Doctor Who: Season 11 Talkback (Spoilers)

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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Doctor Who “The Woman Who Fell To Earth”

I am livid! BCC America cut off the main titles during the simulcast! Seeing the new version of the theme song is the biggest selling point of the new Doctor, and we missed it. Gonna have to go online and look for it. But that’s a bummer.

The big question: How is Thirteen? Honestly, she made a positive first impression on me, which is not true for every modern Doctor. I liked both Nine and Eleven immediately, but it took me half a season to warm up to Ten (who wound up my favorite until his last horrid episode), and I never really warmed up to Twelve. Thirteen reminds me a LOT of Eleven with some added maturity. But it will be nice to have a silly Doctor again. I think Stephen Moffat totally botched the hot Doctor streak we had been having by paying tribute to One with Twelve, the most boring Doctor of them all. Well, Twelve was the most boring Doctor after One. Not the worst. Not by a longshot. But the least amount of fun. By the end of Twelve’s run, everything seemed to have turned into a tragedy, and the show became a chore to watch. A fresh start will do the franchise some good. And hopefully Chris Chibnall will not wind up having the self-destructive streak Moffat, and especially Russell T Davies had. But we had been hoping with Moffat in charge he would veer away from Davies’ ludicrously tragic tendencies, and despite a great Eleventh Doctor, a great 50th Anniversary Special, and two great regenerations that put Ten’s final episode to shame, he fell into those bad habits anyways. He never did anything as bad as Torchwood. But the fact that he produced Class, which was very much LIKE Torchwood, means he learned nothing from Davies’ mistakes. At least he never advocated the virtues of rape or bestiality like Davies did on Torchwood. But that’s a pretty freaking low bar.

It will be interesting to finally have a disabled Companion. Frankly, I wish they had continued letting Twelve be blind until his regeneration last year. It would have made things super interesting, it would have been edgy, and knowing it was Peter Capaldi’s final year, it would have been temporary. If Thirteen uses her Sonic Swiss Army Knife to “cure” Ryan in the next episode, I’ll be disappointed. This should hold my attention.

I felt that Ryan talking about his Nan being the greatest woman he ever met to be totally badly written. It’s the kind of sloppy double-entendre Moffat would do with Eleven and the Ponds for Rory to mistake Amy’s love for him, for the Doctor, due to completely poorly-written and badly constructed, unrealistic pronouns, and supposed non-actual-sayings. You don’t MEET your grandmother. If you knew your grandmother, you always knew her. It’s just as wrong-sounding a statement as talking about meeting your mother who raised you from birth. And I don’t give the show slack for that kind of writing anymore, and I certainly am not going to give it to Chibnall’s first episode as showrunner. He should know better by now. And the fact that he doesn’t, DOES worry me that he’ll eventually turn into Davies, like Moffat wound up doing. Prove me wrong, Chibnall: Don’t write another false scene like that, and you’ll be fine. But that moment DID worry me.

Is this the first episode of the relaunch where the TARDIS doesn’t actually appear? I think it is.

It’s been a long time since the Doctor wore woman’s clothes? THAT was a great, and thought-provoking statement. My guess is that it was Eleven, who totally loved wearing inappropriate clothing (and I do seem to remember him cross-dressing once or twice as a disguise, but I could be wrong). Dark Horse is Three. He was SUCH a dandy, as least as far as he dressed. It might have been a REALLY long time.

Promising opening for Jodie Whittaker, less so for Chris Chibnall. ****.
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A Fan of Linus Van Pelt.
Jodie Whitaker's doctor gives me a mixture of 10 and 11 vibes ,I think she did well this first episode. I am coming back to the series because that last couple seasons kind of drove me off it (maybe it was Moffat's storylines or whatever) . I am hoping we get a little more lighter story lines and not have everything feel all dark and edgy. The first episode was pretty good, they continue the tradition (I guess ) of the Doctor still getting used to their new body and look. Reminded me Tenant's first episode in that way in that respect.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Doctor Who "The Ghost Monument"

I love Jodie Whittaker so far, but to me the deal-breaker of season 11 is that Chris Chibnall absolutely sucks as writer and showrunner. Maybe you should scold me for having this opinion after only two episodes, but the dude has literally been with the show since season 1. This is clearly the best he can do.

I understand why he was picked. He has been with the show the longest besides Moffat, and he was literally next in line for showrunner. He was the safe pick for the BBC. Which utterly made him the wrong pick for the first female Doctor. Safe is the wrong tack to take here.

I don't even necessarily think the new showrunner should have been a woman. But it should have been an outside hire. What I was hoping against hope for was better writing than Moffat and Davies, and instead it's slightly worse. This is not fair to Jodie Whittaker at all. She deserves to have a better hand at the wheel of the ship.

