Wrong place. Wrong time. Again.
Chapter XXIX: 'The DaVinci Matrix'

Well prior to broadcast, I had it thus...'Extremis' back to Moffat...first of a (loosely?) linked trilogy with our gruesome looking 'Monks'. Sounds a tad 'far'n'distant'n'outta'spacey' (though consider also next episode's title) and desperate...I'm guessing a palpable hit, ooh, 12.5 again. Although granted it does give us the return of Missy as well who I'm a tad ambivalent on but we'll see...


Ext1.jpg
'Yes, I'm Rafando, one of the nameless race of Executioners on the Planet of the Nameless Executioners- this is a gyroscopic death thing, it's all part of our bling.'

Bit Blurt: 10 Random Thortlets

1) The pace’n’scope’n’writing here all impress…oh yes indeed Reverend.
2) Finally some ‘monsters’ worthy of the moniker. Our ‘Monks’ certainly look fair gruesome and wear it with brutal lack of charm.
3) If a tad ‘Silent’ in the voice and infiltrate/observe departments. Plus with the unmoving, leathery rictus look mouths, are we finally getting our Cyber-precursor ‘Space Monk’ variant mooted by Dr. Pedler back in the day? Seems unlikely but worth a wiblet.*
4) Peter Capaldi gives possibly his best ever performance in ‘Who’ here, with CGI Doc’ squaring up to Boss Monk rep. He’s near weeping at points and so impassioned/determined. Go Peter!
5) Matt Lucas owns this episode too. Both in yer face and scared, nay, terrified. Respect.

Ext2.jpg
'The Dessicated Lama will see you now'

6) That ‘Alien Reality Projectors’ sequence with Nardole realizing he ain’t real is well intense’n’disconcerting.
7) Likewise the CERN mass suicide.
8) As for the long ago nameless planet of the nameless executioners and Missy…H’mm…No major problem with it as yet but is it gonna’ get substantiated/further explained or simply timey-wimey hand-waved away? Me grotzits are on the latter but you never know.
9) Yer…Now we know the Vault is basically some kinda’ upmarket Pandorica (dig the hard science people) is Missy gonna’ have been hilariously utilizing the downtime to RussellTDaviesup (sorry) the Simm variant Master?
10) The Vatican/Papal daftness, plus the bubbling under romance with Bill’n’Penny is fun, Moffat very comfortable in rom-com/inane territory.

Ext3.jpg
'The Doctor reacts to downloading the fact that River and Clara are back for the Xmas Special'

Okay Mr Moffatt, you have my attention,full and undivided...That'd be me main comment as far as 'Extremis' goes. A real attention-grabber, both dramatic and comic. Some very decent direction from Daniel Nettheim complements a thoughtful but actually quite, erm, understated yet pacey plot. And it really hits me, the expansive imagination of Moffatt, the willingness to take risks...This has been a very strong/solid run thus far but hand on heart 'Smile' through 'Oxygen' seem to shrink a tad in the face of the scope'n'verve we have here. Wherever you stand on Moffatt, he'll be sore missed when gone.**

Ext4.jpg
'You forgot your scythe! And red's really not your colour!'

There's a real intensity to this one at points, the Doctor getting unwittingly strapped into the chair by the Monks, the whole sequence in the secret library truth be told. The last fifteen minutes are full on grim and really quite thought-provoking whilst not stunningly original (to Moffat or anyone else) but hey, wot is innit? I liked Corrado Invernizzi's Father Angelo for the short time he was with us, Joseph Long's Pope vamped to most excellent comic effect. (I used me Papal Vampometer obviously.) Ivanno Jeremiah had some presence as lead nameless executioner although became slightly underwhelming legging it away at the end. Again, the 'look me up' shtick but to reduced effect. H'mm...Still remarkably good 'Who' for my grotzits, I'll give an outrageous 13++, series best thus far. But as with 'Heaven Sent' in series 9, we're linked into a greater arc/artifice/Moffat punch(fandomintheface) line so a huge amount depends on the next couple of episodes fer sure but yeah...For now, let us give thanks for some good, clean, deeply doomy 'Who'...

Ext5.jpg
'Artificial Bill, Nardole...do not go gentle into that (second-hand) daylight...'



