"Doctor Who" (2005) Series 13 Talkback (Spoilers)

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Joined
Jan 19, 2004
Messages
33,939
Location
Framingham, MA
Doctor Who "Flux: Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse"

Interesting. I am cautiously optimistic. Not sold by a long-shot. I'll talk a bit about what the episode did right (a lot), what it did wrong (very little), and what my expectations are going forward (at least until Russell T Davies returns to destroy the show next season).

I think the whole idea behind this season is to do one of those monster multi-part serials the old show attempted very early in its run, but never quite got back to over the years. And over the years of the relaunch both Russell T Davies and Stephen Moffat attempted story arcs of a kind. And they both botched the idea very badly. Davies' idea of a story arc was to mention a single word in every single episode and pretend it meant something at the end of the season (when it didn't). That's how the first three seasons of the relaunch worked. Moffat did a LITTLE better in the sense that he would tease out future events using a random cool sounding phrase, but he could never make the events teased as cool as the tease itself sounded. By the end, when Peter Capaldi was in the TARDIS, he stopped doing it all together.

Chibnall's record in arcs is very spotty. Unlike most of fandom, I REALLY appreciated and loved the 11th Series, and the first for Jodie Whitaker. Mostly because it was small-scale, intimate, and shockingly non-depressing. To be fair to last season, I think the Timeless Child thing is a very interesting notion that probably won't work, but I would have liked to have seen where it could have gone in the long-term. But with Davies back, it's almost certain to be retconned. My problem with last year's finale was the Master killing all the Time Lords by turning them into Cybermen. That was outright grotesque and something Davies or Moffat would do, and I realized that when push comes to shove, no matter who is in the charge, the show cannot ever stop being unpleasant.

It sort of redeemed itself in the last Christmas special by bringing back Captain Jack and giving Graham and Ryan a nice and happy goodbye instead of ridiculously killing them off in a tragic fashion. But Chibnall is still on thin ice with me.

Based on the fact that the Big Bad in this episode has a secret history with the Doctor she can't remember, it seems clear the Timeless Child conceit IS a good one. The problem is that I hope if Davies DOESN'T retcon it, something like that comes up rarely going forward. Because if it's a regular thing, it's something that should have been happening for the first Twelve Doctors too.

The Big Bad is one of the scariest villains I've seen on the show in ages. The last villains to visually freak me out so much were the water-spewing zombies in "The Waters Of Mars". Also other recent goodies were The Weeping Angels. Who make an appearance here.

Doctor Who is famous for promising big and failing to deliver. I'll tell you why I'm cautiously optimistic here. I feel like the random disparate elements that are apart all throughout the episode and touched upon again at the end suggest the entire run of episodes was written at the same time, and wasn't just made up as it went along. I hate Torchwood with a passion. But the miniseries Children Of Earth, and Miracle Day, as spotty as they sometimes, were, gave off similar vibes of the story being known and understood from the first episode to the last. Doctor Who is a better show than Torchwood (by far) so I'm hoping that using this kind of storytelling technique pays better dividends for Chibnall than it did for Davies. And in fairness to Davies, both Children Of Earth AND Miracle Day were better than every single episode from Torchwood's first two seasons. Flux being a high point for the Doctor Who relaunch is not out of the question.

I'll tell you something that concerns me a little, but not a lot. I got the distinct impression that the show's budget was cut drastically for this season. I might be wrong, but it feels like the show has gone back to being shot on videotape. The visual effects also seem of the more consistently low-budgeted CGI that the Davies era was known for. Those effects were fine for the mid-aughts. I feel like the visuals of the Flux is not as amazing as the show's effects have gotten in recent years. The budget being cut concerns me only a little however. Because if it can still do the kind of effects seen in the episode, I'll be fine with it. I just have a feeling that Doctor Who is going to be back to being the cost conscious sci-fi show it used to be. I suspect because the relaunch is no longer the sensation it was, that BBC greatly cut the budget. But I think low-budget Doctor Who is something I actually feel a lot more comfortable about. It feels very consistent with both the original series, and the early years of the relaunch (and for that matter The Sarah Jane Adventures). Doctor Who has gotten too "Big" over the years and that's probably the entire problem.

