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 6 – Praxeus

“An alien bacteria has come to this planet – and it found a feast.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

Gotta admit, I didn’t take to Pete McTighe’s last script for Doctor Who. Kerblam! (for such was its title, exclamation mark and all) was a fluffy romp that made a misjudged attempt at a Big Message. Trouble was, the Big Message seemed to go against the very ethos of Doctor Who – that big corporations like Amazon were cuddly and caring, while anti-capitalists who try to disrupt their profiteering are terrorists. It didn’t sit well with the show’s previous depictions of such scenarios. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 6 – Praxeus”

Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 4 – Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror

“Nikola Tesla – you’re going to change the world. But first, you’re gonna save it.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

After last week’s uncoordinated mess of an episode, it was rather a relief to come back to what’s admittedly become a formulaic story for Doctor Who since 2005 – the ep centred around a well-known historical figure. Since The Unquiet Dead, these have been a staple of the show; but often the story ends up playing second fiddle to the fannish exaltation of whichever historical figure is on centre stage. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 4 – Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror”

Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 3 – Orphan 55

“You want me to tell you that Earth’s going to be ok – but I can’t. In your time, humanity’s busy arguing over the washing up while the house burns down.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

Doctor Who is too preachy these days”. That’s a view I’ve been hearing on and off since the show’s 2005 return after its lengthy break. It’s been heard more frequently since Chris Chibnall took over, usually as a coded way of justifying unjustifiable objections to a female Doctor and a multi-ethnic regular cast. However, after the sledgehammer unsubtle final speech of Orphan 55, it was a view I was dismayed to find myself agreeing with for the first time – although possibly not for the reasons you’d think, and certainly not for the reasons mentioned above. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 3 – Orphan 55”

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”