I had high hopes for this season after the initial 2 episodes to launch off our newest iteration. Skyfall was fun and enjoyable and made me think that a lot of the problems with season 11 were in the past. Sadly Orphan 55 was nothing if not disappointing.

A complete filler episode this one had no continuation on the cliffhanger we were left with the timeless child. There was a brief allusion to the doctor being in a mood at the beginning of the episode but aside from that, it moves straight into the to the bulk of the episode which was basically drac.

I’m not really going to be too worried about spoiling this episode for anyone as they have to be a real fan to want to watch it and if they were a real fan they probably would have already seen it. But basically the Doctor and family go on a mini-vacation where they are teleported to what is meant to be a paradise planet. However, immediately after the arrive trouble ensues as you would expect. This time it is actually not caused by the Doctor though.

The planet that they land on is actually not a planet, rather they are in a self-contained dome on a hostile planet. Within this dome which is basically just a fancy holodeck, they are attacked by creatures that are called Drags or Dracs or something like that. The creatures are the remnants of a civilization that was left to survive when something cataclysmic happened on the planet.

Over the course of the episode, many of the other guests are killed and when the Doctor and all of the remaining guests set off on a search to try and find 1 old man who somehow managed to escape onto the hostile planet the Doctor discovers that the planet is actually the Earth.

Da, Da, Daa …

Sadly, this is not a Planet of the Apes quality moment or reveal.

There are so many issues with this whole episode aside from the fact that one of the guests who turns out to be the daughter of the owner manages to smuggle on a multitude of bombs or bomb components through a teleporter? Also, manages to smuggle multiple different viruses through the same teleporter? I mean they’ve got the holodeck so any decent teleport system would have the capabilities of analyzing what is being transmitted, wouldn’t it?

And you got the old couple who are together for 46 years without being married but then the old man manages to wander off when he can barely walk on this hostile planet and it takes the crew, it takes everyone else in a Land Rover truck multiple minutes to get to him? And then every time they seem to get into trouble you’ve got the people that aren’t part of the Doctor’s family jumping in to sacrifice themselves for the strangers? It just is so weird.

However, that’s not really the thing that stuck in my craw. The biggest issue with this whole episode is that the whole thing was basically a climate change piece. I mean they could have gotten Greta onto the show at some point or something like that to drive the point home even further but that’s not what the Doctor and the whole show is about. It’s about fantasy it’s about the future it’s about escapism. You can have a bit of education – I mean there was the episode with the British Empire flying through space on the remnants of the space creature where Amy Pond was the only one who had empathy or something like that. That was cool. It was presented as part of a story.

This was just too heavy-handed and too annoying. I mean all of the other episodes of Doctor Who we’re seeing the doctor many times visit the Earth and its future and in no scenario is the Earth a barren wasteland as it’s portrayed on Orphan 55. The Doctor this time says that this is just one possible future in this timeline but the whole premise of the show is that there is one path and that there are fixed points in time. it’s great to hear that the future can be changed by billions of individuals and the different actions that individuals can make. But that’s not this show!

I understand that they are trying to educate us and I understand that they’re trying to give us a message but that’s not why I’m watching Doctor Who. I get enough of that in the news and if I want more there are many different documentaries including BBC ones that I could watch. Go back to escapism and let me enjoy an hour with the doctor. Give me a mystery and some fun and stop trying to teach me something.

The first episode of Series 12 needed to do a lot of things to eliminate what was, for the majority of edges of fandom, the sour aftertaste of Series 11. The legit grievances concerning Chibnall’s outlining and composing needed to be dealt with. Doctor Who followers are no strangers to the program taking breaks, yet 2018’s news – that the TARDIS would not be back for twelve long months had many wondering. Season 11 of nu-Who had seen its rankings decrease sharply over a ten-episode run and left visitors passionately divided over what it needed to do, so there was a presumption among the program’s followers that this sudden hiatus was going to entail close scrutiny of what had actually worked– and also what hadn’t– throughout the most recent reinvention.

Doctor Who can and needs to offer itself to every possible sort of drama, from scary to enchanting and funny and also every little thing in between. So there’s absolutely no reason it should not do the same with the spy genre. In fact, it’s a fine selection for a New Year special. “Spyfall,” as you might anticipate from an episode that’s so gleefully pulling from 007 as well as his kin, is a globetrotting journey that barely ever stalls enough time to capture its breath. This is the initial fifty percent of a two-parter– one that provides lots of questions yet a priceless few answers where character moments are kept to a minimum. Showrunner Chris Chibnall has significant crowd-pleasing time right here with the category’s tropes, as well as Spyfall is much more spectacular and also much more action-packed than anything from the new team’s initial run-out. The budgets for nu-Who have definitely been increased as the set sequences and effects are a significant upgrade on shows and seasons past. Chibnall does what Doctor Who always does when things go bad — go The Complete Pertwee. So complete a Pertwee-era James Bond pastiche that, eventually, the Doctor marches out of the TARDIS in a tuxedo along with the rest of the family.

Please stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers for the episode. You have been warned

To recap the episode: spies from around the world are being executed for unknown reasons. So the legendary champion of the unknown, recognized by security services as The Doctor, is abducted in addition to her good friends by the Men in Black in exciting automobile chase. A lovely cameo ensues in which Stephen Fry portrays Stephen Fry depicting “C”, the head of MI6, recruits them to investigate the spate of killings, outfits them with a Bond nerd’s desire cache of gizmos, and also is immediately assassinated himself. The Doctor and “fam” go global tag team. Yaz, as well as Ryan, are drawn right into the murky internal operations of VOR, the globe’s largest online search engine.

As it bounds along, “Spyfall” cherry-picks a few of the more well-known spy film moments to work as action set-pieces, however, it is still quite a sci-fi tale at its heart. There’s a motorbike chase that turns into an airplane chase. And, when the villain discloses itself, its with dialogue formerly spoken by the Third Doctor. I like, like, like all that stuff. If Series 11 felt like it was made by individuals who had actually never ever viewed Doctor Who previously, Series 12 seemed like it was made by people that comprehended the program flawlessly, who recognized exactly how to utilize its past to tell an exciting brand-new story.

