Doctor Who: Thirteenth Doctor


So, we have a new Doctor. A Time Lady.

Good luck to Jodie Whittaker.

I have no problem on it being a female doctor. We have had 12 white men in a row. 

We’ve crossed off gender as an issue, but colour will there in future and whilst we can bang on about equality and diversity, it’s important to remember that it’s still a human actor playing an Alien. 

The character is a 2000 odd year old Gallifreyan Time Lord that travels in a box craft in Time and Space, so where do you draw the line?

‘The line’ if there is one is subject to the society and times we lived in and Doctor Who has always reflected the age it is set in. It reflected the sixties, seventies and eighties in the original run. The NuWho so far has reflected our times too.

So, in 2017, a woman as the Doctor?

It’s about time, possibly overdue but,  Eccleston, Tennant, Smith and Capaldi all were excellent in the role and there’s no reason Whittaker won’t be too.

We have a new Doctor, yes she’s The Doctor. 

Importantly, we have a new showrunner and lead writer and the show will go under a different path under Chris Chibnall. 

We suppose on a slightly different format with a move away from ‘monster of the week’ to a more serialised nature with a longer arc and more depth. 

A ‘writer’s room’ format has been mentioned and that’s different from Moffat outlining the series and looking to commission scripts from outlines provided by writers.  

It’s a different method and format and if a linked twelve part story it suggests a different vision and way of production too. The filming blocks of previous series might change and the run of directors over two or three episodes will change too.

Chibnall’s Who will therefore be different from the Davies and Moffat eras. 

Moffat had delivered a fine series ten with Capaldi and Mackie delivering great performances over the series.

Series Eleven brings much to look forward to, but much in way of change too as a run or event television and in terms of establishing an Audience in the UK again. 

The quality of Moffat’s time can’t be faulted but for the BBC and others, viewing figures are key and the show has had difficulties in recent years against the ITV Saturday lineups. 

Iplayer adds significant numbers to viewers, but the figures need a boost, the Doctor needs re-established as something ‘must-see’ and have the ‘viral’ viewing in the way Broadchurch had. 

Binge Watching on the internet providers has changed television and we may see changed philosophy on how the show is marketed and distributed whether it’s next episode available after first had broadcast or  giving a partner see first rights.

So, much will change but, The Doctor is The Doctor and we have much to look forward to after The Twelfth Doctor regenerates.

Doctor Who s10 e12 The Doctor Falls.

Sometimes, The Doctor himself, is the story.

This episode was feature length and had a lot to draw on from Series Ten as a whole and from the previous episode, World Enough and Time, in particular.

Missy, The Master, Nardole and Bill. 

Cybermen, Mondasian Cybermen.

The Twelfth Doctor is trapped at the start by Missy and the Master as more and more Cybermen assemble in the city. 

We see the Doctor turn tables on his arch-enemies and significantly Missy whacks the Master before Nardole saves the day with a shuttlecraft to them all to escape in.

Then, we shift pace to a seemingly pastoral scene. Floor 507 which is one of the ‘solar farms’ for the huge spaceship. 

An injured doctor carried by Cyberman Bill from the mess of the used shuttlecraft that had bashed through floor by floor. An iconic scene and memorable visual.

Floor 507 is a rural scene with children and the knot-top cyberman as bizarre scarecrows in the fields.

Yes, but, in this sci-fi rurality, the part cybermen are rebuffed whilst the farmsteaders shoot out their later weapons at the knot-tops. 

Possibly enough on its own as a story of resistance and struggle.

But, the ‘Exodus’ Cybermen will inevitably follow floor by floor and Nardole knows he’ll have to figure out a plan to evacuate the homesteaders as the injured Doctor recovers.

Cyberman Bill is left to herself in a Barn but she is seen as her old self, It takes a child with a mirror to make her realise the fear that others have of her Cyberman self and for the penny to drop that she’s beyond help.

The Doctor then appears, giving the child a kindly jelly baby and trying to comfort Bill. 

