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Category Archives: Doctor Who

Random discussions and thoughts on the greatest TV show on the planet.

A Tale of Two Peters: The parallels that connect Davison and Capaldi

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Over the past few weeks Twitch has been airing a giant Classic Doctor Who marathon, from An Unearthly Child to Survival, presumably to allow new fans to catch up on the old show before Jodie Whittaker makes her debut this October. It’s been a great time for me, as whilst I’ve seen the episodes before it’s great talking to other Whovians on Twitter and through Twitch chat and seeing new fans discover the joy that is the classic series. Ian Chesterton is a meme, Patrick Troughton has a legion of new followers and it’s great seeing Elizabeth Sladen’s legacy being continued even today through her stories. Today sees the Peter Davison era start with his first three stories airing today. His Doctor is generally well liked (particularly by a certain Whovian called David Tennant) but his era is often seen as the beginning of the end of Classic Who, with story quality dropping and the once large audience fading. Sound familiar? That’s because we’ve just seen this happen as new series fans, with Peter Capaldi. Annoying companions? Check. Reliance on the past? Check. Audiences leaving and viewing figures dropping? Check, check and double check. These two Doctors are about as different to each other as you can get, yet the eras have so much in common. What makes the weakest era in the classic series similar to the weakest era in the new series apart from the leading men being called Peter? Let’s find out.

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My ten favourite characters

In fiction, there are characters who speak to you, and characters who enthrall you. As a devourer of pop culture I have witnessed the stories of countless characters, and assembling a list of my favourites was hard. Do I include Tim Burton’s musically inclined skeleton Jack Skellington? The hilariously witty Ian Malcolm? The pop culture juggernaut Batman? The morally complex V? The smug wit and hilarity of Arnold Rimmer? After much deliberation, I have finally got a list together, encompassing some of my favourite films, TV shows and books. Let’s start with the greatest comedy character of all time-

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5 hopes for Chris Chibnall’s era

It’s been over a month since Steven Moffat ended his tenure as showrunner of Doctor Who. Whilst I would do a retrospective, I feel like I’ve discussed his era too much in the past. For now, let’s look to the future and what Chris Chibnall has in store for Whovians. Outside of casting we don’t know too much about his era, which is great. I do have faith in him to deliver a strong run but here’s a list of things I hope he follows through on. I did a list before the Series 9 finale about wishes for Series 10, which were mostly fulfilled (two new interesting companions, great returning monsters and cool new ones and a better balance of story and character). My other two weren’t really followed through on (a consistent costume and more alien planets) so they are on this list as honourable mentions. I do like the Thirteenth Doctor’s costume so far, but I need to see it in action and let it sink in.

So, let’s dive into what I would like to see in Chris Chibnall’s era-

  • A new, original arc

I cannot stress this enough, but a series without the Daleks, Cybermen or the Master would be brilliant. I don’t think the latter two are appearing but the Daleks almost certainly will, which would be fine as long as they aren’t the story arc.

Remember (ba-dum) how effective the Silence were? We had a brand new, original threat for basically two seasons. You could argue the Series 6 arc teetered out of control and that the Silence were wasted but the fact remains that Steven Moffat created a fascinating new villain along with a highly engaging arc. I hope Chris Chibnall does the same and creates new threats, supporting characters, worlds and arcs.

Without trying to sound like I’m bias, the RTD era really had this under control. We had Ood and Weeping Angels, Torchwood and Sarah Jane, three trips to New Earth and well thought out, interesting arcs. Moffat had this in a way with Matt Smith (Silence and Angels, River and the Paternoster Gang and the Silence Will Fall arc) but Peter Capaldi’s run suffered from a lack of originality. Am I a good man? That was basically Eleven’s arc in Series 6. The companion and the Doctor are in a dangerous partnership? Explored in the God Complex. It’s why I loved Series 10, as rehabilitating the Master had never been done before. But there can still be more.

Have a cosmic war. Have a chase across time and space by bounty hunters. Have the Great Old Ones return, ready to wreck havoc across the universe. Have Rassilon plot an elaborate revenge against the Doctor. I would love Chris Chibnall to just go nuts with his story arcs and ideas. Don’t just rely on old enemies or retread old ideas, do something truly captivating and original. The whole universe can be explored, why are the arcs so Earth focused and why is everything something from the Doctor’s past? Move away from sequels to Classic Who or yet more Time War angst and do something new.

  • Good villains

Without looking them up, how many Twelfth Doctor villains can you name? As in proper, compelling, original villains (Missy doesn’t count). My guess is that you can’t name many, as most of them weren’t really villains and the ones that were weren’t very good. The Monks were promising but ended up being just the Silence, and there really isn’t that much from Twelve’s rogue’s gallery. There’s the Boneless yes, but what else?

William Hartnell battled cosmic entities and rogue Time Lords. Tom Baker encountered the last of the Osrians, the Guardians of Time and more. Sylvester McCoy fought Fenric, a being from beyond comprehension and David Tennant battled the Devil. My point is that Peter Capaldi’s rogues were a bit less impressive. Oh no, lion people. Oh no, sleep dust monsters. Watch out for the weird robot owl thing and you better hide from the terrifying King Hydroflax!

He looks cool, but try thinking of a single line the Fisher King said. And I like this story.

My wish for Thirteen is that she gets some amazing villains. They don’t have to be sympathetic or misunderstood, you can just make them evil. Is there a single redeeming quality about the Mara, or the Family of Blood? No, they’re just evil. It would help if they had some depth but sometimes they can be just evil. As long as they’re interesting, the audience will care. It says a lot when the best villain last series was a CGI wolf with tentacles.

  • Have fun

Let’s not beat around the bush here, Doctor Who is at its best when it’s dark. There’s a reason Phillip Hinchfliffe’s era is beloved. However, it’s important to have fun and embrace the camp. Having the Doctor be light hearted, caring and zany is hugely important, and unfortunately Twelve was none of that, at first anyway. The show turned utterly serious and dour with plot points like the Moon being an egg and flying Cybermen being treated incredibly seriously without any acknowledgement to the stupidness of the concepts (and the show itself is stupid. It’s about a shape shifting alien who flies in a box through time and space. But that’s what makes it great). Tom Baker had dark stories, but he was still a buffon who tripped over his scarf. Jon Pertwee was a snarky know-it-all who loved driving and David Tennant had some of the most mature storylines in the show’s history,  yet he still randomly referenced pop culture, had a positive attitude and made jokes, all whilst managing to maintain the darkness of the storylines.

Sometimes it’s good to go dark. Inferno, Waters of Mars, Curse of Fenric, The Doctor Falls- all very dark. But don’t have the basic outlook of the show be dark. Why did I like Robot of Sherwood and The Return of Doctor Mysterio? Because they were fun. Why did the fanbase dislike them? They were different from the typical Twelfth Doctor episode. Twelve was out of character for those as he was acting the way any other Doctor would act in those situations- having fun. My advice for Chris Chibnall is- lighten it up when it’s appropriate. When there are dark storylines, have them be dark. When there are light hearted or goofy scenarios, have fun. This is why having a lighter, nicer Doctor helps.

  • Take risks and don’t spoil things early

I’m going to go on a slight tangent and bring up The Last Jedi. Nothing about that film is what you’d expect. Luke Skywalker is a jaded old man and Snoke, the supposed big bad of the new trilogy, is killed off. Think about how risky that is, and how refreshing it was. Iron Man 3 does something similar with the Mandarin, turning the character from a generic bad guy to a metaphor about modern media and manipulation.

My point is, Chibnall really needs to think outside the box. Don’t give the audience what they’re expecting and subvert expectations. Of course it was going to be Missy in the Vault. But what if it wasn’t? Of course the Doctor wasn’t really working for the Monks. But what if he was? The funny thing about that last example is that Skulduggery Pleasant did a similar plot point in Resurrection, released the same week as Lie of the Land (having the main character turn evil) but actually stuck to it. That’s a risk.