The central mystery for much of the episode focuses on a mystical race of as-yet-unnamed aliens, although the Doctor and her pals are still significantly in the dark about it all by the time the credit scores roll. Even in an hour of television where there’s an undeniably large amount of stuff, a lot of which is quite fun, we do not really discover a huge quantity concerning what’s going on.

These anonymous aliens are an example of why Doctor Who two-parters can be so discouraging. The core idea of them, that they can invade their way into anything (including surprisingly the TARDIS) and also briefly take on the structure of whatever they go through, is aesthetically interesting as well as fairly scary as they thrash about. Mysteries in a TELEVISION program can be fantastic fun, however just if you feel like you stand a possibility of identifying the clues and fixing them. Remaining absolutely in the dark is simply not as much fun.

This is not new trouble in Doctor Who naturally, as well as in some ways, the aliens right here are similar to the Silence introduced throughout Matt Smith’s run. They, also, were a creepy unusual race whose intents were maintained entirely secret during “The Impossible Astronaut”, an episode that suffered consequently. By contrast, a few of the program’s most efficient two-parters– like “The Vacant Kid” or “Silence In The Library”— work so well since the initial half-answers simply enough of your questions that you feel like the tale is making progress, even if it’s obviously much from over.

After the reunion as well as instruction sequences, the TARDIS team (we call them “fam” currently) breaks up into its all-natural pairs, the Doctor/Graham, as well as Ryan/Yaz. The last set jets off to San Francisco to meet Lenny Henry. Henry plays Daniel Barton, a type of Google magnate that turns out to be just 93% human as well as in league with an unusual race of evil nuns made from white light, hellbent on revising human DNA. The Physician and Graham head off to Australia, where we discover that the Doctor lived in the wilderness for 123 years and also saw some actually great rocks. There, they meet with “O”, an additional MI6 representative, played by the likewise wonderful Sacha Dhawan, and are immediately attacked by an army of glowing white humanoid forms. O has additionally been investigating the Doctor, and has a rack packed with data on him, keeping in mind the “disparities”.

As if “Spyfall” had not been already crammed to breaking, the episode’s sucker-punch takes place in the last couple of mins. ‘O’, the Doctors laid-back colleague, is revealed to be the Master, and this whole plan has actually apparently been his doing all along. My heart will always belong to Michelle Gomez as the Master, but Sacha Dhawan’s Hot Camp Master looks like he will certainly be enjoyable. It still remains to be seen whether Chibnall can or will resolve how he got back from the end of Missy’s journey. Remember how brilliantly put together the expose of Teacher Yana was, as Derek Jacobi regrew into John Simm? Or the complex dancing to expose Missy’s real identity? Here, they barely had time to jump on to the speeding airplane before the Doctor called him out for saying that he couldn’t run and the “mwahahahas” started. Still, there’s clearly even more ahead, as long as they can all get off that exploding airplane (spoiler, they possibly will). Sacha Dhawan’s ‘O’ character has been ambling around behind-the-scenes for much of the episode, and there actually are a few clues to his true nature spread around. Not only does he create a force field that’s much beyond anything MI6 should have in its safe, yet there’s also a subtle nod to Harold Saxon when Ryan declares that “no-one can engineer such an excellent phony life.”

Fittingly for an episode that tips its hat to James Bond, “Spyfall” has gone all-in on a solitary, high-stakes gamble. If the following episode can maintain this quick rate, answer all of those sticking around questions as well as still lock up what seems a variety of largely-unrelated plot strings — as well as provide us with a satisfying new variation of the Master so right after Missy’s final appearance — well then, I’d say that Series 12 will be off to a strong start. Regardless, the following episode has a lot of explaining to do …

Doctor Who is a long running British science-fiction series. In fact, it’s been nearly ongoing since 1963. The show follows the adventures of an alien from the planet Gallifrey known as The Doctor, who explores the universe in a time-travelling spaceship called a TARDIS. Now, that’s as far as we’ll go with the show’s bio. If you’re a fan of the show then you already know this and if you’re not, well, it just gets stranger (and more fun!) from there.

There have been 851 episodes to date, but we’re limiting our list to the new Doctor Who run (I suppose you could call it a regeneration) which began in 2005 and is affectionately known as ‘New Who’.

The show just finished it’s eleventh season, with Jodie Whittaker taking over as The Doctor (Thirteen), and Chris Chibnall now showrunner.

Change feels good.

Honestly, I haven’t been this excited about Doctor Who since David Tennant (Ten) left, but I do think some of the villains fell a little short of what we’re used to. In fact, most villains this season seemed to be, well, human. I’m all for social commentary, but sometimes you just want a good ol’ monster!

So, let’s countdown the top 5 New Who monsters and villains that I wish Thirteen could face off against as her previous selves once did.

Number #5: The Unknown Entity (Series 4)

When the Doctor visits the resort planet ‘Midnight’, a shuttle trip is scuppered by a break down and the emergence of a bodiless entity which repeats everything anyone says.

What sounds like an annoying playground game becomes very frightening very quickly, and hysteria descends on the Doctor’s travelling group. With Leslie Sharp playing a perfectly possessed passenger, things get really weird when the entity begins predicting what the Doctor says next.

The Unknown Entity

Source: https://docohobigfinish.blogspot.com/2013/10/midnight-written-by-russell-t-davies.html

Soon, the entity switches tactic, possessing the Doctor and forcing him to order his own execution. Terrifying for both Ten and Whovians alike!

Luckily, Ten escapes unscathed but is definitely traumatised. Can’t say I blame him. We never do find out what the entity really was, or how many of them are out there…

Number #4: The Boneless (Series 8)

The Boneless

Source: https://whatelseisonblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/flatline-doctor-who/

Two-dimensional beings invading our 3D world and disrupting the laws of size and scale to do it, the Boneless manifest their reality-warping powers in many unsettling forms – from turning one victim’s innards into an abstract mural in one persons’ room, to flattening many others in the walls and tunnels of London.

