Doctor Who: Series 14, Episode 00 – Eve of the Daleks

“We’ve gone back in time. Dalek incoming. Two people in this building about to die unless we stop it.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

Star Trek has done it. The X Files has done it. Person of Interest has done it. Heck, even Doctor Who has done it before (Heaven Sent). But for the non-nerds in the hungover New Year’s Day audience, Dan Lewis spelled it out in a way that pretty much everyone should know – “It’s Groundhog Day”.

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Doctor Who: Series 13, Episode 6 – Flux: Chapter Six: The Vanquishers

“There’s a balance to the universe. It exists that way for a reason.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

Well. Let me get this out of the way right at the beginning, because I’m struggling to contain myself from saying it. That was the biggest load of overcomplicated, incoherent, unmitigated garbage I’ve ever seen masquerading as the resolution for a story. Frenetic running around in place of explanations, with so many deus ex machinas cropping up out of the blue that I’m actually looking forward to the return of RTD who usually sticks to just one a season.

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Doctor Who: Series 13, Episode 5 – Flux: Chapter Five: Survivors of the Flux

“This is Division, Doctor. Welcome back.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

Worried that we’ve reached the penultimate episode of Doctor Who: Flux and you still don’t have a clue what’s going on? Baffled by the multifarious plot strands stretching all through history? Beginning to suspect that Chris Chibnall has even less of a plan than the Brexiters?

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Doctor Who: Series 13, Episode 4 – Flux: Chapter Four: Village of the Angels

“A Weeping Angel needs my help?”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

On paper, Village of the Angels has all the requirements for a classic episode of Doctor Who. A small village setting, isolated, cut off and besieged by the most terrifying monsters the recreated show has to offer. A historical mystery explained by means of twisty-turny, timey-wimey paradoxes. The TARDIS crew separated and in jeopardy, with the Doctor staging a last-ditch attempt to fend off the baddies, sonic screwdriver in hand.

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Doctor Who: Series 13, Episode 3 – Flux: Chapter Three: Once, Upon Time

“Time is playing games with us all.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

OK, let’s see if I’ve got this straight. There’s a planet, called Time. And all the time in the universe comes from there. And upsetting the Mouri, the priests who run it, can destroy time itself, and that’s what’s happening. Have I got this right? Uhh… ok.

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Doctor Who: Series 13, Episode 2 – Flux: Chapter Two: War of the Sontarans

“Taste the victory, my soldiers!.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

The opening “chapter” having set out the multifarious plot threads for Chris Chibnall’s magnum opus, this second ep of Doctor Who: Flux was more focused and made more of an effort to tell an actual story. Rather than dealing with every one of the characters left in jeopardy at the end of the previous week’s cliffhanger, War of the Sontarans zeroed in on just several across two plot threads – what had happened to the occupants of the TARDIS, and the unfortunate Vinder, in the wake of their encounter with the Flux.

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Doctor Who: Series 13, Episode 1 – Flux: Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse

“The end of the universe. I always wondered what it would feel like.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

The Doctor is back, and the universe is ending. Again. I must admit to a feeling of déjà vu about this; the universe has been at stake in stories as varied as Logopolis, Terminus and most Russell T Davies season finales, and it’s still there. Experience suggests that saving the universe is not something the Doctor will have a problem with.

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The Stand 2020: Episode 9 – Frannie in the Well

“Life was such a wheel that no man could stand upon it for long.
And it always, at the end, came round to the same place again.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

And so, the new version of The Stand ends as it began – missing out huge, rather important parts of the story, and focusing on two characters so underwritten and uninteresting you simply didn’t care what happened to them. Along the way, you had to keep reminding yourself of the stakes, since the whole “pandemic wipes out 99% of humanity” thing has been so underplayed throughout, you could have been forgiven for thinking the USA that Stu and Fran were trekking across was perfectly normal. After all, it’s not uncommon to drive hundreds of miles across America’s heartlands without seeing a town or a human being.

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The Stand 2020: Episode 8 – The Stand

“I will fear no evil.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

So here we are at episode 8 of the new version of The Stand, and it’s The End. Not the end of the novel, or, weirdly, even the end of this series. But definitely The End of the only story the showrunners seemed interested in telling, the final confrontation between the demonic Randall Flagg and our heroes representing The Forces of Good.

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The Stand 2020: Episode 7 – The Walk

“Nadine. How I love to love Nadine.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

This new adaptation of The Stand has made plenty of changes from the novel along the way. That’s actually laudable – there would have been no point making it otherwise, with a perfectly adequate version produced in 1994. Some of the changes have been smart, or efficient, or (more frequently) have left out material vital to the later parts of the story that have been faithful to the novel.

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