| First Contact
: original ’73* transmission. The Lowdown
: The Rani’s gonna' hack the Doctor’s timeline and imprison him up his own fundament forever. Or something. Preramble
: Unrateable. Unquantifiable. Some would like to deny its very existence. Or cunningly explain it away as a nightmare of the Doctor’s. But it happened. Oh crikey yes. ‘I am a fanboy, pure in heart,
I know ‘Dimensions’ off by heart
In the spirit of Moff,
I watched it end to start'
'Oh crikey' Thirty Astonishing Things About ‘Dimensions in Time’ 1
) Sylvester McCoy. There’s absolutely no difference in performance from his broadcast stories. Uncanny.2
) Jon Pertwee. He’s playing it deadly straight. Hilariously so. Respect sir!3
) Tom Baker. Taking the piss to the nth degree. And then some.4
) Peter Davison. Playing it straight but with a kind of weary resignation just bubbling under.5
) Colin Baker. Playing it admirably straight although he and nobody else present has got anything on the towering presence of The Pert.6
) The fact that you could slot events here into ‘Trial of a Time Lord’ with relatively little difficulty: The Valeyard just having an off-day with Matrix Photo-Shop and Screen Writing for Dullards.7
) Sophie Aldred’s Ace: As with McCoy there’s absolutely no difference in performance. You could slap this baby down comfortably between Seasons 24 and 25 or 25 and 26.8
) Carole Ann Ford. She’s playing it very straight. Respect madam.9
) Deborah Watling. ‘Who was that terrible woman?!’ Well exactly love. Oh crikey.10
) Nicholas Courtney. Bluff as ever in a minute long appearance amidst cobblers of unheralded magnitude. I salute you sir.
) Richard Franklin. Oh crikey Part II. A toweringly dynamic last appearance in ‘Who’ for Mike Yates.12
) The fact that Franklin doesn’t run someone down in Bessie in the market scene. Genuinely scary.13
) Caroline John and Bonnie Langford confusion. Both playing it pretty straight down the line but I mistake Langford for John on first glance. Blinding.14
) Elisabeth Sladen. Bizzarely OTT for perhaps the only time in ‘Who’. Perchance an allergic reaction to the level of cobblers.15
) Louise Jameson. Oh blimey, oh blimey. That costume!!16
) Lalla Ward. Oh blimey in excelsius.17
) Romana getting ‘dragged’ into the Queen Vic. Simply stunning vicar.18
) Sarah Sutton and Nicola Bryant. A double-hander of pointlessness…Yes it wuz fer charidee but honestly…You just need Waterhouse in there and all reality would have imploded.19
) Kate O’Mara-utterly, screamingly magnificent, no aspersions will be brooked. Alongside Pertwee she aces this for me: ‘You’re going on a long journey…a very long journey
!’ Yes indeed m'aam.20
) Samuel West. Pretty darn magnificent as well actually. You can tell he’s thrilled to be in ‘Who’. Possibly just doesn’t realize the magnitude and import of which ‘Who’ he’s actually in.
) That hyper-funky theme tune re-mix. Yep, I like it vicar.22
) Keff McCulloch ladies and gentlemen…Tonight he’ll be playing some (co)incidental music for us. Ouch.23
) The excruciating cross-over with ‘Noel’s House Party’. Painful to witness Edwards glibly sniggering up his sleeves. (Although me Mum met him when he had to make an emergency helicopter landing amidst her classes school picnic one summer-he was lovely apparently. So that’s a thing.)24
) The ‘plot’. It’s actually not a bad idea for a multi-Doctor, celebratory ‘Who’ story.25
) Certainly it was good enough for Moffat to riff off via the Great Intelligence in Nu-Serious VII.b.26
) The CGI mono-rail. Really guys, you shouldn’t have. Doubly so with the disembodied heads of Bill and the Troutster.27
) The menagerie of monsters! Let’s focus particularly on Fifi growling amidst the fruit’n’veg and a cast of looming fanboys in wobbly costumes at the, er, ‘cliffhanger’…oh dear.28
) It shoulda’ been Big Ron!!29
) The notion of the original, way darker ‘Destination: Holocaust’ script. As hard to imagine/comprehend as what we actually got.30
) The Daleks being pulled…’cos their presence would clearly have salvaged everything. Good move Skaro.