Their final form is the creepiest, a shambling mass of crawling, barely-there zombies who can only be defeated by the wave of the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and a heroic speech.

Number #3: Vashta Nerada (Series 4)

Say what you will about Steven Moffat’s time running Doctor Who, he knows how to craft fantastic monsters by amplifying everyday fears into terrifying creatures. Take, for instance, the Vashta Nerada, the invisible creatures that live in the shadows and just wait for you to step out of the light to devour you whole. They’re an inventive creature even when they’re not animating skeletons in spacesuits to chase you down, gobbling up flesh as fast as they do a chicken wing.

Vashta Nerada

Source: https://www.geek.com/television/doctor-who-underrated-villain-of-the-week-vashta-nerada-1708120/

Let’s just thank our lucky stars that, unlike the Weeping Angels, Moffat didn’t run the Vashta Nerada into the ground.

Number #2: The Family of Blood (Series 3)

You don’t need creepy creature effects to make a good monster, and in fact Who often couldn’t afford them.

In season 3’s best two-parter, The Doctor uses a Chameleon Arch to turn human in order to escape the relentless Family of Blood – a group of aliens who seek the regenerative powers of Time Lords.

The Family of Blood

Source: https://tardis.fandom.com/wiki/The_Family_of_Blood_(TV_story)

The way the Family turned innocent people in WWI-era Britain – including a little girl carrying a balloon à la Pennywise from IT – into shrieking villains, made them so intimidating. Perhaps the creepiest thing about them isn’t anything they did, but the fearful rage they brought out in the Doctor himself, as the defeated Family are each subjected to a fairy-tale punishment you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

Number #1: Silence (Series 6)

You might think that a face like this is difficult to forget, but that’s exactly the power that the Silence possesses.

Silence
Source: https://zarbi.fandom.com/wiki/The_Silence
Text Box: Source: https://zarbi.fandom.com/wiki/The_Silence

With a look inspired by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, the Silence is a religious order which has plagued humanity for centuries, but everyone’s oblivious because it’s impossible to remember them. With electrokinetic powers and the ability to reduce anyone to ash at a moment’s notice, the Silence have supposedly engineered all of human history without us realising.

Which means you might’ve already seen them today. Maybe they’re right behind you, right now.

As a rule, anything which worries the Doctor is something worth worrying about.

Let’s be honest, everyone has their own “favorite” Doctor and favorite episode for that matter so I’m sure that my list will be different to many others! However as a fan for decades, I definitely have a preference so lets countdown my favorite Doctors over the years!

13. Second Doctor-PATRICK TROUGHTON (1966-1969):

The Second Doctor was very different to his predecessor. A more playful, whimsical air disguised dark undercurrents and a sharp mind. And as the Doctor changed, so did the adventures. Trips into Earth’s history gave way to besieged Moonbases, Martian Ice Warriors and Space Pirates. Not to mention the heyday of the emotionless Cybermen, whom the Doctor froze into their ancient tombs once more. It wasn’t until he was put on trial by his own people – The Time Lords – for interference, that the Second Doctor was forced to regenerate. Although he was a good actor and got a position as one of the earliest doctors he failed to meet the expectations of many viewers.

I am not a student of human nature. I am a professor of a far wider academy of which human nature is merely a part.

12. Seventh Doctor-SYLVESTER MCCOY (1987-1989, 1996):

The TARDIS is attacked by villainous Time Lady the Rani, triggering the Doctor’s next regeneration. His Seventh body was both a spoon-playing clown and a master of deep dark secrets. He toppled empires in a single night, entertained in the circus of the Gods of Ragnarok and played chess with the ancient and evil Fenric. McCoy portrayed a pompous Doctor Who who further tanked the show’s ratings. The show basically got canceled after McCoy’s three-season tenure.

Time will tell. It always does.

11. Eight Doctor-PAUL MCGANN (1996, 2013):

After dying on the operating table, the Doctor regenerated into his eighth form in a hospital morgue, on December 31, 1999. Mercurial, frenzied and prone to bouts of amnesia, the Eighth Doctor teamed up with Grace Holloway to save the world from being pulled inside-out by the Master’s hijacking of the TARDIS. He was given a chance to prove himself in the role again in a 2013 mini-episode in which his decision to fight in the Time War gave us John Hurt’s the War Doctor. For that, we owe him our thanks.

I love humans. Always seeing patterns in things that aren’t there.

10. Fifth Doctor-PETER DAVISON (1981 – 1984):

Clever, considered and kind, the Fifth Doctor’s world was one of fascination and science. He relished the recursion of Castrovalva, solved the mystery under the sinking sands of Frontios, and came face to face with the Silurians and Sea Devils once more. Infected with a deadly virus and with only enough antidote to save one, the Fifth Doctor sacrificed his life to save his friend Peri.

For some people, small, beautiful events are what life is all about!

9. First Doctor-WILLIAM HARTNELL (1963 – 1966):

An exile from his homeworld, wandering space and time in his trusty TARDIS with granddaughter Susan, the First Doctor appears to be a frail old man. But don’t be fooled. With a chuckle and a twinkle in his eye, he has an unquenchable thirst to explore, and a knack for getting himself into trouble doing it.

After preventing the Cybermen from absorbing the Earth’s energy and with his body “wearing a bit thin”, the First Doctor collapses to the TARDIS floor and begins to change…Although William Hartnell deserves praise for being the first actor to play Doctor Who, his take weighed heavily on the stern outsider alien side and less so on the parts that made Doctor Who more humanlike and caring in the seasons to follow.

Our destiny is in the stars, so let’s go and search for it.

His “recreation” in the most recent episode was quite well done and the irascible old gentleman seemed to come back to life!

8. Third Doctor-JON PERTWEE (1970 – 1974):

As part of his sentence from the Time Lords, the Doctor was forced to begin his exile on earth with a new face. The Third Doctor was confident, bold and brash, but with a soft paternal side, reserved for those he cared about. His action skills served him greatly and cemented the Doctor’s role as humanity’s greatest defender, something that would carry on in following seasons.

Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.