To Chibnall's credit, he was probably the guy who choose Whittaker in the first place. I just wish he knew how to write for her.

Next showrunner? I want an outside hire. Maybe even a, (gulp!) AMERICAN! (Maybe not). I just want a superfan who loves and will treat the material with the proper reverence, but who was never stuck in the relaunch's specific toxic mindset. At this point the only "current" writer I would be happy to see made showrunner is Neil Gaiman. And we all know that will never happen.

I mean the thing that made me roll my eyes was the guy's tragic story of his mother making him climb a tree, telling him to jump, and that she'd catch him, and then moving out of the way to prove to him you can't trust anybody. That is not a scene that should ever be written by a person in a genre show. Especially not a competent adult. Sci-fi is about exploring big ideas and human nature, and there is not a mother alive who would do that to her kid. And if there is the occasional mother to prove me wrong, she wouldn't only do something like that once, but enough times so the kid winds up dead. Just the notion that Chibnall wants to use that specific idea as to why someone became mistrustful is about as ludicrous as idea to me as The Giving Tree being a good example of unconditional love. The examples are so horrid they do not apply to the situation in the real-world at all. And this is a flaw Davies always had, Moffat had less of, and it's already in Chibnall's second episode as showrunner. I do not want my sci-fi lecturing me about the deep nature of the human condition, if none of the writers actually know how people work.

And doesn't Ryan have a disability where he has terrible coordination? How is it he can shoot those robots on the first try, much less supposedly be good at Call Of Duty? It's like Chibnall made the character interesting for one episode, and then ignored it because he needed somebody dumb enough to ignore Thirteen.

I have a feeling that Whittaker is going to wind up a widely appreciated Doctor, but I don't ever imagine she will ever be appreciated enough. She is a woman. And she automatically has to be placed in charge of every situation, and have all of the male characters, no matter the time or place, follow her orders. To be blunt, a lot of that is on the writers, and Chibnall did an alright job in showing what happens to boys who don't take her advice. But the heavy lifting of being The Authority is on Whittaker herself, and I don't think anyone will ever give her enough credit for the gravitas she brings to the role. Especially because she's a sillier Doctor than Capaldi. But she has the chops to boss people around, without either the audience or the other characters feeling weird about it. She's so natural at it, it doesn't even feel like the show is actually making a statement, which is about the highest compliment I can pay her skill at this specific thing. She isn't just The Female Doctor. She's The Doctor, period. And I don't know exactly how many fanboys and girls will truly understand how amazing this is while it is happening. I just wish a better showrunner had her back.

Her entering the TARDIS was a magnificent moment. I don't think there has been a previous Doctor in history who ever emoted more over how much it meant to be reunited with that old police box. And it moved me too.

I DO like that the episode ultimately turned out to be a quest for the TARDIS. I DO like that's what the Ghost Monument was.

How is the inside of the TARDIS? A little derivative of Nine and Ten's TARDIS, but the Leviathan feel is off-putting for the right reason: It does not feel like a clean or proper enough TARDIS for a woman. Which is what fascinates me about it. I always feel that often the insides of the TARDIS express the the mood of the current Doctor, so I'm wondering how The Doctor's Wife (Husband) looked at Thirteen and immediately envisioned half-submarine and half-aquarium. I hope there are some added facets to Thirteen I haven't seen yet, that will make the decor fit. But it's the fact that it doesn't yet which is what interests me.

Main titles weren't cut off by BBC America this week. The verdict? I like the show going back to its electronica roots, and the CGI on the timestream is literally funkier and more beautiful than it has ever been. But after the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi-centric main titles, I'm disappointed Whittaker's visage isn't in the timestream. That was an original series tradition, and bringing it back for Smith and Capaldi was arguably the best thing Moffat did when he was in charge. This kind of minutia doesn't actually matter in the grand scheme of things, but it does mean Chibnall is automatically lesser than a writer I already have mixed feelings for. Which is basically my entire problem so far.

The TARDIS wasn't in the main titles this week either, but I have a sneaking suspicion THAT at least will be back next week.

A total mixed bag. Whittaker is already pro, but Chibnall is already a disaster. ***.
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Doctor Who "Rosa"

This is the first great episode for the Thirteenth Doctor.

There have been many debates over the years about whether Doctor Who qualifies as science fiction or fantasy. Because of the time travel, aliens, and spaceships, it has a lot in common with sci-fi. The difference is that the science and the logic behind those things are fantastical and not real-world scientific the way Star Trek tried to keep things. Even the science in Star Wars is more grounded than Doctor Who.

