as poor writing that failed to retain the consistency of message that they already didn’t like.

Basically there was outrage everywhere because everyone in their own way wants to be outraged nowadays.

I just found it funny, both on the level that I was supposed to take it on (that the Doctor is socially awkward and doesn’t know what to say, thus lightening the moment for the viewer) and because I immediately pegged that Twitter would go into meltdown.

Maybe they were trying to appeal to me then? If so, great job.

Random Observations

  • Why would Yaz have a yearly anniversary dinner to celebrate the time she ran away and then had a chat with a policewoman? Ok, I get that it changed her life, but even so…an anniversary dinner? Just weird.
  • The moral message of the week has become such a point of humour in our household that we were guessing which one was next. My bet was that when Yaz went round to the policewoman’s house it would turn out that she had developed a brain problem and the real moral message was going to be to raise awareness of the risks associated with children heading footballs from a young age.
  • My girlfriend Mhairi meanwhile has suggested next week’s one will be about Frankenstein’s Monster telling us all to adopt a plant-based diet. That would be brilliant.
  • To get back to the episode, what Can You Hear Me? made me realise was how good a new Toymaker episode would be.
  • Also, if you focus on the concept and not the message, it’s really good. It’s just it gets overshadowed.
  • Ryan is such a bland character that his nightmare was pretty much just taken off the shelf. “What can we do for Ryan? We’ll base it on his puddle deep character. Oh. Fire then? Yeah, that’ll do.”
  • I anticipate Ryan is not long for this show now anyway, which is good because he is crap. I would honestly say he’s by a mile the worse companion since the show returned.
  • The finger stuff was on the cusp of being a bit…erm…dodgy.
  • You know, I don’t say this enough, but I actually think Jodie Whittaker has been very good this season, and she played her part well again in this one. She’s developing the character for herself now and not just borrowing from others. It’s about time.
  • They couldn’t be arsed paying to get Yaz’s parents back for this then?
  • The animation section was a bit different, and not at all bad. Fair play for trying something new.
  • Not many who read this will get the quote for the second image; those that will will definitely appreciate it.

Doctor Who – Can You Hear Me? Review: Final Thoughts

I’d love to talk more about what this episode should have been about, because that was good.

Instead, I feel that what could have been a highly regarded episode for the right reasons will be remembered for the wrong ones because of moral messages and character choices in throwaway scenes.

And that’s a pity.

As I write this review, I see mudslinging on twitter is still in full flow, which is also a pity. One comment I read was from someone saying “Do you think a different showrunner would make a difference? Of course they wouldn’t”.

To me, that’s just not true. A different showrunner wouldn’t necessarily make the choices Chris Chibnall has made and the episodes wouldn’t all be written or co-written by him, which would make a massive difference.

There are things that he has done which have been great, but there’s no consistency in quality; the only consistent things associated with his work is that he pisses off large sections of his audience and that viewership is going down.

A fresh pen is required to hopefully arrest that trend.


Doctor Who – The Peter Capaldi Era Rankings

February 5, 2020

For those of you who have stuck with my Doctor Who reviews over the years – and that’s nine years by the way, which makes me feel old – you’ll have noticed the one thing I never did was a ranking of the Peter Capaldi episodes.

And some of you have asked about it, but I made a conscious decision not to do those rankings without watching all of his episodes again, in a row, just like I did with the rankings of every other Doctor. And now I’ve finally done that.

Each review I did during the Peter Capaldi era was done on the day/week of broadcast and in most cases they were done on the basis of a single viewing, so what has interested me is that I’ve actually reconsidered my opinions on some of the stories. Some of them I’ve realised I had maybe overhyped a bit and others I underrated. There were aspects of the episodes I maybe didn’t appreciate as much the first time around.

So I’d say these rankings are done from a more informed position.

As a quick aside, I’ll just reiterate – and I say reiterate because I wrote extensively about it in my Twice Upon a Time review – that Peter Capaldi is my favourite Doctor. That’s not to say that his stories were all amazing – hell, some of them are awful – but I just really liked him as an actor and I thought his Doctor’s character was fantastic.

I can’t understand why there’s negativity surrounding him, some of which came from the BBC. He was great, but we live in an image-conscious, and sometimes ‘right-on’ society where his departure became an inevitability. But he really is great, and though his era is over, I’ll still enjoy going back to watch it.

Well…most of it.

 

The Stories

32. The Eaters of Light

I didn’t enjoy it the first time around, but the second time I couldn’t even muster up the will to pay attention to it. Just incredibly bland children’s TV.

31. Sleep No More

While this is awful, nonsensical drivel, it ranks above The Eaters of Light purely because it’s at least so bad that I had a morbid fascination to watch it a second time.

30. The Girl Who Died & The Woman Who Lived

We’re away from the bad episodes, but this two-parter is far from good. The first episode was a bit silly and the second was dreary, had misfiring humour and for some reason, no companion.

29. Smile

I wasn’t keen on this one either, especially the second time around. It looked good, but it was lacking in plot and had a cop-out ending.

28. Robots of Sherwood

It felt like a leftover Matt Smith episode and seemed out of sync with how Capaldi had been written up to that point. But I’ve softened in my view of it since I first wrote my review. It’s not bad by any means, it just felt directionless.

27. In the Forest of the Night

I suspect the hatred towards this story comes from it relying so heavily on poor child actors. I enjoyed it more the second time around, and would certainly consider it better than the majority of fans seem to.

26. Into the Dalek

We didn’t really need another Dalek story at that point, and it was just a bit ‘meh’.

25. Deep Breath

A success in that it was able to launch the Capaldi Doctor character, while also managing to develop Clara further, but it wasn’t particularly exciting.

24. The Zygon Invasion & The Zygon Inversion

A perfectly decent story, but I still get annoyed by the scene where the guy asks his ‘mother’ questions outside the church. How could he not have come up with a question that his mother would know but a Zygon wouldn’t? Bullshit writing on that score.

23. Thin Ice

I think I was slightly more positive about this episode in my initial review than this ranking suggests, but the second time around I wasn’t as keen. It looked great and it had some pretty brave developments (dealing with race issues and killing a child) but it was pretty average.

22. The Return of Doctor Mysterio

I haven’t been able to get over the stupidity of writing two characters who went to school together, but one of them insists the other doesn’t call her by her first name. But that aside, this episode was fun enough. It’s a light Christmas episode, and was never going to be taken too seriously.

21. Knock Knock

Lots of funny moments, and a more than acceptable throwaway episode.

20. Time Heist

I found that on second viewing it was a bit blander than I thought the first time around, but I liked it.

19. The Pilot

Even though in isolation it probably didn’t have much of a threat to it, The Pilot did a good job of introducing the new season and its characters and can be appreciated even more once you see how Bill’s story finally ends.

18. The Magician’s Apprentice & The Witches Familiar

While I can live without the relentless Dalek stories, the good thing about this two-parter was that it was a Davros story first and foremost. And Julian Bleach is really good. Mind you, so were all the cast.