7. Sixth Doctor-COLIN BAKER (1984 – 1986):

Never understated, the Sixth Doctor was an explosion of colors, words, and emotions. Passionate, sometimes quick to anger, this was a Doctor you did not want to make enemies with. Maybe it was the excess of the ’80s that was to blame for Colin Baker’s version of Doctor Who (and his colorful style) being, well, pretty nuts, in a clinical way. And like Sylvester McCoy, he was working against the falling popularity of the show.

Rest is for the weary, sleep is for the dead.

6. Ninth Doctor-CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON (2005):

The sole survivor of the Last Great Time War, scarred by the terrible things he’d seen and done, the Ninth Doctor was an intense and emotional incarnation. Hiding his psychological trauma behind madcap wit and frivolity, he took Rose Tyler to see the end of the world, inspired Charles Dickens and showed that for once, everybody could live. Sixteen years after the show went off the air, Christopher Eccleston stepped into the role as the Ninth Doctor. He’s almost universally praised for his dashing, though overly serious, take on the role.

The past is another country. Nineteen-eighty seven’s just the Isle of Wight.

5. Twelfth Doctor-PETER CAPALDI (2013-2017):

Granted a whole new regenerative cycle by the Time Lords, the Doctor experienced an explosive and unprecedented thirteenth regeneration, ending the Siege of Trenzalore. A new Doctor – with a sharp face, bushy brows and boggle eyes. The Twelfth Doctor immediately teamed up with his old chums The Paternoster Gang (Vastra, Jenny and Strax) as he dealt with a bout of post-regenerative stress. Every new Doctor Who actor deals with a certain amount of skepticism from fans and must win them over. Much can be said for what Peter Capaldi has brought to the role, we can say just that he was one of the best actors and that he enjoyed and loved his role.

Never be cruel and never be cowardly. And if you ever are, always make amends.

4. The War Doctor-JOHN HURT (2013):

Born from the Eighth Doctor’s choice on Karn, at the height of the Last Great Time War, this incarnation was the Doctor’s darkest secret. A battle-hardened warrior, rather than a healer. A man who saw so much death and destruction in the Time War, that finally, at the fall of Arcadia, he proclaimed “No more”. Fun fact: At 74, Hurt was the oldest person to play the Doctor and appeared alongside Smith, who at 26 when signing on, was the youngest person to play the role.

Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.

3. Fourth Doctor-TOM BAKER (1974 – 1981):

From witnessing the genesis of the Daleks to preventing the death of the universe at Logopolis, the Fourth Doctor was an adventurer on an epic scale. Armed with a gleeful smile, swashbuckling charm and righteous morality, he defeated Sontarans. If there were a quintessential Doctor, then it would be Tom Baker. No one has held the role longer than Baker’s seven years. Fans loved his unpredictable, strange take on the character, a reminder of the Doctor’s alien origins.

There’s no point being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes.

2. Eleventh Doctor-MATT SMITH (2010-2013):

Hugely energetic, occasionally flirtatious, and by his own admission, “a madman”, the Eleventh Doctor combined youthful looks with an old soul. Crashing into the lives of Amy Pond, and her boyfriend (later, husband) Rory, he solved the mystery of the time-erasing cracks in the universe, escaped his own death, restarted reality and even found time to marry River Song. At 26 when he started the role, Smith was the youngest and probably the best actor to portray the Doctor and surprised viewers with his acting chops.

The universe is big, it’s vast and complicated, and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.

1. Tenth Doctor-DAVID TENNANT (2005-2010):

Waking on Christmas Day in his new form, the Doctor fought the Sycorax high above London, where he lost a hand but grew a new one with remnant regenerative power. Travelling with Rose and Mickey he battled Cybermen, werewolves and possibly, the Devil itself. Tennant breathed life into the character. He didn’t shy away from the softer sides of the doctor and also made the character quite the romantic, an extremely likable lead.

Everyone has nightmares; even big scary monsters from under the bed have nightmares.

 

Would you agree? I was really torn between 4 & 5 as I wanted to push Capaldi and Eccleston higher, but Hurt did an excellent job as the War Doctor. I don’t know if he’d have been as good if we’d had a season with him. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

“Twice Upon a Time”, a Doctor Who special episode written by Steven Moffat was the thirteenth Christmas special from the television series and was aired on 25th December 2017. Perhaps the team at Doctor Who decided to take it easy and that no one would notice because of the Christmas cheer, but the episode was bland and lacking in creativity. It was short of an adventure like other Doctor Who episodes, but giving credit where it’s due, it has a deeper and more subliminal meaning to it.

Final episode for characters

This Christmas special is the last appearance of the Twelfth Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. It doesn’t seem coincidental that the episodes “World Enough and Time” and “The Doctor Falls” teased the conclusion of the doctor’s life which ends in “Twice Upon a Time”. The doctor regenerates as Jodie Whittaker, which is the very first female incarnation of the Doctor in the history of the series. It is also the final episode of the Steven Moffat era and the final Doctor Who episode. The main story revolves around the Doctor nearing regeneration and accidentally meeting his younger self who refuses to change. It takes much convincing to assure the Doctors that the universe still needs them.

Lessons from “Twice Upon a Time”

There is a glaring lesson that Steven Moffat riveted into this episode as a kind of sendoff for his great writing career in Doctor Who. The lesson is that the younger a person is, the more seriously they take themselves. But as people get older, everything becomes idyllic and a charade, however good or bad the circumstance is.

This is evidenced by the Doctor’s regeneration and is played out many more times than in any other episode involving multiple Doctors. A few characters made their return to the series such as Pearl Mackie who was featured for only one season. Jenna Coleman also returns as Clara, and the Doctor gets back his memories of her as a final gift. Although Clara’s character was only briefly seen, it is nice to have her back and for the Doctor to get a proper send-off.

Villains lacking in the Christmas special

It is unusual for a Doctor Who episode to lack a “baddie” or a villain character. In this episode, Rusty who appeared in 2014’s Into the Dalek, turned his back on his kind and allies himself with the “good” side in an unusual alliance. The Doctor is paradoxically the villain in this episode since his refusal and resistance to survive brings unwanted consequences to everyone else. Although the universe constantly needs to be saved, which ultimately drains his energy and zeal, the Doctor is the only one who can prevent such a fatal mistake. Steven Moffat factored this in by making it a multi-Doctor story so that the Doctor is able to meet himself and reconsider his options.

