Doctor Who – Series 12, Episode 10 – “The Timeless Children”

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It’s the season finalé and there are a lot of unanswered questions! Hopefully, they’ll all be dealt with in tonight’s extended episode of 65 minutes! 🙄

The Interweb on fire…

Predictably, the Interweb has been on fire this week, full of theories, counter-theories, rumours and counter-rumours about how it’s all going to turn out! But, given that this series so far has been mostly about misdirection, I reckon we’re ALL going to be surprised! 🤔

Questions, Questions..!

The unanswered questions keeping us Who-fans awake at night include:
– Who is the other Doctor?
– What exactly happened to Gallifrey?
– What is the significance of ‘The Timeless Child’?
– Who the heck is ‘Brendan’, and how does he fit in with everything else?

In fact, there are so many questions, it’s now gone beyond the drama itself, allowing the show to even poke fun at itself! 😁 Doctor Who Bingo anyone?

😁😁😁😁😁
© DoctorWho TV

Referring to Gallifrey, one of the major unanswered questions revolves around this game-changing statement from The Master…

Everything we were told was a lie. We are not who we think. You or I. The whole existence of our species is built on the lie of the Timeless Child

So, we’re just an hour before tonight’s episode, let me set the scene…

SYNOPSIS: The Cybermen are on the march. As the last remaining humans are ruthlessly hunted down, Graham, Ryan and Yaz face a terrifying fight to survive. For the Doctor – trapped and alone – nothing will ever be the same again.
This episode was written by show-runner Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone.

I’m watching it live tonight, so here’s my timeline as the episode unfolds…

Here we go…

6.52: We’re off!

6.53: Short pre-credit sequence by way of a recap

6.55: Spot the Cyberman!

6.56: Guided tour planned of a significant location

7.01: The ultimate in donations!

7.03: Tonight’s ‘heart-to-heart’!

7.05: So, not ALL of Gallifrey destroyed then!

7.07: The truth is out there!

7.10: History of Gallifrey time!

7.11: The (Re)Generation Game! (but no Brucie!)

7.14: Humans 1 – Cybermen 0 (briefly!)

7.17: The Master being err, ‘masterful’

7.21: Another regeneration!

7.24: OMG!!!!! Major revelation no.1

7.27: Bet that hurt!

7.29: The Master… only more-so!

7.31: “Show me the rest…”

7.33: Redacted!

7.34: “I kept the bodies…”

7.35: An interesting mix!

7.37: Step forward ‘The Fam’

7.38: She’s back!!!

7.40: “People need the Doctor…”

7.42: Nice montage!

7.44: “The death of everything is within me…”

7.46: “Sweet dreams, losers..!”

7.48: Just over 10 minutes left, and it all looks pretty bleak!

7.49: “One option left!”

7.50: A mushy moment!

7.51: Yep, still pretty bleak!

7.53: Hold on, things are looking up! (sort of!)

7.54: Nope! It’s all gone bleak again!!

7.55: “Run Doctor!”

7.57: Chameleon Circuit NOT broken then?????

7.58: Didn’t see that one coming!

Wow! It’s over, and I had trouble keeping up! There was certainly plenty going on tonight! All my six brain cells are now working overtime attempting to process it all. Yep, ‘game-changer’ is an understatement. Disappointingly though, I feel that it hasn’t answered all my questions. 😯

I couldn’t fault the acting though. Both Sacha Dhawan (The Master) and Jodie Whittaker played off each other in the most powerful of ways – it was worth watching, just for that!

The Verdict?

Rating: 3 out of 5.

What a roller-coaster of an episode. I loved it, probably right up to the final 10 minutes where I assumed that everything would neatly come together, and all the cumulative questions from this series would be answered. It didn’t! So, maybe I’d blinked, but I just didn’t pick-up on the ‘big reveals’ to the unanswered questions – and as a result, I was left with a great sense of DIS-satisfaction. 🤔

It must have been me, because on the ‘net, immediately afterwards, loads of fans were going wild about how this episode had resolved things – so I’d obviously missed something! In fact, pretty much everyone thought it was an unforgettable culmination to the series even though the unthinkable had happened – Who canon rewritten! It was certainly a very complex storyline and whereas in previous episodes, I’d criticised this season’s writing for its ‘over-simplistic plots’, THIS ONE felt like we were back to the Steven Moffat‘s days of impenetrable Who-plot-lines! 😮

Anyway, I’m going to watch this episode again, to see if it makes more sense second time around! 😣

What Next?