17. Under the Lake & Before the Flood

The highest-ranking two-parter from his second season, I liked this episode a fair bit. A clever cliffhanger, with a neat resolution

16. Hell Bent

While I thought this was good, and I enjoyed how they wrapped up Clara’s storyline (even though it would have been more satisfying for her to stay dead), it was weighed down by the amount of referencing to past events and characters. And how many times can we go to the end of the universe?

15. Flatline

Great idea for an episode and funny in parts, but even though it was all about Clara being the Doctor for one adventure, it was all spoiled a bit by how easily he saved the day when he was finally able to get out of the TARDIS.

14. The Empress of Mars

Yes, I’ve got a Mark Gatiss episode ranked in the nosebleed section; I can’t believe it either. But I actually really liked this one. The characters all had a purpose and for once he was able to take an idea – and he’s always been a good ideas man – and make a well-rounded story out of it. Presumably since he’s blocked me on twitter – I’m guessing because he’ll have read my criticism of him on this very blog at some point – he won’t be popping in to read this praise, so fuck him.

13. Extremis, The Pyramid at the End of the World & The Lie of the Land

Extremis isn’t up to much at all, The Lie of the Land is decent and has one particularly great scene where Bill confronts the Doctor, but The Pyramid at the End of the World is absolutely brilliant; I mean really good. I still think the situation he found himself in at the end of the episode is how his Doctor should have died; to me, that would have been a masterstroke. Extremis weighs this down from being in the top 10.

12. The Husbands of River Song

Traditionally, I’m not big on River Song, but I thought her character finally clicked alongside Peter Capaldi. Maybe it’s because they were age-appropriate. The final scene is beautifully written and performed, and has one of the best pieces of music in Doctor Who. I could watch it over and over. A properly happy ending.

11. The Caretaker

While the threat in The Caretaker is inconsequential, what makes it so good is the interactions between The Doctor, Clara and Danny Pink, as well as the Doctor’s attitude towards kids (that sounds a bit dodgy out of context)

10. Mummy on the Orient Express

I think in my official rankings – which are exclusive to the Modern Era Stuart Reviews Doctor Who e-book – I have this story ranked above the story in at number 9, but I’ve switched them around on second viewing. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is well worth the praise of being in the top 10 – even if Frank Skinner is a bit naff, and I say that as a Skinner fan of the highest order – but the resolution is a little bit easy. Still, a top concept.

9. Dark Water & Death In Heaven

There’s so much to enjoy here; things of consequence happen to important characters, the writing is powerful and as we came to expect, the actors were brilliant. Marvellous.

8. Last Christmas

The Santa stuff is a bit silly, but this continues on well from Death in Heaven and is moving in some parts. Jenna Coleman especially is very good, and had it been – as I think was the original intention – that Clara was written out here it would have been a great way for her to go.

7. Twice Upon a Time

In the wide world of Doctor Who fandom, there are so many differing opinions, and while I do respect them all, it doesn’t mean I can’t be baffled at the same time. I had an interaction on Twitter last week with someone who proclaimed this episode as far worse than Orphan 55, which I find ludicrous. Apparently, it is a “superfluous and annoying coda to an era that didn’t need one, that butchers the personality of the 1st Doctor, wastes time with a padded and boring “misunderstanding” plot, and the only thing it achieves is needlessly reiterate character drama from the last story”.

Now in a sense, I understand where he’s coming from, because this episode was attached on to the end of The Doctor Falls so that it would be a happy ending at Christmas, and it does in a way poke fun at the First Doctor. Hell, even the point about the misunderstanding has some merit. But I’ll flip it all on its head and say that I saw every negative as a positive.

I liked having that one more Capaldi episode that made the excellent cliffhanger to The Doctor Falls possible. Poking fun at the First Doctor was also very funny, even on repeat viewings, but they also made it clear that he was still an important and respected character. And while the plot was about a misunderstanding rather than a threat, I think that’s what was needed. The end of this episode is also tremendous, especially the scene where he says goodbye to Bill and Nardole. Yes it was light, but I loved it.

6. Face the Raven

At the time, I was really pissed off with the BBC for spoiling the ending of this episode in a bid to gain extra viewers; pissed off to the point where I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as it deserved. Face the Raven is brilliant, and the twist of having Clara die was shocking and spectacular.

5. Kill the Moon

People hate this episode and I really, really don’t get why. Maybe the moon being an egg is silly in principle, book look beyond that. Eerie, atmospheric and dramatic. A story I will always champion.

4. Listen

Listen was the highest-rated Capaldi episode in my book rankings, and that was certainly justified. Great concept, great acting and at times very creepy. The Orson Pink stuff makes zero sense in retrospect though.

3. Oxygen

I felt this episode was reminiscent of The Ark in Space with how it started. It also hits the same notes as the two episodes above in that it’s dark, claustrophobic and atmospheric. What also works is that it doesn’t have a happy ending, with the Doctor finishing the episode still blind. Very good stuff.

2. Heaven Sent

Again, this is one I don’t think I appreciated as much the first time around, but it’s a masterpiece; it really is. When you know how it ends, then the cleverness of the writing with all the stuff that leads up to that ending stands out. Another episode with great music as well. But the main thing is how good Peter Capaldi is here.

1. World Enough & Time and The Doctor Falls

I went back and read my reviews of these episodes and can’t quite believe that I was a little bit reserved in my praise of The Doctor Falls. I think part of it was because I had anticipated that it would be more about the Mondasian Cybermen than it was and that I was annoyed about the sound problems that the BBC Scotland feed had. I also barely mentioned the incidental music, but then on first viewing, you sometimes don’t appreciate that. Meanwhile, in my review of World Enough & Time I was also a bit peeved with the BBC ruining the surprise of John Simm’s return.

The point is that if you read those reviews you might not get a true indication of my feelings of this story, and that is that it is comfortably one of the top three Doctor Who stories ever, and it might even be the best.

There’s just so much to it and so much to love about it, including…

  • The pre-credits sequence where the Doctor is about to regenerate. I mean…what a way to start an episode
  • The scenes where Missy is being ‘Doctor Who’
  • Bill being shot
  • The flashback scenes
  • The very clever take on the format with time moving at different speeds at either ends of the ship.
  • The creepy hospital scenes
  • The realisation (without the disappointing feeling that the BBC ruined the surprise) that Razor is the John Simm Master
  • The cliffhanger of Bill being a Cyberman
  • The scenes with the Master & Missy telling Nardole the Doctor is dead and always hated him
  • The way the direction showed Bill as Bill at times, and as a Cyberman at other times
  • The speech where the Doctor tried to reason with the Master and very nearly got through to Missy.
  • Nardole’s departure
  • Missy finally doing the right thing, only to die (as far as we knew)
  • The Doctor’s last stand and subsequent demise
  • Refusing to regenerate
  • The First Doctor showing up

Now sure, things do slow down a little in The Doctor Falls, but that’s ok; the slower stuff involved some excellent acting, and between them, the main cast were all superb. The music was also amazing, including the reprise of the Shepherd’s Boy, but especially the music after the Doctor has blown everything up (there isn’t an official name to it, since incredibly Season 10’s soundtrack hasn’t been released, but you’ll find it on YouTube called ‘When There’s Tears There’s Hope’).

