It was 52 years ago today that a programme called Doctor Who debuted on BBC1 as two teachers followed a mysterious pupil home to a junkyard and were kidnapped by her grandfather in a time machine disguised as a police box and helped teach him to be a hero and stand against the evil in the universe, a show not expected to run for very long by anyone except for it’s main star.
Here we are 13 wonderful Doctors and 823 episodes later and whilst not every episode is going to be loved by everyone there is always something to enjoy in each one and what one fan dislikes another will love. To me that’s part of the beauty of this quirky and brilliant show.
Here’s to at least another 52 years,
Happy Birthday Doctor Who
So we come to what I think is one of my favourite stories since the show returned, this series is really hitting the high notes and I really can’t understand why some fans are disliking it (apart from a desire to dislike it regardless)
We start with a quick recap of the Zygon subplot from the 50th anniversary and it’s nice to see it done slightly more inventively than a simple “Previously On” then we rattle straight into the story with poor old Osgood getting cornered.
It’s good to see the show doing a political thriller type story and the Zygon are perfect alien race for this story and it feels like a natural extension from their last two stories, the parallels between the Zygon and the real life scenario of extremism our world faces aren’t subtle but then they’re clearly not meant to be, the scenes with the Zygon turned against his will who just wanted a normal life is particularly effective and his subsequent suicide is a surprisingly adult moment for a family show.
Jenna Coleman puts in another great performance especially as Bonnie where she is able to convey some subtle differences. Sadly yet again Jemma Redgrave is still relatively underused but makes great contributions when necessary but I hope she gets a spotlight episode next year. Osgood is always good to watch as the character we’d all be in her position but personally I’m looking forward to her sixth Doctor cosplay!
Peter Capaldi started great back in Deep Breath and has continued to get better and better with each episode, anyone in doubt just watch that final ten minute scene with him lamenting war and remembering the effect it had on him, it’s so well written but could’ve gone so bad in the hands of a lesser actor.
I’ve rewatched the story twice already and it’s going to be considered a classic in the future I’m sure.
So I’ve just finished watching the much delayed dvd of The Underwater Menace which barring any miracle discoveries looks like it will be the final old story release.
I’ve missed the dvd releases and realised that counting the video releases I’ve been collecting since the early nineties (bar those few presents I recieved during childhood )
Underwater Menace was gloriously camp and crazy full of great ideas not quite realised fully so in many ways the perfect Doctor Who story 🙂
It was so lovely to finally see Part 2 after only listening to it before. I always think that Troughton’s Doctor benefits enormously from being seen as so much of his performance is unspoken. Sadly it noe means bar one of those miracle discoveries I’ve now seen every existing episode again.
I also wanted to blog about the Restoration Team who’ve worked wonders restoring the stories. Just compare them to the ropey copies we had on video or even other old tv shows on dvd. Such care and love clearly put into the range.
In addition we have such a wonderful range of commentaries and documentaries with every major behind the scenes story covered and often talked about honestly and frankly by those involved. Unlike many other dvds (particularly new tv or movies) I often rewatch these along with the stpry when I pluck one of the shelf. I still hope that maybe in another ten or twenty years when enough time has passed we’ll get the 9th-12th Doctor’s stories treated in the same manner.
So with no more dvd’s to come perhaps I’ll turn my attention to the Big Finish cd’s, my need to collect has resurfaced.
So we reach the third story of the series although to be honest it feels like two stories with the same recurring character. Both are fun romps with some nice character moments. Peter Capaldi is clearly having fun in the role and it’s infectious.
Masie Williams also gives a great performance particularly in the second episode where she has more to do.
The Mire are forgettable but reasonably effective in the role they need to perform, it was sad that Brian Blessed didn’t end up playing the leader as his replacement didn’t really work and the less said about the Monty Python Odin in the sky scene the better!
The reason for The Doctor choosing his face is a good enough one but maybe the real reason isn’t revealed yet. Maybe it was to remind him he can’t save everyone especially as it seems saving Ashlider is going to come back and cause him trouble. The flashback to Donna and Tennant was a nice moment, we forget the relaunch has been running for long enough to have it’s own sense of history.
The second episode is also a good romp but has a bit more depth to it particularly in the scenes between Capaldi and Williams looking at the downside of living forever and why The Doctor dosen’t travel alone, it’s a theme that’s been touched upon before both by RTD and Moffat and I have a feeling we’ll be coming back to it.
Again the villan is secondary to the story but is effective enough and looks good with a touch of Thrail about him and maybe the amulet opening to new dimensions is a way to bring Gallifrey back.
All in all whilst these episodes are slighter than the previous ones they’re still great and this series has yet to put a foot wrong.