My expectation for the rest of the season (and the regeneration Christmas Special) is that I suspect Chibnall is gonna take his run ending on the series very seriously. When Davies left, he basically took a huge dump on the show and canon, and left things off in the worst possible way for Moffat to have to clean up as best he could, seemingly out of pure spite. For Moffat, he literally killed off his entire cast because he had become so bereft of ideas by the end. This whole arc makes me believe that Chibnall wants to actually end on a high note, and give a good farewell to both his tenure and the underappreciated Jodie Whitaker. And damn it, I approve of both those notions!

I could be wrong. Chibnall could be heading us toward an epic and unwelcome tragedy. That's how it's always worked out every previously damn lousy season. But I hope Chibnall makes the effort to make us miss him and Whitaker. So far, he's done the right things to do that. ****1/2.

Doctor Who "Flux: Chapter Two: War Of The Sontarans"

Wow. Let's see.

I am with the Doctor in being disgusted with the General at the end. Harriet Jones pulled a similar move on Christmas once upon a time, but as unwise as that seemed, she paid the price for it. And we are perhaps led to believe from the Saxon mess that followed that the Doctor was wrong in that instance and wrong to depose her.

Say what you will about Harriet, her decision was her own. For the General here, he is such a weakling and a coward, he never would have made it if he had been strong enough to listen to the Doctor's advice to begin with. And I'll tell you why I value Chris Chibnall's tenure. He is not afraid to point out that on the historical adventures, the Doctor has far less clout than ever before simply because she's a woman. That's the only reason the General doesn't listen to her. And so I find myself sympathizing with what he did far less than I did Harriet Jones. And not to put too fine a point on it, but what the Tenth Doctor did in retribution to her, when boiled down to its essence, was nothing but pure misogyny, and turning the Earth's 21st Century sexism against her. People gave Stephen Moffat (deserved in my opinion) crap for the sexist comments that came out of both the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors' mouths and the way he turned the female Companions into mysteries for the Doctors to solve instead of strong capable women in their own right. And yet Davies was the one who wrote the line, "Don't you think she looks tired?" By the end, I was as disgusted with Moffat as anyone. But what really bothered me about the hate he got is that everything people complained about him, Davies actually did first and much worse. My basic gripe about Moffat was that by the end, it turned out he wasn't the step up from Davies he had showed the potential to be early on. But the truth is the way he badly ended things is totally consistent with Davies, with the exception of the fact that he had enough common sense to gift Peter Capaldi a great regeneration scene. But yeah, there were legitimate reasons I felt for Harriet's Jones' position, including Ten's unbridled and disgusting sexism. The General here does have that much integrity to excuse himself. He's simply a child playing the grown-up game of war.

I like whenever we see the Sontarans, because as horrible as they are, I don't consider them evil. At all. They have a strict code they live up to, and follow as best they can. And if they falter, they are ideologically consistent enough in their beliefs to beg for punitive execution as a mercy. I find them similar to the Klingons on Star Trek, if the Klingons didn't have so many redeeming qualities. They are the belief system of the Klingons taken to the extreme, with the following the rulebook to the letter idea of the best of the Ferengi. I find them interesting, and listening to their various insane but honestly gotten to opinions is fascinating. They strike me more as the Jem'Hadar if the Jem'Hadar themselves had been powerful enough to call the shots. Which makes them scarier than the Jem'Hadar, despite their goofy appearance.

I'll tell you what moment I thought was super interesting: When the Doctor asks Dan if he'd like to come with her I thought his tentative reply of "Okay," was beyond charming and adorable. And it was also entirely outside of every other Companion's reaction to being asked. On some level, none of the major Companions of the relaunch who have been asked aboard the TARDIS have been remotely surprised by that invitation. For many (see Martha Jones) they believe it's long-overdue and something they've either earned, or at least wanted deep down. I found Dan's "Okay," so wonderful because the way he said it said he never expected the offer. It never occurred to him. As far as he was concerned, he was one of the hundreds of everyday civilians the Doctor interacts with and saves week to week and never sees again. Better yet, he's so surprised by the offer he says yes right away on an impulse. It's something he wasn't sure he wanted until the words tumbled out of his mouth.