World Enough & Time and The Doctor Falls really is Doctor Who at its best and has some of the finest acting the show has ever seen. While I’ve watched all of these episodes twice now, I reckon I’ve watched different parts of this episode – easy as it is to get it on NetFlix – literally dozens of times. It’s that good. I love it.

The Companions

3. Nardole

I liked the character and Matt Lucas is good, but he is a distant third because he’s essentially a bit-part player.

2. Bill

It’s a crying shame that Bill only got one season. A very well rounded character played by a capable actress. The student/teacher relationship with the Doctor worked a treat and her story arc had a good beginning and end.

1. Clara

A close call between the two, but I think Clara edges it because her story-arc was just that little bit better. From being almost a characterless companion in her first season with Matt Smith, Clara became an essential element of the show, and I was pleased that she stayed on for Capaldi’s second season.

The Cliffhangers

3. The Doctor Falls

The First Doctor turns up. Terrific.

2. Oxygen

“I’m still blind”. Fantastic.

1. World Enough & Time

The Master is back and Bill has been turned into a Cybermen. Epic.

The Music

5. (The Majestic Tale Of) An Idiot with a Box
4. A Good Man? (Twelve’s Theme)
3. The Shepherd’s Boy
2. The Singing Towers
1. Where There’s Tears There’s Hope

And by the way, listening to tracks like this makes you realise how good Murray Gold is compared to the new guy!

Remember!!! Get Stuart Reviews Doctor Who over at Amazon. I have no doubts it’ll be the best $9.99/£6.14 you spend all week.

And I should add, if you’ve bought any of the books already, get a review up there too, if only to drown out the one 1 star review by the woman who couldn’t accept that I didn’t enjoy some of the Matt Smith era.


Doctor Who – Praxeus Review (or ‘He Could Have Saved Adric If He Wanted To’)

February 3, 2020

Just for a little bit, the world of Doctor Who fandom came together – or as together as it can get I suppose – to say “Hey, that was a great episode”.

And it was.

In the run up to this week’s episode, Praxeus, the word from previewers was that this one was just as good, if not better.

So how did that turn out?

Doctor Who – Praxeus Review: What’s This One About?

Plastic preaching, lots of location footage, a gay character allegedly surviving an episode of a TV show for the first time ever and an open goal missed

Thoughts – This Seemed Like It Should Have Been A Two Parter

The thing about Praxeus is that everything about it was set up for a second episode. 40 minutes in to a 50-minute episode, the plot felt like it was still building nicely for a great cliffhanger, with more to explore in

That moment when you realise the open goal of including the Sea Devils was missed

episode two.

Indeed, I fully expected that this would be a two-part story.

Instead, with less than ten minutes to go, out of nowhere the Doctor very quickly and very easily sorted the problem without breaking a sweat.

I found that disappointing because everything that led up to it was good. There was plenty to enjoy about Praxeus, including a decent concept, lots of good lines from the Doctor, Graham and Yas and an interesting mystery.

But to just have it end that suddenly was a bit crap.

The Chris Iwelumo Miss

What was also crap, and actually pretty staggering, was that Praxeus didn’t involve the Sea Devils. I think a lot of people expected it, and you can bet everyone would have loved it, and yet it didn’t happen.

It’s baffling.

When it’s fair to say that with the occasional high point excepted, the average viewer isn’t so keen on Chris Chibnall, this was an easy win; the proverbial low hanging fruit or open goal. All he had to do was tap it in to the back of the net and greenlight a story where either…

a) The Sea Devils were behind the whole thing either as revenge for the amount of plastic in the ocean or because they wanted to harness it to their own benefits

or

b) The Sea Devils are awoken by the Doctor and company messing around at the bottom of the ocean and seek revenge.

And yet he missed his chance and left them out entirely. I’m not remotely surprised.

The attached image of Scotland striker missing an open goal sums up my feelings towards that.

Oh Hey, Another Lecture

I actually thought that the moral message within Praxeus was both relevant and well utilised, and it’s the sort of thing that kids and adults alike should be more mindful of. The fact that there are five huge plastic

“My best friend died a few hours ago, but I’m over it”

garbage patches in the various oceans was news to me and it actually made me want to look it up.

Hell, stuff like that makes me consider how bad one-use plastics are for the environment.

So hats off to them for finding a way to raise this issue in Doctor Who without seeming too preachy.

Unfortunately though, it’s come far too soon after the last lecture we had to endure for it to be appreciated. Instead, some people – and I know this first hand – just got turned off because their attempt at escapism was once again turned into a lecture.

It’s like the boy who cried wolf; for once the issue was relevant and well handled, but they’ve overdone it to the point where it’ll get completely ignored.

Location, Location, Location

What I enjoyed about last week’s episode was that it wasn’t just about filming in far-flung locations, and brought the show back to its South of England roots a little bit.

Praxeus seemed to go the other way and have scenes set across the globe to show that they can.

That can’t have been cheap, and I don’t really think it made a huge difference to the drama, so what’s the point?

The concern is that style is favoured over substance.

Random Observations

  •  I suspect this will be a touchy subject so I don’t intend to spend much time on it, other than to say that while it was good that both Jake and Adam survived, I find it baffling that people would base their

    “I’m a romantic at heart. Adric was single so I didn’t bother to save him”

    enjoyment of this episode on their fate. And yet they have. One popular entertainment website even wrote an article all about it because it apparently righted the wrong of a gay character’s death in Resolution. Surely nobody could say that since Doctor Who returned in 2005 there hasn’t been great representation of the LGBTQ+ community, so how is this such a major issue? Maybe it’s not for me to comment on, but for the record, three potentially straight characters were killed off and it had no bearing on my enjoyment of the episode. And neither should it. That’s the point I’m trying to make; of all the reasons to like or dislike an episode, the fate of the ones who share your sexuality shouldn’t be as much of an issue as it seems to be.

  • And on the note of characters being killed off, the travelling girl got over the death of her buddy pretty quickly didn’t she?
  • I liked Yaz’s tantrum at not discovering an alien world.
  • The tension was removed from the episode by how easy the Doctor managed to nip about and save her companions.
  • So if Jake could be saved right before the ship exploded, and if Captain Jack could be saved in The Doctor Dances, how come they didn’t bother to save Adric? It’s an anti E-Space agenda.
  • I chuckle at the line about how Ryan smelt of dead bird.
  • But Ryan is still abysmal.
  • Did anyone else get State of Decay vibes watching those birds?
  • Completely ignoring last week’s bombshell seemed like a missed opportunity.

Doctor Who – Praxeus Review: Final Thoughts

Praxeus can be summed up as a good idea that was let down by too simplistic a resolution.

It’s also an episode that could and should have been so much more memorable by taking advantage of the gaping opportunity of involving the Sea Devils.

Alas, it’ll always be the Chris Iwelumo moment.

 

 


Doctor Who – Fugitive of the Judoon Review (or “Wait…What??!?!”)

January 29, 2020

Without spoiling it, the BBC heavily promoted Fugitive of the Judoon as an episode that fans of the show would not want to miss.

