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.
Following a recent twitter poll from Herald Creation that pitted stories against each other to create a ultimate poll I decided to follow same approach as his results didn’t feel like what I felt. There were some definite surprises in this list and once done I went through it making sure I liked each story slightly more than its predecessor. However I don’t think I am in step with a lot of fandom but it is my list but I will say I love Doctor Who and even 295 on my list has things in it I like
After a fantastic palette cleansing first series for Jodie’s wonderful Doctor her first special feels suitably epic and knowing we get to see a Dalek feels earned. I can’t remember which actor said they didn’t feel like The Doctor until they faced The Daleks but as a fan it always feels right to see that meeting.
The story opens with no title sequence and straight into a epic feeling sequence of the Dalek being split into three, it works so well to get the interest in the story and helps blend into the archeological dig. What this era does well is give us good characters straight away, Mitch and Lin feel real and the opening scenes sketches put their dynamic and characters so you genuinely feel worried for them as the story progresses especially in the creepy scenes at the start with the dalek mutant which looks suitably impressive in these scenes and its possession of Lin gives us something slightly different for the Daleks which after 50odd years is impressive.
This character work carries over to the regulars as ever, Those opening scenes with the four of them enjoying 19 New Years Eves feels so natural and its lovely to see them all so at ease with each other. Jodie gets to have her moments with the Dalek too conveying fear, horror and disgust well as she realises what shes up against. The confrontation scenes first with the possessed Lin then the Dalek machine are great, they give Jodie plenty to sink her teeth into and give her some real Doctorish moments.
Having Ryan’s father turn up is good to see and gives a nice bookend to Series 11 and it shows how far Ryan has come in his relationship with Graham and how he’s grown up as he comes to terms with his relationship with his Dad, it makes a good counterpoint to the main Dalek story. It’s been good to see the grief from Grace’s death treated in a very real way and not just as a throwaway plotline in Episode 1
There are good action scenes too, the police chase is quite good and I can only imagine after the end of the story Lin is going to have some explaining to do! The army massacre is done well too as was the teams confrontation GCHQ. I know a lot of people weren’t keen on the Dalek design but it’s meant to look rough and homemade and not 100% right, I like it and certainly prefer it to the multi-coloured design of 2010. The weaving together of Aaron’s story with the Daleks defeat while predictable was done well though at least they resisted the cliche of him sacrificing himself.
This was such a fantastic story and my favourite Dalek story in a long time. This definitely feels more like the Season 11 finale than Battle did and as it aired only a few weeks later I think that’s how most viewers would’ve felt too.
So here is the finale to the first Jodie series and we get what must be the most ludicrous episode title and one I can never remember off the top of my head and this is a finale that while bringing all the threads of the series together and gives us a epic world ending finale
Theres another great opening scene that gets the interest going followed by another great opening with the regulars and their reactions on seeing the villain they met first feel real and natural, Graham’s hatred in particular feels real and understandable and gives us the chance to see another side of him and puts him on a potential collision course with The Doctor, his eventual decision not to take revenge shows how far he’s come on his travels in the TARDIS.
Theres plenty of plot here and it all makes sense between Tim Shaw, The Ux and the plan to destroy Earth. Despite people saying it dosen’t feel epic there are high stakes and the confrontation Tim Shaw has with The Doctor is great as she mixes humour, anger and disgust in equal measure, she totally stands well alongside her predecessors though it feels right that The Doctor solves the big Earth threatening problem and convinces the Ux to undo the damage they did it’s the perfect ending that Tim Shaw is undone by Graham and Ryan who get justice the right way. I hope we get to see The Stenza again, I feel they could easily become a good recurring monster race.