But that's not the personal reason I think maybe Doctor Who is fantasy. It's because Doctor Who almost never uses the science fiction platform and tropes to make allegories for real-world events and politics that are easy for people of a different political opinion to understand. The reason Doctor Who has never been sci-fi to me is that until very recently all of the monsters were unrepentantly evil and people the Doctor always had to stop. The morality, at least until the relaunch was very black and white. As such, they did much less exploring of political ethics than most science fiction does. On most science fiction that is routine. I remember one of the reasons I was so amazed by Remembrance Of The Daleks back on the Original Series, wasn't just because they improved the effects on the show for the last two seasons, or because Sylvester McCoy stopped being the clown and became the Dark Chessmaster. It's because that episode explored racism in the 1960's. Granted that was all in the background, but I remember that episode so vividly not only because Ace beat a Dalek to death with a baseball bat, but because the show acknowledged real-world ugliness and Seven and Ace's disgust at it.

But other than that, I would say that traditional Doctor Who engaged more in fantasy and even horror tropes than science fiction. And that's probably still true today. But this episode struck me as genuine science fiction for viewing the Jim Crow South from a modern perspective of 2018 people of color, which is amazing, because the villain is human, there are no other aliens than the Doctor, and the only spaceship is the TARDIS. And yet, because it explores that aspect of humanity, it's more science fiction than the series usually is.

For the record, the Deep South back then sucked. As a Masshole, I am well aware that Northerners are just as racist, even now, if only behind closed doors, but the Southern Gentleman frame has always been utter b.s.. I never bought the Confederate flag debate thing being about heritage. Because that is some sucky heritage and nothing to be proud of.

The fact that Yaz is called a Mexican despite having a posh British accent shows something about racists that most people are unwilling to point out for fear of being mean. Racists are dirt stupid. The advocates of the Master Race are all brain-dead morons. And nothing demonstrates that more than Yaz off all people being mistaken for a Mexican. I love that the show played the button of how ridiculous racism is, just because it is guided by stupid and evil people. It's not only appalling it got as entrenched as it was. It's even more appalling it's as entrenched as it currently is. And I love that this episode does not treat the white bigots in the episode as misguided people capable of learning from their mistakes. They simply suck. And the people on the bus back then did too.

I specifically love that Graham did not want to be a part of this specific bit of history, for the reason he was. But the Rosa Park on the bus thing was an amazing moment in history, because as it was happening, it was the suckiest thing possible. But in hindsight it's one of the greatest moments in American history because of what we learned from it. It's like the boycotters on Montgomery took one of the most painful moments in Parks' life, and used it as the springboard for a revolution in how people should be treated. And while maybe Graham does not want to be in the role he is, because he is IN that role which is why society changed for the better.

I have a sneaking feeling this isn't the last we've seen of this particular villain. I think Ryan probably made a mistake in randomly stranding him thousands of years in the past. A guy who has killed 2000 people should probably not have all of that history ahead of him to mess up. I have a feeling the TARDIS is going to bring Thirteen back to him more than once.

I love that Grace told Graham specifically not to be like Blake. I never knew the bus driver's name before but now I real-world hate him.

First five star episode of Thirteen's run. Amazing. *****.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Doctor Who "Arachnids In The UK"

I have mixed feelings about that. I think my biggest problem is that Chris Chibnall gave me a weird and impossible ask. He wanted me to think Chris Noth's character is worse than Trump, and "God help America" should he be elected. And I could have told him myself that trying to go lower than Trump is a sucker's game. Because from what I saw he simply is not as bad. He's not spouting white nationalist rhetoric, or raping women, completely incoherent to the people around him, or even inherently sexist. Trying to give us a character to hate more than Trump is stupid. Because you can't do that on a TV-PG show. You try to make somebody worse than Trump, your in R-rated Patrick Bateman territory. And that's how extreme you have to get. So, no cookie for you, Chris Chibnall. I'd say God help America if Crawford DOESN'T win. Which is all kinds of fudged up because he IS a total slimeball.

The thing I liked was that this was the second episode in a row with no other aliens besides the Doctor. No aliens is rare enough. To have it twice in a row this early in Thirteen's run says that they are probably going to keep Thirteen more grounded than most of the other Doctors. I think that's an interesting choice, but I'm not sure it completely fits her bright personality.

I question a lot of the Doctor's claims during the episode. She claims was once a Sister, as in a nun. I may have recalled Eleven crossdressing as a nun before, but if she isn't referring to that, she's full of dren. That's just nonsense.

She also claims she never had a flat. Well, maybe SHE didn't, but Eleven did in the episode "The Lodger". But before her, the Doctors didn't tend to speak of their lives as if their former lives were separate. And she definitely had a flat once.

The Amelia Earhart thing strikes me as probably true though.