Now, the Doctor can’t ‘fix’ Bill, As the Master cruelly reminds him, he was two hours too late reaching that bottom floor. He does get Cyberman Bill’s help in fashioning an escape for the farmstead people.

Whilst this is going on, The Master and Missy scheme. 

They have a way out and despite desperate pleas from the Doctor, neither will stand with him as he intends to face the Cyberman hordes to allow the people to escape.

All they can then do is betray each other. Missy stabs him, the Master shoots at her with his screwdriver.

True to their natures, for all their menace and threat.

The Master does as you expect, but Missy perhaps had a long road to redemption cut from her.

The Doctor will never know that she turned good and he faces the Cybermen alone with his screwdriver and the traps laid by Nardole. 

Numbers eventually tell and The Doctor is overwhelmed, beaten and shot at. 

He blows up floor 507 to destroy the Cybermen.

Nardole succeeds in evacuating the people to the next highest solar farm level. In the twisted timestream of the giant ship, he may have given them a lifetime.

‘Without Hope, Without Witness, Without Reward’

River Song’s words, lived out by the Twelfth Doctor saving people on a doomed Mondasian colonist ship part headed for a black hole. 

Dilated by time, damaged by the Master and Missy, thrown by his companions conversion. 

Alone on the surface, ready to die, the Doctor fell.

Just enough time for a Whovian Miracle.

Heather from ‘The Pilot’ or the ‘girl with a star in her eye’ saves Bill, through her watery alien-ness and they together save The Doctor and they deliver him back to the TARDIS.

We’re back to Capaldi and the Snow as at the start of the previous episode, He fights regeneration off. 

Doesn’t want to, wants to stay the same, his glowing arm ends are placed firmly into the snow.

Then he sees a figure in the snow, himself. The Doctor, not a Doctor, The Doctor. 

The one we call the First Doctor.

Opinion/Verdict

Solid 9/10. I liked and it delivered emotionally.

We didn’t want Bill ending up a Mondasian Cybermen, we didn’t want a real reset/paradox with The Master dying. We didn’t really want a resolution with Missy either.

We didn’t want Nardole dying pressing the button. 

We got emotion, we got Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor as he should be. 

Not the ‘Am I a good man?’ that started this character but an evolution of the Doctor and an addition to the myth of the show. 

He tried and nearly succeeded to make Missy good, he outwitted Davros, he didn’t fall and confess to the Time Lords after being betrayed, losing ‘his Clara’.

Series Ten delivered for Capaldi and yet he has the Christmas episode and our parting gift from Steven Moffat being we see the Thirteenth Doctor.

Doctor Who Speculation post after s10 e11

Ok, let’s speculate, how do you deal with two Masters (or a Missy and Master), Bill as a Cybermen and a huge spaceship full of Cybermen?

Simm Master says to Gomez Master ‘I’m concerned about my future’. 

So Simm Master becomes Gomez Master at some point.

Okay, easy enough so far.

Therefore the Simm Master has to be killed, preferably by Missy.

Why?

To create a temporal paradox. Two Missies can’t be. If Simm Master regenerates into Gomez Master with Gomez Master already there.

Yes, it’s a giant Reset Button kids. 

Time Lords from different points in their own existence should fizzle a bit, so we’re at Father’s Day in Series 1 with the Ninth Doctor a bit. Day of the Doctor has the excuse that Doctors Ten and Eleven were made to interact with the War Doctor through the influence of the Moment device.

But.. didn’t the Master die already with the Tenth Doctor in ‘Last of the Timelords’? 

Kind of. Lucy Saxon brought him back  for ‘The End of Time’. But same guy but blonder and madder and more well, everything.

Whether the events of those two episodes are even relevant I don’t know, and is Simm-Beardy-Master before or after Simm-Blondie-Master in timing? The reference to Harold Saxon means he’s definetly after Simm-Saxon-Master, but we know nothing else.