So the second story of Series 9 is another two parter and I may as well confess straight away that I loved it so if you didn’t then maybe stop reading now!
As I think I’ve said before 90 minutes just seems like the right length for a Who story. It was also nice to see a adventure where The Doctor and Clara just turn up and get involved.
The idea of ghosts is good and gives us some great spooky scenes and the end explanation for them makes sense once explained. The logic of the story holds up with its various time paradoxes especially on repeat viewings.
The base crew are a good group of characters and nice to see the show using a character with a disability in a positive way and the scene with her being followed by the ghost is horror storytelling by the numbers but is effective even if it made her seem like Daredevil with their choice of visualisation.
The Fisher King is effective enough and they’ve given him a good voice and made him look reasonably impressive, The confrontation with The Doctor is good too. Capaldi does these scenes so well and he’s easily becoming the best of the new series Doctor’s.
The resolution was very guessable in Part 1 but it was a great ride getting there and how wonderful that no one said that awful phrase “timey-wimey” when explaining the paradox.
Also as an aside I quite liked the guitar rockier theme, just felt more right for Capaldi’s Doctor.
So that’s four out of four excellent episodes. Such a shame that some fans are too wrapped up in their Moffat hate to watch with a open mind. Maybe once the production team changes they may give these a fairer chance and reevaluate them similar to what’s happened with the stories from the late 80’s.
So with my blog about the opening Series 9 story since last Christmas I have watched all 815 episodes (or nearly watched in the case of the sixties recons) spanning 254 stories and I’m pleased to say it was a mostly pleasurable experience, there were a few stories I didn’t care for but even in those stories there was always something to enjoy even if it was a piece of dialogue or a actors performance.
Doctor Who is a unique show in that it’s not one I normally rewatch in chronological order. I just pick a story at random normally and will switch Doctor’s depending on my mood and if you’ve not done so before I do recommend doing it at least once.
I found my opinions on certain stories changed particularly when the show kept to a style for a run of stories. For example Mind of Evil is a big favourite of mine but after 29 previous unit episodes I was hankering for a alien planet and didn’t enjoy it quite as much as normal, On the other hand Colony in Space has never been a big favourite and I still don’t think it’s wonderful but I just loved getting onto a alien planet.
In closing I’m pleased to say Doctor Who is still my favourite show with each era having its high points and even bad Who is better than a lot of other stuff they put on the television.
So after rewatching all 253 stories I now have a brand new one and it’s a cracker of a story. So if you’re one of the vocal minority who keeps banging on about how the show is failing and Moffat must go then I’d stop reading now!
Series 8 was wonderful and Peter Capaldi is a fantastic Doctor who I really love. In these episodes he’s just as excellent. I didn’t even mind his entrance which on paper does sound a bit cringey.
The story starts with a typical Doctor saving a boy on a battlefield scene with those great hand things (brings back memories of the Trial 13 cliffhanger) untill he discovers it’s Davros and abandons him, we then spend the next 90 minutes sure that The Doctor is going to go back and kill him untill Moffat pulls that rug out from under us and proves the Capaldi Doctor is as compassionate as any of his predecessors.
We also get the return of the wonderful Missy, easily one of my favourite additions to the Who mythos. Her interactions with Clara are wonderful particularly in the second half and just when you thought she may be mellowing she’ll do something nasty and I do like those comic moments as they don’t feel forced ( according to her online q &a the Dalek tickle was her improvising so perhaps that’s why)
The other main character is Davros at the end of his life and wow what a great performance. Seemingly at the end of his life he evokes sympathy and just as you watch thinking how sad and pathetic he’s become he shows his true colours proving it was all a act to lull both us and The Doctor in to prolonging his life and giving The Daleks more power.
Also love the idea of the geriatric Dalek mutants shoved in the sewers, Hope the Tories weren’t watching might give them ideas!
So all in all I loved the start of the series, it’s nice to have longer stories. I’ve always thought 90 minutes is the perfect length for a Who story and I’m glad we will be getting a few this year.
So my complete rewatch ends with the first Peter Capaldi season. As will become evident I love the 12th Doctor and I’m hoping for a lengthy run.
Deep Breath kicks things off in style and we get the Vastra gang back which I suppose makes sense to give those viewers missing Matt something familiar while they acclimatise to a less user friendly Doctor. The story itself is a good one with some lovely scenes especially the clara holding her breath scene. Not quite sure why Clara has a problem with him regenerating seeing as she’s been in his timeline meeting them all. Also it’s very believable he’s forgot parts of his past and is less human following his hundreds of years isolation in Time of the Doctor.