Final plot twists

Moffat had a Christmas surprise for the fans and removed the sequence that introduces Jodie Whitaker from all the previews.  Apart from the production team and the actors, nobody else knew about it until Christmas Day. Capaldi’s final appearance also draws the audience emotionally since fans will miss him dearly. In a final plot twist, The Captain, played by Gatiss, is exposed as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s relation.

AFTER AN ENDLESS wait that felt like being trapped in a time loop, Doctor Who finally returned last night. I’ve never anticipated a Doctor Who season premiere quite like “The Pilot.” Peter Capaldi proved himself an amazing Doctor last season, blending shades of Eight and Four with his own unique style. The first episode of Doctor Who—”An Unearthly Child”—was the story of a misfit pupil in an educational establishment, and her unlikely relationship with a charismatic old man. “The Pilot” follows a similar arc in places, with nods to the Doctor’s past, while showing a new side of his character, one that is less keen to run and keep running, and more interested in making a long-term home for himself, somewhere with lots of books and lots of blackboards.

When “The Pilot” begins, The Doctor is living and teaching at a fictional university in Bristol. He’s been there for the past 50 years—yet, nobody seems to notice that one of the professors has outlasted even the most determined of tenured faculty. As it’s a tribute of sorts to the very early days of Doctor Who, it’s fitting that the two romantic leads in the story should have the names, Bill and Heather. William Hartnell, the First Doctor, was known as Bill or Billy, and Heather was the name of his wife of 46 years.

But let’s talk about our newest companions. Matt Lucas as Nardole continues to be a gift to the show, and the perfect foil for Capaldi in a way I would argue hasn’t been seen since Frazer Hines as Jamie. I’m also really enjoying the fact that the show is apparently never going to explain what he actually is. A screw falls out of him at one point, but he also has a biological head that needs glasses for seeing properly, and apparently he poops (aside: “The Pilot” established, for what I believe is the first time on television, that the Tardis does, in fact, have a toilet, which used to be a significant topic of debate). He gets some of the best lines in the episode but tempers it with a compassionate pathos that is endearing.

Pearl Mackie’s Bill Potts was the big news, though, as the latest of the plucky young women who run off with The Doctor. She is also the first truly full-time LGBT companion in the series’ long history. Jack Harkness and Oliver Harper both blazed trails in representation, and the latter is one of my favorite companions, but both only traveled in The Tardis for a handful of episodes. Bill is slated to be here for an entire season, and Heather starts out as her love interest in the episode right off the bat. It’s been a pleasant winding down of the romantic subplots that focused on companions and their Doctors that plagued the last two incarnations, and I’m glad Bill is here to continue the process. Other companions have certainly been intelligent. Liz Shaw and Charley Pollard come immediately to mind, but both had a tendency to just point and ask for an explanation. Bill is much more of a detective, even to the point she knows The Doctor plans on erasing her memory. It puts her in an interesting position, as The Doctor himself comes to grips with his feelings of inadequacy as the universe’s constant savior.

In his office, only three testaments to his travels appear; his bust of Beethoven, a jar with all his previous sonic screwdrivers (save the War Doctor’s), and portraits of River Song and Susan Foreman. In a way, he has more truly abandoned being The Doctor than even Ten did in “Human Nature,” and I really want to find out why.

Meanwhile, the plot is somewhat forgettable: it revolves around Bill’s crush on a girl named Heather (Stephanie Hyam), who discovers a puddle that gives a strange reflection. (It’s one of writer Steven Moffat’s trademark “optical effect” monsters.) After Heather takes a dip in the puddle, she comes back as a watery zombie—not unlike the watery zombies in the 2009 Who special “Waters of Mars”—who then chases Bill and the Doctor all over the universe. The real heart of the episode, though, lies in the spiky student-teacher relationship between the Doctor and Bill. With the Doctor an actual teacher (instead of simply lecturing on an amateur basis), his sparring with Bill is more vital and urgent than it has been with other recent Companions. And after years of the scarily competent Clara, it’s refreshing to see the Doctor paired up with a human who’s just figuring out the ropes—and whose quirky observations help to deflate the Doctor’s pomposity.

Overall, it was a hell of an episode. It’s been a while since showrunner Steven Moffat gave us a truly frightening monster, and Heather/The Pilot was one of his best. She was basically a science-fiction version of a rusalka, and Stephanie Hyam did an excellent job conveying both menace and tragedy as she stalked the Tardis crew across time and space like a BBC version of It Follows. Series 10 is off to a great start. It’s got its flaws, but it’s got its triumphs as well. I’m not looking forward to Capaldi’s exit, because this is just getting more fantastic by the minute.

The good Doctor himself, Doctor Who has been through innumerable casting changes. Since the sci-fi series has been on the air since 1963, we’ve seen a revolving door of actors take the role of the Time Lord. While the development of a new Doctor is always one of the most followed casting announcements, there is another bit of casting news which helps rival this announcement. Namely, the incarnation of the Doctor’s newest companion. That is exactly what happened earlier this week during the halftime show of the FA Cup semi-final match.

Ever since Jenna Coleman officially announced she was leaving Doctor Who back in September of last year, fans and Whovians have been waiting on tenterhooks to see who would be stepping into the TARDIS as our beloved Time Lord’s new faithful companion. And now, we finally know!  The BBC has announced that Pearl Mackie (Doctors) will be joining Peter Capaldi as his newest companion.  While we don’t know much about the companion’s history and character development, we do know that Mackie’s character’s name is Bill.

And here’s the official press release from BBC America as well as some sound bites from Pearl:

BBC AMERICA today announced Pearl Mackie will join the Doctor Who cast as The Doctor’s new companion. Pearl was exclusively revealed to audiences on BBC One during half time the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday 23rd August.

Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer adds: “A new face in the TARDIS, a new voyage about to begin: welcome aboard the amazing Pearl Mackie! This is where the story really starts.”

Charlotte Moore, Acting Director of Television said: “It’s so exciting to be revealing the much anticipated new companion to the nation in such spectacular style. Pearl brings a wonderful energy and lights up the screen. She will captivate Doctor Who fans old and new across the globe.”

Brian Minchin, Executive Producer adds: “We’re utterly thrilled to have the hugely talented Pearl join Doctor Who and I can’t wait to begin her new adventures in time and space!”

 Doctor Who is a BBC Cymru Wales produced drama and will return later this year with a Christmas Special. The new series will start on BBC One in 2017.

Although we don’t know much about actress Pearl Mackie or her character Bill, the excited newcomer did get to express her joy in joining the Doctor Who family in an official statement. Additionally, she very briefly described the character Bill, giving us a sneak peek as to what to expect from the newest of the Doctor’s companions.

On joining the cast in her first major television role, Pearl said: “I’m incredibly excited to be joining the Doctor Who family. It’s such an extraordinary British institution, I couldn’t be prouder to call the TARDIS my home!

Peter Capaldi is such a brilliant actor, and his Doctor is such a wacky and wonderful character, I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for him and Bill throughout time and space. Reading the script at the audition I thought Bill was wicked. Fantastically written, cool, strong, sharp, a little bit vulnerable with a bit of geekiness thrown in – I can’t wait to bring her to life, and to see how she develops through the series.

I always loved stage combat at drama school so I can’t wait to get on set and kick some evil monsters into the next dimension!

Shooting the trailer was absolutely mental, there were pyro technics and smoke and I met my first Dalek! I’m not sure it will ever become ‘the norm’ seeing crazy monsters on set, but I cannot wait to meet some more! The weirder the better, bring it on!”

Pearl Mackie will be replacing actress Jenna Coleman’s tenure as Clara Oswald, the Doctor’s most recent companion. Rumors of Jenna Coleman’s departure had been circulating for months leading up to the official announcement. Coleman’s tenure as the companion spanned from 2012 to 2015. While this may only be a few years in terms of traditional television, it is one of the longest stints of any of the Doctor’s companions thus far- spanning 36 episodes. Additionally, she did assist both the eleventh and twelfth incarnations of the Doctor.

I managed to get to the Christmas Special awhile back, but unfortunately I simply didn’t have the time available to give you my thoughts. Was it perfect? No, no it wasn’t … the early parts of the episode were especially clunky and overdone, but boy oh boy did it end well! A beautifully poignant swan song to their love story.

If you’ve not yet watched the episode, I’ll tell you now that you should stop reading as spoilers – well, they do abound here sweetie! 🙂

The Doctor, having somehow ended up on a planet at Christmas time (he always does that) gets mistaken for a surgeon who has to perform a live-saving procedure on the cybernetic and horrendously violent King Hydroflax (Greg Davies) who is dying with a projectile in his brain. His “wife” turns out to be River Song working a con to try to get the projectile—a massively valuable diamond—out of his head to sell it to mass murderers aboard a luxury space liner. River, who has not yet met the Doctor’s present incarnation, fails to recognise him and increasingly frustrates him with her flirtations with Hydroflax. River takes the Doctor aside to discuss the operation he is supposed to be performing; the Halassi Androvar, the most valuable diamond in the universe, has become lodged in Hydroflax’s brain during a raid on the Halassi vaults and is slowly killing him. River wants “the surgeon” to remove his entire head, considering it quicker and easier.

River Song (Doctor Who)
River Song (Doctor Who) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Believing up to this point the Doctor only had so many faces River refuses to recognize ol’ Twelve, leading to some hilarious moments of him trying to make her realize it’s him and her just not having it. In fact she continues to flirt with Hydroflax which only infuriates him more! They are interrupted by Hydroflax, who has listened to their conversation. Being a cyborg, he detaches his head from his mechanical body for safety and orders it to kill them. While River defends herself, the Doctor grabs Hydroflax’s head and threatens to put him in the garbage disposal, creating a stalemate and allowing Ramone, River’s actual husband, to teleport her, the Doctor and Hydroflax’s head outside of the ship. Believing Nardole to have information about River, Hydroflax’s body (which operates independently) decapitates him to use his head as its own. While the Doctor and River bicker as ever, she constantly pretends to love lots of other men, which you can see hurts the Doctor & wounds him deeply.

Although the Doctor is convinced that River knows who he is, she denies it. She reveals she purposely crashed Hydroflax’s ship in their location knowing the Doctor would be in the area with the TARDIS. Being unfamiliar with his new regeneration cycle, she has pictures of his first twelve incarnations. Ramone has only been able to find the TARDIS, not its owner; River decides they will just have to borrow it instead which she further indicates she’s done many times before without his knowledge. Sensing that Hydroflax’s head is beyond recovery and will die imminently, Hydroflax’s body destroys it, leaving only the diamond. River is asked for the whereabouts of the Doctor, but she explains that although she loves the Doctor they are mistaken in thinking that he loves her enough to find himself with her, as she believes the Doctor to be incapable of falling in love. Seeing the steady gaze and mild smirk on the Doctor’s face, River realizes he’s been with her all along and the Doctor confirms this by saying, “Hello, sweetie.”

Being a time traveller, River is aware that the ship is about to be crippled by a meteor strike, which she uses as their escape plan, taking the diamond in the process. The Doctor uses Scratch’s universal bank transfer device to overload Hydroflax’s body, before heading to the ship’s bridge. While the ship is crashing, River realises that they are heading towards the planet Darillium – home to the Singing Towers mentioned by the future River as the place where she spent her final night with the Doctor (“Forest of the Dead”). Realising that they’re unable to save the ship, they flee back into the TARDIS, but the impact of the crash knocks River unconscious.