Yerse…Just timeless. Utterly timeless. And somehow an inevitable by-product of ‘Who’s’ wilderness period. JNT, you were a showman and a show-boater to boot. If this is gonna’ stand as your epitaph, alongside ‘Androzani’, ‘Twin Dilemma’, ‘Kinda’, ‘Warriors’, ‘Happiness Patrol’ et al then yeah, so be it. Your era was vast and most assuredly contains multitudes. Here we are now. Entertain us.
'Oh cocking cockity cock'
*Yer, yer, sometimes you just gotta' let a cock-up stand (as it were)- I just couldn't help meself with what I subconsciously did there.
Limitless but limited...I dunno' where we go from here Ma'am but I remain an eternal optimist...
We have John Bishop in the mix as Dan. Didn't know him, this is what being out of the UK media fix loop for nigh on twenty years does. Sisters like him and were thumbs upping it. Yaz is still there (rumours say maybe part way?) ....Also that Bishop is likely a one series deal, complete in and of itself, aka Bill in Series 10...
Chibnall present and when I was saying 'bottled it' in an earlier wibble really, again, I dunno'...Series 11 just seemed so darn fresh for meself. Up there with Seasons 7, 11(!*
), 14, 25, 26, Nu-Series 1 and 5 as something truly (largely) new and engaging. Series 12 was an old foes, fan-wonk overload with good bits that were weighed down by over-cautious, 'bumz on seetz pretty pleeze' irrelevance for meself...H'mm etc...The 8 episode ( no special if rumours-ville is to be believed again) reduced series was pretty inevitable, Covid or no Covid for my grotzits...If it's completed on time, I wager could be split over late 2021, early 2022, which'd give Chibnall his five years, stretched thin as they may be...
Whittaker has remained, very largely, an absolute standout Doctor for meself. Cetainly upper half, possibly top tier but orbiting fifth or fourth place at present. Very good on the underplayed melancholy'n'human, very McCoy via Davison at times and yeah, they're not always playing to her strengths but a good 'un for meself... Pretty sure she'll be off after this next series, rumours-ville in overdrive on that one...
...If she were to be, fantasy casting would be along the lines of Michaela Coel ( 'I May destroy You'-Yep
. Idiot understatement ends.) Of course, there's likely no way on earth it'd happen but heck, give her complete creative control,one, two series. But really, someone who'd push the boundaries/be totally fresh...
...Which wouldn't be a total 'no' to someone (rumours-ville again very active here) like Maxine Alderton as head writer, 'The Haunting of Villa Diodati' was a real highlight of series 12. And if 'Who' were to become a once every two or three years, 8 episode series, akin to summit like 'Unforgotten', I wouldn't be complaining. To be honest, if it goes out on a 60th anniversary special or mini-series of specials, as with Tennant in 2009/10, yeah, fair-play...I'd still be up for a TV rest being as good as a change, come back in 2038 or summit when I'm (truly!) in me dotage if still present'n'wibbling...Time'll'tell fer sure innit? Peace, Krotons'n'Time Cakes...*
Well, there's a typo I've just got to let stand- the list was meant to read seasons 1, 7, 13, 14, 25, 26 and Nu-series 1, 4, 5 and 8 but let's leave it as above!
|'Dropping the Ball:Chronic Hysterisis Remix'
'With Chris Chibnall''Joker Face'
Well, we start off accomplished with a very auto-pilot 10
. There's an hilarious joke, novelty villainy and the party hat seems to have got dropped down the back of the sofa for a latter outing.'Tragic Mistake Tour''That's right son, our hair's got nothing on the story.'
Which is unfortunately followed by one of the true cock-ups of the canon for my grotzits. 3
seems generous in retrospect. Now wash your hands of it.'N.V.U.J.''News just in! 'Androzani' still wees over everything from a great height!'