The show has taken risks in the past, such as Heaven Sent, but I want more. Truly challenge the audience and make them think about the show they’re watching. What if the mysterious box in the TARDIS isn’t the arc, but the companion we’ve been following throughout the series has been working for the bad guys the whole time? What if the Earth is invaded by aliens in the most painfully generic plot imaginable, only for the Doctor to realise that they’re not on Earth and are actually on a game show? That’s the kind of risk I’m talking about. Extremis is a great example of a risk that worked.

There have been episodes in the Capaldi era that took risks, but the show as a whole needs to do more risky things, especially in regards to the story arcs. Do something that will shatter expectations and make the audience react. Don’t fear backlash, just go for it. Chibnall also needs to make sure the risks pay off- Series 8 had a dark and depressed Doctor but it didn’t really work as nothing was being subverted- he was just angry and miserable. How about a pure historical? Or a non-linear episode? Or (dare I say it?) a musical episode? As long as they’re good then the fans won’t mind.

How about a pure historical musical?

Never mind.

Also, don’t spoil things. How much more awesome would John Simm’s reveal in World Enough and Time have been if it hadn’t been spoilt? The Internet would have gone nuts. I know it’s harder to keep secrets know but the BBC need to have some degree of control over spoilers.

  • A consistent time slot

What time is Doctor Who on THIS WEEK?

This is less about the show itself and more about scheduling. Back in the day, David Tennant’s Doctor would be on TV at around 7:00. OK, so I stayed up slightly later on Saturday. But with Peter Capaldi, I didn’t know what time the show was on as it was never consistent. Sometimes it was 7, sometimes it was 8:35. You’d think with a Spring start Series 10 would not fall victim to this, but as early as Smile the schedule was being pushed around for… football. I respect that people like watching football, but if Doctor Who is on at a certain time, I want it to be on at that time and not have to wait to see if the episode will be pushed back a week just because people can’t kick a ball in time. Seriously, is there not a separate channel for sports? That would be the only hiccup you’d think, but no, it happened again for Pyramid at the End of the World and then the show was aired even earlier to accommodate a new BBC show. Hey Beeb, maybe it’s not a good idea to start a new show when your flagship sci-fi show is currently airing.

Little things like it airing five minutes before or later than last week really bug me. Is it so hard to just have a slot for Doctor Who? It’s managed with the other shows. Even Peter Capaldi has spoken out about this, and it’s believe to be one of the reasons he left, despite initially stating he was going to do more than three seasons. With Series 11 not airing until autumn, I’m worried that the same thing will happen with Series 8 and 9- instead of putting the show in that magical slot known as “before Strictly Come Dancing”, the Beeb are just going to put it afterwards and air it depending on how long Strictly lasts. It got even worse in Series 9 when the BBC chose not to air the show before the Rugby World Cup, rather letting the show run through it. Great move guys, maybe this is why the viewing figures have tanked.

If I was managing the BBC, I would air the show at 6:00-6:50 every Saturday. This way, the whole family can eat dinner whilst watching (which was the point of airing the show at around that time anyway) and there won’t be any conflicts. It’ll be autumn so it’ll be dark so any scary episodes will be appropriate and the show will not air too early or too late. I really hope this is sorted out and I hope Chris Chibnall actually has a say in this as he has a lot riding on this series (if the viewing figures are low, the BBC will just assume it’s because of Jodie Whittaker being the first female Doctor). I know when the show is on every week because I watch every week and make sure to check when it’s on but the general public, who drop in and out, will not be as dedicated as me. The show needs a proper time slot.

So, those are five points I hope Chris Chibnall expands on in his era. Have some original ideas, some great villains, have fun but don’t forget to take risks, don’t let anything be spoilt in advance and don’t let the show air inconsistently. Let’s wait and see.

Twice Upon a Time review

What an exciting time to be a Whovian. We have a new showrunner and a female Doctor on the way, but before we get there, we had the final story of the highly interesting Peter Capaldi era, and by an extension Steven Moffat’s time as showrunner. By “interesting” I mean that no matter what you think of this past era, whether you think it’s a new Golden Age or a complete mess (I’ve seen strong arguments for both sides), it has been fascinating to watch. It has all come to an end with the incredibly low key adventure Twice Upon a Time. This story had a lot riding on it- it had to write off the Twelfth Doctor, give the First Doctor a good reason to regenerate, follow through on one of the absolute best Doctor Who stories and a very strong series and do all that whilst being cohesive. Did it do that? Mostly.

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room here- this was not the First Doctor. Whilst I’m not denying that David Bradley did a great job recreating William Hartnell’s tics and mannerisms, Steven Moffat’s writing just really let the side down. I understand what he was trying to do- he was using the First Doctor as a way to critique 60’s attitudes and mentality and show how far the show has come. The issue is that it goes against the First Doctor’s character. Yes, in Season 1 he was incredibly condescending, rude and abrasive to everyone. But this is supposed to be the Tenth Planet First Doctor in Season 4, who is a lot more like his future selves and accepting of everyone. Any sexist or discriminatory remarks or actions were a product of the time the stories were made, not the character himself. The First Doctor has been established as being the same as the others in mentality, as all the references to his childhood on Gallifrey refer to the idea that Time Lords have no set gender. So why One would be condescending towards women?

Another issue is that Moffat’s intentions are good, but not necessary because the show has done a fantastic job of moving away from the 60’s mentality. Having a female Doctor is a strong enough statement to show that the show has come far from the idea that the female companion was second tier to the masculine Doctor and companions (even then, Barbara is an excellent character who is a very strong female companion in the 60’s). We’ve had strong, diverse characters and the show has made great leaps in progress. Moffat really didn’t need to emphasise the differences between the 60’s and now because people know. Fans know that Toberman from Tomb of the Cybermen is not equatable to Martha, Mickey and Bill and that the modern era’s strong female characters are evidence of the show changing.

So, other than that massive issue, how was the episode? Pretty decent.

Whilst I would have loved the Twelfth Doctor to regenerate in The Doctor Falls, I was pretty happy with this episode. The best aspect of it is how it fixed one of my biggest problems with the Capaldi era and actually brought together all three seasons of his era together. His era had felt disjointed and unconnected, with no real continuity between them. This is probably due to Moffat completely changing Twelve’s behaviour and story arcs after Series 8 flopped with many people. After that you had Series 9, seen as an improvement by some but more of the same for others. Following this there was Series 10 which had a completely different tone and style again. In contrast to the other New Series Doctors, Capaldi’s run hasn’t been the most connected or well thought out.

So when everything got connected here, I was happy. Rusty the Dalek was a great callback, the stupid stupid memory wipe was erased and Clara returned briefly, which despite everything I’ve said about her I really liked. It was a great way to connect the era and I liked how Bill and Nardole were incorporated as well, allowing Twelve to say goodbye to all his companions. I would have liked to see Missy as well so that the Doctor would know she ultimately died fighting for him but that’s a minor gripe. Capaldi’s era has been retroactively improved by the inclusion of Clara in this story and the removal of one of the worst aspects of Hell Bent. I might actually like it now. Emphasis on “might”.

The story itself was very interesting and it had great ideas. The Testimony are a great idea which I would like to see again, and it’s great that they weren’t a villain and the situation were a misunderstanding. Although I am desperate for truly evil and memorable villains in the show again. The inclusion of the General was great, as he added some gravitas to the story and connected the plot to the wider Whoniverse. The Christmas Truce was a great touch with real meaning and weight to it, although I saw it coming. There isn’t too much to the plot, as there isn’t really one, but I can forgive it as it was more of a character piece. But again, I am so desperate for in depth stories and monsters again. It’s also great how this story brought Bill back without ruining her departure in the finale, which I thought was excellent.