After avoiding taking River to Darillium for as long as possible to avoid their last date together mentioned by her future self, the Doctor decides to give in to the inevitable. After travelling to the next morning, the Doctor suggests to a man searching for survivors of the crash that he build a restaurant where they’re standing, with a view of the Singing Towers, and gives him the diamond to fund its construction. Travelling forwards in time once again, the Doctor books the table on the balcony for Christmas Day in four years’ time. When River awakes she is told that the Doctor is waiting for her at their table. Hydroflax’s body, now peacefully controlled by the heads of Ramone and Nardole, was pulled from the wreckage and put to work as a waiter in the restaurant.

What we do get that gives the episode some real emotional resonance is the last 15-20 minutes, when River gives an impassioned speech to the onlooking bad guys who want the Doctor about how you can’t expect a sunset or the very stars themselves to love you back, ending with her realization that the Doctor has been with her the whole time. (How many people made a little happy noise when he said “Hello, Sweetie”? Not that I did…) From then until the end, it’s a really nice denouement to her character and their relationship. Even though it won’t be the last time she sees him, it could very likely be the last time he sees her (unless Moffat brings her back again). Referencing the trip to the Singing Towers they never get to take, and River seeing her diary is almost full up, she knows she’s almost at the end, but at least they get a Christmas of 24 years together to enjoy before then. And the Doctor finally gives her the sonic screwdriver she has with her during “The Library.” (!!!)

As I said, this was just a bit of a romp, but there were definitely some quite enjoyable moments. Any time Kingston and Capaldi are sparking off each other, which is actually quite often, it’s pretty marvelous. As Moffat rather callously said a few weeks ago, this episode takes place right after “The Angels Take Manhattan” in River’s timeline, “but it doesn’t really matter.” Turns out, he wasn’t just being a jerk; it doesn’t really matter. Other than a mention of that being the most recent thing in her diary, there’s no holdover for her. And, aside from some mentions of it being a long time since he laughed and saying all good things must come to an end, etc., there’s nothing to announce that the Doctor’s just had a sad few billion years he can’t really remember. This really is just an adventure.

Douglas Mackinnon did a really nice job directing, as he always does. Mackinnon’s now directed eight episodes, making him the third most prolific director of Nu Who behind Euros Lyn and Graeme Harper. He’s always solid, though I will say, the budget of this episode does appear to have been pretty low. It’s very obvious they redressed the Trap Street set from “Face the Raven” for the alien world at Christmastime, and when River and the Doctor confab aboard Hydroflax’s flying saucer, it’s the President of Earth airplane set redressed. This type of thing happens all the time and usually it’s not so noticeable, but here for some reason it really stood out.

And, yeah, some famous comedians in Britain were in this, like the aforementioned Davies and Matt Lucas. And while they both did fine, the episode was really about the Doctor and River. There were lots of great little moments—like the Doctor having both his sonic sunglasses and his new sonic screwdriver (take THAT sunglasses haters)—and the Doctor getting to finally say the “it’s bigger on the inside” speech the way he’s always thought it ought to be said. Stuff like that made the straightforward story a lot more fun.

It’s Christmas. It’s fun. Doctor Who makes us laugh and tugs at our heartstrings. The only real sad thing is now we’re probably going to have to wait nine more months until we get any new episodes. Bah Humbug.

Hell Bent – Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 12

An interesting name is one of the first things that jumps out at you in this episode that follows the almost perfect Heaven Sent.  Personally, I didn’t like this one as much as the previous episode and perhaps surprisingly given how the previous Christmas episodes have panned out, didn’t like it nearly as much as The Husbands of River Song (review coming).  Now while most of my previous reviews have been more of a retelling of the story, I’m going to change tack a little bit from this point forward and focus more on my thoughts and feelings of the episode.  If you do still want and need a retelling there are lots of great sites that offer it (heck I read them too!) and you can check out some of these:

In Hell Bent we start with the Doctor entering a diner seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  With a guitar (a theme throughout this season) in hand, he strums a tune and while my initial thoughts were how exactly does this follow from him breaking through the Crystal matrix(?) when his waitress in the diner turns out to be Clara – well that definitely was a bit of a surprise as I thought we were done with her after Face the Raven.  I’ll be honest while I did initially enjoy Clara as a companion – I think she was better with Matt Smith.  I just didn’t like her as much with Capaldi and I didn’t think she should have stayed nearly as long as she did.

River Song (Doctor Who)
River Song (Doctor Who) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anywho!

When the Doctor speaks to the waitress, you’d expect that he’d be overjoyed to see Clara back – considering all of the pain and anguish that he’d gone through in Heaven Sent but he seems somewhat unmoved which is initially a bit surprising.  However as he starts to relate the story of how he got there, things start to make sense.  It seems that he actually had arrived in Gallifrey as initially expected at the end of Heaven Sent, and while I wouldn’t have expected it to look like a dust bowl and desert wilderness with a single futuristic city (my thoughts of Gallifrey were always of a technological marvel really … something along the lines of a Trantor or a global mega-city) this is what it turns out to be.

The Doctor has a confrontation with a bunch of Timelords and soldiers and in the end he wins & kicks the Lord President off the planet.  The soldiers all consider the Doctor to be a hero (which is actually quite nice I thought) and everyone consents to the Doctor being in charge.  In the end the Doctor uses some Time Lord technology to remove Clara in the seconds before her death thereby “saving” her.  Unfortunately however her death like so many things is a fixed point and is something the Doctor is unable to truly change.  While it turns out that the “Hybrid” is not Clara or Me (the last of the immortals), but is rather the Doctor and Clara together.  Each pushing the other to terrifying extremes.  The Doctor realizes that the only true solution is to use the neuro blocker to remove all memories of the Doctor from Clara so that she can be safe but Clara booby traps it and it ends up removing all memories of Clara from the Doctors mind instead.  This allows Clara to travel through time with Me on her own missions in their Tardis/Diner pending her eventual and inescapable death, while the Doctor searches anew for another companion.

Sorry ended up giving a bit of a recap afterall, but I think it went fairly quickly?

So what worked for me?

  • I really liked the fact that the Doctor was so well respected by the Soldiers and citizens of Gallifrey and while the Timelords might consider him somewhat of a troublemaker, they still fear and respect him too.
  • I liked the fact that when the General regenerated it was as a female and that was her previous sex also.  The fact that a white person becomes black was pretty cool too!
  • The Sonic Screwdriver is back!  Thank god they got rid of the stupid glasses!