Something major was going to happen, and on the face of it, it certainly did!

Doctor Who – Fugitive of the Judoon Review: What’s This One About?

Old school fun, big returns and even bigger surprises

Thoughts – A Very Good Episode

Ok, before I get to the obvious major talking point, I just want to say I really enjoyed Fugitive of the Judoon.

Captain Jack – Looking Old

When this particular era of Doctor Who seems so intent on a move away from the traditional ‘Present Day South of England Earth’ setting, I thought it was nice to see the show return to a more tried and tested environment.

Prisoner of the Judoon looked like an episode from a different time and as an extension to that, it felt like one too.

Indeed, this felt like a classic Russell T. Davies era story in terms of presentation and characterisation, and following on from the ultimate low a couple of weeks ago in the form of Orphan 55, that is what Doctor Who desperately needed.

For me, this one just gets pass marks all across the board.

I think the Judoon are a fun ‘monster’ and they have been used sparingly enough that when they do appear it’s a treat. When I say fun, there’s an element of humour about how they operate, with the marker pens and the way they were flummoxed by the way the Doctor and Yaz spoke to them, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Added to that, we had the return of Captain Jack, and the way his appearance not only sets up a future episode, but also makes the viewer anticipate the inevitable meeting between him and the Doctor.

And speaking of the Doctor, I thought this episode was Jodie Whittaker’s best performance yet. She was well written for, but she also did a terrific job with that writing, finally showing some distinct character of her own. Again, this has been badly missing from Doctor Who as of late so it’s great to see it back.

From start to finish this was a fine Doctor Who episode and gets thumbs up from me.

Ok…So What The Hell Is Going On?

I’d heard rumblings that Captain Jack would be back in this episode, thanks to Twitter and some peoples’ pathetic need to spoil things so they can take personal credit, and so I wasn’t hugely shocked to see him back, but I thought at the time that that was what the BBC were hinting at in their marketing. And hey, I’d have been happy with that because I thought his cameo was top-notch, and it’s set up things that will happen down the line.

But never did I think we’d have the bombshell of Doctor Ruth.

So what do I think?

Well if you’re a long time reader, you’ll know that I have a wavering attitude towards established continuity. On the one hand I had a go at Terry Nation for cocking up the established backstory of his own creations

Wait…What?!?!?

in Genesis of the Daleks, while on the other I was massively critical of the show for basing so much of its lore on a throwaway line from the Deadly Assassin.

To me, some things matter and some things don’t; I approach it on a case by case basis.

I will wait to see how this Doctor Ruth storyline develops before I make a decision on it, but what I will say is this…

As a fan of the show, Chris Chibnall will know that there are certain things that he can’t just ignore for the sake of it. With a show with a history as rich as Doctor Who’s, you can’t mess around with things that have been set in stone for almost 60 years.

He will know that the TARDIS became stuck as a police box after leaving the yard in An Unearthly child.

He will also know that it is an established fact – made clear numerous times even as recently as the Steven Moffat era – that William Hartnell was ‘The First Doctor’. Hell, Twice Upon a Time was about him coming to terms with regenerating for the first time.

So they can’t say that Doctor Ruth is from the Doctor’s past, beyond Hartnell. That just wouldn’t make sense and viewers would be entitled to be irked by that.

But that’s not to say that they can’t explain things in a satisfactory manner.

Who’s to say that it’s not a Doctor between Troughton and Pertwee? We never saw that change happen, did we? And it would add fuel to the Season 6B fire that has raged on since the Two Doctors. Also, could it not be some kind of Valeyard type situation? That’s established within the lore of the show as a possibility.

Now THAT is a good TARDIS set

I just don’t know how they are going to explain this, but I will give them a chance to.

And hey, at this point we can’t complain because it’s a twist that has got everyone talking and excited to find out what’s next.

Random Observations

  • The Judoon masks were excellent. I’ve seen some SFX footage of how they created them on Twitter and I was hugely impressed. Far better than CGI.
  • For someone who doesn’t age, Captain Jack certainly looked older.
  • Watching it for the first time (the only time I’ve watched it even though I’m writing this on Wednesday) I was a little confused as to why so much time was spent introducing Ruth at the start. When I watch it again I’ll be approaching it from a completely different viewpoint.
  • It would be remiss of me not to mention again that there are too many companions!!!
  • The Judoon’s reaction to the psychic paper amused me greatly. In fact that whole conversation was class.
  • Although the line about how they can sort it ‘Woman to woman’ was clearly in there to annoy some fans.
  • And yes, some fans were furious with this episode as a whole. On one forum, 30% of the voters have given it 0/10. I guess there are people who watch it just to be annoyed. I don’t get that at all; I stopped watching the Simpsons in 1997 when I thought it went downhill; I haven’t tuned in every week for the last 23 years complaining about it. Lads, if you don’t like it, give up, but don’t say something is a 0/10 when it clearly isn’t.
  • Remarkably, one fan who has gone on record to say how much he enjoyed it was Ian Levine. Yes, Levine is literally the last person on the planet I would have thought would have enjoyed it – especially because of Doctor Ruth – but he did. So good for him!
  • Absolutely love her TARDIS by the way. Why can’t we have nice things like that normally?
  • The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that Doctor Ruth is an incarnation between 2 and 3. That would fit the best.

Doctor Who – Fugitive of the Judoon Review: Final Thoughts

Like I say, this was great. Definitely the best Jodie Whittaker episode so far and one of the better ones of the last decade or so. How it will stand up to repeated viewings I don’t know, but at this stage I’m excited for what’s to come.

This is definitely more like it.


Doctor Who – Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror Review (or “The One Where Nikola Tesla Has An Adventure During Daylight Hours”)

January 23, 2020

I had a sense of trepidation when sitting down to watch Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror (an episode title that is a bit ‘On the Nose’ for me, but hey-ho). After last week’s abomination of an episode – Doctor Who at its very worst ever – would the trend continue, or was the only way up?

Let’s find out.

Doctor Who – Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror Review: What’s This One About?

The Doctor and (Insert Name of Historical Figure Who The Doctor Loves) find themselves caught up in a conflict with alien invaders.  Mostly during the day.

Thoughts – It Was What It Was

You’ve probably read the above section and thought “He’s going to be negative about this episode too” but I’m not….well not really.

While Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror was a decent, if unremarkable episode, it just felt like something we’ve seen many times before. But then that’s because it was. Since Doctor Who returned in 2005, the likes of

Graham and Ryan had absolutely nothing to do, showing once again that three companions are two too many

Dickens, Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, van Gogh, Queen Victoria, among others, have faced aliens, with the moral of the story being “Wow, you’re brilliant you are; keep doing what you’re doing”, so it just feels a bit of an exhausted format. And the exhaustion feels stronger when the historical subjects get as obscure as Tesla. It’s all a bit “The Master wants to stop Magna Carta” if you know what I mean.

Now that being said, I could make the same argument about Base Under Siege type episodes, but they do feel a tad broader than this specific niche.

But this was what it was; I suspect it’ll end up as an episode that people barely remember, and there have been plenty of them over the years.