Into the Dalek is another excellent episode, nice to have a different spin on the Daleks and we get more examples of a Doctor more intrested in the big picture and less with people. The “top layer if you want to say a few words” line is one of my favourites. The soldiers are good characters and The Doctor’s immediate dislike of soldiers seem a little out of place, maybe another aftereffect of his time on Tenzalore and obviously to set up the Danny Pink subplot. It’s refreshing to see the whole of a relationship from start to finish.
Robots of Sherwood is next and I know a lot moan about it but I think it’s a lovely glorious fun story. The show needs variety in tone and style or it just becomes boring. The Sheriff is wonderfully camp and the merry men are entertaining.
Listen is a story that has polarised fans but I love it, the idea of a invisible presence always with us is a excellent one, Moffat is slowly ticking off all our childhood fears. Also we meet a future Pink stuck at the end of the universe and little boy Pink completely linked to Clara, I enjoyed the slow burn nature of their relationship being played out too. The last scene is the one that gets all the Moffat haters foaming at the mouth as Clara appears to imprint on a young Doctor. At the time I wondered if it was actually The Master she was talking to and as it’s never been explicitly stated who the boy was, suppose it still could be but even if it was The Doctor I don’t mind the scene.
Time Heist is next and it’s another fun romp, a good central story with a good mystery and clever resolution. Keely Hawkes gives a good performance too and I like the two thief characters, this series is giving us some good supporting characters.
The Caretaker comes up next with The Doctor going undercover at a school and meeting Danny with the pair disliking each other. Danny’s reactions to discovering this feel very real and his observations on The Doctor aren’t far off the mark.
Kill the Moon is another that polarises fans, I do agree that the ending is a bit silly but the first part is good, the creatures are effective as is the threat and even the schoolgirl character isn’t annoying.
Mummy on the Orient Express is a highlight of the series, a very classic era feel to it and again a credible threat with a good resolution. Someone on twitter observed about Frank Skinner’s characters that only The Doctor aknowledges or talks to him (only exception is The Captain but that’s only when he’s also seeing the mummy) leading to the possibility that he was behind it and will be back soon.
Flatline follows and is another good story, again a good concept that’s creepy and well realised. The Boneless are a good new foe and the scenes of them are effective.
Forest of the Night is another people dislike but it’s a sweet story and again I like the concept behind it. The kids are a bit annoying but they’re meant to be. We also get some nice character moments for Clara and Danny.
The series concludes with Death in Heaven two parter and it’s so nice to have a longer story again. It’s a excellent story and a natural progression for The Cybermen to learn how to convert the dead with a little Tinelord help. Missy is revealed to be The Master and I must admit I love her character, it’s such a fun interpretation of the character and actually feels the closest to Delgado’s performances. They share that glee with killing and goading both their victims and their friend. She also has great chemistry with Capaldi.
Danny’s sacrifice at the end is the perfect end to his story as he proves all his points about The Doctor. As for the CyberBrig ending, yes it feels a bit crass but he was dead and it feels very Brigadierish that he would break the conditioning to save his daughter and kill the enemy who plagued him for years.
I’m including Last Christmas in with this blog as watching it feels like the epilogue of the Clara/ Danny story. The dream creatures are a good threat and even Santa makes sense once explained (must admit I groaned when the post credit scene appeared at the end of series 8 ) Again we have a good group of supporting characters. Clara’s story feels done, how sad and fitting would it have been if the elderly Clara scenes had been their final ones.
So the complete rewatch is up to date and we head into uncharted waters with Series 9.
The 50th was a great time to be a fan of the show, the anticipation was great and even some of the moaning from the vocal minority who I swear just like to dislike couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm.
I was fortunate to be on a day off and on twitter when the bbc put Night of the Doctor online so I was able to watch it straight away and be completely surprised by Paul McGann’s entrance on the spaceship. The mini episode is wonderful, it’s a lovely script and McGann is excellent, I hope we one day have a two Doctors type story with him getting a good meaty script to sink his teeth into.
Onto Day of the Doctor itself and this is a story that had to deliver and thankfully it does. The use of the Hartnell titles and orginal music is a lovely idea and perfect. We finally learn about the end of the time war as The Doctor contemplates genocide (nothing from End of Time is contradicted despite what some of the moaners say infact EOT mentions The Moment being taken by the Doctor and the high council are mentioned here) John Hurt is wonderful as the War Doctor (though he was clearly meant to be Chris Eccleston whose absence is felt and I’m not quite sure why they couldn’t have used Paul McGann)
The interplay between Matt Smith and David Tennant is wonderful and John Hurt’s reactions to them are great. Billie Piper as The Moment also gives a good performance and it’s right that The Daleks appear to celebrate the 50th. The Zygon subplot feels a bit out of place as it’s never resolved fully but it’s good to see them again and the Kate transforming into Zygon scene is nicely gross!
