Film & TV

Doctor Who – A Promising Season of Change

I have watched Doctor Who since it returned over a decade ago, I’ve read the comics and the novelisations, I’ve worn thee wristband every day since I bought it, the best sound in the universe is the TARDIS materialising and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. I’m a little bit of a fan. This year to much excitement, and no small amount of trepidation Doctor Who returned to our screens. Taking on the role the Doctor is no small task for any actor but to be the first female Doctor? Much kudos should go to Jodie Whittaker for surmounting this mammoth task with style, no small amount of talent and an abundance of group nouns (though, I am still not sold on fam). I have been no small critic of the series under Steven Moffat and my heart still goes out to Peter Capaldi for never being allowed to truly take the TARDIS for a spin, so it is with much joy that I thank Chris Chibnall for at least partially retuning Doctor Who to its former glory. Or at least giving me some hope, it will get there.

This series has not been without its bumps – the decision to go without a complete overarching plot or to return the Daleks, Cybermen or any of the other fan favourites was a bold one and while warranted, not entirely successful. Like other fans I raged against the lack of a clear direction, and as a result the lack of character development from particularly the younger members of Team TARDIS. The wealth of companions has made it difficult to actually connect to any of them, as each episode returns them to essentially the place we were in before. Ryan struggles with coordination, Graham is gruff and sage, Yaz provides the conscience of the group. Not that any of the actors can be blamed for their portrayals, I have genuinely enjoyed watching each of them, but it is a surprise to say that Bradley Walsh is the one I’d miss the most.

 

There have been moments I struggled with Doctor too, none of them to do with her gender. Fun-tick, rapid talking-tick, ice underneath the fire-maybe not tick. Jodie Whittaker does a magnificent job of making Doctor Who fun again, but I have missed the moments where the Doctor goes too far, after all there is a reason they can’t travel alone. The moment where the companion drags the Doctor back from the edge, and reminds them of why they call themselves the Doctor, felt all too absent this series – particularly at the end of Kerblam! The end, of what is otherwise an excellent episode sure to become a classic, hollows out the story. For those reading this to decide whether to watch the series, careful spoilers! For the rest of you… The decision to kill Charlie was one I could accept, he is after all the villain of the piece. The Doctor’s attitude to essentially condemning him, and more importantly her companion’s attitude felt, wrong? Where were the emotions we’ve seen from past companions? Donna’s anger, Rose’s condemnation, Martha’s incredulity? The episode leads us to like Charlie through Graham and as we see Kerblam! is not a great place for worker’s rights as indeed it seems neither is the whole galaxy. Charlie’s actions were horrific and I can’t trust bubblewrap anymore, which is a whole other frustration, but he was a kid. My Doctor would have shown a little mercy.

But having said that, no series is perfect. I mean Davies gave a pavement slab a sex life and I prefer not to talk about Moffat too often (he’s like Beetlejuice – don’t say his name too many times). Where else other than Doctor Who can I see a frog talk with a northern accent, actually get a little bit of colour for an essay, (thank you, Alan Cumming) laugh out loud, and get thoroughly over-emotional every week? Doctor Who returns on New Years’ there will surely be Daleks, and great coats, and the best sound in the universe.

By Saoirse O’Connor

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