Despite having many issues with the First Doctor, I did like some aspects of his interactions with the Twelfth Doctor. I loved how he learnt about change and how seeing his future set him on the path to regenerate, and the opening scene with The Tenth Planet was amazing. The Twelfth Doctor was utter gold, and it’s one of his best portrayals. The Doctor Falls was all about the Doctor earning his rest after so many years of fighting, whilst Twice Upon a Time is about him deciding he doesn’t need it and that the universe would be worse off without him. To top it all off, we get an amazing final speech and one final, brilliant performance from Peter Capaldi. Even in his worst scripts, he has shone.

So in conclusion, pretty decent. This wouldn’t make my Top 10 Capaldi stories or my Top 5 Christmas Specials but it was pretty enjoyable on the whole. Can’t wait for the next series.

That’s it.

Wait, there was something else?

Oh yeah, Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.

I’ll be absolutely honest here and say that this is the quickest I have accepted a new Doctor. Excluding David Tennant, who was my first, it took me roughly around Vampires of Venice to truly “get” Matt Smith’s Doctor (now my favourite) and I don’t know when I accepted Peter Capaldi. It certainly took a while, but by The Zygon Inversion I truly got into his incarnation and until Series 10 before I consistently enjoyed him. With Jodie Whittaker, all it took for me to see her as the Doctor was her grin and proclaiming “Oh brilliant”, before being immediately thrown out of an exploding TARDIS in the most Doctorly sequence imaginable. I’m sold already.

Bring on Series 11.

My 10 favourite Twelfth Doctor stories

To quote Tom Baker- “It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for.” We have one more Peter Capaldi story to go so what better time than to look back at the best of his era. It’s been a bumpy ride but the good ultimately outweighed the bad. so let’s not waste any time and dive straight in-

10. Listen

A very strong early Series 8 script, Listen is an incredibly atmospheric and clever standalone that is unlike any other story in the show’s history. The sequences in the children’s home and at the end of the universe are very well written and full of tension and the dialogue is strong throughout. I love the simplicity of the storytelling and how real tension and scares were crafted out of barely anything at all. The final scene where the Doctor’s childhood was revealed could have been terrible, but I think it added to the mythology of the show. I wonder if we’ll get a reference this Christmas.

The great thing about this episode is how everything is ambiguous. The whole concept of fear and whether monsters are real or a figment of people’s imagination is a fascinating concept and one I think the episode handles very well. Watching this was one of the first times I truly saw Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and I love stories where the Doctor is vulnerable or unsure of himself. The only story I can compare this to is The Edge of Destruction, another story with no villain and that focuses entirely on character relationships and atmosphere.

9. The Eaters of Light

One of several Series 10 stories that will pop up on this list, I really love this story. Whilst monster-of-the-week plots tend to fall flat, I found this one to be strong mainly because of the themes presented throughout, such as the theme of colonisation and also about the Doctor’s responsibilities. There are many similarities to Rona Munroe’s previous story Survival, as once again there are a group of youngsters thrown into a world they don’t understand and they have to fend for themselves. I just love stories which have more under the surface.

Having this be the story before the finale really helped in my opinion, as like Boom Town it was linked to the finale through common themes and character exploration. There’s the idea of time dilation, the Doctor and Bill being seperated and the Doctor’s willingness for sacrifice. The monster was great, the TARDIS team were great, especially Nardole, and I adore the pseudo-historical scripts in the show most of the time so this one was right up my alley. The mystical elements of the plot were also really well handled and added to the story rather than detracted.

8. Mummy on the Orient Express

One of the stronger stories from Capaldi’s first year, this story was a breath of fresh air in 2014 and is still entertaining now. On top of being a fun and well paced murder mystery with a Doctor Who vibe, this story is vital in fixing the Doctor and Clara’s relationship after the ending of Kill the Moon (the only good bit about Kill the Moon may I add) and does it very well. One of the best things about this episode was the ending, where the Doctor questions his own morals and comes to term with how Clara sees him. The character growth comes naturally from the story as opposed to being in the foreground, a common problem with this era.

The villains in this were great, with the Foretold being a very memorable monster, and I love the Doctor going solo in this adventure and solving the mystery on his own. Perkins is a really watchable character and I have a hunch that Steven Moffat considered bringing him back as the second companion of Series 10 before settling on Nardole. I adore the steampunk setting and the macabre tone throughout, with the delightfully sadistic Gus being my favourite Series 8 villain. Overall a solid slice of Doctor Who that will be remembered as a highlight of Series 8.

7. Flatline

Considering this story focuses on Clara, I’m amazed I like this story as much as I do. It’s probably due to the incredibly tight script and the fascinating monsters combined with a simple but engaging plot. There are so many brilliant ideas here, such as the shrinking TARDIS, two dimensional beings, the companion becoming the Doctor and at the same time the Doctor learning how others see him through Clara. The best moment comes at the end, when the Doctor tells Clara that she was an “outstanding Doctor. Goodness had nothing to do with it”.

The Boneless are in my opinion the best original villain from the Capaldi era and I would like to see them return some day. This is easily my favourite Clara story, and whilst she’s my least favourite New Series companion I feel this story captured her character the best out of any story in her time as a companion. The whole episode just has a very original and fun vibe to it and it’s a blast every time I watch it. The sequence where the Doctor escapes from the train using his hand is simultaneously hilarious, tense and awesome.

6. Extremis

Despite the conclusion to this three parter being disappointing, Extremis still holds up as an incredibly dark and clever story. As a set up it’s perfect, with The Monks feeling like a true threat and the Doctor’s blindness adding a lot to the stakes in the story. The main plot about the Veritas is a strong enough mystery but it’s the final twist that gives a story a sense of scale and it’s executed perfectly, with the absurd plot (the Pope visiting the Doctor in person, the TARDIS not translating Italian and the gateways around the world) slotting together to make an immensely satisfying whole.

The subplot with Missy and the final act of heroism from the virtual Doctor also sets up the arc for the rest of the series. Nardole is a highlight here, adding humour to the dark story and this was the start of him progressing from an entertaining side character to an awesome companion. This is a very topical story for 2017, as it questions how people can survive in a world full of darkness and it raises questions about what’s real and what’s not. Can a post-Trump and Brexit world still have positives? This story confirms that as long as people do heroic things, it doesn’t matter what the world is like. Extremis is extremely poignant and very meta.

5. The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar

This story is proof that when Steven Moffat hits, he hits hard. The highlights of this two parter are Missy and the interactions between the Doctor and Davros, with the scenes between them being some of the best of the Capaldi era. Much like the Series 10 finale later on, this story manages to feel small scale and epic at the same time. It was great seeing Skaro again and even better than that was seeing Davros again, with this being one of his finest stories. Some may find the resolution unsatisfying and that all of his character development was erased, but the early scenes still have weight to them when you realise that Davros meant every word he said, even if he hadn’t truly turned good.

Missy’s inclusion helps give the sombre second half humour and she is absolutely hilarious throughout, making the scene where she makes the Doctor almost kills Clara inside the Dalek a hint towards her darker side. She’s my favourite Master and this story confirmed it and I desperately wanted her as a full time companion. I even enjoyed Clara in this story and seeing the other Daleks from the show’s past was brilliant. The whole story is about trust, redemption and regret, and it’s simply wonderful. Whilst Series 9 may have ended poorly, it began with a bang.