The conclusion with Clara and the later Doctor’s helping save Gallifrey is a good one, it makes sense that the Doctor would find another way ( and it dosen’t change the past few years worth of story. Only the 11th Doctor at this point in time knows what he did so the guilt and angst felt by the 9th and 10th is still real as they thought they’d killed them)
It was also nice to see all the old Doctor’s in those clips at the end and then we get the mighty Tom Baker turning up as a possible future Doctor. A perfect end to a great story and one I’ve already rewatched plenty of times.
The 50th ends with Time of the Doctor which wraps up the Matt Smith era and after the high of Day this episode feels a bit of a let down. The story is a bit slight, more concerned with explaining daangling plotlines (as welcome as that is) and teasing a possible Gallifrey return while The Doctor stays in one place for hundreds of years to protect it, a very Doctorish thing to do. It’s a shame that being forced to create a new Doctor for the 50th means bar these closing moments we don’t get any time spent on The Doctor facing up to not being able to regenerate again. I always thought that would’ve been a intresting character arc for him (perhaps this was the intention for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor if Chris had done the 50th)
Matt’s last scene however redeems the story, a lovely leaving speech and a Amy cameo that feels right and then bang we meet Capaldi and like Matt before him I immediately warm to him just on the basis of a few lines.
I must confess that I haven’t really rewatched Series 7 since the dvd release as I wasn’t overly impressed at the time but in doing this rewatch I’ve enjoyed some stuff more than I thought.
Things begin with The Doctor, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It’s not a favourite of mine, it’s a silly insubstantial story that bores me (the worst crime a story can commit) with no decent supporting characters.
Asylum of the Daleks kicks things off properly and is a great episode, seeing the new companion was a good surprise at the time and it still works, her fate as a Dalek is genuinely creepy. It’s great to see some of the older Daleks, pity we didn’t see more of them.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship follows and whilst it’s quite a light story it has some good moments and Brian is one of my favourite new Who characters probably because he reminds me of my father. The end with The Doctor letting Solomon die seems a bit out of character but good to see him letting his anger out.
Town called Mercy is next and another average story but it rattles along quickly enough but just isn’t memorable for any reason good or bad.
Power of Three follows and this is a great episode, It’s a great idea to have a slow invasion that gets the human race complacent enough to then strike. We get the wonderful Brian back and there’s some great interplay between the main three cast.
Angels take Manhattan concludes the first half of the series and sees Amy and Rory’s departure and it makes little sense to be honest. The main story is fine and enjoyable and does something a bit different with the Weeping Angels, the idea of human battery farms is a creepy one that would’ve been nice to have had more time spent on it. Amy and Rory trapped in there may’ve been a good end for them and understandable why The Doctor couldn’t see them ever again but the reason we get is just silly and makes no sense. If the Doctor can’t return to New York’s past then fair enough but sure the whole planet isn’t out of bounds.
The Snowman gives us a second version of Clara and kills her too. We also get the Vastra crew back which feels predictable and Strax has now descended into a conplete buffon. The plot is a good one, the sentient snow is well realised and the Great Intelligence makes a good foe.
Bells of St John kicks the second half of the series and we meet modern day Clara as the Great Intelligence harvests people through the wifi, least it’s abandoned the yeti. It’s another fair episode that rattles along.
Rings of Akhaten is next and I’m sorry but this is a terrible episode, It’s like a bad childrens tv show. A story I would happily never watch again.
Cold War follows and The Ice Warriors are back and watching in order it’s good to see them as it feels ages since the last time. The story is a good one too, a very literal base under siege story. I’d like to see them return in force.
Hide is next and it’s another corker. Two great supporting characters who are well rounded and engaging with some good story ideas too.
Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS is another one best forgotten, a good central idea let down by its realisation. Just boring.
The Crimson Horror is next and this one is barmy but enjoyable, a typical Who story and we get a wonderful performance from Diana Rigg.
Nightmare in Silver follows and we get another Cyberstory, its nothing special and the children are awful, even Matt dosen’t seem at full strength here. It seems it’s hard to get a good Cyberman story in new Who.
Name of the Doctor concludes things and like some of the other Moffat stories it feels like a series of set pieces stiched together to tread water before the 50th. We also learn the truth about Clara as she splinters through The Doctor’s life to save him, something the Moffat haters moan endlessly about but she dosen’t think she’ll survive and willingly gives up her life for the Doctor.
So on reflection Series 7 was more hit and miss than other series but when it worked it was wonderful and Matt manages to keep my intrest even when the stories don’t. I certainly enjoyed it more on this rewatch.