I think the Doctor's most endearing moment was actually questioning whether or not she and Yaz are a couple. It didn't occur to her it could be read that way, and she needed clarification from Yaz about it. What's funny is that the way she asked the question made it sound like she'd accept and go with either answer. But I like her questioning that, because since the Doctor has become a woman, this is the first time she ever had to deal with questions regarding whether or not that changed her sexual orientation. And even if the Doctor was bisexual before Thirteen (for which we've frankly seen zero evidence of) it's possible the change in hormones changed that too. She has to ask the question because she's still figuring all that stuff out too. And that's really cool.

I like that the Doctor knows the Spiders have to die, but wants to do it with dignity. When Ryan tells Crawford "She's not gonna like that," in response to the gun, I was impressed. He catches onto the rules pretty quickly and only needs an episode or two to understand how the Doctor works.

Thirteen is not my favorite Doctor so far. But I have caught onto her a LOT quicker than I did David Tennant or Peter Capaldi. Christopher Eccelston had a pretty sweet gig in being the first Doctor back, so we'd all instantly love him, but I think the only previous Doctor of the relaunch I have enjoyed purely on their merits so soon is Matt Smith. Now his tenure wound up a bit of a hot mess, but Eleven was one of the few Doctors of the relaunch I liked right off the bat. And that's true for Thirteen too. I don't like her as much as Ten or Eleven (Yet) but she's already way better than Twelve, and I think I like her more than Nine too. She's stepped into the role and made it hers even though it's only the fourth episode. Although to be fair to her, she actually pulled off that trick in the first episode, so it's even more impressive than I just said.

Perhaps you are wondering about my preferences for Original Series Doctors. I am all about the wackiness of Four, but Five is better in hindsight than he was at the time, Seven sucks a LITTLE, but was still underrated, Six still sucks and always will, Two was funky and cool, Three was funny, and One was boring. Eight was boring in the TV movie, but rocked the 50th Anniversary short. And the War Doctor, as cool as he was, simply doesn't count.

So yeah, Thirteen is in good company. If the writing improves on the show she'll be in good shape. ****.
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Doctor Who "The Tsuranga Conundrum"

I think my favorite moment was when the ship's doctor told the Doctor that she was being selfish and not thinking about the other patients and she checked herself and said he was right. I like that Thirteen has some humility to her which is rare in a Doctor.

That little monster, as dangerous as it was, was super cute. The look of ecstasy on its face as it devoured the bomb was adorable.

I love the pregnant man. His interactions with Graham and Ryan were quite endearing. I'm really starting to love Graham. He's what would happen if Wilfred Mott were more mobile and could join the TARDIS on a more regular basis. I laughed at him admitting he turned away from the squeamish bits on the TV program.

Good episode. I hope the Doctor gets the TARDIS back next week. She loses it entirely too much for my liking. ***1/2.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Doctor Who "Demons Of The Punjab"

Okay, I can pretty safely say something now that I was unwilling to say in the previous weeks. By I think Chris Chibnall's run as showrunner is going to be amazing. In fact, I expect his tenure to be better received than both Russell T Davies and Stephen Moffat.

To be absolutely, 100% fair to Moffat, his first season (also Matt Smith's debut) was all things considered, pretty fantastic. But it was fantastic because it turned the show into a magical fairytale. And instead of making things more grounded for contrast in the ensuing seasons, Moffat made it bigger and more fantastical, and built more and more confusing mythology, and unnecessary darkness and tragedy for everybody until we were sick of it. I imagine The Day Of The Doctor will go down in history as the greatest Doctor Who episode of all time. But everything else besides it past season five grew increasingly frustrating. And that's not even getting into how dour the Peter Capaldi era was. Moffat flew too close the sun and crashed and burned in flames. He and Davies were why we weren't allowed to have nice things.

It's possible Chibnall will crash and burn too for the opposite reason. But Chibnall's tenure has been grounded and rooted in human drama, and the triumph of the human spirit. It is possible he'll become like Russell T Davies, and become addicted to tragedy for the sake of tragedy, and keep trying to top himself in the characters suffering. But the reason I don't see that happening is because all of the tragedy that happened tonight was earned, and a GOOD case of the feels, whereas Davies would make the viewer feel like crap, and act like that was him doing his job well. It wasn't. That's more drama. That isn't GOOD drama. Chibnall allows the wedding to take place. To give the doomed bride and groom a moment of happiness to treasure and hold onto when everything else is destroyed. He doesn't beam the Tenth Doctor away from Rose Tyler before he can admit he loves her. The sadness that takes place is sad because the characters are granted the good moments too. And it's this episode and Rosa's sad ending that tells me that Chibnall understands what kind of human drama people actually want to see. And the fact that the show has become surprisingly humanistic and grounded during Thirteen's first season, arguably makes the franchise closer to real science fiction than at other point during its modern tenure. It explores social issues from the past that feel relevant today. Is there anything more relevant than the idea that the brother is being radicalized with hatred simply by listening to the radio nonstop? That's how it works in America today! Also Radio Rwanda for an earlier example. Perfect allegory on the show's end.

