Ever heard of second chances? Well, a couple of months ago that’s what I gave the Doctor Who Series 9 finale, Hell Bent. One of the most divisive episodes of perhaps the entire show, I was firmly in the “dislike” camp. More than dislike- in fact I remember during the 2016 hiatus my enthusiasm for televised Who dropping primarily due to how poor Hell Bent was. But, in the lead up to the Series 12 finale, I decided to give it another shot. And…
OK, I still don’t like it. At all. In fact, it’s worse than I remember. I still don’t find it a satisfying or good episode at all, with the production values and acting being the only things of merit. BUT, here’s the thing- I don’t HATE it, at least on an emotional level. I hate it as a finale and a Doctor Who story, but I’m not angry it exists. I don’t have the energy to hate pieces media anymore, to be honest.
The best thing to come out of this lockdown in the UK has been the assembled efforts of Doctor Who fans to get together online and live tweet episodes. And it’s gone viral, with Steven Moffat, Russell T Davies, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and lots more joining in. So far we’ve had Day of the Doctor, Rose and Vincent and the Doctor. And today sees a fan re-watch of The Eleventh Hour, which is a decade old and marked the beginning of my proper obsession with Doctor Who.
Today’s the day. Today is the Doctor Who Series 12 finale. And whilst I did get overexcited and publish my Cyberman retrospective way too early, thankfully another major Doctor Who villain is going to be in The Timeless Children to discuss. Sacha Dhawan’s chaotic and brilliant incarnation of the Master is set to battle Jodie Whittaker and her companions once again, with the Cybermen, a ruined Gallifrey and so many other plot threads to resolve (for anyone curious, I don’t review multi-part stories until the story is finished, so I didn’t review Ascension of the Cybermen and will review the story as a whole tomorrow). On top of all that, it’s Roger Delgado’s birthday today, so to celebrate this wonderful character I’m going to do something a bit different and discuss Big Finish and what I believe to be the Best. Big. Finish. Story. Ever.
The Cybermen, first introduced in 1966, are Doctor Who’s second oldest and persistent foe. There are many different versions and interpretations, but the Cybermen are always tragic figures who in the right hands can be brilliant villains and characters. Chris Chibnall is planning to bring them back in Series 12, with the “Lone Cyberman” already being teased in both Fugitive of the Judoon and the trailer and today we got a glimpse of the beautiful new Cyberman design for the two part finale, Ascension of the Cybermen/The Timeless Children. So to celebrate my favourite Doctor Who monster, we’re going to discuss all sixteen Cybermen television stories so far, plus an audio sidetrack. We’re not doing any story where the Cybermen are featured but not about them or as a main villain (such as The Five Doctors or The Pandorica Opens) or Cyberwoman from Torchwood, mainly because I haven’t seen it and have no intention of doing so thank you very much. So with that aside, let’s chronicle the Cybermen throughout Who’s history-
Amongst the many talking points of Fugitive of the Judoon, one of the biggest is the return of John Barrowman’s Captain Jack, who returned after a ten year absence to warn the Doctor of the “Lone Cyberman” before vanishing. Naturally with the return of Jack comes talk of bringing Torchwood, the adult oriented Doctor Who spin-off, back.
When it comes to Doctor Who fan opinions, nothing is fixed, especially in recent times. For the first eight or nine years of the revival however there was one common consensus- Love & Monsters is terrible, Fear Her is terrible and possibly worse (in two separate fan polls, Fear Her was rated the second worse Who story OF ALL TIME after The Twin Dilemma. It’s worth noting both polls were conducted before Kill the Moon aired). Now having two or more bad episodes in the same series is nothing special but for two equally loathed pieces of television back to back, separating the excellent Beast two parter and the dramatic Dalek/Cyberman/Torchwood war with two virtually no budget, equally bizzare and hated episodes is fascinating to me. It’s like the reverse of what would happen later in Series 4 with the beloved Midnight and Turn Left airing within a week of each other.
As you probably all know, last night Doctor Who returned. Whilst I absolutely do have thoughts on Spyfall (still, even after broadcast, a stupid name) as it’s a two parter I’ll be reviewing the story as a whole sometime next week. But for now, a really, really, insane theory/speculation for the series arc. Why am I doing this after only one episode? Because I need to vent my theory somewhere, I’ve spent the past week working on university essays and I need a brief moment to just go crazy with this random idea. But in order to do this I’m going to need to completely spoil Spyfall Part 1 so SPOILER ALERT AND DO NOT CLICK OR SCROLL DOWN PAST THE IMAGE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE EPISODE YET…
Whilst there’s no series of Doctor Who this year, Chris Chibnall and his team are busy working on a fantastic somophore season for Jodie Whittaker and the Thirteenth Doctor for 2020. Whilst her first season wasn’t perfect (I’m looking at you Tsuranga Conundrum) it was a great series overall and the viewing figures have spoken- Doctor Who is a household name again and is dominating the pop culture discussion once again. It is a great time to be a Doctor Who fan, as for the first time in years the average person on the street might know what you’re talking about and the quality of stories have reflected the level of attention the series is now getting (not you Pting). Chibnall’s all-new writing team were great and actually better than the man himself- I wouldn’t mind any of them returning, which leads me to this post. Here are twelve writers I would love to see write for Series 12 and make the next season as good as possible-
Would I really say no to the writer of my favourite Doctor Who story returning? Toby Whithouse is a Who veteran, first contributing the amazing Series 2 story School Reunion which still holds up as the strongest story from that series. His main contributions were to the Eleventh Doctor era, where his vision of the Doctor as a dark, mythical figure cropped up first in the underrated Vampires of Venice and then the magnum opus of the entire show, The God Complex, which masterfully deconstructed then reconstructed who the Doctor is. A Town Called Mercy and the Fisher King two parter are both great too, and whilst Lie of the Land was incredibly… not good I can’t really blame that entirely on him due to the difficult behind the scenes circumstances surrounding that arc. In short, any season without Whithouse is poorer off without him and his idea of the Doctor is one that I support 100%. I would have preferably wanted him as showrunner but if that’s not the case, another story would do just fine. Whithouse is a master of genre storytelling and is one of the finest writers this show has had and Lie of the Land is such a poor way to end a fantastic collection of stories.
In four days time, the world will be introduced to Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. I cannot wait, and I eagerly anticipate this new era. Following an era that- Series 10 and the beauty that it is aside- I couldn’t enjoy as much as I usually do, to have a fresh new start with a new Doctor, new companions and a new showrunner is simply glorious. The Woman Who Fell to Earth is the first episode for the Thirteenth Doctor, and it’s important to have a good first impression. Whilst I have faith that Chris Chibnall will give us a great first episode (although I am far more excited for the more intriguing sounding Episode 2), there has unfortunately been precedent in the past for less than stellar first stories. Let’s look back at the past twelve times we were introduced to a Doctor and see how they hold up in celebration of this upcoming era-
Later this year, we will finally see the Thirteenth Doctor in action. While all the focus is on Jodie Whittaker, who looks amazing as the Doctor, let’s not forget about our new lead writer, Chris Chibnall. His announcement in January 2016 caused some fuss, as allegedly he is not seen as a good writer by a large percentage of the fandom. This completely baffled me then and continues to now, as I have always enjoyed his work on the show and found him to be a very consistent writer. Throw in his showrunning of Torchwood and we have a very competent head writer for the Whoniverse. Let’s dive into his very different but all very entertaining episodes.