If it’s a linear progression of Simm-Saxon-Master, Simm-Blondie-Master, Simm-Beardy-Master, Gomez-Missy-Master, then that’s simpler, but leaves the issues of two different incarnations of the same Time Lord at the same time and obviously their self interest not aligning vis-a-vis The Doctor. Simm-Master presumably hasn’t encountered the Twelfth Doctor before, but Gomez-Master owes him her life. 

Okay,  so there’s some dramatic tension between two different antagonists, but their whole relationship won’t be almost mutual automatic trust as between the Doctor’s different incarnations but, will have more nuance. 

Simm-Master will realise that his existence can be ended resulting in the paradox. He’s created a paradox machine before from The Doctor’s Tardis. We have usually assumed Missy not to have a Tardis. But then again, how did she get off Skaro after the encounter with Davros in ‘The Magicians Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar’

If Simm-Master isn’t the direct predecessor of Gomez-Master, then we’re off on the River Song sort of Timey-Wimey timeline.

 If Missy-Master does die in The Doctor falls, then who does Missy then regenerate into? Presumably our Thirteenth Doctor needs a Master too. Obviously better if Missy’s fate isn’t resolved just yet.

So, logic leads me to Gomez-Missy-Master killing Simm-Beardy-Master but along the way is the question of The Doctor and Bill and at what point and level a paradox works especially in what is effectively a gravity well with time running faster at the part of the ship nearest the black hole. 

Differential time, Differential effect is possibly the get out available to stop the finale merely being a Reset of events. Missy will well understand the effect of the Black Hole, possibly to know that killing the Master later might have less overall effect than earlier and lower in the ship.

Doctor Who s10 e11 – World Enough and Time.

Cold Open. 

The Tardis lands somewhere in snow.

The Doctor stumbles out onto his knees saying ‘No’ whilst regeneration energy pulses out from his arms.

Then the Titles and a spaceship.. 

A big one. A very big one and it’s headed into a black hole.

Next is the groan of the Tardis ‘Vworp Vworp’ sound on the spaceship’s Bridge and Missy then emerges as ‘Doctor Who’ making a speech to the room.

‘My disposables, comic relief and exposition.’ is quite a line about Nardole and Bill as she introduces herself to well, no-one on the bridge.

Meanwhile, The Doctor sits eating crisps whilst watching this test on his Tardis ‘iPad’.

Things become critical when a blue man from the crew enters the bridge and wants to kill Bill as she’s human. There are creatures coming up in the lift and they want humans. 

Here, the Doctor has to intervene.

Bill gets a big round hole in her body from the Blue Man’s blaster despite the Doctor’s protestations.

‘He’s having an emotion.’ says Nardole in flashback as The Doctor pleads with Bill to accompany Missy on a test run as she is still his ‘best friend’ and he wants his companions to accompany her.

Bill says ‘Promise me you won’t get me killed’, of course, he can’t promise.

Back to the spaceship and the lift arrives.

Hooded creatures emerge and say ‘Step away, she will be repaired.’

The Tardis crew and blue man let them.

‘Wait for me.’ Are the Doctor’s words as the Doors close on the lift.

Bill later awakens in a creepy hospital and starts to explore the rooms. All the while, she hears a metallic voice saying ‘Pain, Pain, Pain.’ 

She finds an old style hospital ward full of people that are white hooded and hooked up to drips. 

A scary Matron then enters.  She seems to calm the patient but has merely turned down the speaker on his head from ‘pain’ on the patient as Bill discovers after the Matron leaves.

Bill then has tea with a mysterious bearded man with an accent, who shows her the Doctor  and the others on a black and white TV screen. The man is effectively the caretaker. Mr Razor.

‘Time moves faster, top of ship very slow, very fast bottom.’ He tries to explain to her.

The TV is effectively a still picture.

‘Gravity slows time.’ Lecturer mode from the Doctor. 

Black hole and one end of the ship from the other.