And, as an American, I also want to point out something about Doctor Who that many Brits probably take for granted, and are not all that impressed by. But Doctor Who is history lesson. And it was even when Davies and Moffat were busy sucking. But as an American, we never ONCE learned about the Pakistani / Indian Partition in 1947 in school, or that fact that a million people died over it. Americans are so self-involved, we don't even talk about stuff like that on liberal blogs very often. The first time I ever heard about this particular genocide was tonight. And maybe because every other country but American is being taught all of the other's countries histories besides their own, this might not be that impressive to them. They probably already know that history and consider it old hat. But if you are an American, Doctor Who can teach you a bunch of things about history American teachers don't think is worth telling. And that includes the genocide of a million people.

I found the notion that the alien assassins repented upon their world being destroyed, and turned into witnesses of lonely death, quite beautiful and moving. It is such a touching notion, and it even surprises the Doctor. But it also explains why she's heard a ton of stories about them, but never met any. They aren't around anymore. And when they DO show up, they don't effect history, they just witness it. I thought that idea was phenomenal, and one of the best things I've seen regarding aliens concepts the show has done in years. At least since the Weeping Angels' debut in Blink.

I like that the Doctor wants a biscuit. It reminds me heavily of Eleven's Jammie Dodger obsession. Also Yas has to politely remind her not to bring up the fact that she is supernaturally transgendered in mixed company. She's kidding. Looks down. Not kidding. But I have to imagine being a woman is fascinating for the Doctor. She can literally take place in a new half of customs and rituals that weren't open to her until now. And for a person as curious as every version of the Doctor turns out to be, that might be the best thing of all about the gender switch.

And Graham. Isn't he great? His wisdom and insight to Yas were SO needed and appreciated by both her and me. And it's another example of Chibnall letting his characters enjoy the good moments before having to suffer the bad ones. And I think that it absolutely 100% necessary for good drama.

They never actually explained how the Doctor got the TARDIS back at the end of the last episode. But do you know what? Who cares? Good for the show for realizing they didn't actually NEED to. Just the fact that she has it again is enough.

I am finally sold on Chibnall. He made some mistakes earlier in the season, but if this episode is the new normal, they are all forgiven. Magnificent. *****.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Doctor Who “Kerblam!”

I loved every inch of that. With every single plot twist I swooned in pleasure. What would happen if a writer like Russell T Davies, so invested in creating drama and pathos, actually knew what they doing? I don’t know anything about Pete McTighe, but he is definitely a writer to watch. He could be the next Mark Gatiss.

Where to start? The mystery was SO freaking good and unpredictable. The culprit being Charlie was genius because he was literally my last suspect. It also destroyed all previous Doctor Who tropes, so that was another reason to be surprised. I love Thirteen talking about calling the robots creepy robophobic. Some of her best friends are robots. Which distinguishes her from Ten, who only liked robots if they were dogs. And I love that she is allowed to love Kerblam and not actually be wrong about its value. Yeah, Slade’s a jerk of a boss, but he’s innocent, and Judy is actually the real deal. And to learn that it was the system who sent the distress signal, and the episode just turned everything I thought I knew about Doctor Who on its head.

And I think the thing about the episode I loved the most is the thing I also disliked the most. Which sounds weird, but it’s true. But I was upset at Kira’s death. But if every single death on this show of a character I liked was this well set-up, I would never have had the problem with Russell T Davies I did. Everything spelled her eventual doom, especially in hindsight learning the man who loved her was the killer. She’s only received a single gift in her life. Nobody compliments her. So when she is afforded a gift for doing her job well, it is the perfect amount of tension because we know what’s coming. And making the weapon the bubble wrap is great too because people instinctively want to pop it. Even Graham looks back at it at the end of the episode. And for someone who doesn’t receive gifts, Kira desperately wants to pop it more than most people. It was a brilliant death because she always doomed. It was always coming, which made it a great death.

Speaking of Graham, he is seriously competent at his job of Companioning. True, he doesn’t quite figure out that Charlie is the bad guy, but he gets the information the right way without raising his suspicions. He’s friendly and his wants and asks are reasonable and make sense. The last Companion I felt was such a total natural at this was Rory Williams, and before that Rose Tyler. He gets what makes a good Companion better than most.