*Surely very unlikely as I wager it’d only succeed in undermining the validity/heaviness of Monks or Mondasian Cyber troop.
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Chapter XXVIII: 'Terminus Redux: Wheel of the Space Zombies'

Prior to broadcast the wiblet ran thus...'Oxygen' Jamie Mathieson Really enjoyed all his previous outings, looks Steam Punky outer spacey, I say an optimistic 12:5


Ox3.jpg
'Time out of alignment-Stars out of joint-Slow path won't do(More fool 'Who'?')

Bit Blurt: 10 Random Thortlets

1) Love the collapsible vacuum helmets.
2) And the Grav (Mag?) Boots. Yep, it's all about the bling in Gantryville, never mind the Smartsuit corporate evil.
3) Kieran Bew actually makes quite an impression as likeable under (considerable) pressure Ivan.
4) All of the (minimal) guest cast are good, truth be told. Character not cipher despite brevity.
5) Peter Caulfield's Darren, sorry, Dahh-Ren is one of those support characters I instinctively warmed to whilst fully aware he's doomed. Damn.

Ox5.jpg
'Hi honey! I'm dead!'

6) Lovely space wheel mining corp FX'n'sets, inner and outer.
7) Yes, it is quite reminiscent of 'Terminus' (especially), 'Revenge of the Cybermen' (vaguely) and 'Wheel in Space' (superficially).
8) Direction, story, cast- all come together to make something really quite intensely tense. As it were.
9) Hope Jamie Mathieson gets to be part of Chris Chibnall's 'writer's pool' if he's up for it.
10) Again, as with 'Knock Knock' I didn't find this out and out scary but it's certainly harsher and scoring higher in the 'eerie' stakes with some of the 'zombie' business for my grotzits. I used my Eerie-ometer Reverend.

Ox1.jpg
'Superb 'My other half's turned into a Space Zombie!' reaction shot from Kieran Bew as Ivan.'


Okaay...First 15 odd minutes of this one I thought I was on for a full 13, possibly some kinda' + territory. Sadly it were not to be so vicar, although it steers very, very close. So I'll go the long way round and come back to that 'Not quite full monty/no cigar' vibe. Fer sure this'll get a place in me 'Top 10 Capaldi's', as would all of Jamie Mathieson's previous outings truth be told. H'mm...Director Charles Palmer really does get the best out of his resources here, cast and otherwise. The Zombienauts' shadows dropping down behind Katie Brayben's hapless Ellen, there are some very, very strong/eerie moments here. Plus some impassioned stuff...The sequence where the Doctor saves Bill,with various slow-mo zonked cutaways from Bill's perspective is stunning for my money...

Ox2.jpg
'Nardole runs a quick 'Jammy Companion DNA to Adric Quotient Diagnostic'


...although Twelve getting (apparently) permanently blinded, apologies but I could see it coming. Although looks like it'll play interestingly into the linked trilogy coming up. And it somehow feels too bluntly harsh, kicking an incarnation already down on his luck and out of sorts. Anyroad...Pearl Mackie is reliably excellent as Bill once again, doing some very strong confusion'n'stress. As does an on occasion truly fear struck Matt Lucas as Nardole. The interaction of the three leads is superb here, funny, dry'n'wry. Lucas is very good in the straighter, more directly angry moments with Capaldi. His understated comic physicality is superb, it's only in some of the more, er, George Daws-ish 'oohs' and asides that it sticks out/momentarily doesn't work. But a major thumbs up for Lucas basically, interesting to see how Nardole pans out...

Ox4.jpg
'Permanent pause'

The grim cynicism of oxygen as commodity, Spreadsheet vs Soul is well foregrounded too, so points for black humour/bleak vision. No, it's more that the intensity isn't utterly sustained for meself. This one is definitely less than the sum of its parts, as opposed to those such as 'Androzani', 'Blink' or 'Waters of Mars' where the intensity/atmosphere feels of an absolute whole*. This occasionally slackens the pace and prevents me going higher than me guestimate of 12.5 **although that still makes it seasons strongest thus far for meself.

Yeah, so, so close to uber-classic, I'd settle on a solid 'amazing with uber-classic moments'. Yerse indeed. As for state of play with the Vault and the regeneration...Summit's up fer sure...Seems likely it's Missy in the Vault, but also something timey-wimey/time-locked? Are we looking at a prolonged, gradual regeneration? Some kind of split, literally two Doctors for the price of one? Fwibble vicar, fwibble...

