Deborah Waiting 1948-2017

Sadly Deborah Waiting who played Victoria passed away today. Victoria was part of a classic TARDIS team in the sixties and was part of some of the she’s high points.

My first memory of Victoria comes from that striking target book cover of The Ice Warriors and seeing her constantly referred to as the screaming companion back in the 80’s when I was discovering the she’s past. Unfortunately back then none of her stories existed in their entirety and unlike today there was no easy way to watch the orphaned episodes so my first time seeing her in action was 1992 when Tomb was returned and released on video. I was immediately struck by the chemistry between the three leads and her performance is so sweet especially in that wonderful quiet scene between her and Patrick talking about loss.

Since then we’ve been lucky to have 3 further adventures released on DVD and the others are there on audio so we can all enjoy her performances. I was never fortunate enough to meet her but listening to commentaries and watching dvd interviews made me feel like I had, she always seemed so down to earth, full of humour and friendly and today’s outpouring of tweets in tribute to her seen to back that up.

Doctor Who was lucky to have her.


Jodie Whittaker is The 13th Doctor

So a few hours ago thousands of Doctor Who fans sat through a tennis match waiting for the reveal listening  intently for Sue Barker to mention the word Doctor (and being disappointed when she did but only in reference to one of the players! ) I like also to think of tennis fans watching bemused as instead of hearing continued analysis they suddenly see the small promo! 

Then we get the short shot of a figure walking through a forest. I looked intently sure (and hopeful) that it was a woman and as she was revealed I gave a sigh of relief and a big smile.

Jodie Whittaker is completely the right choice. She just looked right as she turned round, instantly feeling Doctorish and now I can’t imagine any other person being revealed and can’t wait for Season 11.

Inevitably there has been the predictable response from a small minority decrying her swearing they won’t watch anymore but good riddance, I’m positive we have many new fans waiting in the wings.

 I tweeted earlier that anyone who has a problem with this has missed the point of the show. The show has always preached about acceptance and tolerance but some fans seem to overlook this. Also how great that a generation of little girls are going to have a heroine and role model and the little boys watching will also think strong women are the norm and always to be respected.

Series 10: The Doctor Falls (2 parter)

We come to the big climax of what has been a excellent series and It’s such a shame It’s ending but It’s definitely going out in style.

A great teaser with the scene of The Doctor regenerating though it feels more underwhelming at first after the fake out from a few weeks ago.

Then we have the wonderful first scene of the spaceship with  Missy as Dr Who with her plucky assistants Exposition and Comic Relief ! The scene is pure fun and we get to see The Doctor talk about her in the flashbacks and it helps us to see just how far this incarnation of The Doctor has come since Deep Breath. It also gives us the dialogue which will pave the way for a female doctor (“We’ve progressed past petty concerns such as gender” and “She was a man then, I think I was” ) Again it makes me sad we don’t have at least another series with this team. Seeing Bill get shot is shocking but sadly with the reveal in the press about the Cybermen it robbed the following scenes of the creatures taking Bill and her discovering them of any surprise or real tension but fortunately the scenes are good with these prototype Cybermen genuinely creepy. The horror of what The Cybermen are and were is often overlooked or downplayed in their stories so It’s refreshing to have it dealt with a bit more than normal. 

 The same problem is true of Razor as he befriends Bill as it was immediately obvious it would be The Master thanks to that being revealed too. (Intrestingly some of the more casual viewers I know had the joy of being shocked as they were unaware of either of these returns) Razor is a good character though clearly either Moffat or Simm is a secret Babylon 5 fan as he’s channelling Zathras! It’s good to see the homage to the classic era’s Master disguises. Bill basically watching grainy black and white telesnaps because of the time dilation over a few years  is wonderful too. What a cracking cliffhanger though as  Bill is betrayed and converted whilst The Master reveals himself to Missy

