Ncuti Gatwa -The 14th Doctor

So today I have been working and got home about half hour ago so I didn’t find out about Ncuti as many probably did, I sat down for a coffee this afternoon and noticed a text from my daughter saying “I met the new Doctor at a house party during freshers week” , so definitely a strange way to discover the new Doctor’s identity!

I must admit I was hoping for another female Doctor but this news genuinely has me excited, he feels like an excellent choice and among the tweets I have saw tonight one that stuck in my mind was a big Jodie fan saying she will be sorry not to be represented by The Doctor anymore but is so happy other people will now feel represented by their show instead and this can only be a good thing, also it will remove all the NMD lot who will dislike a black man being The Doctor as much as they did it being a woman as they will finally have to admit to their sexism/racism- good riddance I say.

I will miss Jodie, she has been a fantastic Doctor but the future is bright and exciting too

Revolution of the Daleks

The Daleks return along with Captain Jack and Jack Robinson, The Doctor is in prison and its the swansong of Graham and Ryan so this story has a lot to do and in just an hour. This era is fast becoming a favourite of mine, I know some don’t like the new design Daleks but they make logical sense as a relation to the one self-made Dalek from the last specail and I honestly think they don’t look too bad and ai like the colour scheme.

Robinson returning is good too as it felt like there was more that could be done with him and if the plot calls for a shady businessman then may as well use one the audience know, His continual selfishness is unsurprising and its good to see just like in the real world that he thrives and comes out on top by the conclusion, hopefully we get a third appearance before Jodie’s time is up

The Doctor’s imprisonment isn’t immediately resolved and the prison looks suitably bleak and Jodie conveys how low it brings The Doctor over a few decades, The other prisoners glimpsed are a nice touch. This leads to Captain Jack’s return and fortunately he isn’t as cheesy as last time though there is no real character advancement but again like Robinson he fills a plot role and at least gets a few nice scenes particularly with Yaz as they discuss life with The Doctor and their feelings for them,

The other regulars have also moved on which helps make sense of Ryan’s decision later, Yaz’s devotion to The Doctor and reluctance to accept her death continues her path to becoming subsumed by the Doctor lifestyle. However its good to see Ryan more happy to be home and a far more mature person than the one The Doctor first met but still wanting to help protect it. Graham is still the everyman character that still feels real in his reactions, the departure of Ryan and Graham feel natural and its nice to finally have companies just leave rather than be part of an epic universe changing reason, it’s good to just see then acknowledge they have loved their time but they’re ready to go back to their lives, I also like the idea of Ryan and Graham being the latest in a line of Doctor influenced humans now actively protecting Earth

The Dalek surviving through a single cell seems obvious but a good idea and as normal for the show all down to human stupidity and greed-poor leo! The clone farm is also a suitably creepy idea. I like seeing the Dalek mutants as threats outside their casings, it’s nice to see something a bit different and good to see their cunning and intelligence is as high as normal keeping themselves one step ahead of The Doctor and the humans. Good to see both the intelligent side of them alongside the mass extermination. The return of the bronze Daleks is satisfying to see and their wiping out of the impure is a good solution making complete sense (also good to see a bit of my local town on screen in the bridge scene) and the solution of the bronze Daleks being lured onto the spare tardis which is then destroyed feels a neat end untill you realise the show has always shown the tardis as being alive which isn’t addressed

Overall this is another fantastic episode, this era does the returning monsters and villains well. Moving the specials away from Christmas and the need to theme them seems to have freed them to instead be fabulous stories.

Series 12: The Timeless Children

So we come to the end of Series 12 with what must rank as the most polarising story since The Deadly Assassin (there are still fans that don’t like its decision to make the timelords very beauracratic and corrupt), I like the Timeless child stuff but even without that I think it’s a pretty good 2 parter. The Cybermen seem genuinely threatening and relentless despite the flying heads looking absurd and you do feel that humanity has been worn down by this unstoppable foe and are on their last legs. Once Graham and Yaz are separated from The Doctor there is a genuine sense that they may not survive especially once on the Cyber ship, I did wonder if we were going to see The Cybermen claim another companion’s life. I like the warrior class Cyber design too, a lovely blend of old and new, The idea of the human hiding in Cyber suits is a good one too and gives us Cybergraham! Jodie again gets a good confrontation with the Lone Cybermen, she is always good at channelling The Doctor’s righteous anger, it’s such a shame that after being the main villain he’s got rid of almost as an afterthought in Part 2, He’s such a good concept and I wish he had escaped to fight another day

The first episode Irish detour does jar on first watch as you try to work out the connection but it makes a nice contrast to the Cyber story and on rewatch it gels with what we learn about the Timeless child and is explained in Part 2 as The Master’s doing though it could maybe have been made clearer that The Doctor was seeing it too, intresting that even before The Doctor became the Doctor we know they had to be brainwashed, maybe underlining that the morality of the character was always there