At the end of the credits, we were teased with the above – no trailer – just this single frame! My guess is that it’ll be shown at Christmas or on New Year’s Day, 2021.

Series Summary

But what of the series as a whole? For what it’s worth, I’ve found this – JW’s second series as our titular hero – more consistent, more enjoyable and more ‘Who-like’ – it was certainly a lot darker. JW’s first series had already proved that she owned the role, but the writing was often overly-simplistic and a bit ‘soap-opera’ in style for me. And don’t get me started on the excess of ‘companions’.

I’ve always enjoyed Who more when the stories were dark (or darker) and therefore this time around, the series ticked a lot more boxes for me. I enjoyed the majority of the episodes except for the abysmal Orphan 55, mostly because of its finger-wagging message about our role in looking after the planet. Overall though, my biggest criticism is that this final episode didn’t really wrap things up – and I’m slightly irritated that I’m going to need to watch it again, and listen more closely to make sense of it all. 😯

Update: Tuesday, 3rd March
I watched the episode again and I’m pleased to say, most of it now makes sense! 😁 Not sure I fully ‘get’ the ‘Brendan’ sub-story, but I’ll live with that!

Doctor Who – Series 12, Episode 9 – “Ascension of the Cybermen”

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The penultimate episode for this series – and it’s a two-parter! There’s been plenty of anticipation online for this one, so it was a bit of a bummer that I wasn’t able to watch it live – I’m writing this, the day after, having successfully avoided any spoilers online. 🤔

SYNOPSIS: It’s the aftermath of the Great CyberWar. The Doctor and friends arrive in the far future intent on protecting the last of the human race from the deadly Cybermen. But, in the face of such a relentless enemy, has the Doctor put her best friends at risk? What terrors lie hiding in the depths of space? And what, where or who, is Ko Sharmus?
This episode was written by showrunner, Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

We’re off! It’s a good start! To say this episode moved ‘at pace’ would be an understatement! Not even time to pop to the loo. It was certainly an action-packed episode from start to finish, and it had me on the edge of my seat (but nowhere near the back of the sofa) from the off!

And, just when this series didn’t need any more unanswered questions (the Internet is still on fire from previous episodes that referenced ‘The Timeless Child‘ and the not insignificant appearance of another Doctor) – we had a curious parallel storyline going on that appeared to have nothing to do with the main narrative! I still have no idea as to how this minisode, set in Ireland, fits into the bigger picture, but it will obviously become clear by the end of next week’s final episode.

Best cliff-hanger ever too! 😜

VERDICT: For me, that was probably the best episode of the series – maybe even the whole of JW’s tenure so far. It all felt very ‘Who’, and for once, the companions the ‘fam’ all had a significant role to play. I haven’t said this in a while, but, I’m really looking forward to next week’s (extended) episode! 😁

Doctor Who – Series 12, Episode 8 – “The Haunting of Villa Diodati”

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Another pre-credit sequence – after last week’s, that’s two in a row! 👍

SYNOPSIS:
Lake Geneva, 1816. Lord Byron and the Shelleys prepare for a night telling ghost stories, but their villa proves to have ghostly presences all its own.
This episode was written by (newcomer to Who) Maxine Alderton.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A great story tonight with an unusual mix of light humour and genuine suspense. Structurally, a perfect three-act affair with a nail-biting climax! 😀

For once, the story didn’t feel too preachy, nor the abundance of companions, too many! With an old established foe returning to create havoc, who (without giving too much away with what’s to come) links perfectly with next week’s penultimate two-parter.