4. Oxygen

Otherwise known as “what Kill the Moon should have been”. Oxygen is great because it isn’t just a base under siege/horror story, as good as those aspects of it are, but because it makes a point and serves as a clever satire. There’s no real villain here as the suits are programmed to obey the unseen company controlling them and I appreciate the return to hard sci-fi. Unlike Kill the Moon, the story never forgets that it’s Doctor Who and keeps the satire to a subtext, focusing on the brilliant dynamics between the Doctor, Bill and Nardole and the intense atmosphere.

Having recently watched the Alien movies, rewatching this story allowed me to see the influences those movies had on Oxygen, with the idea of corrupt corporations and human lives being sacrificed for the sake of profit. I always love it when the show tackles interesting ideas and difficult subject matter without losing the core of what makes the show good, which is entertaining sci fi. The story is perfectly paced and features amazing direction and cinematography, with the scene of Bill losing oxygen one of Series 10’s best. A borderline perfect story made even better by its relevance to the arc.

3. Heaven Sent

This is one story. One. Putting aside what actually happened afterwards, let’s just focus on this amazing episode featuring probably the best performance by any Doctor in any story. This looked like it was doomed to failure- the Doctor on his own talking for 55 minutes, with not much plot or action. Despite this, Peter Capaldi completely sells the Doctor’s grief and determination and it’s this episode that solidifies him as probably the best actor to take the part. The whole episode serves as a magnificent analysis of the Doctor’s mind and how he works.

The music is incredible, the direction is some of the show’s best and the whole story is a breathtaking experience. It’s the kind of episode I strive to make one day. It’s not conventional Who at all, but it’s still brilliant and serves as a fantastic metaphor for grief and letting go. The final ten minutes with the billions of Doctors punching through the wall for 4.5 billion years is a scene that will go down in Doctor Who history, with one of the lowest points of the Doctor’s life suddenly turning into the most triumphant. Easily the best episode of Series 9, but my favourite is…

2. The Zygon Invasion/Inversion

This is much more conventional Who than Heaven Sent, but that doesn’t make it worse. Taking the weakest aspect of the 50th and making a two parter out of it was extremely well played on Moffat’s part and makes the 50th even better than it already is. Like the best Jon Pertwee stories, what this story does best is use the current world climate to create a very modern and relevant story. Osgood makes a much better companion than Clara ever did and the story is full of tiny moments that help flesh out the conflict such as the Zygon who kills himself as he wants peace and the implication that these kind of conflicts never achieve anything.

The intense subject matter and themes doesn’t stop it from being highly entertaining, with a great villain in Bonnie and UNIT being plain awesome. This hearkens back to the best of the Jon Pertwee era and as a massive fan of that era this story was obviously going to appeal to me. The gritty direction and sombre mood throughout makes this an immersive experience that’s a hard watch but one that’s very rewarding. Whilst the speech in The Zygon Inversion may overshadow the rest of the story, there’s enough to like in both parts to make this a modern classic.

  1. World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls

I’ve gushed about this enough, but simply put this is now in my Top 10 stories of all time. Considering it had to write out two companions and featured two Masters, multiple versions of Cybermen and the Doctor’s impending regeneration, I would have been happy if this was merely good. The fact that it’s brilliant in every way is one of Moffat’s finest achievements, with a story which encapsulates who both the Doctor and the Master are. Everything about this story, from the acting to the music and the direction is pitch perfect.

The Cybermen get their best showing in New Who with their origins being masterfully handled and the sheer glee of seeing two Masters on screen is enough to make any fanboy happy. The story is about triumph and who the Doctor really is and his decision to stand and fight the Cybermen makes this a brilliant bookend to his good man arc in Series 8. The themes of the series and the era as a whole are expanded upon and made better by this story. It’s epic and intimate, incredibly dark but also incredibly optimistic and is perfect in every sense of the word.

My ranking of the Doctor Who Christmas specials

Well, it’s that time of year again. Christmas is only a week away, and we’re in for a massive Doctor Who episode this year. The Twelfth Doctor and the First Doctor along with Bill and of course, the first appearance of the Thirteenth Doctor. So let’s look back on the Doctor’s previous festive specials-

12. The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

To quote the Cybermen from World Enough and Time- “Pain…pain…pain.” Matt Smith may be my favourite Doctor but he did have his fair share of bad or disappointing stories (although I seriously regret my list of bad Matt Smith stories I did back in 2013. How did Cold War, The Girl Who Waited, A Town Called Mercy and A Christmas Carol end up there but Curse of the Black Spot or Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS didn’t? Let’s scrap that entire list except for this story, Hide and the Ganger story) This is easily the worst Matt Smith story, and between this and In the Forest of the Night Doctor Who really needs to avoid tackling trees. It’s just extremely dull and childish with no real plot and it just meanders around doing nothing. I do like Steven Moffat’s fairy tale approach to the show but this was going way too far. I mean “mothership”, seriously? Most stories I dislike now I enjoyed when I was younger, but I didn’t like this one in 2011 and I don’t like it now. Avoid.

11. Last Christmas

This is just incredibly disappointing. A story involving layers of dreams sounds like something Steven Moffat can do easily, and Futurama did a similar concept brilliantly in The Sting (my favourite Futurama episode). The problem with this story is that once again, there’s no real plot or anything of consequence. Having a more subdued story and a story dealing with grief and the idea of dreams has so much potential, but it just fizzled out completely. Was having about five layers of dream really necessary? This isn’t like Extremis where the simulation reveal happens towards the end and changes the viewer’s perspective on the story, this is just twist after twist after twist from the beginning. It’s confusing and the Dream Crabs are a very weak villain and cannot sustain the plot. Add on top of that a completely wasted base under siege plot and confused tonal shifts and we have a very underwhelming story which is ultimately pointless due to Clara staying for Series 9, making her “ending” in this story mean nothing.

10. The Runaway Bride

Now this is more like it. The low placement of this story doesn’t mean this story is bad, it’s just not as good as the other specials. This is a much better story in hindsight, as whilst Donna is annoying in this story, the fact that she became the best New Series companion and the events of the amazing Turn Left pivot around this story make it an important and much better story than it was at first. I just love the absurdity of this story and whilst it has many problems such as really jarring tonal shifts and a nonsensical plot, it’s so entertaining and watchable that the flaws just fly by. A flaw that cannot be ignored however is the Racnoss. She looks cool and has a brilliant backstory but does nothing but yell and is barely in the episode. What a waste of a cool monster and I hope the species returns some day. There’s also a lot of recycling from the Christmas Invasion but like I said, when a story is entertaining I don’t mind problems as much as I would with a boring story. Flawed but fun.

9. The Next Doctor

Dumb? Yes. Wasted premise? Yes. Do I care? Not really. Once again we have a story that could be better but could be worse. There’s a lot to like about this story such as a great villain, Cybermen storming around Victorian London and a fun dynamic between the Tenth Doctor and who he believes to be a future incarnation. I will agree that the core premise is wasted (and done better in the Big Finish story The One Doctor) but the Cyberman plot is incredibly fun and engaging and it’s just a fun time. Keeping in mind that the previous stories were the incredibly dark Midnight, Turn Left and Journey’s End, it’s good to have an old fashioned adventure where the Doctor gets a victory and saves the day. As the start of David Tennant’s final run of episodes, it’s a good slice of psedo-historical adventure that never fails to entertain me.

8. The Husbands of River Song

Another story that’s better in hindsight- who would have thought a relatively minor character from this story would end up as a companion in the following series? I’ve always liked River Song and it was great to see her story end and end well (I’m looking at you Clara). This story is hilarious, from the scene above where the Doctor gets to pretend he’s a companion as well as many of River’s quips. The story is simple but it works, and I really enjoy King Hydroflax as a villain. After a series of disappointing original villains, to have one so entertaining to watch was great. The story’s imaginative, fast paced and gets surprisingly poignant at the end. It’s a very jarring shift from slapstick comedy to an emotional goodbye, but River and the Doctor’s final scene together was the first time since The Day of the Doctor where I was completely invested in a story. It makes other stories better, sets the stage for Series 10 and also provides a fun time. What’s not to like?