Then everything starts to bowl along pretty neatly again...Not so much in a world of hurt as backing through the looking glass and knocking the wings off...10.5'Devolver''So that's sorted then- Brie and Cranberry Baguettes all round?'
... things get very, very good indeed...Perchance not quite as big, bold'n'clever as at first sight but still pretty darn great, whichever way you slice it...13+++'Plastic Sole''The sky is limited.'
Pretty much keeps it up...Timely, timeless and in yer face Reverend...11.5
...(All You Need Is)'HATE''Give them the finger? I can raise you on that.'
...slackens the pace slightly, but only slightly...Not as unwieldy as some would have it,not as slick as some would like, steering a teetering but entertaining middle path...10.5
...'Sergeant Ashad's Heartless Thuggery Brand''Pain? That word is in my vocabulary bank.'
Really hits the mark again. One exceptional guest turn. One very simple gimmick dressed up fancy. Turned out caustic again. 13+++'The Slight Album?''The Prisoners of Time'
Then confuses itself and everyone/thing else into the bargain...Kitchen sink, novelty shlock that doesn't utterly fail to entertain but honestly...a 9.5
aggregate...'No. Really. Let It ****ing Be.''Really, truly, nandemo...'
And departs (for now) with some epically indifferent time-tumbleweed...Out through the in door, please please yerself and don't foget your time coat...6.5
H'mm with knobs on Reverend. I'll save further wibbling for next time and a 'Where to From Here?' wibble but yeah...If series 11 averaged 11.5
( outstanding/amazing moments) this is a 9.5
aggregate, excellent with classic moments overall but...Chibnall has definitely dropped the ball here for meself. Or more likely walked off court- I've a sneaking suspicion he's bottled it/blown things simultaneously but next time eh? Series 11 I think is an all time great that'll be a long time getting a reasoned hearing. This is palpably not as strong whilst still very good in parts. Shame but internal and external factors are stretching this variant of 'Who' waaaayy thin right now and the future signs aren't clear at all, nor that hopeful for meself but heck, gambatte'n'all that-we'll indubitably see...Back to the Time Tea'n'Biscuits.....
|13.20 'Mesmerizing Poli(sh)tic(k) of Future History''Opinion flies, opinion crawls-like the fan-mind, upside institution walls'
Strewth but this one's hard to get worked up about...Honestly, it's not bad per se but that ain't really a recommendation. Um...Our Chris seems to have noticed a dangling plot thread (please don't tell me you thought about this hard in advance Mr Chibnall) from a past special and idly re-heated it.As far as the, a'hem, 'writing' goes, we're well beyond auto-pilot...'Prisoner Cell Block Hate'
Jack appearing out of the ether and busting the Doc' outta' space/time prison is kinda' cute. I grant ye, Jodie Whittaker is pretty strong in these early sequences. She does deflated'n'down Doctor pretty neatly without grating. Seeing the Daleks off come the close she's not so hot; always trips over herself on the 'impassioned defiance techno-babble' moments for meself. So a performance of two halves there Brian. Simultaneously engaging and flat...Odd vicar, odd...'No, we draw straws- shortest stays'
As for the guest cast and yer 'slot the plot together', erm...It's very slick. Lee Haven Jones directs it all very neatly, the arseing about action sequences are all pretty good for me grotzits. The home made, Meccano Daleks are alright, quite logical and are soon upgraded by our malignant squid contingent. 'Cept less has always been more on me inner Dalek, far too many tentacles launching 'emselves about the place...H'mm...'Riot Shield Shield'