Three Is Still Two Too Many

While I hate to repeat myself so often, this episode showed once again that there are two too many companions in the cast. On The Doctor’s side were Yaz, Graham, Ryan, Tesla, Dorothy Skerritt and Thomas Edison (eventually). That’s just too many characters and not enough time to write for them all, and then the time that there is is spent developing the characters of the guest cast.

No offence to her, but I don’t think we needed any significant time – if any – devoted to Dorothy Skerritt.  A quick google search of her comes up with very little, with the only noteworthy piece of information being “Dorothy’s job consisted of handling legal and patent correspondence and going across the street to the library to copy articles in shorthand and retype them for Tesla”. So she was his secretary, and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, it felt – and I say this as someone with no agenda of my own – like it was another way of shoehorning a ‘Strong Female Character’ into an episode; as if the actual subject of the episode wasn’t enough because he was a man.

But by shoehorning her in, it made members of the main cast redundant, which is surely counterproductive?

Here, it meant that while Yaz got something to do, Graham and Ryan were relegated to standing around making wisecracks.

No matter how you look at it, the fact is there are too many companions and two of them have to go. To be honest, I suspect all three of them should go and be replaced by a new one.

Goran Višnjić Is A Terrible Actor

Right, this might sound harsh, and it also might seem like the sort of thing that should be a throwaway comment in random observations, but someone will have to explain to me how Goran Višnjić manages to

Terrible Actor Goran Višnjić has a bad time during daylight hours, despite what the episode title suggested

land decent acting jobs. While I’ve never seen ER – which I understand is his most well-known role – I did watch Timeless, and I thought he stank up that show from beginning to end.

He is terrible.

Part of acting is surely to pronounce words with the correct inflexions to portray the emotions the writer is going for, or to say the words at the correct speed, right? But despite acting in the US for 20 years, he still hasn’t managed to grasp that. And don’t say it’s because he’s not a natural English speaker, because there are hundreds if not thousands of working actors in the same position as him who manage it.

Again, I can’t make this point enough; he is terrible.

Random Observations

  • Because of Višnjić, I couldn’t help but feel this was like an episode of Timeless, and I do expect better of Doctor Who.
  • Apart from one little hint towards there being a moral lesson about immigrants (the clumsy line about how he’s a US citizen too), I was pleasantly surprised that we didn’t get talked down to in this episode.
  • So the monsters weren’t the Raccnos? Or were they? Either way, It thought their lack of uniformity seemed a little odd. Why was the queen basically a woman in makeup while the rest were proper scorpions?
  • There’s just something about the filming style that doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t know if it’s that it looks too good for some of the special effects to come off right, or whether it just looks a bit cheap?
  • The music still bugs the shit out of me.
  • Next week’s episode looks like it’s set in contemporary England, which is a nice change.
  • I know I said that I wouldn’t take pops at fandom, but I have to. In the aftermath of last week’s atrocity, I’ve noticed some people lazily falling back on that old ‘It’s a kid’s show’ line. I always find that to be

    ‘Mon Then

    such a status boosting, self-loathing attitude to have. Even though the people saying it are avid fans of the show themselves, they use it as a means of deflecting criticism back at the people who get annoyed about something to do with it. It’s very “Well I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to get myself worked up over a mere children’s TV show”. Alright mate, maybe take that attitude and reflect it back on the fact your entire Twitter identity is based around that supposed kids TV show and that you also spend time running a website or a forum about it. For the record, Doctor Who is a ‘Family Show’ and always has been. It’s for all the family, and everyone who is involved in the production of it knows that, otherwise it would have about a 1000th of the budget spent on it and it would be on the CBBC channel. They also know that the percentage of viewers who are adults probably outstrips the kids demographic by a large margin. As such, adults are entitled to criticise where they see fit.

  • I think a better episode would have been Nikolai Volkoff’s Night of Terror, in which Volkoff and the Iron Sheik have to battle The Rutans.
  • Not much of this episode took place at night, did it? Makes the name seem a bit daft.

Doctor Who – Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror Review: Final Thoughts

This is an episode that could be filed under the tag “Fine But Forgettable”. It didn’t do much wrong, it had enough of the basic ingredients that a Dr Who episode needs and it didn’t force morality down our throats.

That’s fine, but I would hope that the series will continue on an upward trajectory in terms of quality from here


Doctor Who – Orphan 55 (or ‘Is That The Worst Doctor Who Story Ever?’)

January 13, 2020

I’m just going to start with the headline here…

Orphan 55 is comfortably one of the worst Doctor Who stories ever. It could even be the worst ever; I’ll write the review and then make that decision.

You might think it’s a hot take, but it’s the one I’m going with.

And here’s why…

Doctor Who – Orphan 55 Review: What’s This One About?

The ‘Fam’ (shudder) get a free holiday at a holiday resort that manages to go to shit in under 10 minutes. Just like the episode.

Thoughts – Why Is It So Bad?

Right, if I’m going to be so bold as to say it’s one of the worst Doctor Who stories ever then I have to be able to justify that, both to myself and to you, the reader.

I’m just going to break it down into little sections based upon what I thought as I watched it.

The Costumes: Bad costumes can be a hugely influential factor in the perception of a Doctor Who story because it has an effect on the authenticity and overall presentation. Some of the worst ever episodes of the show have bad costumes at their heart, like Time of the Rani and the Twin Dilemma. Even Paradise Towers – which I rate higher than most others – was beset with those issues. It wasn’t the concept of Paradise

Towers that was the problem, nor was it the writing; it was the presentation and casting.

Unfortunately, Orphan 55 has the worst costumes seen on the show since it came back in 2005, and arguably, pound for pound based on budget, the worst ever seen on Doctor Who, full stop.

Orphan 55 had the worst costume design of any Doctor Who story ever, when you consider relative budgets

The site of James Buckley in a crappy green wig didn’t fill me with confidence when I watched the trailer last week, but I was willing to give it a chance. Then within the first few minutes the girl dressed as John Candy from Spaceballs showed up and my heart sank. And it only got worse when the boy with the green wig turned up alongside the aforementioned Buckley, but with what looked like freckles drawn on. Jesus Christ.

Presumably, someone was paid to come up with those costumes, and they then chose to put them alongside some people just wearing normal contemporary clothing, which in turn made those costumes look even more shoddy. You’d be hard pushed to find a random man on the street who could have done a more terrible job.

And the direction didn’t help either; the monster costumes, with the correct lighting, looked impressive, but when filmed outside under the bright sun, they just looked like men in expensive latex costumes.

Not good at all.

The Pacing: If this was told over four Classic Who length episodes, then there’s a chance Orphan 55 might not have been so bad from a pace point of view. It would have allowed tension to build, character relationships to form, and just for the whole thing to breathe a little.

Instead we reached what I would say was episode three of a standard classic era Who by the 7-minute mark and then things just kept going at that frantic pace until the end.

Surely a well written story doesn’t shoot its proverbial load that early?

And because things moved so fast, the Doctor was essentially relegated to a narrator, providing exposition at every turn. There was no mystery or chase, she just explained the plot as she went along, but in a confusing makey-up science way that would have flown over the heads of most viewers.