After the claustrophobia of the first part it feels strange to suddenly  have wide open spaces but does give the ship more realism as a space ark as it was intended. Also great that theres no quick or easy fix for Bill’s cybernisation. Pearl Mackie plays the scenes as she comes to terms with being a Cyberman brilliantly and her reluctance to carry on living as one. The resolution with Heather returning to save Bill doesn’t feel like a cop out in the way Clara’s did. The tear was set up back in the first part and was referenced earlier in the episode and how great we finally see a same sex kiss and even more wonderfully no one seemed to mind

The Missy/Master scenes are so wonderful and John Simm plays it so well now he’s not playing completely crazy and Michelle Gomez keeps everyone guessing if she’s reverted to type or not. Again It’s a shame there’s not more for them to do together as they become almost surplus to the story though every scene is a delight particularly their mutual deaths. The Doctor’s speech to them about why he does what he does is another wonderful moment for Capaldi’s Doctor and the saddest part is he will never know Missy was coming back. Let’s hope she’s not as dead as she appears.

Matt Lucas as Nardole has been a relevation and It’s nice he gets a reasonably happy ending. Obviously originally he was intended as a one off  character in Husbands so the thought of him returning didn’t seem like it would work but a more subdued follow up appearance changed my mind and during this series he’s been a joy to watch. I keep saying this but the 12-Bill-Nardole team has become a firm favourite of mine and the best of the Moffat era. Let’s hope Big Finish can reunite them down the road

The battle scenes were suitably epic though I was disappointed to see the latest design Cybermen being more prominent though it made sense why. Would’ve been nice to have seen a few of every Cyber design to reflect their evolution. 

The reluctance to regenerate makes sense after all this is a Doctor who has lived past his expected life span and doesn’t want to do it all again. What a nice moment to see the silhouette of the first doctor coming out of the snow. I have a feeling the Christmas special will be both doctors convincing each other to change after all the TARDIS brought them together.

However I think they missed a trick not showing the new doctor coming through before the 12th reasserted himself, for once it would be nice to find out about a new doctor as part of the narrative (the way I assume we were meant to discover David Tennant before the tabloid rags blew the surprise). Somehow I’m not sure the secret can be kept for another six months.

So that’s another series done and one I thoroughly enjoyed with no terrible episodes or performances. The regulars were superb and this series will be rewarded many times I’m sure. Roll on Christmas! 

Series 10: Eaters of Light

So after 12 years we finally have a story written by someone who wrote for the classic series. Seems strange to have taken so long when there’s a few still writing. Rona Munro wrote Survival in 1989 which could easily have slotted in to any of the 21st century seasons.

We get another historical setting and this one feels as real as the past few. Again we start with great interplay from the three regulars, I love the fact they’re only there because Bill said she knew more about the Romans than The Doctor. Bill getting separated early on and for a reasonable time means we get a bit more of Bill than we have over the last few episodes whilst The Doctor and Nardole get into the normal kind of trouble (getting captured and ending up talking their captors round). I like that Nardole goes native very quickly whilst waiting for The Doctor 

Like other stories the alien threat is almost incidental to the story of the romans and the picts who’ve unleashed it to battle and have to sacrifice themselves to save the world. However the dialogue crackles and is almost lyrical in places and the idea that The Doctor thinks everyone sound like children is a good one and makes sense considering he’s from an advanced civillisation and is a nice counterpoint to it being children who save the world.

We end with another Missy scene and it’s still hard to decipher if she’s attempting to change her ways or playing on The Doctor’s desire for her to change. Michelle Gomez is wonderful in these scenes as is Peter Capaldi, I wish we could’ve had more of this before we get to what will be a hectic finale.

Series 10: Empress of Mars

So we come to what is now the annual Mark Gattis episode and after his polarizing episode last year (which I liked then and enjoyed even more upon rewatching) he’s very much on safer ground with a very traditional Doctor Who romp. In a interview I read he said he wanted to evoke those bank holiday movie memories with this story and that’s exactly what he’s done here 

The pre credit scene is nice and made me smile and once we go back to Mars 1881 it looks wonderful. The interactions between the three regulars continue to impress me, they feel like the most natural team in a long while.