Whilst mopping the ‘Conversion Therapy’ room as Razor’s helper, Bill looks out a window onto what appears to be a city. 

Bill has a vision of The Doctor saying ‘Wait for me.’

She later visits the city with Mr Razor, a dystopian polluted place. ‘You must be strong to leave the Hospital.’ 

Bill really isn’t after her surgery and has to go back there with him.

Venusian Aikido is used by The Doctor to escape the Blue Man – wahey!!!

The Doctor, Missy and Nardole then take the lift down. ‘It’s only been Ten Minutes’ comments Nardole.

Meanwhile, Bill persuades the Caretaker to take her to the lifts, but, he betrays her and takes her to the room where Cybermen are converted.

The Doctor gets Missy to search the Computer whilst the Doctor and Nardole explore.

‘Earth like planet, if Earth had a twin.’ Says Missy  looking at the computer whilst the Caretaker tries to talk to her.

Missy tries to warn him away from her.

Missy :- ‘This ship is from Mondas.’

Then..

The Doctor:- ‘A Mondasian Cyberman.’

The caretaker confronts Missy  after she says ‘Doctor!’ to attempt to warn him.

The caretaker pulls a gun similar to the one the blue man had and stops her.

He continues with ‘You would never be so self destructive.’

Yes, it’s the Master after he pulls off a rubber head.

‘Hello Missy, I’m the Master and I’m very worried about my future!’

The Doctor and Nardole find the operating room and a Mondasian cyberman.

They question it and it turns out to be Bill.

‘I waited for you’ and a tear through the metal eye.

Phew.

My view

As clever an episode of NuWho as there is. 

Incredible turn by John Simm under the prosthetic mask as Razor.

A shame the London tabloids spoiled his comeback so long ago. If you hadn’t known, it would’ve be epic.

Pearl Mackie superb once again as I seem to keep saying.

Pace of direction and musical score seemed perfect 

Clearly 9/10 and a high point of a good season. The menace of the cybermen was there.

Doctor Who s10 e10 : The Eaters of Light.

The Imperial Roman Army. Legio IX Hispana. 

Subject of ‘The Eagle of the Ninth’, a famous historical novel by Rosemary Sutcliffe and interpreted and re-interpreted since. 

I previously read and enjoyed ‘The Last Legion’ by  Valerio Massimo Manfredi, however, it linked into the legend of Arthur and had other tales to tell. 

The movie ‘The Eagle’ in 2011 was based on Sutcliffe’s book.

Now, the truth or otherwise of the disappearance of the Ninth Legion in the North of Scotland isn’t exact historical fact and pieces of artifacts show the Legion in what is now the Netherlands in the mid second century, around a century later.

It wasn’t unknown for a legion to be raised again after being annihilated, but, the Roman Army was cautious about the bad luck associated with defeats. It may or may not have been a direct continuation of the IX legion that landed in Britain.

Caledonia, as it was called by the Romans, was subject to a fair bit of Roman activity. 

Ultimately, it was never truly conquered in the way it’s province of Britania was. However, their control of the rest of the island did influence all the tribes on the island and also influenced and controlled trade.

The history and archeology are unfortunately sparse in terms of what happened with the Romans in Iron Age Scotland. 

There’s a lot of maybes to the history and, of course, modern settlements and roads have followed  over the Roman’s initial paths.

One day, there may be an answer about the Ninth, but it’s plight leaves it open to storytelling.

And that’s what Rona Munro did and did well with ‘The Eaters of the Light.’

Bill and the Doctor want to know it’s fate. As ever, the Tardis delivers them with Nardole and the team investigate. Bill goes off one way and the Doctor another. 

They come across Romans and Picts and eventually bring them on side to fight a beast that comes from a portal in the broch or cairn built into the ground. 

The beast destroyed the Ninth and was released by the young pict sent to guard in case it came. Which leads to a few Romans hiding from it and a few Picts hiding too.