Of said guest cast, Chris Noth is clearly enjoying himself massively but has dropped the edge a tad this time out. I prefered the character in 'Arachnids' to be honest. In fact, 'dropped the edge' is an understatement, he's clearly Zoom-conferencing it in. But good value nonetheless. Harriet Walter is excellent but wasted as Prime Minister for two minutes Jo Patterson. as are much of the guest cast, truth be told. Chibnall can actually write character very, very well for my grotzits but to say I suspect his heart ain't really in things is likely going large on the understatement once again...His 'true-blood' Dalek contingent are utter numb-nuts of the first water, whizzing into Thirteen's decoy TARDIS and doom with nary a thought.'Wild boys always shine (but a Square-ness Gun is helpful)'
No, it's John Barrowman's good old boy, Captain Jack Harkness who fares best here. He makes quite the impression, ironic but understated. Dare one say decently poignant/reflective with Yaz and co. Works pretty well with Whittaker too. There are good moments generally with our Fam'n'all. Speaking of....Ryan likely gets his best scene of his entire run, right near the close. The TARDIS moment with Jodie is pretty striking and nicely underplayed by Tosin Cole and Jodie Whittaker. Likewise Jack and Yaz in, a'hem, Osaka...I mean, the street-lights were accurate but...Nice if they ever do get to film an episode proper over here but the time may take its time in the telling on that one, current realities (hah!) considered...'People, the Ante will now Up Me'
Bradley Walsh, a personal favourite, perhaps comes out with the weakest deal here, which is a shame. Graham's been very good value for money along this Thirteenth ride. His leaving with Ryan makes sense, as does Yaz being the one to stick around. That post Covid lockdowns final TARDIS scene is affecting enough. Feels right to end with Graham and Ryan back on the hillside and that 'Grace gets in their eyes' moment but really, when all is wibbled...Chibnall again flubs/cops out with their handy psychic paper parting gifts from Thirteen. Which now allows 'em to 'Sense Melodrama' anywhere on the planet. Neat? Kind of tedious truth be told time boyz'n'gurlz. Nah, to nab a title from an old SKARO (1997 I think), 'Tomorrow's Almost Over'...and it really is. Family and friends whose opinions I know of really enjoyed this. Youngest sister was giving it a 14/10. And I liked it well enough, I'm loathe to damn with faint praise but know that's exactly what I'm doing. Lawks...
....Chibnall, amusingly, seems to have invented a new rating- I call it '6.5 Deluxe' I really wanted to give this a 10.5. classic hokum with the occasional outstanding moment/turn. Llaissez faire, casual fanboy that I am, there's still summit' seriously outta' joint in the time kitchen here Reverend. Which is gonna' require a Series 12 overview wibble and a look to da future (say what?!?
) come me next rambles...As for now, regrettably 'cos there's much I like about this era, ( and this episode, bizarrely) 6.5 Deluxe
it is...'Who' you are admirably vast but at present the contradictions/contraindications are massive(ly underwhelming)...Someone put the Time Kettle on, innit?'Kid, I pay you to be expendable- I'm waltzing out of this!'
|13.19b 'Thrice Upon a Time∞ (& Then Some)''Yes, I'm back and I give you.....Vaudeville Quarry!'
‘We don’t want your life story.’ Yep, I don’t think you were expecting that line to come back and bite you on the arse quite so immediately Doctor.
So, what, exactly, are the charges for the prosecution?
1) Chibnall has given an alternate origin for the Doctor, the orphan(?) from da Unknown Dimension...
2) He’s given another explanation for Time Lord regenerative ability- a point of origin.
3) He’s given the Doctor umpteen to the power of zen hitherto unknown incarnations.
4) The Doctor would now appear to be a tool of the mysterious ‘Division’.
5) A God-Child/RogueTrooper-esque Tool, simultaneously all empowering and utterly impuissant.