The Master reappearing is a good thing, Sacha is such a good Master bringing the right mixture of insanity, ruthlessness and charm. I know some fans think he can’t be after Missy because of her change of heart before her end but clearly learning about the Timeless child tipped them back over the edge and like The Doctor regeneration changed their persona so maybe Missy wouldn’t have reacted quite the same. Whilst I don’t like the way he gets rid of such a good villain in Lone Cybermen his mad idea of Cyber-Timelords is suitably bonkers and very Masterish and obviously without his death there wouldn’t be the death particle solution for The Doctor to carry out though it seems The Master escaped as always.

The Timeless Child/Tectaun/Division stuff isn’t as terrible concept as some think, It adds not subtracts from the mythos and adds some mystery back, It also isn’t disrespectful to William Hartnell as many suggest, he is still the first actor to play The Doctor and guarantee the success of the show, this reveal just adds more fiction to the character and to be fair only follows up on what we saw in 1976 when it was first mooted there were Doctors before Hartnell (go and watch Brain of Morbius- no way are those faces anyone else but The Doctor’s). Doctor Who has never had one creator’s vision or a show bible like many others- it has always been a relay race between creative people doing what they wanted, to me that is its charm. The Timelords being started in a corrupt manner rather than natural fits in with what we know about them and The Doctor being the timeless child makes sense of why they’re not like other Timelords to me, their morality and sense of justice makes them stand out from all others we have met so now we have a reason and the mystery of who The Doctor really is is back in a way it hasn’t been since 1969, also for everyone complaining the story hasn’t been fully resolved yet so at least wait. As you may be able to tell I love it and hope it isn’t overwritten. The Division also feels a natural Timelord organisation and the thought of multiple unknown Doctors is exciting, so good to see Jo Martin’s Doctor and the big flashback scene is lovely, I know some didn’t like Jodie being trapped and explained to but it felt necessary to convey the information but she wins and shows strength to break free and defeat The Master.

Series 12: The Haunting of Villa Diodati

So here comes the latest historical story and these are among my favourites of Jodie’s era, This time we get to meet Mary Shelly, Perry Shelly and Lord Byron and also get a haunted house story at least in the first half of the episode. The scene is set well giving us time with the guest characters before the regulars turn up, these scenes immediately drew me in and I could have happily watched more. The regulars acting as historical tourists is fun and what I imagine them happily doing between adventures. Like the last few stories the regulars are split among the guest cast which again gives both more depth, Graham is so endearing amd I do like the feeling he may have actually met ghosts, The Doctor dealing with Byron’s flirting and 19th century attitudes to her is intresting and Jodie is given lots of Doctorish scenes. The house folding in on itself and trapping everyone is also a great concept and The Doctor working out about the illusion because of the sleepwalker feels good, Jodie’s Doctor is certainly not passive here amd gets to show all the different sides to her Doctor and keeping her in line with the character we have known for as long as we have been watching.

The arrival of The Lone Cyberman changes the story from the ghost story of the first half (another story this year I would have liked to see as a 2 parter), I like the look of him though, for a concept so rooted in body horror it dosen’t get touched on in many Cyberman stories and is very effective here. This is easily the best Cyber story of the 21st century series. Again Jodie gets a good confrontation scene against The Cyberman once more proving she is every bit The Doctor. The Cyberium is also a concept I really like and it being hid away to stop The Cybermen and the dilemma it puts the regulars in and the arguments of one life vs billions and rewriting history is a good scene and shows us the dark side of The Doctor and how lonely she is making hard choices first to save Percy then to give The Cyberium away.

I really liked this story, the characters felt real and their reactions to the events felt real. Jodie was given much to do and led the story as she should. Maxine Alderton is a writer I hope writes many more stories in the future.

Series 12: Can You Hear Me?

So onto another episode that seems to have polarised the fans but again I enjoyed it and again it gives some development to the regulars. Also I didn’t realise that I missed not having the pre credits teaser untill we got one here, It certainly works well.

It’s good to see the regulars catching up with the lives they are missing and it’s definitely good to see Yaz get some development.¬† I loved that The Doctor’s initial idea was to just hop to the next day instead of waiting for them, a very Doctorish move instead going off to 13th century Syria, I also love that she has to resort to talking to herself without her friends

The main villains are suitably spooky and the movable fingers is definitely something different, the concept of controlling and harnessing¬† nightmares is a good one, It’s a pity this wasn’t a two parter as I think there could have been a lovely creepy Part 1 just with that concept. I also liked thet they tricked The Doctor by playing on her sense of right and wrong. I like the idea put forward of all the Immortal beings just doing stuff to relive their boredom (nice tying together of previously seen Immortal characters, that is beauty of a nearly 60 year show in that we get lines of dialogue us old timers can squeal in delight at whilst new viewers just think it’s a nice line to give depth) , they’re defeated so bit too easy but I like The Doctor’s speech about humanity overcoming it’s fears.