And I'll tell you the most refreshing thing to me about Dan and how the Doctor views him: So far, he's not really done anything outstanding enough to make any of the previous Doctors remotely think he would be a good Companion. His overall demeanor and clear lack of intelligence in fact are the very things both Nine and Ten would be super snotty about. And while I have lots of issues with Ten, I have little bad to say about Nine. Except that he's a snot to people he thinks are dumb. But Thirteen? Dan's nice. He's pleasant to be around, and frankly seems surprisingly emotionally stable. I would not be surprised if Thirteen perhaps knew this particular Companion might need to lean on her a bit more during The Adventures. But I get the sense she likes him because he almost certainly will NEVER be as emotionally needy as Yaz, Ryan, or even Graham. Or Rose, Martha, Jack, Mickey, Donna, Amy, Rory, Clara, Bill, River, Sarah-Jane, and Nordol for that matter. Dan shyly says "Okay," because he lacks drama and is very low-maintenance as far as Companions go. Plus, the Doctor doesn't need to look out for him 24/7 anyways. He's got himself a doggie guardian angel.

The villains of the arc continue to be both the most visually frightening and psychologically despicable villains I've seen on the show in a long time with super scary powers. It's as if Thirteen's version of the Master looked like the Waters Of Mars Zombies but had the Weeping Angel's powers. They freak me out on every level.

I love the fact that out of all the Earth time periods the Sontarans could have invaded, the General chose the war in Crimea in the 19th Century because he always wanted to ride a horse. That specific reason is extremely endearing and relatable to me.

For the record, I thought the cliffhanger was majorly unfair and an uncool way to end the episode. The problem is that Doctor Who (at least the relaunch) is famous for unfair cliffhangers. I can roll my eyes in disgust all I want. The truth is something that annoying is totally on-brand. I wish it weren't, but I am also not a bit surprised.

I am very interested to see how this all turns out. Not excited. This is Doctor Who. There is actually a 95% chance this disappoints me as almost all the previous finales have. And the few finales that DIDN'T disappoint me (featuring the Eleventh Doctor) set up arcs that disappointed me later on. I will be as happy as anyone if Flux satisfies me and Jodie Whitaker and Chris Chibnall are permitted to go out on a high note. But I don't actually expect it. ****.

Doctor Who "Flux: Chapter Three: Once, Upon Time"

Wow. Lot to unpack there.

First off, I really liked it. A LOT. But... but... I didn't understand anything that was going on. For me, that's a selling point. For the average TV viewer, I imagine they'll be mad. But unsolved mysteries are my favorite kind of television and always have been.

I like the revelation that Bel was Vinder's wife. It was unexpected, made perfect sense, and seems an utter no-brainer in hindsight. Which is how plot turns like that should work.

Whatever Doctor Ruth was, she was apparently a significant one. My guess? She was the final "Missing" Doctor, and the one who turned into the First and lost all the previous memories. There has to be a significance to running into her so often.

I'm questioning who the old woman was too. Is she a past Doctor? A future Doctor? Gulp, the Valeyard? I dunno. But she strikes me as sinister.

The good thing about this arc is that the Weeping Angels show up when you least expect them to, and at the most inconvenient times possible. They are one of the scariest villains in the franchise, and yet something about their brand of evil is entirely banal and mundane. For instance they travel through videogames and tablets. Not exactly a hellbeast out of Lovecraft. But they do such catastrophic damage because they are always so freaking unwelcome.

Let me be blunt. That was pretty great. I can't guarantee the arc will end great, Thirteen will end great, or that Chris Chibnall's tenure will end great. But I get the feeling Chris Chibnall being replaced by Russell T Davies was a network decision, not a creative one. Just based on what I just saw? This is NOT the franchise that needed to "course correct" by bringing back the single worst thing that ever happened to it. To put it mildly. Like, if "Flux" was sucking up the joint, I'd see the logic there, as much as I hate Davies. But I can't remember the show ever being on this solid a footing since the relaunch in 2005. Whenever there have been solid seasons, the finale botched it. But this is pretty much as memorable and epic as season 3, 4, and 6. I don't see any reason Davies NEEDS to come back. Unless Chibnall really botches the landing (which is not out of the question). But the show has rarely been this solid, and hasn't been since at least Series 6. This is Series 13. I think getting rid of Chibnall is a mistake.