I’m glad Ryan’s lack of coordination was brought up again, but I think if he DOES have it, that means he should be able to successfully jump platforms. In his first episode, I thought it was interesting to give him that particular disability, but it seems less brave if the show is going to pretend he can just randomly overcome it when the plot suits it.

I love that Thirteen received Eleven’s fez, and actually put it on! Big smiles from me. I miss Eleven very much, and it’s clear Thirteen does too. She will always remember when the Doctor was him.

I found the Doctor referring to the wasps and Agatha Christie interesting because it was true, and it hints that a lot of her other namedropping of famous people like Elvis were probably legit too, and we just missed those adventures. Still Thirteen DOES strike me as the sort of Doctor who tells Tall Tales.

I like how the Doctor handled Slade’s rudeness by telling him what being a good boss entails, and asking him to pass that test. That way she isn’t threatening him, she’s empowering him. God, I love that about her. I always thought that Eleven was the “Man of the People” Doctor, but Thirteen seems even better at making friends than he was. Simply because she gets people who AREN’T very nice to listen to her too. Eleven brought out the best in good people. Thirteen tries to bring out the best in everyone.

This was an amazing episode and shows that this era of the show is gonna handle the space stuff just as well as the history stuff. I was a skeptic of Chris Chibnall being made showrunner, but the excellent results speak for themselves. *****.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Doctor Who “The Witchfinders”

So apparently Chibnall is simply going for it. He isn’t pretending that the past was anything but sucky for woman and minorities, and that the Doctor has all of her former authority in these situations that she had when she was a bloke. I suspect if and when the Doctor regenerates into a black person he / she will have similar struggles when going back in time. Assuming Chibnall is still showrunner. Davies and Moffat’s records about showing the horrors of racism against the Companions of color were a bit whitewashed, all things considered. And none of their shows actually showed what a living hell it was to be a woman in this era, and if they ever did, the Doctor never registered it himself. The new gender complicates things on the time travel side of things.

For the record, it wasn’t the aliens that were the monsters this week. That was Mistress Savage and King James. They were just as sociopathic and evil as any Dalek. What galls me is that they sincerely think are doing good with genocide. They actually believe they are heroes, even when framing other people to cast suspicion off themselves. I think the thing that really bothered by the end of the episode was that King James wasn’t properly punished and treated as a lovable misguided doof after all that. I like most of the episode but that did not sit right with me at all.

I’m glad Chibnall is not shying away from these women’s issues the Doctor now has to face. A lesser showrunner would pretend everything is the same and that everyone treats the Doctor with the same respect they did before. I like that this episode proved that is not going to be true of the history episodes by a longshot.

I love the Doctor looking in wonder around at all of the medicines in the grandmother’s cabin. She is very similar to Eleven in having a sense of wonder. But hers tends to be more grounded, and involves minutia that other people take for granted. She’s easily impressed is what I’m saying. But it’s not like the things she thinks are wonderful AREN’T wonderful. It’s just we never saw them that way before until Thirteen looked at them that way.

I don’t think either Graham or even the Doctor understand the non-interference thing. If they weren’t supposed to interfere, the TARDIS wouldn’t have brought them there.

A good episode but the ending didn’t quite sit right with me. ***1/2.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Doctor Who “It Takes You Away”

I am a little bit gobsmacked at the fact that the ratings have fallen so far this season, and it has been very poorly received by the fans. Honestly, the show hasn’t been this good in years. At least since Matt Smith’s first season. I do not get the complaints against Chibnall, especially since things are such a step up from both Stephen Moffat and Russell T Davies. I don’t understand the hatred. At all.

The Solitract is an amazing sci-fi idea. Amazing because it’s not only science fiction, it’s fantasy, specifically world-building mythology. Doctor Who has never strictly been a science fiction show, since science dictates so little of the logic of it. The Solitract is an excellent example of that.

LOL at One’s seventh grandmother telling him the second was an agent of the Zygons. That poor kid. No wonder he ran away.

I get the kid’s immediate disgust with Ryan. He is SO bad at Companioning, especially compared to Graham. Even if the father had just taken off because he was sick of the kid, you don’t say that to the kid. It’s also an unlikely answer because the TARDIS wouldn’t have brought them there if that were actually true. There is ALWAYS something for the Doctor to make better. And there wouldn’t be if their job was merely handing a blind kid over to a Norse orphanage.

The Doctor’s note on the wall was both insightful and scary at the same time.

I loved Graham saying to the image of Grace “Don’t do this to me,” upon seeing her. That line and that line reading tells me that particular senior romance is exactly as deep and epic as anything Stephanie Meyer will try to peddle you. That is not something someone says to his second rebound wife. This is deep and true epic love, and they loved each other more than she and Ryan’s father ever did.

