Monday, May 13, 2024

Yoo Hoo New Who

The BBC released the first two episodes of the new series of Doctor Who on Saturday and I very much enjoyed both, although I'm not blind to their faults. It's a bold and confident new start and the series seems to have regained some of its wild energy.

Ncuti Gatwa is great, but then all the best Doctors are Scottish. I'm much less convinced by Millie Gibson's Ruby, but it's clear that she's carrying the big mystery of this series, so let's see where the character goes.

Here are some disorganised thoughts. Not quite reviews, not quite analysis, and I don't know if I'll do more, but I'm enthused enough about the new series to write this, so we'll see.

There will be some SPOILERS, so beware.
  • "Space Babies" was a bit weird and a lot stupid, and a lot of fun, although it went a bit flat in the scenes without the babies.
  • There's some crashingly unsubtle but glorious social commentary. Russell T Davies is angrier than he was in 2005.
  • The Doctor was scared! This was explained with some technobabble, but it is still unusual to see the Doctor openly frightened.
  • There's a fair bit of 2005's "The End of the World" in here. The viewing window scene. The converted mobile phone. I get it. It's a soft reboot, so we're going to get some repetition.
  • There's a lovely Doctorish moment as he decides to save the Bogeyman from an Alien death.
  • Nanny seems to suggest that she's never seen the Bogeyman before, but later on reports that it turned up six years ago. Is that a script error? Or something significant?

  • "The Devil's Chord" was even more over the top and odd. Very bold and gutsy, although a little similar to "The Giggle", for perhaps obvious reasons.
  • The Doctor is scared again. Again, there's an explanation, and this one's better -- the Toymaker did kill him, after all -- but it's still a bit weird twice in a row.
  • Jinkx Monsoon is really good as the Maestro.There are some effective scenes in here, really leaning into the over-the-top campiness of the character, but there's also some successful horror too, like the hiding-in-the-cellar sequence.
  • The fourth wall breaks were lovely. I'm intrigued by this idea that the Doctor has broken the universe and allowed fantasy and magic to creep in. It's a big idea and I hope RTD and crew can pull it off.
  • There's not much of an actual plot, but it's done with such confidence and energy it almost doesn't matter.
  • There are some odd performance choices. Why does the Doctor have a chuckle just after saying that his grand-daughter Susan may have been destroyed at a cellular level?
  • The reference to Susan was itself a surprise. I'm pretty sure she's been referenced in the new series, but never by name. is that significant?
  • This is the second episode in a row in which the resolution is revealed via voiceover flashback, which feels a bit lazy. I've never liked this device, so maybe I'm overly sensitive to it.
  • Chris Waites and the Carrollers is an existing reference, but coming right after a line referring to "The One Who Waits" seems a bit suspicious.
  • The Maestro has been killing/eating music since the 1920s, so does defeating them reset everything, going back 40 years? I assume the rules of magic and storytelling are in place and everything goes back in its box -- literally in this case -- otherwise the Doctor is being a bit negligent by going off on his next adventure and leaving behind four decades of the "wrong" timeline.

In terms of recurring mysteries, why are the Doctor's memories of Ruby's "birth" changing? Who is the cloaked figure who was there that day? Why does Maestro recognise them? Is that the One Who Waits? Is the One Who Waits someone else? What's going on with the recurring appearances by the actor Susan Twist? Will the universe get fixed so it's no longer operating on fairy tale rules?

I'm looking forward to finding out.


  1. The fear frequency referenced in the first episode isn't actually technobabble, but a recognised bit of science. (
    It's something which sceptics often call upon to explain away haunted houses etc. But sceptics are very boring people.

    1. I assumed it was a real thing, as it's very specific.