Just my two cents. ****1/2.

Doctor Who "Flux: Chapter Four: Village Of The Angels"

That was TOO good. It was TOO amazing. I KNOW I'm just going to wind up getting my heart broken. But I don't want to. My expectations have rarely been higher and that's when the show always kicks me in the nuts. Without fail. And what frightens me and pisses me off in equal measure is the fact that this is most I've ever WANTED the show to deliver. The "Doctor Who?" bit at the end of Season 6 was a big deal to me, but so impossibly vague that I should have seen being disappointed at the cop-out coming. But the idea of the Doctor as a Weeping Angel and the connection from the Weeping Angels to Division is irresistible, because it's all plausible based on what we've already seen.

The episode is so unusual, that I'm about to compliment Russell T Davies, one of my most loathed science fiction writers of all time. But he was the dude who set up the idea that the Angels had a connection to the Time Lords in The End Of Time, with the Time Lords abstaining from Rassilon's decision to destroy the Universe, putting their hands over their eyes for eternity in penance. Davies really had no right to do that (the Angels are pretty much a purely Stephen Moffat thing) but I thought the idea was very cool at the time, even if I understand why Moffat didn't care enough about it to explore it further. Chibnall does. And I have said very bad things about Davies this season. But one thing he is relatively competent at is tying the entire canon together as a whole to make the whole thing make sense. And I was getting serious Davies vibes all throughout the episode. From the nasty adult civilians, to the haunted mansion, to the professor Jericho having a shocking amount of verve and steel, Chibnall has cribbed the best from Davies, without (so far) falling into Davies' most insufferable traps. This is Doctor Who how Davies wanted to do it, but was unable to, because he was an utterly incompetent writer.

This whole Timeless Child storyline has gotten Chibnall nothing but crap. But tying it to Division and the Weeping Angels tells me that whatever Chibnall has planned for it in his final few episodes is going to be amazing. At least it would be in any other franchise. Any other franchise would make it work. Will Doctor Who break its curse and decide NOT to break my heart, just this once? I hope to God it will.

In hindsight, tying the Weeping Angels to the Time Lords makes sense. There whole death by Time Displacement gimmick would really only occur to a Time Lord. So I'm glad we're putting two and two together there.

If Chibnall sticks the landing, I will have to think it would give Davies pause in retconning the Timeless Child thing out of the canon. Davies is a relative purist, which is kind of galling considering the horrible things he's done to the canon and the Time Lords, so I was sure this plotline was a goner. But if this whole Doctor as a Division / Weeping Angel operative is as watershed as it potentially could be, I doubt Davies would dare retcon it. That's IF Chibnall sticks the landing. No Doctor Who showrunner has EVER been able to do that since the relaunch. Will Chibnall be the first? In Season Thirteen? He wasn't in the previous two seasons. Is this finally his big break? Is he going to be the first Doctor Who showrunner I'll miss when they're gone? We'll see in three episodes. This made me nervous. It was TOO good. *****.

Doctor Who "Flux: Chapter Five: Survivors Of The Flux"

That was shockingly solid, and again it gave me a knot in my stomach. I WANT this to be good. More than at any time since "The Stolen Earth". Russell T Davies let me down there (and multiple times after that). Will Chibnall? I have no idea. What I will say is that things are so up in the air right now it could go either way. I'm not able to predict how the next episode or the regeneration are going to go at all.

I have to say I found Thirteen's outrage over her life potentially being stolen... stupid? After all the great things the Doctor has experienced and all the people they have helped, she's resentful? I don't think this specific snit is as ugly as Ten browbeating poor Wilfred Mott. But it's the first Doctor moment since then that I've disliked for the same reason. Maybe it's the adopted kid in me calling b.s. on her fake resentments. In reality, that really isn't something the Doctor has a right to complain about.

Lots of revelations here, but not enough to sate our mystery appetites for the franchise. I will say this: Unlike the audience learning the Doctor's name, which was a pipe dream, I don't think the Doctor getting her memories back would actually kill any Golden Geese. Just because the character always keeps their past to themselves, and whatever she learned she wouldn't have to share with either her Companions or the audience. We'll see what happens next week.