I just ended up switching off mentally from it all.

The Acting: Well they weren’t all bad, but most of them were. Of the main cast, the only one who really stood out was Mandip Gill, who I think is having a good season. The rest were poor though, especially Tosin Cole, who was back to his stilted worst from 2018.

For reference, I was watching The Lie of the Land last night before bed (think of it as a palate cleanser) and the scene where Bill confronts the Doctor – thinking he was working for the Monks – just stands head and shoulders above anything this cast seems capable of doing. It’s a crying shame just how much the BBC has traded downwards with this cast, and I say that as someone who wants to be positive.

The thing is though, the main cast were still well above most of the guest artists.

James Buckley is not a good actor, at all. He can’t deliver lines in any way other than Jay from the Inbetweeners, and that is not what this episode needed. The boy he was with was as good as you’d expect a child

Altogether now everyone…
“Benni”
Fuck off

actor to be, which isn’t a compliment, and yet he was still better than Buckley.

And yet still he wasn’t the worst thing about it. It was the old woman.

The writing of her character was bad enough, but the way she just kept shouting ‘Benni’ took a bad situation and made it so, so much worse.

It’s already become a thing on social media, with numerous videos and memes taking the piss out of her. I just saw one that showed she screamed it 16 times.

I’m sorry, but that’s embarrassing.

The Preachiness: We all know that Doctor Who has a history of confronting social issues that are relevant to society, and I don’t think anyone can have a problem with that; especially if those social issues are only raised from time to time.

When you get a moral message every week – which is where it looks like we have been since Chibnall took over – it does get annoying. People watch Doctor Who for escapism;, not for a lecture. Last week, the message was about how freely we give corporations our personal details, and it worked because it didn’t really interfere with the story and the show had been off the air for a year, so we’d had a chance to recover. Plus it was done in a way that made you think.

But that!?! Fucking hell.

The moral message of Orphan 55 was as subtle as a bazooka to the bollocks; it was a high handed lecture that was there simply to tell people off.

I don’t think many sane people deny that climate change is an issue that affects us right now, but it’s not like it’s one that’s not being spoken about. And anyone who counters that argument by saying that we have to consider that it’s a way to get that message across to the children, it’s not the children who need to be told about it! They all know! So instead, adults watching it looking to be entertained on a Sunday evening most likely just thought “Oh piss off”.

There’s a way it could have been done, and done well, but that wasn’t it.

And I’ll tell you what; it wasn’t just that I didn’t appreciate the lecture, I was also really irritated by how much it messed with the established continuity of the show.

Sure, only yesterday I was poking fun at the guy who was apoplectic with rage over the Doctor fixing the TARDIS from underneath, and you might think I’m a hypocrite for being annoyed about this, but I don’t

My thoughts when I realised we were getting another lecture

care! It was never explicitly stated that the Doctor couldn’t fix the TARDIS that way, but it has been explicitly stated – going back to almost the beginning of the show -that Earth survives long into the future. I can forgive some things, but not that.

And I have to also point this out as well…

Within the confines of this story, the characters on holiday at the resort are human or humanoid; they’ll have originated on Earth. How would they not know that Earth had been destroyed and that they were on it? And if it got destroyed by the climate emergency that faces the planet now – which is the implication – at what point did the human race expand to travel out into space to then be able to reclaim the planet as an Orphan?

I think that’s what pissed me off the most.

Random Observations

  • Did the Doctor just leave the mother and daughter to die? That’s nice.
  • What was the point of the anorexic sub-plot of Jay from the Inbetweeners and the boy who knew his job better.
  • Bradley Walsh seemed to decide to play Graham as Bradley Walsh. Maybe it was him giving it the contempt it deserved.
  • The only bit of credit I will give Oprhan 55 is the line from Benni where he asks if someone will shoot him, but even then, I don’t think they offered a proper explanation for why that was.
  • To give you an indication about how Doctor Who is perceived by the more casual fan, my girlfriend Mhairi sarcastically asked “Where are they off to next week? Back to Victorian London…again” and then moments later a trailer aired for an episode set in 19th century America. Do something different for crying out loud?
  • To try to make light of things, would it not have been better if the Apex Predators were all clones of Randy Orton?
  • I am not going to watch this episode again.

Doctor Who – Orphan 55 Review: Final Thoughts

Orphan 55 has nothing going for it. It was a poorly acted, poorly directed and abysmally presented lecture, told at a ridiculous pace, with no substance or structure. On top of that, it messed with established continuity and has received overwhelmingly negative reviews from most people. I guess some of the written press don’t want their preview licenses revoked, as some have given it as high as three stars, but to me that just makes a mockery of their credibility.

It was awful.

I don’t want to be negative and I don’t enjoy being negative; I go into every episode willing it to be best one ever, but when it’s not, I’ll say it.

And ultimately, when you rank stories, something has to come first and something has to come last. When I did my rankings for the book, I made that decision. But I look at what I put at the bottom of the pile and I ask myself “Is that worse than Orphan 55”, and I have to say no.

So as much as it pains me to say it, I have just seen the worst episode of Doctor Who.

Everyone associated with it should hang their heads in shame.

 


Doctor Who – Spyfall Review (or “Lessons Learnt?”)

January 12, 2020

You’d be forgiven for thinking I’d given up reviewing Doctor Who since Spyfall aired a week ago and there’s been radio silence from this end.

And I’ll admit, I definitely considered it; I have less free time these days – evidenced by two articles on the blog in six months – and I also find myself jaded with fandom.

Not the show…just the fans of the show; or at least some of them. And you might be reading this and thinking “Does he mean me? Fuck that guy!” but I only mean you if you’re part of this tiresome trench warfare that continues to rage on between The Super-Woke and The Angry White People over apparent ownership of the show.

It’s just a TV show, you have no right to dictate what it should be about, what decisions the characters make or who gets cast in the roles, because you don’t own it. It’s not yours. It shouldn’t be about your identity as a person, but if you feel it is then fair enough; just don’t expect that it has to be written with that identity in mind. It’s not fair to hold a TV show up to those standards and expectations. I doubt any of you do it

The Tissue Compression Eliminator now turns people into small hand-painted figurines

with any other show either.

Also, if you don’t currently enjoy it then don’t watch it, but if you’re the sort of person who comes away with stuff like “Oh I think it’s time for the show to go on hiatus because it’s not what I consider to be MY Doctor Who and therefore nobody should be allowed to enjoy it” then grow up and get a life.

Hopefully I speak to the masses when I say that when I review Doctor Who this season, I just want to do it in a non-politicised way and just answer one burning question each week; was it a good episode?

Cos surely that’s what it’s about?

Anyway, those are the reasons why I considered stopping, but the reason I decided to get back to it was perhaps a little unusual. I was watching The Pyramid at the End of the World yesterday while doing laundry, and after the bit where he couldn’t get out of the room because he hadn’t admitted to anyone other than Nardole that he was blind, I thought “Wouldn’t that have been an amazing way for him to have regenerated” and then I remembered that I did write that. It’s interesting to me to go back and remind myself of my thoughts.