A tale about the invasion of a land and the desperation in defending your culture from change leads to a need to cooperate to survive.

‘Survival’ was Munro’s last Doctor Who tale, for another Scottish Doctor and the end of the original run of Who before the 2005 revival.

The guest cast was young and did well, we had a few good lines from Nardole and The Doctor back toward the edgy grumpy one of Series Eight.

So grumpy that he’d sacrifice himself to guard the portal to ensure the beast doesn’t return but Bill sensibly whacks him with a Mirror. This shows she’s beyond Professor and Student relationship and clearly now knows what’s best for him.

Why grumpy again? Possibly as he’s let Missy out of the Vault after rescuing Bill and him from Mars. He wants to believe that she has changed, but as ever, cannot be sure of his fellow Timelord and ‘friend’.

We are reminded in the last five minutes of the edges that The Doctor and Missy occupy together, their shared knowledge, their past friendship. 

His fascination with Earth and her sceptical attitude to his do-gooding. We are almost back at where they were with each other in Series Nine just before Skaro and Davros.

Obviously, the Vault and the Doctor’s Oath are factors. He saved her life, she said she’d change.

It’s 8/10 from me. Capaldi, Mackie and Lucas were fine as usual. Dialogue and character dynamic working well and again keeping up with the high points of series ten.

The episode’s effects worked and the beast resembled ancient stone art. Not a dragon, not a beast, tentacles and a wolf like movement. I even enjoyed the talking crow.

A pity it wasn’t filmed in Scotland, although the Welsh countryside was convincing enough though and it worked. 

We are now onto the build up to the series finale. I think we are building to what exactly Missy and the Doctor have. 

She was in tears and moved toward him, he moved backward but did clutch hands with her. It’s a complicated relationship and questions can be asked on their past and where exactly they stand.

We’ve seen John Simm and the question is now as to how a multi-master tale can be pulled off. 

There’s much to anticipate.

Doctor Who s10 e9 – The Empress of Mars

Standalone Fun with nods to classic Who.

Mark Gatiss. A Renaissance Man of our times, one of the League of Gentleman, comedian, writer  for TV and otherwise, co-creator of BBC’s Sherlock, actor, Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock, Tycho Nestoris in Game of Thrones and huge Doctor Who fan, writer and contributor.

‘Sleep No More’ of the nine episodes that he has written for NuWho, was experimental, different and interesting using a ‘found footage’ format to tell a story in a different way. It also carried criticism from fans as it wasn’t easily accessible and thought confusing.

‘Empress of Mars’ is a delight in comparison. A romp, an episode with Victorians on Mars, led there by a servile Ice Warrior (or so it seems).

This episode played to the strengths of Capaldi and Mackie, we were drawn into the tale straightaway with no reference to the preceding mini-arc of the Monks. We have 1881, ‘God Save The Queen’ written on the Martian surface and an amusing opening in the NASA control room. 

British imperial redcoats getting to Mars finding it barren, but being used by their servant ice warrior to find his hive.

Our Queen of this story is the Ice Warrior Queen, who is woken and disturbed by a squaddie seeking loot. The most intriguing lines of the episode are when the Queen seeks Bill’s opinion as a woman.

Neville Catchlove was our Victorian antagonist. What a name. His greed and willingness to disregard his commander almost gave us Victorian Soldiers fighting the Ice Warriors, before The Queen, The Doctor and Bill diffuse the situation. Although that’s after Catchlove locks Bill and The Doctor up and that pesky sonic screwdriver still can’t deal with wood.

We also have questions of the superior tone used by the Victorians with Bill, a black woman and their treatment of the Ice Warrior that led them there as a servant.

The Doctor engages, tries to advise and tries to save the Soldiers from themselves and the revived Ice Queen and her Warriors. 

It’s not a case of The Doctor automatically being there for the humans, but he’s stuck with them after the TARDIS disappears with Nardole. Again the Twelfth Doctor won’t intervene for human stupidity, but rather for both species, which is consistent with his earlier grouchy appearances in Series Eight.