Some moaned about the animated section but clearly the budget wouldn’t run to showing it so the other option would have been a few minutes of talking heads (which the same people would also have moaned was boring)¬† so I think that was a good and unique way to convey the information. The other part that many hated was the scene between The Doctor and Graham about the possibility of his cancer returning with many feeling she wasn’t compassionate or supportive enough to him, to me it felt like she was listening to him and not wanting to give him empty platitudes and importantly he dosen’t take offence at her. Others didn’t like the tackling of mental health particularly in regards to men but again this is a current problem and the show has always reflected the world it was made in and with many male viewers young and old it feels the right place to do it (and in a story about fears being made real it would feel odd not to)

So another great story, This era is really shaping up as one of my favourites

Series 12: Praxeus

Praxeus continues Doctor Who’s long history of environmental concerns (despite what some detractors say) wrapped up in a cool story. Doctor Who has always told stories reflecting the worries and big stories of the time it is made and this shouldn’t be any different in 2020.

The birds are a nice spooky touch as is the effect of the infection on people, I also like that we join the story with The Doctor and her friends already investigating all the various strands, this is good as it enables us to meet the guest cast as they do and the guest characters Gabriela, Adam and Jake feel well formed, Suki feels less well formed but keeping her in background is I assume deliberate before the reveal about her. It also means the regulars get some decent screen time being split and some good scenes where we get a bit more insight for example Yaz feels like she is becoming the latest companion to attempt to emulate The Doctor and become more reckless, The beach scene with Graham and Jake is also nice, Bradley Walsh is so good at the subtle moments.It’s nice to see The Doctor alone with strangers and she is suitably Doctorish being both scatty and authorities in equal measure.

As the enemy is a plastic eating bacteria it denies us a big confrontation to end the episode so it feels like it peters out a bit and Suki isn’t a good substitute though I like the idea of alien scientists using Earth as a giant laboratory and choosing it because of the state we have made of Earth. Instead we get a traditional end where it looks like a character has to die to save the Earth until the last moment.

Overall though it was an enjoyable episode that kept me invested and was a good contrast to the big showy previous episode, Also like all of this era it looks gorgeous and is rewatchable.

Series 12: Fugitive of the Judoon

So many fans don’t like the secrecy and lack of spoilers in the Jodie era of the show but if that secrecy gives us moments like the reveals in this episode then I personally think that is good, also clever of Chris Chibnall to make us think The Judoon were the major part so no one looked beyond that.

We start thinking that this is just a normal episode and is going to be another Earth Invasion type story with the locals caught up in the action similar to The Judoon’s first appearance but fortunately the plot takes a quick twist.The Judoon are a great monster, threatening and funny in equal measure.

We also get the return of Jack Harkness which isn’t a bad thing but he feels a very one note character in the main show and is just here to info dump but his not realising The Doctor is now female but his delight at the thought is great. Graham’s interaction with him is also fun.

The whole Fugitive Doctor and Division plot line is a wonderful one, The Doctor hiding out with her faithful companion protecting her is completely in character and there is a clear line between the coldness of The Fugitive Doctor and Hartnell’s Doctor when we first meet him so to me this dosen’t contradict anything we know. I love the reveal of Jodie uncovering Ruth’s TARDIS (and to answer the continuity of it being pre-Hartnell but a police box that some have my thought is that it exists outside time so changes to be recognisable to the older Doctor in same way that 10’s control room changes to the 11th’s during Day of the Doctor) The interaction between Doctor’s is wonderful and channels the Troughton-Pertwee interactions and whilst I like the current interior the Fugitive TARDIS interior is wonderful and my favourite of all the modern series. I really like the Division plot line and think it could be really interesting and I hope we see The Fugitive Doctor again.

Overall a cracking episode full of intrigue and with much to get the braincells firing, I keep saying that I do feel this era will be looked back on as truly great once its removed from being current and we can ignore the people determined to hate a female doctor regardless of content.

Series 12: Nikola Telsa’s Night of Terror

So we get the first historical of the series and I loved the series 11 historicals so before first viewing I was really looking forward to it and happily it didn’t disappoint. The main character of Nikola is wonderful, he feels a more fully rounded character than any of the ones in Orphan 55 and its good to meet him before he encounters the madness of The Doctor and her world. It works well to make the viewer invested in Nikola and the world he inhabits. The joy of inventions and mutual respect shared between The Doctor and Nikola is great to see as is her initial combative relationship with Edison who is also realised well and not just as a one note arrogant man which could easily have happened. It’s also good to see all the regulars get something to do as they all interact with various main characters, It still feels refreshing to me that they feel like ordinary people who have just been caught up in The Doctor’s world so they still feel like our eyes and ears into the story.