Victorians on Mars is such a obvious idea but it works wonderfuly. They’re all stock characters but that works as we know them instinctively so can sketch them out ourselves

The Ice Warriors look as great as in Cold War from a few years ago and the Ice Queen evokes the Ice Lords from the earlier stories. The Ice Warriors have always been a favourite of mine probably thanks to the many watches of the Seeds of Death video back when I was a kid.  Hopefully we’ll get more stories with them as there’s so much untapped potential in then. The update of their death Ray is excellent and very memorable while still feeling respectful to the classic series. The resolution feels right and fits in with the little we know of the Martian culture and what a joy to see Alpha Centuri at the end.

Mark Gattis also commented that this may be his last episode as he thinks we’ll be getting new blood and if so that’s a shame but he’s going out with a lovely fun adventure that I recommend we all watch on rainy bank holidays

Series 10: Lie of the Land (The Monk trilogy)

So there’s some debate whether this is a 3 parter or 3 single stories or even a single story followed by a 2 parter but to me it feels like a 3 parter. The classic series did this a few times (Seeds of Doom with its 2 part prologue and Invasion of Time with its sudden change of adversary for it’s final 2 parts spring to mind) as did Russell T Davies back in 2007.

The opening episode is probably the one I enjoyed the most, a nice creepy episode with a intriguing premise of a killer document. Nardole continues to get some development and he works so well with Bill as he works out they’re in a virtual reality. It’s a 21st century version of The Android Invasion (without the ginger beer! ) and The Doctor’s solution to realising is to email his real self. It may feel to some like a waste of a episode but who cares when it’s this good.

The Missy flashbacks are interesting enough though her being in the vault was the most obvious answer and It’s interesting to see Nardole following The Doctor after River’s death to act as his conscience probably at her orders.

The Monks feel like a good creepy threat at first but then just feel like they kind of go nowhere. Their plan is to take over by getting a human to consent but it can be undone by killing the human so they let the human wander around, clearly one of the most incompetent invaders Earth has faced! It’s a shame as it feels like there’s a decent story buried here. The apocalyptic end of world scenario that nearly ends life is a good bit and I liked the character of Erica and would’ve preferred more of this and it’s a shame she wasn’t part of the eventual fight against the monks.

Not sure about the regeneration fake out scene, The Doctor testing Bill to ensure she’s not under the monks influence is fine but pretending to regenerate as a cheap truck just doesn’t feel right to me

The scenes with Missy and The Doctor are wonderful, you get a real sense of their relationship both past and present. I know a lot of people have a problem with The Master now being female but Missy is my favourite incarnation by far

Ultimately this was a fun story but felt quite inconsequential but all the regulars were as great as ever and it looked great. Think there may be potential in doing something more with The Monks 

Series 10: Oxygen

Another cracker here. Love Capaldi’s opening voiceover too, sets the mood greatly. This story is the first one where Nardole has more than a cameo and the three of them make a wonderful TARDIS team and I find myself sad that we’re not going to get a nice long run with them. Their banter is great and they compliment each other well, I could watch a whole episode with just the three of them.

Oxygen as a commodity owned by the rich and sold to the poor until they stop being productive and efficent is certainly something I can see happening in the future! Capaltism in Space as The Doctor puts it. The dead walking are suitably creepy and make a good visible threat.  The scene with Bill exposed to the vacuum is shot so well and good to see saving her has repercussions for the Doctor which will last longer than the end of the episode.

Bill’s  “death” is also handled well, her last moments feel completely in keeping with her character and works in motivating The Doctor to end things by holding the company to ransom. The story concludes in a very similar way to The Rebel Flesh with a unseen uprising which at least is satisfying.

This story is probably the slightest of the series so far but still very enjoyable in part due to the great chemistry of the three regulars.