*I really am talking through my hat am I not Reverend? There really ain't any let up here, bar pauses for (hah!) breath.
** The stuff with Nardole warning Bill about the Doctor's condition, the strength, the sheer Doctory-ness of what Twelve does for Bill (very 'Androzani' I grant ye) make this a full on 13. Maybe no cigar but an uber-classic nonetheless.




Chapter XXVII: 'Undying Woman's Folly'

Well prior to broadcast I was wibbling thus...'Knock Knock' Mike Bartlett new face to 'Who' in the writing department. Looks contemporary, presence of David Suchet intrigues...I'll say a random 11.5.

Knock1.jpg
'Yes, welcome one and welcome all! We'll eat you, ha, ha, wake you for breakfast!'

Bit Blurt: 10 Random Thortlets

1) The jaunty opening, house-hunt montage could grate but just gets away with it.
2) I know they've gotta' establish things fast but the continuing brevity/needs must with regard to the 45 odd minute format is really beginning to tell in me humble. Ideas too big/lengthy for the current format innit?
3) Capaldi and Mackie are reliably good fun again, Capaldi especially so. Guy is absolutely soaring for meself this time out, shame he's off.
4) That quick cutaway with the concerned frown on mentioning regeneration intrigues...what exactly is going down/has already gone down that we're unaware of?
5) The student guest cast contingent are all pretty broad stroke but energetically pitched, Colin Ryan's personable Harry the most memorable for meself.

Knock4.jpg
'Yeah, just bung the plot in the kitchen.'

6) Mildly underwhelming, under-explained (alien?) Wood Lice contingent but really no biggie.
7) I'm starting (nay, continuing!) to sound like a stuck record but there's a really good, poignant story here, it just needs to be a two parter!
8) David Suchet is absolutely pitch-perfect great as the unnamed Landlord and clearly having immense fun.
9) Murray Gold is great value here also, especially with the more ominous electronica.
10) As for 'Vault Watch'...H'mm, ho and furthermore hum...Looks increasingly likely it's Gomez, perchance Gomez and Simm and honestly that's vaguely worrying...May well be revising me finale guestimate to 'Hot Mess' (in senses beguiling and bolloxed) and the Xmas Spesh to 'Very Hot Mess Indeed'. Yerse...

Knock3.jpg
'Mama, weer all uploadz now- uplifting innit kidz?'

Yes, it's predictable,no, it don't come close to scary but I don't think that's what this is aiming for at all, despite an absolutely first class turn from David Suchet. This one wears its 'House'/'Scooby Doo' influences with pride and is more concerned with being comically engaging than out and out scary. The joinery assisted 'deaths' are vaguely grotesque but we're in a world of safety net and second chances as far as our guest cast go. Yeah, it minorly undercuts things but not cripplingly so.

Knock6.jpg
'Nah, nothing spooksome about the locale, absolutely not'

The twist of father being son, the obsessive 'love'/survival at any cost is well caught by a silkily menacing David Suchet. Brilliant, mannered diction, truly creepy but also genuinely tragic. Mariah Gale as mother Eliza has some presence also. Lucky she learns to let go and go with the shuffle off the mortal coil plot flow at the 40 minute mark or thereabouts but yeah, it's neat enough and overall this works as light fun with some darker undercurrents...

Knock5.jpg
'Cranky and Noobie investigate- Scooby dooby doo!!'

It's kind of a 'Girl Who Died' of Series 10 for meself and I'm gonna' score it accordingly. As with that, it's a 10 again, weirdly more 'Ghostlight' than 'Hide' to this viewer but performs not half badly. Deft if light hokum, slightly below expectations but no crushing disappointment. The idea is executed about as well as can be within the format, Gale's 'Dryad gone Rotten' is memorably creepy/creaky and...Part of me wants to be harsher, expects more from me 'Who' but that'd seem churlish with turns of the calibre Capaldi, Suchet and Mackie afford us here. Ably supported by the young guest cast who land just the right side of irritating. Winsomely engaging if slight, a brief candle that may burn brighter and longer in the memory than first realised.

Knock2.jpg
'No, really, it was something that I ate which ate me...if you follow...'