The Skithra are a good race of aliens and suitably creepy at first using the projected human form. The initial scene of them scuttling inside their Spaceship is also a good reveal and The Skithra Queen is a good character too, the interplay between her and The Doctor is good, again I don’t understand people who say Jodie isn’t Doctorish as here she slips between playful angry and mournful lulling her oponents into misjudging her. I like the concept of the skithra as a race just scavenging, killing and looting instead of inventing making them an intresting opposite to Nikola and Edison, it would be greeat to see then pop up again.

As much as this was a fantastic story I would love to see a pure historical- the show keeps coming close and with great characters like Nikola (or Rosa last series) I do think it’s something that could be done and done well.

Series 12: Orphan 55

Think I should add the disclaimer that I don’t seem to dislike this story as much as many do. It is very much a classic feeling average Doctor Who story, a very typical base under siege plot with some great looking monsters and whilst the twist isn’t a surprise it is still played well enough as the companions realise. The supporting cast are sketched out quickly and without much depth but as most are cannon fodder it dosen’t feel a big problem. Poor Benni

Big companies using and abusing planets feels topical still and despite some moaning about the show being political or “woke” (I hate that term) this is just the latest in a long line of the show commenting politically inbetween monster attacks but obviously this era isn’t allowed to do that according to some. Though I do agree that the end speech feels a bit unnatural it’s no worse than The Third Doctor’s speeches in Planet of the Daleks for example and if it gets the younger viewers thinking about climate change then that can’t be a bad thing.

The running up and down corridors is replaced by running around and under the planet which reinforces how classic era this story feels especially coming after the globe trotting of Spyfall. The Dregs look good and their reveal as mutated humans whilst a bit obvious is sold by the reaction of the regulars, Humanity as the real monster is also a theme the show has done many times and that maybe is the problem many have with the episode- everything has been done before and better so it feels very average but average Who is still an enjoyable way to pass quarter of an hour even if not much of it sticks in the memory.

Series 12: Spyfall

Spyfall hits the ground running continuing the epic feel of Resolution and how lovely to see a nice long movie length story. Let’s hope the beeb gives us a compilation repeat on a rainy bank holiday, also I love seeing the words Part One

The pre title are engrossing and suitably teasing as we get to see the new alien threat who instantly look good, then we’re straight into catching up with the regulars dealing with their Earth lives whilst The Doctor works on the TARDIS with a lovely visual joke. It’s a lovely few scenes to remind us of the regulars especially good as for casual viewers it’s been a year since the last story

The M16 info dump is good though it seems a waste of Stephen Fry’s talent to kill him off so quick but the monsters are a good visual threat and the Bond gadget jokes land as Graham is exactly how we’d all be.

Then we come to the introduction of O and his eventual reveal as The Master in that wonderful cliffhanger (I do miss regular cliffhangers, done well like here they are just wonderful. Watching him pretending to be O before the reveal the second time is so good as you spot the obvious looks and comments from him, subtle enough to miss the first time and rewarding the second time. Once he becomes The Master he is a wonderful cross between the last two incarnations and steals every scene he’s in. All the interaction with Jodie sparkles though I will admit the scene of The Doctor allowing the nazi’s to see the real him and leave him to be captured by them feels very off for this Doctor, just a simple shot of him escaping but still stranded would have been a way out from that (I do like the idea of him hiding out all the way through the classic series present day stories- I like to think he maybe instigated some of them just to amuse himself and probably gave his previous self the idea to become O )

The other main character is Barton and whilst he is very much second fiddle to The Master it feels like we haven’t seen the last of him, It’s good to see Lenny Henry in the show as it feels like he should have been long ago. His scenes with Jodie are great bit like the aliens he’s wasted Hopefully both will return properly. I feel the dialogue about multiple Earth’s and then existing outside our dimension may play into the overarching story of Jodie’s era which as of writing is still ongoing.

The trips into history in Part 2 seem a sudden about turn but are welcome and done incredibly well, Ada Lovelace and Noor Khan feel like fully rounded characters and it’s always good to have The Doctor interact with real historical figures though again the scene where their minds are wiped seems odd and out of place when it happens for no good reason and is something not done before or since, such a shame as along with the Master being left with nazi’s scene it sticks out and marrs the story a little almost like they were first draft ideas that were left in mistakenly

Overall this was an excellent season opener and a cracking story. Sacha Dhawan is outstanding as The Master and brings real energy to the role. Jodie is as excellent as ever and all four regulars are great, they still feel like proper characters thrown into these wild adventures and doing their best to get through them.