Not to mount a defence but just give a Gantrysville reaction. 1 and 2, I’m genuinely not that bothered, it’s more flim-flam window dressing for meself. I can take it or leave it, likely the latter but really no biggie...3, 4 and 5 are admittedly more problematic but even then are simultaneously so underwhelming I can’t get that worked up about ‘em vicar. It’s fine’n’dandy to drop Slayer superpowers all over the shop at the ‘Buffy’ grande finale on TV. Anyone can be the Slayer, yep, okay...Now, effectively the Doctor can be anyone in a truly diluted/watered down sense. I’m guessing Chibnall was aiming for a ‘Buffy’ empowerment vibe but Mrs Rassilon on a unicycle has he misread/misjudged things in me humble. Plus, ‘The Division’ vs ‘The Celestial Intervention Agency’, split the difference and piss away any last dregs of creativity...Folk may have got shouty about it but I doubt this is a Holmesian moment of on the hoof creative reinvention. Whichever way you square it, this ain't a show or creative team at the height of their powers, surfing a wave of popular adoration. On the back foot and failing to come out fighting is nearer the mark for meself. I doubt this is a Jan Vincent-Rudski spitting out his time cornflakes moment that'll assert a bold new paradigm that we'll come to know and love, look back and laugh...Anyways...'Canon, Schamanon....I eat Frosted Canon Flakes for breakfast, Mrs Omega says they'll do me a power of good...'
...So no, not really wildly enamoured of removing any agency, individuality or volition from our Doc’, I’ve gotta’ say. But am still such a casual obsessive that I can brush it under the time carpet, along with that such as Eight’s ‘half human on me mother’s side’ TV movie schtick. The bigger problem for meself is, as wibbled at the beginning of this series’ warblings .....Gallibloodyfrey. Again. Strewth oh lummox. I’ve always, always been underwhelmed by over-convoluted, navel gazing point of origin guff. Plus this one is so relentlessly tell not show. The Doctor is held in stasis for a good third of the running time so as our Chris can unleash his inner fanboy squee. Dear oh dear. Me dear old Mum was substantially underwhelmed/baffled by this fer sure and I’m pretty sure Jo and Joe Public will be distinctly un-fussed, if they were even watching...All of that said, astonishingly, I do think there’s a semi-decent story/finale here. I can divide the fanwonk bafflegab from the running about the place quite happily. Which is probably a bit unfortunate, oh for a modern day, genuine script editor but anyroad...The adventure’n’presentation of garnered the following..... 'Yep, absolutely, this is going to stuff (dis)continuity into a cocked hat.Or something.'
Side wibble but I do find meself once again liking Thirteen’s opening titles mind. Anyroad, we have the Master, Tool of the Portentous. Amidst a very nice shiny quarry this week. Our lad da Master Blaster is coming over very sulky/petulant with his ‘It’s not a game!’ 'n'all. And it really should be ‘Look upon my trousers and despair!’ ‘cos he’s really outclassed your culottes Doctor. All the back-referencing, hiding from Borusa in the alleys seems a tad ‘Harry Potter’ which ain’t a diss but still...Sacha Dhawan is extremely good value despite pushing the ‘manic cartoon’ to the max, though there’s really nowhere else to go with it...'So let's just roll with it!'
Aboard the Cyber-Troop Carrier Graham is ruthlessly pragmatic with using the Cyber suits. In a chirpy, London manner. These Cybermen are a neat amalgam of previous iterations for me grotzits. Spare parts and spare plots, eh Chris? But the Master remains one of the strongest, if notably daft things about this: ‘Breaker One Two calling all Cybes’ indeed. Raised a smile. Whittaker is initially undercut and reduced to ‘Don’t heckle dear!’ and looking reproachful. Chibnall seems far more interested in the Master’s running commentary/stand-up routine. It’s an uneasy/ungainly balancing act f’sure...
'Somebody pass me The Arse Kicking Machine of Rassilon.'
Patrick O’Kane’s lead Cyber-dude Ashad still has major presence. It’s a shame he’s gonna’ be so perfunctorily cut down to size. Maybe it’s to show us how truly deadly Mr Inanity Pants really is, eh? Ian McElhinney remains wryly energetic as Ko Sharmus. Graham and Yaz have a very nice, sweet/mildly awkward bonding’n’respect moment. Graham perchance takes it all a step too far with ‘You’re doing the whole human race proud’ but it does work for meself. And it remains a well tense game of hide and seek for Graham, Yaz and co, stalked by Ashad aboard the carrier. But then we stray into Random Revelation Land with... 'Always coming to carry me home.'