If I had just one criticism, the character Mary Shelley’s initial encounter with said foe, could have been dwelled-on a bit longer – it was all a bit underplayed for something that was to shape the future of Shelley, as an author.

VERDICT: A superb episode that set the scene perfectly for the forthcoming final two episodes of this latest series. Good acting all round, with just the right amount of SFX and CGI. There’s a lot to wrap up in what’s to come, but after seeing tonight’s, I’ve got a renewed confidence in that it’ll all come together very nicely. 😊

Doctor Who – Series 12, Episode 7 – “Can You Hear Me?”

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I found last week’s episode – Praxeus, had a lot of potential, but its oh-so-predictable ending and the not-so-subtle message about the environment spoilt it (although most of the critics seemed to disagree with me, so it shows how much I know!). So, with only two more episodes to air this season, there’s a lot to do to get me back on track.

SYNOPSIS:
From ancient Syria, to present day Sheffield, and out into space, something is stalking the Doctor and her friends. As Graham, Yaz and Ryan return home to see friends and family, they find themselves haunted by very different experiences.
This episode was written by Charlene James and Show-runner, Chris Chibnall.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

OK, that’s a first (for this series): a pre-opening credit sequence! It confirmed that this episode was going to be a scary one! Sofas at the ready!!! 🤣

With the credits over, the narrative settled down, now piling a heavy dose of mystery on top of the already creepy storyline. So far, this is easily the Doctor’s most nerve-shredding escapade so far! But it was also very bleak!! Best not to watch this one then if you’ve had a bad day! 😱

We’re now exactly halfway in, and it’s still holding my attention – even though I had no idea where the episode was heading. The mystery remains! 🙄

And who is the bald guy and what’s he doing with his fingers? He looks very menacing, and reminds me of my old English Lit teacher!!! 😮

Thirty-five minutes in, and there’s a short reference to the ongoing story-arc for this series: “The Timeless Child” – just long enough to keep the Interweb buzzing until next week’s episode! 🤔

Only fifteen minutes to go, and I’m still trying to work out what’s going on (in a good way!), and that suits me perfectly. I just love a good mystery!! 👍

Safe to say that by the final act, this creepy and bleak tale was resolved, although surprisingly, just like some first-dates, the climax came earlier than expected! Consequently, it felt like this week’s was going to finish 10 minutes early! Those remaining minutes were used to great dramatic effect though, and we got to learn something very significant about one of the Doctor’s companions. Deep and meaningful stuff! 🤔

VERDICT: That’s more like it! Yes, this felt very ‘Who-like’ – plenty of mystery, some spooky bits with genuinely menacing characters. 😊 And best of all, you’ll never stick your fingers in your ears again! 🙄

Doctor Who – Series 12, Episode 6 – “Praxeus”

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Well, it seems that series 12 is now on a roll! After last week’s shock revelations and a story that pleased the critics, fans and super-fans alike (all three? truly a rare event in itself!), this episode is going to have to work really hard!

SYNOPSIS:
What connects a missing astronaut in the Indian Ocean, birds behaving strangely in Peru and a US naval officer who washes up on a Madagascan beach?
This week’s episode was written by Pete McTighe with showrunner, Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Well, there were no references to the bigger story arc, reverting to the ‘alien-of-the-week’ format – and that was disappointing. It all started pretty well, by setting up a complex mystery, consisting of a series of unrelated events, it certainly held my attention, attempting to work out what was going on.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the timing of this episode coinciding with the current global coronavirus threat gave it some extra relevance, as the thrust of this week’s yarn was about a mysterious pathogen (Praxeus) with the potential to devastate humanity!

Then, for me, it all went a bit ‘Pete Tong’ as the BBC’s two current obsessions kicked in! Obsession 1: Being overly PC with its character choices and the other: commenting on the state of the planet. All perfectly valid of course in their own right, but not at the expense of the plot! Arghhhh! 😫

The episode also suffered from a recurring issue with Chibnall’s interpretation of Who: far too many characters! If three companions aren’t two (or even three) too many, then this week, in addition, we had an astronaut, his husband, two vbloggers, a scientist and a scientist’s assistant – 50 minutes just isn’t long enough to give everyone enough to do, and it was one of those episodes where popping off to the loo would be a significant disadvantage, as things moved so fast!