So ends Series 11 and it’s one I thoroughly enjoyed. There wasn’t one truly terrible story and I loved several particularly Rosa, Witchfinders, Demons and Woman who fell which I feel will be regarded as top drawer stories in years to come. Jodie is a excellent Doctor and to me she feels like the same character I’ve followed for 40 years. The series felt so fresh and was a good contrast to what came immediately before (which is what each era needs to do). I don’t want to keep mentioning the small subsection of fandom who relentlessly criticise for no other reason that I can see except for the fact we now have a female doctor but I feel the more they moan the more they show themselves up for the sexist idiots they clearly are but it’s become so boring having to listen to the same unconstructive criticism on every comment about the show. I’ll end more positively by also mentioning the look and sound of this series, I don’t think Doctor Who has ever looked so cinematic, every episode was so spectacular to watch and the music has also been amazing, its felt so in keeping with the stories and I have to say the new version of the theme is my favourite of all the new versions.
This story was probably my least liked of Series 11 on the original showings, my impression at the time was that it just meandered along from set piece to set piece.
Theres no doubting though that it looks stunning, theres not one bad looking episode in this series and I loved the opening scenes with Jodie being very Doctorish with the soil eating and talk of sheep rebellions, also again there’s great character interplay between all four regulars, they’re clearly by this point four friends who all enjoy each others company, to me this feels the most real doctor/companions relationship since Donna’s time on the show.
It still feels disjointed as a episode and I wonder if stuff was cut to make it flow a bit better. The house under siege parts are nice and creepy especially with the mirror and the inbetween world but it feels underused and only dangerous when convenient for the plot to move the characters between worlds.
The highlight is once in the mirrorworld and we get to see Graham reunited with what he thinks is Grace and has to deal with his loss, guilt and grief all over again. It’s a strong performance from both actors and also leads to the lovely moment at the end where Ryan finally calls him Grandad
The end confrontation is good between The Doctor and the alien force as she willingly sacrifices herself to ensure one man’s safety, how anyone can say shes not Doctorish after these kind of moments amazes me. Obviously the end moments come in for stick because of the talking frog but to me it’s so wonderfully typical for Doctor Who and in keeping with the slight kitsch nature of the show so ignore the frog and listen to the dialogue instead.
So while I think it’s not as bad as I remembered it still feels the weakest story of the series but was still a enjoyable way to spend 45 minutes, As has been often said even below par Doctor Who is better than a lot of other TV.
The series heads to its conclusion with another historically set episode and these have been my favourites of this series and this one dosen’t disappoint me.
We get right into the action as the regulars come across a witch trial and we get a lovely Doctorish moment where after telling the others not to interfere she promptly does exactly that. Also we get the interesting premise of The Doctor being ignored because of her sex now shes in a era before equality and this sees her ending up accused of witchcraft which gives a nice different dynamic to The Doctor and her relationships with the people she meets.
King James is a fun character and livens up every scene he’s in, he feels like a well rounded character, I would definitely enjoy seeing him return. His relationship with Ryan is fun to watch and it’s nice to see all the companions getting things to do as they interact with different characters, definitely a story where they all feel well used.
The zombie mud creatures are impressive and the scenes with them in the woods are so wonderfully shot and The Morax looks impressive as it takes over Rebecca and I like the idea of the war criminal army imprisoned in the tree though they were easily dispatched, may have been good to see their threat realised a bit more.
Another great episode and loved the Pertwee quote at the end too
Kerblam sees a nice change of pace after the emotion of the last episode in what at first appears a light and breezy story. That’s what I love about this wonderful show- that theres room for different types of story. The opening scenes are so reminiscent of Greatest Show in the Galaxy and in fact this story feels like it could seamlessly slot into one of the McCoy seasons.
The structure of kerblam is well thought out and feels very much like the logical extension of the current way of how these type of companies work. The robots feel suitably creepy and the few guest characters are well fleshed out as the TARDIS crew try to discover what is happening as people meet some grisly ends. We barely get to know poor old Dan! Again it’s nice to see the script lead us one way then take us in another with the reveal of Charlie as the main threat
The questions posed by the story about automation and workplace practices are worthy ones but do feel a bit glossed over towards the end and Kerblam feels like the sort of place that The Doctor wouldn’t let carry on after she’d stopped Charlie’s act of terrorism, it feels like the story needed more time (not the first episode this series I’ve felt that about) though there are some great moments and I really enjoyed the conveyor belt scene and the army of kerblam robots look impressive.