...Tecteun. Seylan Bater doesn't utter a word as the original iteration, but brother, the character as writ has certainly got that hessian weave, patronising third world smile vibe down pat: Hello Universe, let me adopt and enlighten you. For your own good, obviously. I do like that she's a Shabogan, she really is very 'Invasion of Time' but there's summit off about the whole premise.Plus all the Master narrated, Matrix Gallifrey backstory stuff just has no interest whatsoever for meself. This one might have a lot of dark (daft?) trappings but it's got a Heart of Dullness. Dwarf Star heavy'n'all, sorry Chris but honestly...
Ryan has a moment of true, inane, punch the air daftness back in the thick of it. I like the 'basketball bomb' moment- is that why there appear to be basketball hoops at the Boundary, so's he can practice? The Master meanwhile takes amorality to new levels: 'I saw the atrocities perpetuated on your race.' This to Ashad, (half)-face of the Atrocity Machine itself. Although I do like his inane but sincere(ly pisstaking), 'Did you make that?' on the Death Particle revelation. Yer...Death Particle/The Moment/Reality Bomb...Cyber-Lords/Genocide Doctor/Nihilism Master Davros...We've been here before Mr Chibnall, thrice upon a time ain't gonna' make it lucky I tell ye, just kinda' narratively bankrupt and bereft of real dynamism. Which is a shame 'cos there's a lot of real spirit'n'emotion in much of your stuff.'Series impounded and episode count reduced- Consider this your final warning.'
Am I being a tad harsh Mrs Rassilon? Honestly, I don't feel so. This really is quite the turgid-fest around the Tectuen/Dawn of Gallifrey stuff. Jo Martin's unknown incarnation turns up to look bored and grouchy,which is a waste. We even get our supposedly inspirational, JNT-esque flashback sequence as the Doctor frontal lobes her way outta' da Matrix. H'mm...I totally, totally get why some would give up on this now. Although here in Gantry's-ville, I remain easily amused/not fussed. There's clearly some chain yanking going on-the Master's 'I deserve to be your business partner because I have done well in all the tasks.' Enough already. The Cyber-Lords, simply oh dear in excelsius. That's an undefeatable series ender. Although, as Gallifrey (finally?!) implodes I do love Dhawan's voiceover 'Everyone-through here now!' (It's quite buried-I only picked it up on a headphones listen.) Clearly that's how the Master's kept doing it all these years- he's got Draemon's Doko Demo Door. Beyond Keystone Cops/Wacky Races...
Ian McKelhinney's Ko Sharmus gets the poignant emotive music shortly before his demise. Yaz remains on very spunky/reproachful form with our Doc'. Kinda' keying in she's gonna' be the companion sticking around for the longer haul. And hey, the Doctor coming to with a relieved 'My Fam...' It all makes sense, she's an orphan, thanks for joining those dots for me Chris. Strewth...So none of this wibbled is a very strong recommendation. Although Jodie Whittaker remains on very strong form when finally given summit' to do. She's got yer steely determination and wide-eyed wonder down pat, very good iteration for meself. The 'open' ending, with the Judoon suddenly materialising in the TARDIS works well enough and I'm curious enough for our new year's spesh but honestly...6.5
here and and an unbelievable, aggregate 9.5
for the whole- largely the opening instalment and the more straight ahead, streamlined stuff. But to say this one has been a deeply, deeply hot mess is a bit of an understatement innit? I find meself in a very odd position here, truth be told. I actually, genuinely really like Whittaker and co and a heck of a lot of what Chibnall has done thus far. This, whilst not as naff as, ooh, Moffat's 'Magician's Apprentice/Witch's Familiar' is still majorly overdone and underbaked. Which is quite the achievement. Anyroad, Peace'nTime cakes innit?
'Oh Auntie Em, it was the strangest dream...'
Loving the Who from a very early age and invariably banging on about it. Hence the blog.
If you want to contact me, please use this form! Peace, Love & Krotons
Doctor Who is copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). All photos and other media are used for entertainment and review purposes only, there is no financial gain made from this blog.