Chapter XXVI: 'The Tale of Regina River Fish'

Thin1.jpg
'Frosty reception all round, circa:1814'

Guestimate prior to broadcast: 'Thin Ice' Sarah Dollard Quite liked 'Face the Raven', felt slightly less than the sum of its parts, belonging in some ways to a greater arc but not bad...I'm a sucker for this kind of period caper and the Beeb do it reliably well so I'm gonna' stick my neck out with a 12. For some rolicksome'n'mad Georgiana....


Bit Blurt: 10 Random Thortlets

1)There are a range of great hats'n'bonnets on show, which is always a plus.
2) Dot (Ellie Shenker) is adorable. Particularly with the top hat and the 'they're too big' shoes moment.
3) I wish that was a Babel Fish the Doctor picks up, he coulda' stuck it in his ear to lasting hilarity innit?
4) Cryptid fiery super poo- Bob Holmes would be proud.
5) 'The Loch-less Monster'- nice, very nice.

Thin2.jpg
'Capaldi's Twelve is just made for this sort of period Regency caper'

6) Nifty, nasty turn from Nicholas Burns as deeply lamentable/regrettable racist about town Lord Sutcliffe.
7) The Doctor-Bill morality exchanges are well charged and don't pull their punches...
8)...if slightly cheesed by Bill's very rapid 'moving on' in terms of giving the plot a shove but no biggie.
9) Capaldi and Mackie- absolutely wonderful TARDIS team again and bears re-mention.
10) And what an ominous coda with Nardole and the Vault...Me current money's on a) Evil Doctor, b) John Simm Master, c) Time Lords and Gallifrey (Rassilon?), d) Mondasian Cybermen. Or e) All of the above to full, kitchen sink implosion effect.

Well, this is New 'Who' as a pair of comfy old carpet slippers for meself. Think 'Unquiet Dead', 'Shakespeare Code', 'Vampires of Venice'. Not entirely sure that 'comfy old carpet slippers' is what our beloved time-travelogue should be aiming for right now but that's how it came over to meself pretty much. And yes, there are some very recognisable tropes'n'echos, startling originality is not what Dollard and co appear to be aiming for here. Street urchin gang ('Empty Child'), used'n'abused cryptid ('Beast Below'), hell, monster poo fuel ('Kroll'!)

Thin3.jpg
'Blow(A Hole in the Plot)Fish'

It's all very nicely directed by Bill Anderson. The 1814 Frost Fair scenes are all very evocatively re-created. Plus genuine elephant which is always nice. Certainly sees and raises 'The Ark' in the elephantine stakes. But it's again in the scenes with Bill and the Doctor, the rapport/frisson between Mackie and Capaldi that this really scores, indeed soars. Bill takes him to task and calls him out on the (a)morality stakes, time travel death toll and...I think for the first time in never our Time Lord protagonist actually gives a reluctant (if open) straight answer to a straight question. It's wonderfully done by both leads.

Thin4.jpg
'There are people dying all over this planet every day- do we care about them?H'mm?!'

But it's a significant grace note amidst what is admittedly a rather wafer thin mint of a plotlet. Nicholas Burns as Lord Sutcliffe and Tomi May as brutal henchman Dowell have some presence'n'menaces. But it's again the curse of brevity/under-utilization. The resolution, Sutcliffe electing to blow the frozen river, providing Big Fish with loadsa' humans to make loadsa' fiery poo, one presumes, is kinda' undercooked and underwhelming if dwelt on...Also, some of Twelve's biblical and anti-racist 'in yer face' notes (the punch is great if telegraphed a mile off) almost seem to want a Rik ('Young Ones') 'Right on kids!' and snort to camera.

Thin5.jpg
'Really enjoyed this episode but hand on heart think TV 'Who' is on very thin ice indeed at present. Shame.'*

Still, there's a lot to love about this one for meself. The look and production values Reverend, the Doctor-Bill relationship especially. There are some very funny bits too, the Doctor's 'down with the kids' street moments especially. No, the prediction holds, it's a 12, me favourite thus far. Suffers a tad from 'rushed conclusion', as have all this opening trilogy, truth be told. But I think the main emphasis of these opening episodes has been in introducing us to Bill, Bill and the Doctor to one another. Got a feeling things are gonna' step up a notch in intensity from next week. And if Rumoursville is to be believed, the Vault is open around mid-season, possibly 'Extremis'. Which'd revise me guess of what/who it contains to pretty certainly Missy and the Simm Master...Probably...And now Samantha Spiro's name is in the cast mix latterly and if there was ever a good fit for a slightly older Susan...H'mm and quadruple h'mm innit...