Again another enjoyable episode even if it didn’t quite hit the heights of some of the previous episodes and the interaction between the four regulars continues to delight me and never feels unnatural or forced.
Another historical arrives and this one is about a period of history I only had a passing knowledge of. Like all good Doctor Who historical it does a good job of explaining what’s needed to understand the events and make you want to go and find out more after the viewing.
Also it’s good to have Yaz be the focus as she feels a bit left out sometimes because of Graham/Ryan family connection. Yaz’s family feel very natural and I hope we see more of her Nan in the future especially if she meets The Doctor, I get the impression she’s fully aware she met Yaz in the past. The TARDIS team feel even more connected, I love all the references to unseen adventures.
Once we get to the main story of 1947 it really starts to feel so real as Yaz realises theres a whole part of her nan’s past that’s unknown to her and the events of partition as a backdrop to her nan’s first marriage and in among this we get the demons who in typical Who fashion aren’t what they appear. A race of people who remember those who die alone is a wonderful concept and it’s another thing I’d love to see get expanded on in the future, In some ways the story could’ve worked without them and been just as powerful and moving, I feel it’s time for a alien free historical if it’s done as well as this episode or Rosa.
Once they’re established as not being a threat we go back to the main story and the repercussions of Partition on this one small group of people and it’s heartbreaking as you realise there’s only one outcome.
There’s not a bad performance in this episode and yet again it looks beautiful. I really can’t understand people’s problems with this series and in particular episodes like this. Also I have to say that I loved the version of the closing theme
Today is the 56th anniversary of this wonderful show we all love and we get a spectacular trailer for the upcoming series to mark it at the end of a week that’s started to ramp up the excitement for 2020.
It started brilliantly with that moving moment on Children in Need with Jodie surprising a young fan reminding us all that this is a children’s show and they are the most important part of the audience. The magic of that will stay with that young girl forever and anyone who moaned about it can jog on!
Then we get some guest star reveals and news that Chris Chibnall is already working on series 13, I tweeted that with news of this anyone who keeps moaning about “woke,PC, anti-man dr who” needs to stop watching, stop moaning and move on other things. Constantly hearing their whiny crap after every positive tweet or news story is so wearing and boring.
As for the trailer itself I loved it, was enough of a tease to whet my appetite and it looks as if series 12 is going to be as good as the last one
So today marks the 40th anniversary of the wonderful Doctor Who Magazine, Sadly I didn’t read from the beginning and somehow missed its existence until I chanched upon Issue 90, by this time I’d been a Who fan for several years and the Radio Times 20th Anniversary Special was a treasured and much read item so discovering I could have something similar every month was amazing to me.
I have bought every issue since without fail as well as the various specials and over the years have managed to find the first 89 issues and various specials from those first five years and in some strange symmetry found the last handful of missing ones in a charity shop a few months ago which has given me the urge to start rereading at 1
It’s amazing that the magazine manages to find new things to say or show us new things (the recent Tom dressed as Jon pics for example) and is a testament to the wonderful people who work or have worked on the mag.
It also always seems to represent the best and positive side of fandom and even when critical never seemed to step into being nasty, this was especially appreciated by my young self during the 80’s when other fanzines were telling me that the show and stories I liked were horrible and implying we weren’t real fans for liking it (Sadly some things stay the same!)
Like many fans of my age I’m able to say the magazine has been a constant presence and now I’m old and boring I look forward to new DWM day and sitting with a big mug of tea, putting my feet up and devouring the latest issue.
Here’s to 40 more years and hoping I’ll still be reading then as a very old man!