Interesting thing to think about: Dan has now spent more time with and knows Yaz and Jericho better than he knows the Doctor. That's an interesting facet to give a new Companion.

I love the cheeky monk giving them the business. Fetch Your Dog is also all the advice they really need.

Sontarans, UNIT, Weeping Angels, the freaking Ood, hell, even Kate Stewart made a surprise appearance (and kicked ass while she was doing it). Chibnall is heavily leaning into stuff from all eras of the franchise. I predict if Davies wants to retcon all this (and he might. He's a total jerk) he's gonna have a hard time doing so unless we do actually switch Universes. Which by the way, is not out of the question, especially if Earth itself could potentially be saved.

Also interesting and a bit relieving to realize that the Master is NOT the deadly Time Lord threat the Doctor or the Daleks or the Time War were. He didn't actually kill ALL the Time Lords. That would be giving his evil a far bigger credibility than he deserved. We'll still see some pop up that were off-world at the time the Cybermen destroyed Gallifrey. Thirteen's version of the Master can't even kill all the Time Lords right, because deep down, he's a loser.

I really wish Chibnall weren't leaving the show. Interesting things could have happened. Now Davies is simply going to destroy everything because he's the kind of writer who believes knocking over the game-board is great drama. Him destroying the show and its long-term health is secondary to the shock value he's trying to jolt us with. It's why Davies is a crappy, unfair writer and why I know this show is going to go right back to sucking next season.

This could go either way next week. Even if next week goes properly, the regeneration could be messed up (which is the main thing I never forgave Davies for). But signs point to a good chance this arc is going to wrap up satisfactorily. We'll see first next week and then at Christmas. ****1/2.

Doctor Who "Flux: Chapter Six: The Vanquishers"

On some level, I'm disappointed, but on another I'm not. While it was not the potential mindscrew the series has always been promising (but never delivering), I felt like it ended the "right" way, although the fob watch in the TARDIS raised questions. Did she get the memories back or not? It's suggested that when she's made whole that was what she's referring to, but that could have just meant her three selves merging. The fob watch in the TARDIS buys back a bit of the satisfaction I felt about believing she regained the memories.

And if she did, the series did it the right way. She gets her answers, fulfilling the arc of the season, but she doesn't share them with us the audience, thereby preserving the hook and mystique of the series.

I found Jericho's death particularly pointless and bittersweet which was kind of the selling point of doing it. Whatever else HE thought about his place in the Universe, HE personally did not believe he went out like a punk. And that soothes it a bit even if I think he's wrong. I get why he thinks that at least.

Speaking of pointless, I thought killing the entire race of dogs was a terrible move, and something Russell T Davies would have done at his worst. The survivor howling is even as unintentionally comical as a LOT of similar Davies stuff during his tenure and Torchwood. My biggest objection is that as far as bad guys go, the Sontarans are comical, and on some level lovable. The whole obsession with chocolate is a case in point. The problem with doing that is I will never view the Sontarans as comical as they used to be ever again. Yeah, it was a bold and dramatic move. That permanently made the long-term health of the show MUCH worse, which is Davies in a nutshell. I'm alarmed to see Chibnall doing that specific thing and embracing that kind of storytelling. It makes me worry about the New Year's special.

I love Thirteen empowering the 19th Century British guy and basically telling him everything he had waited his entire life to hear.

Vinder's revenge on the Grand Serpent was pretty great, simply because it wasn't lethally horrible, and thus actually sanctioned by the Doctor. That meant I was allowed to approve of it too.

Is Kate in the New Year's special? If not this really IS the last time she'll see this Regeneration again.

Do I wish that was mindblowing? Sort of. But it is also totally in-character for the Chibnall era to not going absolutely nuts and sidetracked with flashy nonsense. Regardless of whether or not the story actually blew my mind (it didn't) it was still at least told in the manner it SHOULD have been told. And it's perhaps the first finale I can remember that did that. That's not nothing. ****.

Doctor Who "Eve Of The Daleks"

Call me crazy, but I really liked that.