As the story progressed, it became less about a story of mankind vs disease. Instead, a preachy piece, admonishing humanity for the ravages we have inflicted in the environment with plastics. Purleasssse! Can we have the Daleks back? – if I need reminding about the state of the planet, I’ll watch David Attenborough!! 🤔

By about two-thirds in, the story, that had all the ingredients of an excellent yarn when it began, just went off the boil. By the final act, it lacked impact and became all very predictable and clichéd: loser-becomes-hero-and-saves-the-day! 😴 Together with an over-sentimental they-all-lived-happily-ever-after final scene (no doubt to please our cousins across the pond!) and that just did it for me 😮 I’m so disappointed!
It was such a contrast to last week’s story!

I’m coming to the conclusion that both this series and the previous, it’s not the acting, I think it’s the scripts – they’re just not chiming with me (apart from last week’s), so maybe it’s time to accept that this Who is not my Who! 😮😮

VERDICT: It started well, JW owns the character, but another preachy message about how we’re destroying the planet together with the rather sugary-sweet ending ruined a story that had shown great potential. 👎

Doctor Who – Series 12, Episode 5 – “Fugitive of the Judoon”

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We’re exactly halfway through this series, and after last week’s very satisfying episode, I wonder if this week’s will be as good?

SYNOPSIS: The Judoon have marched their way into modern Gloucester on the hunt for a fugitive. Who are they pursuing and why is the Doctor involved? Reserve your space behind the settee for tonight’s slice of Sunday Sci-fi! 😁

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Initially, it looked like tonight’s yarn was going to be another ‘Doctor v Monster-of-the-week’ yarn, but wow!, what an episode it turned out to be!!!

Written by showrunner Chris Chibnall with Vinay Patel, and featuring more twists and turns than any Who-episode I ever remember – and I’ve seen a few – this was the best JW episode so far. I don’t think even the most dedicated Whovian could have guessed how tonight’s story would play out! 😮

Without revealing too much here (for those who have yet to see it), this week’s, I predict, will be the most talked about episode so far – maybe ever??? Wholly unpredictable, especially the second half, it kept me riveted from start to finish – as a result, there are now so many questions to be answered!!! 🤔

On one level, it was simply a good Who story, but on another, the surprise return of a much loved character from Who-past, put it on another level, together with all the plot-twists. And if that wasn’t enough, by the third act, a massive plot reveal that impacted on everything we thought we knew about Who has got fans wracking their brains and trying to work out what it all means!! 🙄

Suffice to say: remember the impact on the Who-community when the War Doctor first appeared? Well, it might be time to re-write the Doctors’ timeline again! Ouch! My brain hurts! 🥴

I don’t think they’ll top this one, but who knows?

Verdict: The best story in a long time, with easily enough unanswered questions to set the Internet on fire! 🤩

Doctor Who – Series 12, Episode 4 – “Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror”

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After an enjoyable (and thought-provoking) couple of opening episodes to this new series, last week’s was, for me, a real ‘yawn-fest’ 😴. I’m hoping therefore, tonight’s story is going to get Who back on track… 🤔

SYNOPSIS: It’s 1903, and someone (or something) is sabotaging Nikola Tesla’s generator plant at Niagara Falls. And in a possible spooky crossover between a Captain Scarlet episode and the novel, War of the Worlds; has the inventor received a message from Mars?
<< cue: intro music >> 🎵 Da-da-da-dah… Da-da-da-dah… 🎵

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ahh, that’s better! 👍.
Convincing CGI and SFX worked well together, with a story that moved along at pace. It was good to watch an episode that was based on some real people from history too! A reference to the ongoing story-arc (albeit ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’) ticked an important box for me – so that’s another plus! More episodes like this please BBC!! 🤔

Verdict: A very satisfying yarn, that felt very Who. Perfect Sunday evening fodder 😁