7. The Return of Doctor Mysterio

After a whole year off air, Doctor Who returned with a really fun and lighthearted adventure that brilliantly homages superheroes as well as doing a great job of continuing the Twelfth Doctor’s arc. This is a very entertaining story. There’s humour, heart and some fantastic character moments as well as intriguing villains. Nardole is awesome, the Doctor is having so much fun and it’s impossible not to be swept up in the adventure. I’ve heard people complain that this is too silly, and to them I say watch The Romans or The Unicorn and the Wasp then tell me this is too silly. I cannot stress how much fun this story was and it was great seeing the Twelfth Doctor travel with someone who wasn’t Clara. My favourite aspect of the episode is how it constantly makes fun of itself and is perfectly aware it’s a silly superhero romp. As an appetiser before Series 10, I can safely say this episode was a return to form for the series and the series that followed was even better.

6. Voyage of the Damned

This is a massive guilty pleasure for me. It’s one of my fondest memories of the Tennant era and I distinctly remember watching this on Christmas Day 2007 at my grandparent’s house being completely memerised throughout and then excitedly reciting the plot to my mum afterwards. Putting nostalgia aside, this episode is pretty dumb, but it’s so entertainingly dumb I can’t help but love it. I mean, this is a story where the Doctor is on a space version of the Titanic only for it to hijacked by a cyborg and his army of robotic angels. If that isn’t Doctor Who, I don’t know what is. It has flaws, don’t get me wrong, and on a scripting level it’s a pretty poor story, but if all bad scripts were this entertaining we wouldn’t have a situation where Kill the Moon exists. The direction is fantastic, the episode is full of awesome moments and the scene where the Doctor flies the Titanic away from Buckingham Palace and being thanked by an obvious Queen impersonator is perhaps the stupidest awesome scene in the show’s history. I love this one.

5. The Time of the Doctor

Yes, this story is a mess. But considering the circumstances Moffat was in having to write Matt Smith’s final story as well as writing the 50th anniversary, it’s a miracle this story wasn’t a total disaster. Whilst a lot of the story could have been improved, such as making the villains seem like actual threats, fixing some plot holes and establishing a better motivation for the Siege of Trenzalore, it works so well on a character level. The Eleventh Doctor’s arc is about running, and here he settles down and defends a small town for 900 years. It’s perfect and as a farewell to my favourite Doctor I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. I loved the way the cracks and the Silence were reintroduced and whilst this story is no War Games or Caves of Androzani, we once again have to consider the immense pressure Moffat was under whilst writing this, as Matt Smith was originally planned to stay on for Series 8. This story could have failed so hard, and on a plot level it does to an extent, but as a character piece it’s phenomenal.

4. The End of Time

An epic story that I remember fondly, The End of Time gave David Tennant a brilliant send off that while flawed succeeded in telling a fantastic story. Whilst the Master can get too over the top in this story, he is a great villain and Rassilon’s presence gives the story weight and adds to the mythos of the show. Practically everything about this story works, from the Doctor and Wilf’s dynamic to the amazing action and story that was overblown I agree, but also had time to have incredibly quiet moments and gave time to give every Russel T Davies character goodbye. I could watch the scene where Rassilon, the Doctor and the Master face off all day- it’s a stunningly good scene. It has flaws- I’m not a fan of the mysterious woman who may or may not be the Doctor’s mother, the Doctor’s refusal to regenerate, whilst justified given Time of the Doctor, was handled poorly and there’s massive leaps in logic. Despite this, I still find this story immensely satisfying.

3. The Christmas Invasion

From Tennant’s last story to his first. This is a very enjoyable and well told story that introduces the world to the Tenth Doctor perfectly. Taking the Doctor out of the action was genius, as it put other characters such as Rose, Mickey, Jackie and Harriet Jones (yes we know who she is) in the forefront whilst building anticipation for the Doctor’s grand entrance. There’s a very strong alien menace in the Sycorax, who are surprisingly fleshed out and given depth for a one story villain. I love how this story builds- there’s the crisis over the new Doctor, then the robot Santas attack, then the Sycorax arrive and enslave the world. By the time the characters are captured on the Sycorax ship, you are waiting for the Doctor to wake up and save the day, and his entrance is so satisfying. He defeats the Sycorax and after Harriet Jones destroys the spaceship, the first signs of the Time Lord Victorious emerges and he sets up her defeat in office, leading to the Master being able to take over. It’s great how this story set the stage for the entire Tennant era.

2. The Snowmen

Not the best story ever but one of the most entertaining ever. Everything that should be in a Doctor Who episode is present here and this is without a doubt the best version of Clara. Why couldn’t this one travel with the Doctor? The Great Intelligence makes a welcome return, Matt Smith is at his best and the Paternoster Gang are brilliant. Spin off! The script is incredibly well put together with the story focusing on the Doctor recovering from the loss of the Ponds and Clara’s inquisitive nature and the compelling mystery about the snowmen bringing him back to saving the day. It’s endlessly rewatchable and hugely quotable with every character standing out. There are problems- the solution is a bit too convenient and the snowmen themselves don’t do much- but the positives far outweigh the negatives in my opinion and the result is a story that had me completely hooked on first viewing. As a scene setter for Series 7 Part 2 it’s flawless and whilst the show would experience a slight dip in quality when Clara joined full time, this story still holds up.

  1. A Christmas Carol

OK, how did I dislike this in 2010? Why did I put this on my worst Matt Smith stories? One of the stories I’ve changed my mind on the most, this has gone from a boring talky episode to the best Christmas special ever and one of my favourite stories in general. It’s a perfect retelling of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and retells it with a brilliant Doctor Who twist. This is just evidence that Steven Moffat’s strengths as a writer is when he writes subtlety- the universe isn’t at risk and there isn’t really a villain in this episode, just a man who can be changed by the Doctor. Sardick is a fantastic character and one of the best written Moffat characters and the time travel in this story is just genius. Having Sardick be his own Ghost of Christmas Future is one of my favourite reveals in the show and the whole story just oozes originality, from the unique steampunk designs to the sky sharks and the idea of people as currency. There’s so many ideas thrown in here but none of them feel underused and they all service the story magnificently. A true masterpiece and one I rewatch every Christmas.

So, how will Twice Upon a Time hold up? Let’s hope it’s near the top of the list and not at the bottom, as I’d hate Peter Capaldi’s era to end on a whimper when The Doctor Falls was so good. We’ll find out in a week.

My ten favourite Classic Who stories

Whocember continues as we dive into the past. Whilst I may have grown up with the new series beginning in 2005, I also love the original run of Doctor Who from 1963-1989. It has so many iconic monsters, scenes, stories and Doctors. With well over a hundred stories it was very hard to pick just ten but I have picked stories which I believe to be the best Classic Who has to offer. Let’s start with a Colin Baker story (naturally)…

10. Vengeance on Varos

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say that I actually like Colin Baker’s TV stories. His Big Finish is better and The Twin Dilemma and Timelash are terrible but I enjoy the rest. Vengeance on Varos is a highly original and complex adventure which sees the Doctor and Peri trapped in the Punishment Dome on Varos, where people are tortured and ridiculed to keep the people of Varos entertained and to allow the Governor to stay in power. The alien Mentor Sil finances the Dome in exchange for the rare Zeiton-7, which the Doctor needs to fix the TARDIS. It’s a fantastic satire on television, mass media and corruption, with fantastic characters such as the Governor and Sil, who is easily the best villain from 80’s Doctor Who. There are two characters presented throughout the story who serve as a Greek chorus and comment on events transpiring through watching the Dome on their television. They exist to examine culture on Varos and give another perspective on events. It’s insanely clever and the story just gets more and more relevant. It’s dark and quite shocking but it adds to the story and gives the whole adventure a real sense of danger.