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Chapter XXV: Smile7.jpg

Well, prior to broadcast this was me guestimate: 'Smile' Frank Cottrell-Boyce I'm cautiously optimistic. Wasn't utterly turned off by 'In the Forest of the Night' as some were. Vague, nagging doubt I can't quite put me finger on Reverend but I'm sensing a bit of a McCoy vibe and perchance 10ish?

Bit Blurt: 10 Random Thortlets

1) The Emoji Bots are cute but a bit crap in the action sequences.
2) The Vault mystery is referenced intriguingly again.
3) Nardole and Bill rubbing each other up the wrong way gives hope of some sparks in future.
4) The, erm, 'Guest Cast', bar Ralf Little have precious little to do and are barely in it.
5) Cottrell-Boyce seems fascinated with eco-systems, series 8 natural, here artificial and the micro-macro interaction.

Smile3.jpg
'Come on Pilgrim'

6) The Doctor-Bill relationship remains exceptionally strong. Which is lucky seeing how Capaldi and Mackie have to carry virtually the entire thing.
7) It certainly all looks very pretty Reverend.
8) But they still fail to do an awful lot with it.
9) Nice (if quite antiseptically delivered) icky concept with the skeletonised colonists providing calcium'n'nutrients for the gardens.
10) 'Penguin with it's arse on fire' again. Yep, I'm down with that.

Smile4.jpg
'Everbody's Snap Happy Nowadays'

So yeah...has the curse of 'not bad but not brilliant' struck early in the season? Well, no, not really Reverend. 'Cos this assuredly ain't half bad. Granted it's a way off brilliant but still not half bad. So yer, glad I've got that clear. Not so much of a McCoy vibe really though. Almost bizarrely a 'Galaxy 4' , slow execution of concept, alien travelogue vibe. By way of 'Dead Planet' early stages and 'Ark in Space' episode 1. Truly languid...


Smile2.jpg
'Speak to the unreadable Clockface'

..which is a bit of a problem but doesn't de-rail it entirely as said. But man am I struggling to find something to say here as has surely been noticed! Cottrell-Boyce seems to have good initial ideas (Environment Bites Back/ Emoji Bots) but then fails to completely support them with a pacey plot. But like his last outing you almost feel this shoulda' been a two parter;actually give a genuine support cast complement and room to properly breathe/develop.
Smile1.jpg
'They woke me up without a discernible personality? The dialogue feed's been cut to 99.9% of the crew? Shit.'

Yeah, that's where it really falls down for me. I was constantly expecting'n'hoping for the arrival of some guest cast, decent character interaction after the 15 minute mark or so. And it's not until nigh on 30 minutes that a bemused looking Praiseworthy ( Kaizer Akhtar) turns up and he ain't saying much. As said, Ralf Little's Steadfast is the only character of any note on show and 'impassioned med-tech' ain't really breaking any molds. H'mm...Kezzia ( Kiran L Dadlani) and Goodthing (Mina Anwar) shoulda' made it way beyond pre-credits. (Side wibble but it almost looks like director Lawrence Gough has left some City of Arts and Sciences visitors in shot and blurred in these early sequences.) The direction is very nice once again but kinda' gets lost in the scenery.

So yeah, I like the backward nods to the doomed/devastated Earth, a familiar 'Who' motif from 'The Ark' and 'Ark in Space'. Weirdly there's a 'Krotons' vibe in the mix here too for meself, with the hidden, observing,emergent intelligence.
But the concluding 12 odd minutes of awakening crew/Doctorly negotiation with the Vardy feel very rushed. And one more time, guest cast under-utilisation much? Kalungi Ssebandeke is credited as Nate but I'm not sure that he utters a line! All of this wibbled I'll go with a 9, a tad down on me guestimate but not half-bad if structurally wonky/stretched. Fun? Yer, quite. Re-watchable? Enough if not quite grabbing me by the time nads.

Smile8.jpg
'Stroll on...'

As to me season wide rumination of a female Doctor at some point I'm now not so certain but there's summit outta' kilter/unusual about the upcoming regeneration I'm sure....Blinder or bowloxx vicar, there be the question innit...




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Kert Gantry

Author:Kert Gantry
Loving the Who from a very early age and invariably banging on about it. Hence the blog.

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