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Doctor Who Revisited: The Tsuranga Conundrum (2018)

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Flashback to 2018. Doctor Who had undergone its biggest creative shift since 2010, with a new showrunner, new Doctor and a new stylistic approach. The first few episodes of Series 11 had been a really mixed bag, but now we were at the mid-point - the episode that needed to cement this new direction for the show. Unfortunately, 'The Tsuranga Conundrum' wasn't quite "it", instead feeling a bit cobbled-together and uncertain, and by the end of its fifty-minute-running-time, the overall fan reaction was pretty negative.

Revisiting 'The Tsuranga Conundrum' almost two years later, it's easy to see why this episode failed to engage the Doctor Who fan base. It's an incredibly wordy episode, with frequent exposition dumps raced through at such a pace that it's difficult not to get dialogue whiplash. The episode clearly wants to start-off at a good pace, but sadly - whether it be a symptom of editing or Jennifer Perrott's direction - it never manag…

Doctor Who: The Timeless Children (2020) - Review

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After nine weeks, ten episodes and eight stories, Doctor Who: Series 12 comes to a close in 'The Timeless Children'. With the promise of the unveiling of the Timeless Child mystery; an attack from an army of Cyber Warriors; and a big confrontation between the Doctor and the Master, can writer/showrunner Chris Chibnall provide the series with a satisfying conclusion?

Um, no. But he did come close.

So after all of the build-up with "the lone Cyberman" and Ashad's foreboding comments about a sinister plan for the universe, it turns out that he's got a macguffin in his chest that can destroy all organic life and allow the Cybermen to become robots. Also, he mentions that the Cyber Warriors are robots, which instantly makes them 85% less cool. I get that the Cybermen have always been about upgrading themselves, but upgrading themselves to just become robots? That's the same Cybermen = robots issue that 'Nightmare in Silver' fell into. What makes the Cy…

Doctor Who: Ascension of the Cybermen (2020) - Review

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So here we are with the first part of the Doctor Who Series 12 finale, 'Ascension of the Cybermen', which for no reason at all doesn't feature a "...Part One" in the title, which seems a bit odd after the opener 'Spyfall', but oh well. Despite what the title may suggest, this isn't a standalone episode, and like a good few episodes of Series 12, feels like set-up with no pay-off whatsoever, meaning that I am once again trapped on the edge of my seat wondering if Chris Chibnall really can stick the landing with so many dangling plot-threads.

'Ascension of the Cybermen' starts off with the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) attempting to defend the last seven humans that side of the universe from a Cyberman attack. I say attempting because they are quickly defeated by flying Cyberman heads that looked so utterly ridiculous that all sense of tension vanished immediately. Seriously, the Cyber…

Doctor Who: The Haunting of Villa Diodati (2020) - Review

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'The Haunting of Villa Diodati' is one of the few Doctor Who historical stories I've actually been able to look forward to recently. Having studied 'Frankenstein' at A Level, I did a lot of research into the development of Mary Shelley's iconic novel, and her time at Villa Diodati on one rainy summer with Lord Byron (Jacob Collins-Levy), John Polidori (Maxim Baldry), her stepsister Claire Claremont (Nadia Parkes) and and husband Percy Bysshe Shelley (Lewis Rainer) is quite an interesting one. 'Frankenstein' was inspired by new experiments with electricity, and as the group were challenged by Lord Byron to come up a spine-chilling ghost story, Mary (Lili Miller) ended up writing 'Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus' in answer. Polidori, meanwhile, wrote 'The Vampyre', a novella that pre-dated 'Dracula' with a Byron-inspired vampire antagonist. 'The Haunting of Villa Diodati' opts to streamline this slice of history, an…

Doctor Who: Can You Hear Me? (2020) - Review

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What are you afraid of? And afraid to talk about? What everyday things seep into your nightmares? Charlene James' 'Can You Hear Me?' sets out to discuss these questions in an eerie, emotional eighth episode to Doctor Who's twelfth series, co-written by showrunner Chris Chibnall.
It's an episode with a tough balancing act, and I do think that 'Can You Hear Me?' suffers from the three-companion issue the series currently has, but it does manage to recover from this much better than previous episodes. Ryan (Tosin Cole), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) all feel like fully-rounded characters here, each with their own stories to tell, each with their own friends, (real) lives and concerns. Ryan's afraid of not being there for his friends when they need him, especially his best friend Tibo (Buom Tihngang, reprising the character from 'Spyfall' Part One). Yaz is worried about leaving her sister Sonya (Bhavnisha Parmar) behind when she need…

Doctor Who: Praxeus (2020) - Review

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'Praxeus' is a rather unfortunately placed episode in Doctor Who: Series 12. After the surprising twists and turns in last week's 'Fugitive of the Judoon', with a cliffhanger ending leading into this episode and a co-writer credit to series showrunner Chris Chibnall, I (and I suspect many other fans) went into 'Praxeus' expecting a direct continuation that would further the series arc in a new and interesting way, whereas what we actually got was a run-of-the-mill, monster-of-the-week episode in a slot that really needed something more interesting and "important" to the series.

This all contributes to my general indifference towards 'Praxeus' as an episode; it simply did nothing to really maintain my investment, and instead I found myself waiting patiently for some indication of where the series would actually be going next in terms of the big arc plot. It also doesn't help that 'Praxeus'' themes of plastic waste and its e…

Doctor Who: Fugitive of the Judoon (2020) - Review

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I've been waiting to see what big, mad idea Chris Chibnall has for his Doctor Who for a while now - essentially since a "five year plan" was teased back in 2017 - and whilst 'Spyfall' earlier this season teased a new status quo for the Doctor, 'Fugitive of the Judoon' comes along as a big mid-season shake-up that the show desperately needed, and something that the Who fan-base definitely needed. But despite being possibly the best thing to happen to the show for a long time, 'Fugitive' is also quite possibly the worst thing to happen to Doctor Who for all of the same reasons.

The episode was teased as a fun monster-of-the-week episode featuring the return of the Judoon (voiced by Nicholas Briggs, first seen in Series 3's 'Smith and Jones'), who were hunting a mysterious fugitive character (Neil Stuke), except then it turns out that he's not the real fugitive, and that his wife Ruth (Jo Martin) is. The Doctor and Ruth travel to Rut…