9. Carnival of Monsters

Much like Vengeance on Varos, Carnival of Monsters is incredibly meta and almost fourth wall breaking. Here, the Third Doctor and Jo are trapped inside a Miniscope owned by a travelling performer called Vorg who captures different specimens from planets and shows them to the general public. The story takes place on Inter Minor, where the natives are planning a coup against their leader and the border control who are in charge of letting Vorg through are planning to use the creatures inside the Miniscope to overthrow the government. It may sound convoluted, but it’s really not. The Doctor and Jo spend most of the story caught in the Miniscope and wondering what is going on, as they find themselves on an Edwardian boat which is soon overrun by the awesome Drashigs, giant worms which devour everything. The genius of this story is the sheer bonkers nature of the events and how the events inside the Miniscope tie into the plot on Inter Minor. The Third Doctor is at his best here as he finds out what’s going on and helps move events forward. This story isn’t trying to say anything, it’s just sheer joy and the imagination throughout is brilliant.

8. Ghost Light

The Seventh Doctor is one of my favourite Doctors and this story demonstrates why. The Doctor and Ace find themselves in a Victorian manor house full of bizarre and offbeat people such as a Neanderthal butler and a mysterious creature in the cellar. It also has links to Ace’s past and contains an incredibly complex but brilliant main plot involving a mysterious alien called Light. The atmosphere in this story is superb and the mystery builds and builds and presents so many interesting ideas and concepts such as evolution, racism and colonialism. The story isn’t afraid to deal with very dark subject matter and the story truly dives into the Doctor and Ace’s relationship, which is one of the show’s best in my opinion. The dialogue is amazing (I can’t stand burnt toast. I loathe bus stations. Terrible places. Full of lost luggage and lost souls. And then there’s unrequited love. And tyranny. And cruelty. We all have a universe of our own terrors to face’) and the story rewards multiple viewings to unravel every detail. It’s probably the most mature Classic Who story and I love it.

7. The Daemons

The quintessential Master story. The Master originally appeared for all five stories of Season 8, with The Daemons serving as the finale of the series. In it, the Master leads a cult of demon worshippers to revive Azal, a powerful being who the Master wishes to control. The Doctor and UNIT are called in to investigate. This is just pure class from beginning to end, with great cinematography that gives the whole story a realistic feel to it and fantastic direction and visual effects. One of the best things about this story is how high budget it feels and how the story feels epic on a tiny budget. I always love it when the show deals with supernatural beings and creatures beyond the Doctor’s understanding and The Daemons serves as one of the best examples of bringing in unnatural and magical elements into the show. I love the Third Doctor and this is one of his finest outings, with great roles for all of UNIT and a true sense of scale and threat barely seen in the show.

6. The Mind Robber

This one is hard to explain. Essentially, the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe end up in a fantasy land called the Land of Fiction where things get bizarre. There’s Robinson Crusoe, Medusa, a unicorn, a superhero, Rapunzel and a minotaur. It may seem simple but the whole story just shows how offbeat and weird Doctor Who could get and the literally endless potential it has. The first episode in particular is probably the best episode ever in Doctor Who, with incredible atmosphere and a simple but genius mystery that gets more and more bizarre as it goes on. Like with Carnival of Monsters, this story isn’t trying to make a point- it’s just trying to entertain and it does that with some of the best imagery and ideas in the show. There’s a part where Jamie loses his face and the Doctor puts it together, only for him to get it wrong and Jamie has the wrong face for an episode. The revelation of what’s really happening is great and I would love to see a sequel to this awesome, awesome story.

5. Remembrance of the Daleks

How can I not have this story on the list? One of my favourite Doctors is caught up in a civil war between two rival factions of Daleks who are desperate to seize control of the Hand of Omega. This is top ten of all time for me, as everything I love in the show is present here. Instead of just being action, the story actually explores the Doctor’s psychology and dissects his nature from the very first episode. The Daleks are also examined as their rivalry caused by a tiny difference in genes mirrors the racial conflicts of the 60’s, where the story is set. The Seventh Doctor’s chessmaster attitude and his manipulations are brilliant and there are so many iconic scenes- the Daleks flying up the stairs, the clip above where the Doctor questions what the consequences of his choices are, Ace with a baseball bat, unlimited rice pudding, the Doctor talking the last Renegade Dalek into self destruction… the list goes on and on. The music is awesome, the action is great and everything just clicks.

4. Genesis of the Daleks

It’s an obvious choice, but it’s a classic for a reason. One of the most famous and iconic stories the show has ever done, this story is utterly brilliant in every way. The nature of war is examined on both sides as the Kaleds and the Thals both try to end their endless war by any means necessary and the story never holds back in showing the dark sides of both of them. The Doctor is never better than when he is contemplating whether to end the Daleks for good or when he is talking to Davros about the power to end all life. Behind the scarf and jelly babies, the Fourth Doctor was a really complex and very dark Doctor, at least in his early years. Sarah Jane and Harry (one of the most underrated companions may I add) have their best showings here too, with Sarah Jane acting as the moral compass to keep the Doctor in check. I haven’t even discussed Davros, who gets his absolute best story. Later stories tended to portray him as a ranting maniac, but in Genesis of the Daleks, Davros is cold, calculating and captivating to watch. This story is a masterpiece on every conceivable level.

3. Kinda

On the whole, the Fifth Doctor is probably my least favourite Doctor. Peter Davison is awesome and the era still had good elements but I just didn’t get into his Doctor as much as the others, mainly due to the writing and the frequently annoying companions. That said, Kinda is a work of art and stands head over heels above the majority of stories. It’s about an entity called the Mara who takes over Tegan and seizes control of the Kinda, the native population of Deva Loka. The planet also has an expedition crew of humans led by the mentally unstable Hindle and Sanders. The stunning script discusses the nature of dreams, the different layers of human mentality and more obvious themes such as the pros and cons of colonialism. The Doctor is superb in this story and even though I don’t like Adric or Tegan both of them, especially Tegan, are fantastically characterised in the story. Well, Adric less so but at least he’s not ultra annoying in this one. The Mara is an awesome villain and I desperately want to see it return. I also adore the dynamic Five has with Todd and it was certainly an interesting pairing which I would have loved to see more of. All in all, an amazing story.

2. The War Games

A mindblowing end to one of the best Doctors. Ignoring the questionable Mexican stereotype towards the end, I can’t think of a single fault with this epic adventure. It starts off with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe seemingly stuck in World War One before turning into the most bonkers adventure ever, with multiple wars being fought at the same time under the control of the mysterious War Lords. Sounds simple right? There’s a reason this story is ten parts long and it’s due to the complex dynamics at play between the hierarchy or villains (the War Lord, the War Chief and the Security Chief in descending order, not to mention Smythe and Von Weich) the vast array of characters, the thoroughly engaging mystery and plot and a magnificent sense of escalation. The Second Doctor proves why he is one of the best Doctors and his steadfast determination to save everyone is one of the noblest acts the character has done. The story gets even better when the Time Lords are introduced and the Doctor is presented as the outcast from Gallifrey that he is. Never again will the Time Lords be portrayed in this way again. When I did my 60’s Who retrospective last year I called this my favourite Classic story, but that was before I saw…

  1. Warriors of the Deep

What a perfect, perfect story. Where to begin with this one? Let’s start with…

Wait, hang on. My sarcasm mode on my keyboard has broken. Whoops. Whilst I fix things, let’s dive into some honourable mentions-