One of the biggest problems to me about Groundhog Day episodes is that they are always understood to be a disposable, comedic episode for any franchise that attempts it. As such, I never see any franchise ever do anything really new with the premise. The only memorable uses of the time loop trope are Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Cause And Effect" and Groundhog Day itself. Every other use of the trope is actually a lesser version of one of those two stories. And it's to Next Gen's credit that they gave the time loop real stakes, although in fairness, by the end you kind of think they are lesser than they had been billed as.

As far as Doctor Who goes, Chibnall had a good idea of making each successive loop shorter than the last, so it give the episode finite stakes, a clear goal, and (best of all) consequences if they mess up. Even better, all the heroes and the villains were aware of the loop. Nobody forgot what was happening, so the heroes and the villains were using what they learned on previous loops to their own advantage. Suffice it to say, that is a wholly originally concept for a time loop episode.

Both of the guest characters (Sarah and Nick) are insanely endearing, and you want them to survive this as badly as you do the Doctor and her friends. Invariably those two are the first two killed off, and every time they were I was hoping there would be another loop so the Doctor could fix it.

I have to say the Daleks were probably more personally nasty in this episode than they have ever been. Them repeatedly killing the heroes will do that.

I also must note that John Bishop as Dan has evolved into one of my favorite Companions ever in seven short episodes. He's a comedian in the UK, but I find his characterization rather serious in the sense that he lacks pretense and is a real everyman in the role, which you don't see often for a Companion at all. I admit I haven't watched every single season of the original series (mostly because so many of the episodes were lost) but Dan is definitely the only real everyman Companion of the relaunch. He's stoic and noble. He's so great it's easy to see why the actor is so in-demand, and also why Dan was probably never going to be designed for the long haul. Like Catherine Tate, he's TOO good in the role. Except I think Dan is a far superior character to Donna Noble.

My biggest concern of the episode was something I felt was a bit of a false note. It's actually not a surprise to learn Yaz is in love with the Doctor. Not really. My objection is that it's far too late in the game to be bringing it up. I would have liked to have explored it earlier on instead of Jodie Whitaker and Mandip Gill's third to last episode. I hope Chibnall knows what he's doing, but I get a sinking feeling anyways knowing both Gill and Bishop are leaving the show when Whitaker does. We'll see.

I loved this episode. No lie. And yet there are things the episode set in motion that I'm a little leery of. I'm worried about Whitaker's regeneration for the first time. I'm worried she'll go out in a bad way like David Tennant did instead of a good way like Christopher Eccleston and Matt Smith did. I am rooting for Chibnall and this show to go out on strong terms, but I have learned from painful experience to always expect the worst from Doctor Who 2005 when it comes right down to it. ****1/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Joined
Jan 19, 2004
Messages
33,939
Location
Framingham, MA
Doctor Who "Legend Of The Sea Devils"

I enjoyed that. A lot.

Thirteen has gotten an underwhelming reception among the Doctor Who fandom. The Doctor Who fandom is wrong. I think only Star Wars fans misread the quality of their fandom more than Doctor Who fans do. Russell T Davies is one of the worst showrunners of a successful show I can think of. He is a terrible writer too. And he's beloved while Stephen Moffat and Chris Chibnall get nothing but crap. And Thirteen is a good Doctor, simply because she's pleasant and her adventures are almost never truly gutwrenching. Yes, she has the worst Master of any Doctor, but that's not actually Jodie Whitaker's fault or problem. Her time on the TARDIS is just plain low-key and enjoyable.

She can actually admit she has feelings for Yaz. Without it being a big deal or changing the fact that she's rejecting her. She can talk about these things because she trusts her Companions. She says Yaz is one of the best people she's ever known. Longtime Who fans will scoff at this, but the truth is Thirteen behaves far more warmly and intimately with Yaz, Ryan, Graham, and Dan than previous Doctors ever did with a previous Companion. Her selling point to me is she doesn't make people uncomfortable or feel weird. And part of the previous Doctors doing that was to keep people at arm's length. But Thirteen matters to me because she can keep people at arm's length but let the person in question know that that's HER failing, and that Martha Jones and Clara Oswald aren't actually crazy for seeing things the way they did. She can comfort Yaz and actually discuss why she isn't able to do that with her. And I'm sorry, that makes Thirteen a great Doctor. Surely, not the greatest ever (there's a lot of competition for that) but don't ever let anyone tell you Thirteen sucks. It's not true. At all.