What didn’t work?

  • I didn’t like the fact that the Timelord planet looked so backward … as mentioned earlier, this should have been an awesome and amazing place with technology run rampant – not a barn in the middle of a dustbowl.
  • I didn’t like the fact that the Doctor used a gun and killed the General – even though the regeneration was quite cool.
  • I didn’t like the whole archives and the way they were … it didn’t make any sense?
  • I didn’t like the fact that Me was the only other immortal to survive?  I still don’t understand how she is immortal as while I get that the chip implanted into her revived her from the dead, how does it not work similarly with the aliens that it was taken from in the first place?
  • Perhaps most importantly … I didn’t like the fact that Clara came back … the transition of a companion should be a traumatic effect, not just for the Doctor but also for us as an audience and while I stopped caring for her, her death in Face the Raven was complete.  This … it feels like cheating.  Saying goodbye to Rose hurt, saying farewell to Donna – well that was just tragic.  Amy and Rory … can you say ouch!!  With Clara … there is nothing.  She was gone but now she’s not.

A somewhat different episode to the one that I was expecting, Heaven Sent worked – although it wasn’t without its flaws.  One thing I’ve come to expect from Capaldi at this point is the ability to pontificate at great length.  He’s demonstrated it quite ably in some of more recent episodes of the show (The Zygon Inversion had an excellent example of this as did the amazing conversation between the Doctor and Davros in The Magicians Apprentice), however in each of those cases he had someone else to speak to and play off.  In Heaven Sent, it’s somewhat new territory as Capaldi has basically done a Tom Hanks and is all by his lonesome on the desert island. When you have an episode that is, more than any other in the show’s history, a one-man performance, what you don’t want to do is spend the entire review just talking about how amazing an actor Peter Capaldi is, even if it’s true.

I loved the insights into the Doctor’s character and his thought processes. It was interesting to see how his so-called miraculous escapes are really the result of him retreating into a mental space in his head (represented by the TARDIS console room) and working though all of the variables and possibilities.  Before I dive into this, let’s just get this out of the way. There are some fans out there bemoaning the use of the TARDIS as the Doctor’s Mind Palace and calling it Moffat ripping himself off with Sherlock.  However, while the idea might be somewhat similar the representation of it is extremely different and since these are out of sequence you can see the way Sherlock’s mind palace works – in the Abominable Bride – and it’s extremely different to the Doctors.  The Doctors’ if anything seems to be more like the villain from Season 3 of Sherlock – Charles Augustus Magnussen – as the Doctor’s is more of a physical room (albeit one that is extradimensional and infinitely large) simply shaped to look like the TARDIS console room.

What’s it all about?

The Doctor is trapped in a place he cannot escape, wracked with anger and guilt, with only himself for company, and hunted by a creature he cannot outrun, fight or reason with.  Constantly searching for answers he seems to always end up in the same place and his death (over and over and over) is painful to watch and experience.  Sure, he’s “talking” to Clara, but he’s not, is he? He’s talking to himself and the heart-breaking self-awareness of that takes us somewhere we’ve never actually been: Inside the mind of the Doctor.

However, the one thing this episode really does show us more than anything else is that the Doctor is a survivor first and foremost.  While he might constantly be dying, his deaths are not without a purpose.  See the Doctor always looks at the long game and while we’ve not necessarily seen it to this extent previously, it’s really clear in this episode as his seemingly inconsequential deaths eventually lead to his escape.

Showing how he deals with grief? We’ve seen some of that before, too, in the 11th atop his cloud or the 10th’s casual cruelty towards Martha, but we’ve never been inside the man as he wrestles with it. And he loses here, because he can’t save Clara, because she dies and there’s nothing he can do about it, and she made the choices that led to her death. He knows that, and he acknowledges that she kinda got herself killed, but he also clearer than ever before admits that she did that by trying to be like him. It gives the Doctor another reason to hate himself, and it wounds him in a way that few things have, so much so, that when he realizes what is actually happening to him, it makes him seriously ask himself if he can’t just give up and lose for a change.

There was that moment towards the end of “Heaven Sent” when it’s finally revealed that the Doctor had been repeating the same sequence of actions over and over and over again, hundreds of thousands of times, as he attempted to break through that twenty foot thick wall, wearing it down ever so slightly, before dying each and every time. There’s that awful instant when you realize that every single one of those skulls at the bottom of the lake belongs to the Doctor, each one of them the result of another cycle, another death.  It’s a genuinely chilling moment.  Dying and knowing the only way to break through the Wall in Room 12 is to repeat the process of arrival, fear and death, again and again, the Doctor drags his bloody, broken body from the bottom of the castle to the top. He thinks he has enough time to make it to the teleport room before he dies, and he thinks he’s figured out the way to beat the trap, but he knows that he’s too broken to even escape through regeneration, and that if he doesn’t try… well.

How many times did the Doctor have to die and be reborn within the Confession Dial before he finally broke through that wall? It seems that it couldn’t have been more than a week for each sequence.  There are 52 weeks in a year.  The Doctor was imprisoned for approximately 4.5 billion years.  Very roughly speaking, that comes to 234 billion times.  And now my head hurts.

 

While inside the Confession Dial, the Doctor refused to divulge what he knew of the Hybrid, the entity that “will unravel the web of time, and destroy a billion billion hearts to heal its own.” And that begs the question, of course. This Hybrid that we’ve been told of all season — this thing that is not a fusion of Time Lord/Dalek — is “me”, or is it “Me”? Is the Doctor saying that he is the Hybrid, or that he created the Hybrid by making Ashildr an immortal? And another question: if the Doctor is the one who saved Gallifrey — and has, in fact, saved it over and over again — then why have the Time Lords treated him in this way, by setting up the circumstances that brought the Doctor and Clara to the Trap Street, and ultimately leading to the events that claimed the life of his friend? Are the Time Lords so afraid that they have forgotten who the Doctor is, and how that he can be both savior and destroyer?