And it’s cruel, and it hurts, and Graham realizes it can’t be Grace, because while Ryan was in danger, she’d want to get help to him. All throughout the season, I’ve been a little miffed at Ryan for refusing to call Graham Granddad. It’s because they were saving it for this. The first time Ryan says it isn’t when Graham wants him to say it. It’s when he absolutely NEEDS him to, and no other name will do. And it ties again into the show giving power to names and titles. No more so than that moment. And I freaking love that, and I freaking love this season. It gives the characters real human drama without making them suffering unending misery and torment because Davies and Moffat couldn’t think of any other ideas more interesting than the characters suffering. And Graham suffers. But there is light at the end of the tunnel for him, and a new beginning with his finally acknowledged grandson. I love it. I love everything about it.

I have a feeling that decades from now, this era of the show is going to be remembered as one of its best. And the thing most Whobies in the future will remember about the best season is how unpopular it was with audiences and fans as it was airing. I’ve been through this before in my fandom. Deep Space Nine is now universally considered the best Star Trek series, or at least the only one that still holds up in hindsight. And as it was going, I knew it was the best, while other Trekkies didn’t like it, and preferred Next Gen, and only the true Niners, and the cast and crew understood exactly how amazing and rare and wonderful a gift that show was while it was happening. It was the cult inside the cult. That is going to be Jodie Whittaker’s time on the TARDIS. 20 years from now she will be viewed as one of the greats, and future Whovians will look down at the current crop of Who fans the precise way I looked down on all the Trekkers who complained Deep Space Nine sucked at the time. History is going to vindicate both Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall. ****1/2.


Horde scientist
This is hands down the Best season since Tenants final run IMO. Speaking of which aren't the overall ratings in the U.K. at least the best since Tenants? I feel most of the people complaining about this season are just doing so for very and sometimes blatantly bigoted/misogynistic reasons. I haven't enjoyed who this much in ages! *And this comes from someone who genuinely enjoyed the Matt Smith years*

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
This is hands down the Best season since Tenants final run IMO. Speaking of which aren't the overall ratings in the U.K. at least the best since Tenants? I feel most of the people complaining about this season are just doing so for very and sometimes blatantly bigoted/misogynistic reasons. I haven't enjoyed who this much in ages! *And this comes from someone who genuinely enjoyed the Matt Smith years*
I agree. I love this show now. But people are judging the show by it's ratings on BBC America which are down. Americans prove once again they don't know a good thing when they see it.

Doctor Who “The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos”

That was a Doctor Who mystery all right. One of the defining things about a Doctor Who mystery that the Doctor has to solve, is that the more everyone learns, the worse it can possibly be. So at the point at the end when everything is figured out, the entire galaxy is at stake. And yeah, these small clues are just a tiny hint of the world of hurt of what Tim Shaw’s plans to place Earth in actually are.

Frankly, Tim Shaw was far scarier in this episode than he was in his first appearance. It is not unnoticed by me that he now has a LOT more teeth on his face.

I love Graham taking the Doctor aside and telling her he planned to kill Shaw. Amy Pond, River Song, or Jack Harkness would just do it in the moment, and let the Doctor sort it out later. Graham respects her enough to tell her his intentions ahead of time. He isn’t going to lie to her, or let her operate under a false assumption. Similarly great was the tone of voice Thirteen used to tell Graham that if he did that, he couldn’t travel with her anymore. When a previous Doctor pulled that card, they were always angry, and it was a threat. For Thirteen she’s simply setting the parameters and conditions for which she needs her crew to follow. If Graham disappoints her, she isn’t going to take it personally, or act like it’s some sort of grand punishment. She likes Graham. But if he’s killing people he’s too dangerous for her to travel with.

Say what you will about how shabbily Ryan usually treats Graham, he somehow knows precisely when to save the big moments to land as big as possible. The Granddad thing last episode was when Graham needed it most. And the first ever “I love you” thing is similarly what it is going to freaking take for him to realize this isn’t just about him anymore. And he still tries to kill Tim anyways, before realizing he isn’t a murderer. While I don’t necessarily agree with the Doctor that he’s the strongest person she knows because he didn’t take the shot, he is also wrong that it was a weakness. It was a choice, as simple as that. Strength or weakness had nothing to do with it. Graham just decided he wasn’t a killer. That’s all it was.

I think the reason I loved this conflict between Graham and the Doctor is because all things considered, this episode proves that the Universe would be better off if Tim Shaw died. The Doctor killed every single Dalek and Time Lord in existence just because the war they were fighting was too prolonged. After what Tim Shaw did tonight, I’m thinking killing him instead would have been one of those moves that would have prevented something as big as the Time War ever occurring. Yeah, Graham’s reasons for wanting it are entirely selfish. But the sentiment is completely right either way.