I do have a comment. It's not precisely negative, but seeing it felt negative to me. But the budget on the show has clearly been slashed, not just by a little, but drastically. Aside for it being shot on videotape again (which has ALWAYS looked awful) the Sea Devils are the kind of low-budget thing you'd see in the relaunch's first season (and The Sarah Jane Adventures). They are no more convincing than the Slitheen. I have two comments to make about the cheap-looking visual effects of this episode and the past season. The first is that they don't bother me at all. If believable visual effects were a dealbreaker, I'd never have become a fan of the show in the first place. The second comment is less pleasant and more worrisome. The fact that the budget has been cut enough that you can see lower quality results onscreen says the show is on VERY thin ice with the BBC. If Russell T Davies doesn't deliver for the 60th Anniversary season, I think the BBC might just up and cancel it. And considering DAVIES is the guy the BBC has pinned their hopes for the show's future on, I'm very nervous. Davies is awful on every level.

The swashbuckling stunts however were quite good. Probably because they didn't need to break the bank to do them practically. But they looked great.

The Doctor mentions Stephen King movies are never like the books. The notable exception is The Shawshank Redemption, which is exactly like the novella in plot, tone, and execution, but I can't expect the Doctor to note that exception while making the comparison she is.

I love Dan being outraged at being thought of as 70 by the kid. DAN may be in his 40's (although you can tell he bumped the actual age down a couple of years when saying so) but John Bishop is 55 and looks it. His mature look was one of the things I loved about him being made the male Companion of the series in the first place. And 55 is literally the halfway point between 40 and 70, and considering Dan's probably in his MID-forties, it's still a closer guess than Dan claims it is.

I am very much going to miss Thirteen, Dan, Yaz, Jodie Whitaker, and Chris Chibnall. I am one of the few fans mostly happy with the Chibnall years, and to see the show handed to the person who took such a HUGE personal dump on it on his way out sickens me a bit. Whoever the new Doctor is, I hope he / she lasts longer on the show than Davies does. He / she doesn't want that sociopath writing their Regeneration. I'm still steamed on David Tennant and Matt Smith's behalf just thinking about it. ****1/2.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Joined
Jan 19, 2004
Messages
33,939
Location
Framingham, MA
Doctor Who "The Power Of The Doctor"

That was my favorite regeneration episode ever. I believed before tonight there existed three perfect episodes of the relaunch: "The Stolen Earth", "The Wedding Of River Song", and "The Day Of The Doctor". "The Power Of The Doctor" makes four.

I'll tell you what I love about the next Doctor being David Tennant. It's obviously just for a few episodes, but I had been infuriated at Russell T Davies for the crappy regeneration he saddled Tennant with in his final episode. I was livid, and I believe Tennant, Stephen Moffat, and poor Matt Smith had a right to be livid too. Doctor Who is a franchise that promises great set-up and always disappoints with the resolution. What I'm hoping Ten returning for a few episodes means is that Davies actually feels bad about the way he left things, and sort of wants Ten to get a do-over as far as goodbyes are concerned.

I'm excited Catherine Tate and the late Bernard Cribbins are returning too. Anyone deserves an apology and better send-off it's Wilfred Mott.

In "The Day Of The Doctor" the Curator tells Eleven he's regenerated into "some old favorites" before then. It's possible Davies saw that and thought was an awesome idea. I would also like to see a regeneration at some point into the Curator while Tom Baker is still with us.

And I have been infuriated at the fact that Davies was made showrunner. But if he pulls off redeeming Ten's awful snit to Wilf (although there is no guarantee he will) I might be willing to forgive "The End Of Time". He's still on my poop-list for how rapey he made Torchwood. But really giving Tennant one last chance is all I ever wanted.

Him recognizing the teeth was great. And "Tag, your it," are great last words for Thirteen.

And yeah, I can safely say for the first time ever the relaunch topped the regeneration itself from Nine to Ten. Nine's run had a TON of problems, but that was perfection. And I think this was even better.