The Aztecs

The Invasion

The Ambassadors of Death

The Curse of Peladon

Planet of the Spiders

The Seeds of Doom

The Deadly Assassin

Image of the Fendahl

City of Death

Enlightenment

Revelation of the Daleks

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

The Curse of Fenric

And with that, let’s move onto my favourite story from the show’s original run…

  1. Inferno

Yeah, it was gonna be Pertwee. What else did you think it was going to be? I watched this story aware of its reputation as a classic so I was worried that I might be disappointed by the hype but it did not disappoint one bit. The final story from the perfect Season 7, Inferno is one of the most nail biting experiences a Whovian can have. From the very first frame the gritty camerawork and direction make this a very realistic and tense experience. The incidental music is replaced by the constant sound of drilling and the superbly layered characters have to constantly yell to be heard. The mere premise is genius, as a drilling project UNIT and the Doctor are investigating produces primeval slime that turns people into mutated monsters. This may not sound particularly original, but the story throws in a whole new parallel universe which the Doctor slips into- a universe further ahead in the drilling project and is about to tear itself apart with the lava spewing out of the Earth. It’s a race against time as the Doctor must escape back to his universe before the one he’s in is destroyed and warn his Earth of the impending disaster. Episode 6 is perfect, as the tension is racked up to the extreme and the cliffhanger is in my opinion the show’s finest, with a wall of lava engulfing the parallel Earth and the Doctor unable to help as he is pulled back to his universe. The parallel universe is very well detailed, with the British Republic as a facist regime being overseen by the awesome Brigade Leader. Despite the characters being from a facist regime, they are still sympathetic and their deaths have a strong impact on the Doctor. The characters in both universes are brilliantly fleshed out, the Doctor is at his absolute best and Liz is great. She is such an underrated companion. Everything about this story clicks to become one of the best stories the show’s produced, and my favourite story from the Classic era.

Whilst these are my ten favourites, there are so many strong episodes in the show’s original run. I haven’t even mentioned The Caves of Androzani, Pyramids of Mars, The Robots of Death, The Power of the Daleks or The Web of Fear. There’s just so much good in Classic Who. Up next in Whocember, the Christmas specials ranked.

Every New Who series ranked- Whocember!

It’s the start of Whocember! This month I’ll be going through some Doctor Who posts, including a ranking of the Christmas specials, my favourite Twelfth Doctor stories, a review of Twice Upon a Time and perhaps some other stuff. There’ll be a brief Star Wars interlude as I review The Last Jedi but I shall mostly be focusing on Doctor Who, and every week starting from today we’ll have a Doctor Who post, starting today and ending with New Year’s Day with my Twice Upon a Time review.

As one era ends, another begins and what better time than to look back on all the previous runs of New Who (I would also do Classic Who but we would be here forever otherwise. Although I have just thought another post for Whocember…). I love all the seasons of New Who but there are some that are better than others and some I enjoyed more. Let’s start…

10. Series 7

This series has many strong episodes, such as The Rings of Akhaten, A Town Called Mercy, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and The Name of the Doctor, as well as many pretty good ones such as The Power of Three, The Angels Take Manhatten, Cold War and The Crimson Horror. If we include the specials, there’s a very strong Christmas episode, the awesome 50th anniversary and a pretty decent end to Matt Smith’s Doctor. The issues lie with the inconsistent nature of the series, lack of truly classic episodes, some pretty poor episodes such as Hide and Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, a weak companion in Clara as well as rushed endings, hardly any good villains and no two parters. I still like the series overall though, and Matt Smith remains my favourite Doctor.

9. Series 9

I know, it’s bizarre that I complain about no two parters in Series 7 and then have the series full of two parters next. Whilst many episodes such as the opening Dalek story, the Zygon story and especially Heaven Sent were strong, I have many issues with this series. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor had a complete 180 character turn and turned into an older, less fun Matt Smith and Clara just annoyed me. Quite why she was in this series when she essentially did nothing for most of the stories and then died before coming back to life in the worst way possible completely baffles me. The stories were mostly fine but once again had very few strong villains and Hell Bent was just… bad. Did Steven Moffat think that was an adequate ending to a companion who should have already left one series ago? The finale is the reason why this is lower on the list, as a better final episode could have propelled this series much higher.

8. Series 2

There are three absolute gems in this series- School Reunion, The Girl in the Fireplace and The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. The problems however are similar to Series 9’s, with an inconsistent Doctor, a companion who got gradually more annoying as time went on and some very poor stories in New Earth, Love & Monsters and Fear Her. This is easily the most inconsistent Russel T Davies series and there are flaws with the arc such as the implied romance between Ten and Rose (which should have never been allowed to happen). That said, episodes like Tooth and Claw remain nostalgic classics to me and the series is very fun on the whole. The finale isn’t the best but it wrapped up the series well and how can a Dalek/Cyberman war not be cool?

7. Series 8

Ignoring the awful Kill the Moon and In the Forest of the Night (tied with Hell Bent and Love and Monsters as the worse New Series story), this series is mostly very good. It’s Clara’s best series and there are some fantastic episodes such as Listen, Mummy on the Orient Express, Flatline and the finale. I also have a soft spot for the hilarious Robot of Sherwood. My main problem with the series is how unlikeable and uncharismatic Twelve is (The Sixth Doctor was equally unlikeable but was much more fun to watch) and how the series got dragged down by an inferior version of the Amy/Rory relationship. The positives far outweigh the negatives though, as my favourite Master owns the final two episodes. It’s just not a series I rewatch as much as the others, hence its placement.

6. Series 6

I will forever defend this series. It’s not perfect (the Flesh two parter and Curse of the Black Spot are noticeably bland) but the highs of this series are incredible. My all time favourite story, The God Complex, is in this series. So much of Matt Smith’s run is made better by that story- it’s like a reverse Hell Bent. Other gems include The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon, The Doctor’s Wife and A Good Man Goes to War (I would also like to issue an apology to The Girl Who Waited. It’s not my favourite story ever but it’s decent and it’s not the worst story ever, no matter what my ten year old self says). The arc is compelling, the regulars are fantastic and whilst The Wedding of River Song is mediocre, it still wraps things up moderately well. Not perfect, but a series I love to rewatch.

5. Series 1

Apology number two- The Parting of the Ways. Quite why I hated this story baffles me. It’s fantastic! The series as a whole was a very, very strong start to the new show. The Ninth Doctor isn’t my favourite Doctor but his arc over thirteen episodes was very well done and immensely satisfying. My favourites of this series are Dalek, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and Father’s Day. Rose was very likeable in this series and serves as a great audience surrogate. In terms of flaws, I still find the story arc lazy, the resolution of Parting of the Ways to be terrible and I find the Slitheen two parter quite weak, but this is a very impressive run of episodes on the whole and it was wrapped up very well indeed. Underrated gems include The Unquiet Dead and Boom Town. The series has dated quite a bit but the writing still holds up and it’s a joy to rewatch.

4. Series 3

What a strong series this is. After an inconsistent last series, Russel T Davies knocked it out of the park with this series. The arc is one of the best in New Who, with every episode being tied into the finale in a very clever and well though out manner. The standouts of this series were easily Human Nature/The Family of Blood (one of my favourite stories ever) and the magnificent Gridlock. Blink, Utopia, the finale, 42… so many fantastic episodes were in this series and Martha is one of my favourite New Who companions, with a great arc and character development. The only wobble this series had was the pretty poor Dalek two parter, but it’s not horrible and it’s still entertaining, not to mention it sets up Series 4. I honestly don’t think this series had any major stumbles the way Series 7, 9, 2 and 8 had and I need to move on before I gush too much about Gridlock and the finale.

