Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 9 – Ascension of the Cybermen

“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.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

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”

Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 8 – The Haunting of Villa Diodati

“How about writing the most gruesome, spine-chilling ghost story of all time?”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

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”

Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 7 – Can You Hear Me?

“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.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

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?”

Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 5 – Fugitive of the Judoon

“I don’t think you are who you say you are – or even who you think you are.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

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 Who: Season 12, Episodes 1&2 – Spyfall

“Doctor – the security of the planet is at stake. Can we rely on you?”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

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”

Doctor Who: Season 11, Episode 11 / New Year special – Resolution

“I always think I’m rid of them. Never am.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

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).

Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 11, Episode 11 / New Year special – Resolution”

Doctor Who: Season 11, Episode 10 – The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

“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!”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

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.

Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 11, Episode 10 – The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”