My review has so far focused on the regeneration itself. If the rest of the episode sucked I'd forgive it for that. The thing is, the rest of the episode WAS the best last episode for a relaunch Doctor. Thirteen got WAY better exits than not just Ten, but Nine, Eleven, and Twelve as well. Seeing all the Classic Companions at the end was great, as well seeing Graham again (too bad Tosin Cole couldn't work out schedules), and the surprise appearances of Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, and David Bradley are the kinds of watercooler busting things the show used to do, but stopped doing after Matt Smith. And I love that Sophie Aldred and Janet Fielding were listed in the opening credits.

I think the show really wants to become as big as it was during Tennant and Smith's runs again. Before they attempt that, I want to say something. I think Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker's run was great. Not extraordinary, but I like Whittaker and her Doctor so much because the show didn't punish the viewer over and over again for liking the characters and the show. The Doctor support group is how Chris Chibnall chose to end all the Companions. He didn't give them ridiculously tragic endings which was the thing that pissed me off the most about both Moffat AND Davies. He allowed us to enjoy the show and suggested being friends with the Doctor and going with her on adventures isn't a curse that will either kill you or destroy your life. And damn it, that message is needed!

What I especially love was the fact that Teegan got a great last scene with Five, and Ace got a great last scene with Seven. Ace's scene was especially rewarding to me, because even if the Cartmel Masterplan never happened, it suggests Ace and Seven became estranged as if it had. And seeing her in the jacket with the freaking baseball bat whacking away at Daleks! I never got that level of joy seeing Sarah Jane again (well maybe when she was reunited with K-9), so I'm thinking Chibnall IS better at this than Davies was.

The thing about Seven and Ace is the original series always felt unfinished to me. That totally helped, and I won't think of it that way anymore.

For Ace, the Doctor is still "The Professor". And it's still a dumb joke. I wouldn't have it any other way.

"Did you say... her?" Oh, man. William Russell was a HUGE get, and probably the show's biggest get since Tom Baker in "The Day Of The Doctor". Awesome.

And Eight refuses the robe. Nine would have too, were he present. I love that.

Kate Stewart in the TARDIS! Nice!

I also like Teegan angrily saying "Why yes, I WOULD like to go in the TARDIS!" and storming in like she belongs there. Because she kind of does.

I love the idea of the traitor Dalek, but Thirteen shouldn't have been TOO surprised. Randy DID exist.

It makes no sense Thirteen's clothes regenerated, but I don't exactly blame the show for not wanting to make Tennant look silly upon first seeing him again.

This is why I don't tend to follow Doctor Who news. Apparently Tennant's return was announced already, and I was able to enjoy the best surprise ever because I didn't already know. I looked online and saw Tate and Cribbins are coming back too, and I am incredibly happy.

Jodie Whittaker will be missed by me in a way I didn't Peter Capaldi. I enjoyed her run very much, even if it was never much good for watercooler talk.

Except for the Timeless Child stuff. Do you know what I like? We saw a hologram of the Fugitive Doctor, but the Timeless Child stuff itself was not brought up, and not a factor in either the Master's arc / plan or Thirteen's regeneration. I liked the Timeless Child stuff (which is another unpopular opinion) and the series letting it rest for the final episode of Whittaker's means that if Davies wants to retcon it, he's not going to have ready-made excuse to do it. He's gonna actually have to put in the work to bring it up and change it as long as Chibnall left the plot lying dormant in Thirteen's last episode. I'm glad about that. Turning Thirteen's last episode into that would make it easier for the show to move on from that the way they did Trenzalore and "Silence Will Fall" from Matt Smith's last episode. I prefer that it's not actually either Chibnall OR Whittaker's defining thing, or where Thirteen's arc was ultimately headed.

Fourth perfect episode of the relaunch. And the first regeneration episode I'd consider so (and no "The Stolen Earth" doesn't count, especially considering how underwhelming its conclusion "Journey's End" was). I was very impressed. *****.
 
Last edited:

Spotlight

Who's on Discord?

Latest profile posts

Looks like there is some good news!

Asa
I speculate this third pandemic winter could end up being it's very last one, ever (we don't need to have too many).
Went to TGI Friday's for my birthday yesterday. Had a great time there despite the chilly weather in Leicester Square.
I've officially turned 26 years old.

Featured Posts

Top