I love Graham saying Grace loved living and was really good at it. Say what you will about Graham potentially tarnishing her memory: That is a great way to remember someone. I hope someday someone remembers ME like that.

This was easily the smallest scale season finale of the relaunch. There is no cliffhanger, there are no Daleks or Cybermen, or the Master, or UNIT, or Torchwood, or the Time Lords, or former Companions and Doctors, or regenerations, or Companion deaths, or any of the big things a Doctor Who finale is known for. Honestly? Thank God. I actually think that Russell T Davies and then Stephen Moffat did a LOT of damage to the show with their season finales, especially Davies. But if Davies hadn’t gone as far as he did, Moffat never would have gotten that bad. But Davies seemed to believed that every single Who finale had to top every previous finale. First Rose is at stake, then Earth (twice), then all of reality. And things started to get so big and dire, that instead of being able to make the threats bigger to top themselves, Davies and Moffat wound up making the personal drama and stakes horrible and soul-crushing instead. And that hurt the show. And Chibnall comes in a delivers a perfectly exciting (but not out of the ordinary) finale without all of the heartache and drama. And it’s fine. And this is the value of Chibnall’s grounded take on the franchise. He isn’t dialed up to 11 about everything. He doesn’t confuse More Drama for Good Drama. Those are two separate things that Davies (and to a far lesser extent Moffat) were unable to tell apart. And I like that this is the first finale we’ve ever gotten that wasn’t gut-wrenching. I could get used to not dreading the end of a season. I could get used to it very much.

All things being equal, it strikes me as extremely strange that Thirteen didn’t meet up with either the Daleks, the Cybermen, or the Master in her first season. The Daleks are especially a must, and I’m eagerly looking forward to getting back to them, especially since strictly speaking, Peter Capaldi’s Twelve didn’t spend as much time with them as the other Doctors on the relaunch did. It was basically down to Rusty, and the Davros two-parter for Twelve, and most of the rest of his focus was on Missy and the Cybermen. So the Daleks haven’t been the presence they should be on the show since at least Matt Smith. And I fear Moffat ruined them by overpowering them in their last appearance, so that now all writers are afraid to tackle them again. I can’t help but feel we haven’t seen them because Moffat wrote everybody else into a corner. Remember when I said that it was unwise to ALWAYS keep trying to top what came before? The fact that we don’t get Dalek episodes anymore is why that is true.

As the season was going, I thought this was Doctor Who’s best relaunch season since the fifth. Now I think it’s since the fourth. The fourth season had a TON of problems that Tennant’s last five episodes exploded. But that was as solid a group of 13 episodes as anything the show ever produced. Until this season. I am impressed. Chris Chinball and Jodie Whittaker did good. Hatas can suck it. ****1/2.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Doctor Who "Resolution"

Finally! Thirteen vs the Daleks! Well, one. But that was enough.

I love that Aaron seems initially offended by Ryan calling Graham "Gramps" but he learns by the end why he does. I hated the bloodbath this episode was as far as innocent and relatively likable people went. But because so many people bit it, you are amazed and surprised Aaron survives by Ryan telling him he loves him. That's Ryan for you. Saving the big words and moments for when they'll actually matter and do some good.

Aaron saying to Graham he didn't go to the funeral because it would make Grace's death feel real was actually understandable. What wasn't was him not trying to connect with Ryan earlier to tell him that. I like that immediately upon meeting him, the Doctor takes a slam at his parenting skills which just goes to show the Doctor is loyal to her friends.

What is up with UNIT being gone? Did they have a hard time contracting Kate Stewart's actress to be in the episode? Because I don't like the idea of it being permanently disbanded, whether we get Kate back or not.

Not an amazing episode, but nobody important died or left, we saw the Doctor versus her first Dalek, and it didn't end on a cliffhanger. I'll call that a win. ***1/2.


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Oh, the irony - while foreign feeds of Cartoon Network ban just about anything, CN USA started to show Shrek completely uncut - with the "offensive" words intact - in 2017! Around the time when Cartoon Network feeds worldwide were already ruled by the nanny state!
Don't ever force yourself into liking a show or any other form of media and don't be afraid to speak up about how you honestly feel about it. Anything can be improved, especially with criticism.
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Hi, Zedd, I wanted to to fix up the date on my birthday, when I was first registered here, it incorrectly date as 1/21/1995 when it actually 2/21/1995, originally I was going to ask one of the admins to fix it so that it’s on the correct date.
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Well, THAT was a flop...Adventure Time will leave Adult Swim after two weeks...