“The Cybermen were defeated. The victims of a billion battles, broken. An empire of might and terror, fallen. Their weaknesses exploited, their armies outfought. Every empire has its time, and every empire falls. But that which is dead can live again – in the hands of a believer.”
The Cybermen are made up of parts. Spare parts, human and machine. So it’s apt that almost every latterday story about them has itself been made up of parts of other Cyber stories – and this was no exception. However, that didn’t stop it being a very, very good Doctor Who episode in a season that has been unexpectedly good after last year’s rather lacklustre effort. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 9 – Ascension of the Cybermen”
“How about writing the most gruesome, spine-chilling ghost story of all time?”
It was a dark and stormy night…
How many classic ghost stories begin with that one line? Just maybe, it has its origins in the famous night visited by the Doctor and his companions in this week’s suitably spooky episode – the fevered, intense gathering by Lake Geneva of the early 19th century’s most notorious literary talents. In June 1816, in Villa Diodati, on the shores of the lake, George Gordon (better known as Lord Byron), his current lover Clair Clairmont, Percy Bysshe Shelley and his common law wife Mary Godwin (better known as Mary Shelley) gathered together with their friend Dr John Polidori for a party that would be remembered in the annals of literature for centuries to come. From that party came one of the best known tales of terror in history – Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 8 – The Haunting of Villa Diodati”
“You’re wrong about humans. They’re not pathetic. They’re magnificent. They live with their fears, doubts, guilts, they face them down every day, and they prevail! That’s not weakness. It’s strength.”
Ostensibly a stab at one of the horror stories Doctor Who has traditionally done so well, Can You Hear Me? was another divisive ep in the way it took on another Big Issue. This time it was mental health, a topic the show has dealt with before (rather more effectively in my opinion) in 2010’s Vincent and the Doctor. The difference here is that rather than showing us a historical figure beset by his personal demons, this time it was the TARDIS crew who were revealed to have fears and anxieties of their own. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 7 – Can You Hear Me?”
“I don’t think you are who you say you are – or even who you think you are.”
Well, this season of Doctor Who suddenly got a LOT more interesting. Fugitive of the Judoon, like several of its characters, was a clever episode that was emphatically not what it seemed at first, and undoubtedly the most intriguing story since Chris Chibnall took over as showrunner. And while it’s no disrespect to him, this was in large part because of its deliberate echoes of the previous two showrunners, both of whom loomed large over the concepts, plots and characters appearing here. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 5 – Fugitive of the Judoon”
“Doctor – the security of the planet is at stake. Can we rely on you?”
OK, so it’s been a busy couple of weeks for me, being in the UK when the first ep of Doctor Who’s new season was broadcast and flying back to Barcelona pretty much the next day, then getting to grips with a packed new teaching schedule. The upshot is that I haven’t much of a chance, till now, to jot down my thoughts on this big, expansive season opener. But also, crucially, it means I’ve now seen both parts of it. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episodes 1&2 – Spyfall”
Ever since we
got our first good look at David Tennant in 2005’s The Christmas Invasion, the Doctor
Who Christmas special has become a festive tradition. So you can imagine
the apoplexy of some of the more… reactionary fans when the BBC announced that,
for the first time in 13 years, there would be no new Doctor Who this Christmas (Ian Levine practically exploded, again).
“None of us know for sure what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Keep your faith. Travel hopefully. The universe’ll surprise you – constantly!”
One of Chris Chibnall’s stated intentions as incoming showrunner was to abandon the previous two incumbents’ approach of each season having an overall plot arc which would build to a climax at the end of the season. It was often frustratingly done –witness the nonsensically shoehorned references to Torchwood in David Tennant’s first season. But when done well – and probably RTD’s Bad Wolf arc in the 2005 series is still the benchmark – it produces a real feeling of anticipation for the last episode.
“So it’s just us. Alone. In space. With that creature.”
Well, that was actually an improvement on last week. From 50s B-movie to… 80s B-movie? The Tsuranga Conundrum is unlikely to go down as a classic like Midnight, but it was a fun, lightweight space opera romp in the style of the ones you might have rented in a video shop in the 80s. True, handsome production values put it a little above, say, a Roger Corman or Richard Band production, and the overall feel was Star Trek the Next Generation meets Alien by way of Ghoulies.
“Big spider problem in this city right now, Yaz. Glad to be home?”
After last week’s affecting historical, Doctor Who was back on more familiar territory this episode with its own take on classic giant spider B-movies like Tarantula. Arachnids in the UK (the title presumably a dreadful pun on the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK) was a pretty undemanding 50 minutes of television, with a fair few plot holes and some underdeveloped guest characters. But you can’t deny it delivered on the giant spider front. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 11, Episode 4 – Arachnids in the UK”
“Now we know what our task is. To keep history in order.”
Did I just watch an episode of Doctor Who or Quantum Leap? It’s not meant to be an unflattering comparison; despite the American show’s later, more saccharine notes, at its height it was capable of using a science fiction and historical background to tell immensely powerful historic dramas like this. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 11, Episode 3 – Rosa”