The references to classic who abound, Ice Warriors, also placed into NuWho by Gatiss on a Russian submarine. Monsters of the 60’s and 70’s most memorably with the Third Doctor on Peladon. Alpha Centuri, an alien Ambassador from well, Alpha Centuri, voiced by a 92 year old actress, Ysanne Churchman, who had played the character in the seventies. 

There’s a Queen Victoria portrait with Pauline Collins’ likeness as from Tooth and Claw in the Tenth Doctor’s adventures too. The Tardis previously went haywire around Ice Warriors in the Third Doctor’s first visit to Peladon in 1972’s Curse of Peladon. (Being a saddo and a whovian, I’ve seen that on DVD..)

It’s a standalone episode and it delivers. 8/10 from me, a return to form after the slight disappointment of Lie of the Land. 

My questions

The Tardis disappearing with Nardole and returning with Nardole and Missy. Nothing is linear, necessarily, in time and space.

Victorians on Mars in 1881. Yeah that’s a hell of a rocket, even with Ice Warrior help.

Missy? Did she save the day? Did she save Nardole? Did he seek her help with the Tardis malfunctioning? Why did the Tardis malfunction? What did Nardole and Missy do between leaving and returning to Mars?

And what of those Monks?

These may be questions resolved in the series finale episodes, I do feel the Monks will return and I have a suspicion that there’s another classic who nod in their reveal.

As for next week, Rona Munro is another writer who has written Who before. Although, it was ‘Survival’, the Seventh Doctor’s final adventure before the show was terminated by Michael Grade and the BBC’s corporate morons of the late 1980’s. Somewhat brilliantly though, we have our Doctor returning to Scotland, well Caledonia more correctly, and a tale of the missing IX legion..

I’ll look forward to ‘The Eaters of Light.’

Oh, and on reveals, we’re getting closer to the filming dates of the 2017 Christmas Special and possibly the last episode featuring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, there’s buzz that show insiders know who the next Who is.. we’ll see. Steven Moffat loves a misdirection if nothing else.

Doctor Who s10 e8: The Lie of the Land

Fake News/Alternate News via psychic Zombie Monks.

Bill narrates this episode starting in a distopian earth six months after the Monks take over. It’s a retold history where the Monks were a benevolent guide, but anyone realising the truth is caught by the thought police. Very 1984, very alien invasion gone wrong.

For me it lacked something. I’ve watched episode four times. I cannot fault Pearl Mackie, she sold me the story and convinced me she was at her last straw in shooting her professor. She’s Ace. No I’m mean she’s Ace like the seventh doctor’s companion, younger, brave at heart, true to herself. Much more than Rose. Not knowing like Clara, not fiery Amy either. I think that’s the upside.

Capaldi and Gomez. Doctor and Missy. Inside the vault. The other ‘last’ Time Lord. 

Lost but unbroken, proud, smart and unorthodox. Missy is a great creation and the interplay of words and accents and nuance again raises goosebumps. But she stayed in the vault after suggesting breaking the Monk’s psychic hold by killing the vow maker.

The resolution was poor. Bill as companion saves day after The Doctor fails. The love for her mother breaking the hold of the Monks.

My view

6/10. It wasn’t Extermis, it wasn’t ‘Pyramid’, the potential of a great resolution to the set up was there. 

I wasn’t happy with the ‘fake out’ regeneration. If The Doctor has regeneration energy to spare for tricks, then you think, the blindness, the blindness.. it’s an annoyance when you see it.

 Missy as a consultant Time Lord. Hmmm. 

The Monks leaving. The pyramid flying off. Maybe we’ll get more of a satisfying conclusion in the series finale. We are yet to know much beyond Zombie Monks that analyse time and alternate virtual realities. 

My last thought is that, perhaps there’s a longer edit or ‘director’s cut’ of this episode that might be more satisfying with ten or fifteen minutes of extra scenes.