3. Series 4

Easily the best David Tennant series. A brilliant run of episodes with so many knockout episodes- The Fires of Pompeii, Planet of the Ood, Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, Midnight and Turn Left constitute half the series and they are all amazing. The other half is very strong, with the weakest being the pretty fun and inoffensive The Doctor’s Daughter. I will admit that Journey’s End is quite melodramatic and overindulgent but I can’t hate a story that brings together Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood together. I haven’t even mentioned Donna, the best New Series companion, who manages to ground the Doctor in a way very few companions do. I adore this series, but there’s two more I love even more.

2. Series 10

Recency bias? Nah, this series is incredible. After years of Clara we finally had a fun, well developed companion again in Bill and we were lucky enough to have also have Nardole, the most unexpectedly awesome character to ever come out of Doctor Who. Peter Capaldi was finally given a good balance of grouchiness and fun that had been missing previously and the Twelfth Doctor came alive in many great stories. Oxygen and Extremis are absolute classics and the finale got a place in my top ten favourite stories ever. The fun energy and sense of renewal that the series had missed returned and it was glorious. We got two Masters, Mondasian Cybermen, Ice Warriors and even the First Doctor. The only stumbling block the series had (and the only reason why this is number two) was the disappointing and messy ending to the Monk trilogy. Other than that, this series was superb, with Steven Moffat going out on a high.

  1. Series 5

It only seems natural that my favourite Doctor should be in my favourite series. Series 5 is perfectly done in practically every way. When a series’s weakest story is the alright Victory of the Daleks, then it’s a very strong series indeed. The arc that was built up in this series and the relationships the characters had were unparalleled in the show before and since. The finale is spectacular and makes everything so much better on rewatch. There’s the genius Amy’s Choice, the brilliant and underrated Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, the awesome Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone and the phenomenal Vincent and the Doctor, which is my second favourite New Series story, with the other episodes being very strong. Steven Moffat may have had his wobbles, but his first series remains an outstanding run of episodes that I still love to this day.

Can Series 11 beat Series 5? Will Twice Upon a Time be a strong send off to the Moffat era? Will I ever issue more apologies to episodes? Who knows? What I do know is that we have had five fantastic seasons, three very good seasons and two good seasons of Doctor Who since 2005 and I expect we’ll get many more to come.

Attention Whovians! Let’s all calm down about a female Doctor

Well, something happened in the Whoniverse recently. No, I’m not talking about the Christmas Special trailer (which looks awesome, although I am worried that Bill’s return will be another Hell Bent). In fact, I’m referring to this-

Yes, we have a female Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker. What do I think? I’m fine with the Doctor being a woman and it’ll be interesting to see Chris Chibnall’s vision of the show. However, this isn’t what this post is about. This is going to be about the fandom and how we all need to calm down.

Read the rest of this entry

Thirteenth Doctor: Should the Doctor be female?

EDIT 17th of July 2017

Yup, called it. So, let’s remember all cast our minds back to February where this innocent blog post was just frantic speculation.

 

Yeah, it’s time to talk about that elephant in the room.

vastra

Well, Peter Capaldi has left the TARDIS, after what only seems like a few days. While there’s a time and place to discuss the Twelfth Doctor (when he leaves this Christmas I’ll be doing a massive post on my views on his era as a whole, which will be interesting considering he followed my favourite Doctor), right now the question on everyone’s lips is: Who is the Thirteenth Doctor?

This then leads into the largest talking point: after 53 years of white males, is it time for a woman?

Now, speaking as a male Whovian who has grown up with three Doctors, experienced all of them and loves this show, I can safely say that I, personally, would not mind a female Doctor, BUT at the same time I don’t particularly care either way. As long as the character remains the same lovable Time Lord, the Doctor can be male or female, black or white. For me, it matters about the writing and whether or not I’ll like the Thirteenth (I don’t know who I’d cast, but as a Benedict Cumberbatch fan the thought of him as the Doctor is glorious. Hugh Laurie and Rowan Atkinson would also be fantastic).

So, there are two main talking points here. First, let’s look at whether the Doctor can change gender in the context of the show and second, whether it’ll be good for the show.

  1. CAN the Doctor be a woman?

missy

In the context of the show, yes. The show has slowly been building towards the idea of a female Doctor for years since Steven Moffat took over. In fact, one of Matt Smith’s first lines after regeneration was “I’m a girl!”. In the brilliant story The Doctor’s Wife, the Doctor’s friend the Corsair was established to have changed gender and in the Night of the Doctor, Paul McGann was given the choice “Man or woman”. Even Hell Bent, which I usually avoid talking about for fear of hitting something in anger, set this up with the General regenerating from a white man into a black woman.

And of course, there’s Missy. She is the main point of argument that people use when saying that a female Doctor would work. Missy is my favourite Master, but that’s got nothing to do with her gender. I love her for reasons I’ll dive into when she returns in Series 10. Her inclusion in the series has been warmly received by most fans and this once again shows that it’s not about the character’s gender, it’s about the writing. The Master is a character that is 45 years old and predominantly male (he was designed to be Moriarty to the Doctor’s Sherlock) but Missy shows that a male character can be changed into a female and still be the same character. Before Missy, I wasn’t sure about a female Doctor, but I’m now firmly supportive of one.

2. SHOULD the Doctor be a woman?

By this, I mean is it right for the show to do it now? Once again, I say, why not?

The Doctor isn’t like Sherlock Holmes or James Bond, The Doctor’s an alien whose species, as mentioned above, has no set gender. Yes, James Bond has changed actor, but Bond is a very masculine character defined by male sterotypes and tropes. Sherlock has gone through countless iterations but the character is still a male figure. The Doctor, on the other hand, is a time travelling alien with a magic police box who travels through time and space fighting monsters. He may be a male, but nothing about the character is specifically male. His humanity, his sense of justice, his humour, his code of conduct has nothing to do with his gender. As long as a female incarnation sticks with those ideals, go for it.

But will it be good for the show? Now, contrary to what the tabloids are saying the show is not dying. Peter Capaldi may not have been as loved by the public as David Tennant or Matt Smith (I really hope the BBC haven’t done what they did to Colin Baker on Capaldi), but the show is watched by millions worldwide and is critically adored. However, it has slipped past the public consciousness in recent times. Could a female Doctor be so discussed and so shocking that people will be interested in the show and check it out? Journey’s End received over 13 million viewers because people couldn’t stop talking about the surprise regeneration. A female Doctor could bring in a new audience and interest, and provided she’s good could keep that audience.

As for whether it’s right, of course it is. Pop culture is gradually shifting to be more equal. The Force Awakens, one of the biggest movies of the decade, has a female lead, as does Rogue One. There’s a Wonder Woman movie this year and a Captain Marvel movie in two years. There was an all female Ghostbusters (although that was pretty controversial to put it mildly). Female heroes are popping up more and more, so while it’s not necessary, a female Doctor would keep with modern pop culture.

Another criticism against a female Doctor is the fact that the boys watching will lose their role model. Well, I grew up watching The Sarah Jane Adventures and didn’t feel alienated, so I fail to see how having a different gender will make a portion of the audience completely lose faith in the show. Besides, lots of girls watch the show. Wouldn’t you say it’s time they had a role model they could be in the playground? I don’t think they want to be stuck playing the companion all the time. Speaking of companions, having a female Doctor doesn’t mean we have to lose Bill. All we need is a male companion to balance things out (I can’t be the only one who prefers multiple companions). Then, when Bill leaves we can have the traditional dynamic of male/female, just reversed.

So overall, this debate needs to be looked at fairly on both sides. I can see why someone would be against it, but for me I can’t see why it would ruin the show. I hope I’ve addressed both why a female Doctor can work and why it may/almost certainly will happen. Again, I’m not asking for one as a necessity. However, I have a strong hunch that we will have a female, or at least someone who isn’t a white male, for the Thirteenth Doctor and I feel like this needs addressing.