Anyway, with that in mind, let’s talk about Spyfall.

Doctor Who – Spyfall Review: What’s This One About?

Aliens are killing spies! Stephen Fry is dead!! Lenny Henry is evil!!! And The Master is back!!!!

Thoughts – The BBC Kept A Surprise To Themselves! Oh Em Gee!

So the big news coming out of Spyfall was the cliffhanger to part one (Part one…how unusual does that sound when discussing modern Doctor Who) and the return of The Master.

I’ve just included this screengrab because of Bradley Walsh’s face

I have to admit that during the episode, I thought Sasha Diwan’s performance as O was reserved to the point of monotonous, but when the reveal happened, it made a lot of sense. The way he suddenly flipped a switch and turned on The Master was great.

And wasn’t it also great that the BBC hadn’t telegraphed this in advance. Maybe they learned something from ruining the surprises in Face the Raven and World Enough & Time.

It makes it so much better when you don’t see the reveal coming. To an extent, that it was a surprise probably also covered for the fact it’s really not so long ago that the Master was a heavy part of the show and that the character probably needed more of a rest. But that just shows what a good surprise can disguise.

As for Diwan as the Master, I thought he was pretty good, and certainly better than John Sim in the 10th Doctor era. Of course, the Master being in it took away from the set-up of episode one completely, as Lenny Henry essentially became a henchman and the Vardans…sorry the Kassavin were relegated to a non-event, but it worked well enough.

I imagine he’ll be back before the series ends, and that Big Finish are licking their lips at the prospect of him coming in to do a few audios soon.

A Story of Epic Scale

Taking the Master out of it for a moment, the thing that stood out about Spyfall was the epic scale of it all. While I don’t expect they filmed in all the countries they said they did, they definitely filmed this story in more than one country.

Now, on the one hand, they should be praised for going to that amount of effort, but on the other, my hope for this season is that they don’t go for the style of lavish locations over the substance of writing good

The Doctor repairing the TARDIS from underneath proved too much for one fan. He no longer watches.

plots, because that has definitely happened before.

If filming on location can add to the story then do it if it’s cost-effective, but don’t just think that a change of scenery = a top episode.

In the case of Spyfall, it added to it because it was a story that needed to be told over a vast scale, but while I enjoyed that, I did think that they tried to cram too much into the second episode, and the result was that it was a rush to the finish.

Lessons Learned?

I haven’t watched any of Jodie Whittaker’s first season since it aired in 2018, but I do recall my complaints being fairly consistent throughout.

  • There wasn’t enough for each character to do in each episode
  • The characterisation of the main cast was paper-thin, especially Yaz.
  • Jodie Whittaker was just doing a David Tennant impression
  • The incidental music was awful.
  • The Doctor was never under any threat at any point

It certainly wasn’t just me who thought that either, but it looks as though a few lessons were learnt since then because there’s definitely been some improvement, especially on the characterisation front. I felt I learnt more about Yaz in Spyfall than Season 11 as a whole, and every character had enough to do.

The incidental music also stayed in the background too.

As for the Doctor; well she wasn’t under a huge amount of threat again come to think about it, and Jodie Whittaker seems to have moved a little bit more towards Matt Smith in her performance, but she wasn’t

‘Mon Then!

bad in any way. Certainly the reveal about Gallifrey at the end tested her character and showed a bit more vulnerability.

On the whole then it was good to see improvement on those valid concerns but there’s always room for more.

Random Observations

  • I’ve read a lot of little moans here and there about things that apparently weren’t in keeping with the show. For example, one guy was hugely critical about the way the Doctor was repairing the TARDIS from underneath as that is not something that has ever happened before and doesn’t seem feasible. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a history of pointing out plotholes but that one didn’t bother me in the least; after all, if the TARDIS console can be taken out completely to be repaired by the Third Doctor then all bets are off on that score.
  • The one niggle that I didn’t notice but did actually annoy me when I read it was the historical inaccuracy of having the Nazi flag flying from the Eiffel Tower. That never happened. Surely they should have done a bit of homework there?
  • When the Master first turned up as a Nazi I made a mental note to comment on how unlikely that was since he was Asian, but I stood down when they explained it in the plot.
  • I also enjoyed the reference to Logopolis.
  • Lenny Henry killing off his mum like that was damn cold.
  • It wouldn’t be a Chibnall episode of Doctor Who without some preachiness in there, and this week it was about how trusting we are of technology with our personal details. To be fair, he has a point.
  • Poor old Gallifrey can’t catch a break, can it?
  • I despise the use of the word “Fam”.
  • But hey, is that a season long story arc I see?
  • Three cheers for the return of the Tissue Compression Eliminator, but the fact that in 2020 they can’t get an effect as good as Barry Letts achieved in 1971 is criminal. Now it turns people into hand-painted figurines.
  • The cliffhanger to episode one I think lasted just slightly longer than it needed to.
  • I’ll have one last moan about fandom and then I’ll promise to leave it. People who went out of their way to spoil the Master reveal before it aired are dicks. People who wanted a pat on the back for not spoiling it for everyone before it aired are also dicks. Bit of a catch-22 there, eh? I hate spoilers and wouldn’t want to know anything in advance; it’s why I’ve never applied for a preview license from the BBC. I’d be able to get one since I write about the show, but I just don’t see the point. Getting that pass and then spoiling it for others is egotistical behavior that deserves called out. They do it because they want the power of knowing things that others don’t and telling them about it. But it’s also egotistical behavior to loudly go on about how wonderful you are for not spoiling it. Again, that’s a power thing; those people are saying that because they want you to know they knew. They don’t expect people to be grateful, they just wanted you to know that they were in the loop.
  • As an aside to that, I’ll also throw this into the mix. Spoilers before something has aired is dickish. Spoilers after it’s aired are not. The people who go on social media at a time after it has aired but before they have seen it have absolutely no right to complain about reading spoilers. Again it comes down to egotism; they must believe that people shouldn’t talk about things on their own social media accounts until that person has watched the episode. Bullshit.

Doctor Who – Spyfall Review: Final Thoughts

So was Spyfall any good? Yes, it was. It was an enjoyable two-part story that had scale and shocks. The dialogue also kept me entertained.

If I’m going to be critical, I’ll say that if you strip away the shock of the Master’s return and ignore Sasha Diwan’s entertaining portrayal, having the character return so soon seems a little rushed, and it 100% took away from the plot set up in episode one. I thought Lenny Henry was really good, and the idea behind his character deserved better than to end up as second fiddle.

But hey, I don’t ask for perfection, just for a higher quality of episode than most of season 11, especially the rotten finale (I can’t remember its name and I won’t look it up out of protest for how stupid it was)/.

And I can safely say that was achieved.


Doctor Who – Resolution Review (or “Lin’s Going To Prison”)

January 2, 2019

To be blunt, Doctor Who in 2018 was a disappointment.

If you missed my reviews, most episodes could be summed up as having lethargic plots that lacked threat and usually ended with the villain not getting its comeuppance, grating incidental music, a Doctor without a character to speak of,  and too many companions, resulting in not enough for any of them to do.

It’s not that the episodes were awful – indeed a small number were good – but after I’d finished watching them I had no real desire to watch them again.

All very insipid.

2019 has one solitary episode to change things, in form of Resolution.

And as much as I tried to avoid spoilers, I was aware that it would somehow involve the Daleks.

Hopefully that would at least fix the lack of threat…

Doctor Who – Resolution Review: What’s This One About?

A Dalek mutant, out of action since the 9th century, has woken up in 2019 Sheffield.

And Ryan’s dad has shown up too.

Thoughts – Much, Much Better

To get straight to the point, I thought Resolution was great. It was much better than any episode from the 2018 season, not only because it was well written, but because it had the very spirit of post 2005 Doctor

Oh just check his pulse for fuck’s sake!

Who at its heart.

You’ve got a contemporary setting, a proper Doctor Who monster that you can invest in, a Doctor that had to actually work hard to vanquish that monster, some domestic drama and character development, and a tie in to the occasion it was broadcast on.

The addition of Aaron was an important one as it gave both Ryan and Graham some purpose outside of just being there to ask the Doctor to explain the plot. Now sure, Aaron didn’t seem quite the deadbeat dad that he was made out to be in previous episodes (I was expecting a proper cad like an extended family member of mine who shall remain nameless), but on the whole I thought he worked well in the episode.

Unfortunately, Yas still had very little to do and could easily have been left out altogether.

And as for the Doctor? Definitely Jodie Whittaker’s best performance to date. Not only was her Doctor finally challenged, but she also came across as a character in her own right, rather than a David Tennant knock-off.

How To Use The Daleks Correctly

I have to admit I was initially a bit disappointed to hear that the Daleks were coming back, although I did warm to it towards the end of the last season because of the poor quality of monsters and villains we saw in 2018.

That being said, I thought the use of one single Dalek made for a far better story than we’ve come to expect from them.

In terms of how they have been used, this is definitely the most effective and enjoyable Dalek story we’ve seen for a long time.

Aaron is as bemused as me about Ryan calling Graham “Gramps”

By giving it a character and having it – as an individual – be responsible for each act of menace that it committed, then more is invested in seeing it defeated.

And it always helps to take the Dalek out of its casing to add to its personality.

What definitely worked was the way it used Lin to get around, and Charlotte Ritchie acted her part very well.

Furthermore, the makeshift Dalek casing – though perhaps a little too good considering it was made by Lin – was a nice touch.

Brexit UNIT and the Continuity of Alien Invasions

The absence of UNIT helped Resolution. If they’d been involved, it would have taken away from the more personal confrontation between the Doctor’s group and the Dalek.

So I have no problem with that.

And as a single joke for the benefit of the casual viewer on New Year’s Day in the current Brexit Shambles environment, having UNIT disbanded because of budget cuts was fine. In fact, the scene was handled pretty funnily.

However – and I say this hoping not to be as churlish as the reviewer in the example I’ll come to below about WiFi – the line about there being no alien invasions recently made no sense on a greater level.

There’s Lin, happy and smiling as the Doctor leaves, not worried about the possible multiple life sentences coming her way

Even as a Doctor Who geek, I get confused sometimes because I think the show itself gets confused.

Where are we on people knowing about alien invasions? I’m afraid I don’t have a flow chart to hand.

They’ve definitely hit the reset switch a couple of times, and I can accept that because it wouldn’t do to have the general population be aware of all the different worldwide invasions that have happened; that would take away from the writing of the companions.

But surely world leaders and UNIT are still aware of them somehow? Even as recently as The Woman Who Fell To Earth, there was an alien invasion on a small scale.

So it doesn’t make sense that UNIT were disbanded, and that’s without bringing up that they are a United Nations organisation rather than a British one…

And even though I hoped not to, I know I do sound churlish. Sorry, not sorry!

Random Observations

  • It would be easy for people who only want to be negative to say that Resolution works because it has a single Dalek, rather than how that single Dalek is written. But then I would counter that argument with Into the Dalek; it was bang average. Yes, I know that some other Daleks showed up at the end, but you get my point.
  • Even as someone who actively hopes the Daleks are used less than they are, I think you’ve got to give credit where credit it due. If you replaced this individual Dalek with any other alien, the chances are the episode wouldn’t be as good. Ultimately there’s a reason that the Daleks are the most enduring alien monsters, not only in Doctor Who but in any TV show or movie. They are distinctive, they carry menace and they just have that certain something about them.
  • I’ve seen some people pick on the joke about the WiFi going down, calling it a cheap gag. I even read one reviewer say something like “Families don’t actually spend time together on New Years Day, actually. So there! Actually!!!!”, but I had mine over for a New Years Day steak pie and we all watched it together. Also, it’s a joke that could work any day of the year. So stop being so bloody dour!
  • In the traditional ‘Goodbye in front of the ranch house’ scene at the end, Lin was all smiles. Surely she’d at least be sick with worry that she was about to be arrested for internet hacking, speeding, assaulting (at the very least) two police officers, stealing a police car, impersonating a police officer, trespassing at a secret weapons development site, assaulting a member of their security staff, theft and murder? It’s not like it would be easy enough to explain away, and local police officer Yas doesn’t seem interested in staying behind to help sort things out from her end.
  • It’s a shame that the world’s best ever microwave was destroyed like that.
  • I’m not sure how the Doctor thought that opening the TARDIS doors would only remove the mutant Dalek rather than both it and Aaron?
  • I see Aaron was as confused as I have been over the last few months about Ryan calling Graham ‘granddad’. Rightly so.
  • There was a brief moment where I thought the Doctor was going to be able to resolve the issue with the Dalek peacefully. If that had happened I’d have thrown a brick through my TV.
  • I’ve just came up on my twitter timeline (@sgmilne for those who use Twitter) that some papers are running a story about how people were offended by the UNIT/Brexit gag. Here’s an example tweet:wtf I can’t believe they had a dig at brexit during that episode. I take it back that is single handedly one of the worst doctor who episodes ever.” Jeeeeeeeeesus Christ. What a world we live in. People need to just cheer the fuck up and stop letting their political leanings ruin their lives.
  • The current Doctor definitely has a tendency to overuse her sonic screwdriver. Using it to check whether that guy was dead rather than simply checking his pulse was a bit much though.
  • Ok, hands up how many of you shouted “Blackpool” when the Doctor replied to Yas asking where they were going next.

Doctor Who – Resolution Review: Final Thoughts

I thought Resolution was a proper Doctor Who story; the sort of story that Russell T. Davies would have been proud to have written.

As far as I can see it’s the sort of story that the public want from the show, and after such a disappointingly bland 2018 season, it was very welcome.

Thankfully, it also showed that Chris Chibnall is capable of writing a good episode on his own, which has made me more positive for next year.

Alas though, not everyone will have enjoyed it, whether that’s people who have decided it was bad because of a Brexit joke (those people desperately need to get a grip) or people like my mum who in spite of sitting in a room with four other people who enjoyed it, simply said “That was a load of shite” as the credits rolled.

Ah well, you can’t win ’em all.