The Chibnall oeuvre   Leave a comment

Our new showrunner these days is best known for his creation of Broadchurch and its two spinoffs, the American Gracepoint and the French Malaterra. However, he has a long history with the Doctor Who family, as well as a range of other types of shows. His more conventional fare includes the TV movie United; the series Camelot; and 6 episodes of Law and Order: UK. But of course, we really want to know how he treats our favorite Time Lord and his friends.

Doctor Who:

  • “42”(2007): This is a pretty good horror-style episode with great side characters, marred by appalling melodrama between the Doctor and Martha. I almost left it off my rewatch for that reason, but the rest of it manages to compensate.
  • The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood” (2010): A decent two-parter, once you overlook the rehash of “Doctor Who and the Silurians.” Good character stuff; a dark look at the underside of human nature; and another favorite in the form of Nasreen Chaudhry.
  • Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” (2012): A weird mix of silly and grim. Tricey and Brian are wonderful, and Amy has a good time too.
  • The Power of Three” (2012): Mostly dull, unless you’re a fan of Amy and Rory’s “ordinary” life. However, there’s lots of Brian, and the first television appearance of Kate Stewart. It’s not her best showing, but still it’s nice to have her.

Torchwood:

I haven’t rewatched Torchwood in a long time, so my impressions aren’t as clear. Still, this is as I recall:

  • “Day One” (2006): The second episode of the series and Gwen’s first day on the job, this episode sets the tone for the show and establishes a lot of essential character stuff. It’s weird, intriguing, fun in places, but made us wonder what the hell is up with these people.
  • “Cyberwoman” (2006): This episode is, as I recall, terrible. Everyone is stupid. The sexualized Cyber-costume doesn’t help.
  • “Countrycide” (2006): This episode is scary and gross, and put me off the series originally. I even skipped over it on my second pass at the show. I finally managed to watch it – in daylight – during my great rewatch. It’s classic horror, quite well constructed, but still hard to watch for the non-horror fan.
  • “End of Days” (2007): The S1 finale doesn’t have a whole lot to recommend it – particularly coming on the heels of the spectacular “Captain Jack Harkness.” Everyone is pretty much terrible.
  • “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” (2008): Not great, but gay Spike James Marsters as Jack’s old frenemy spices things up. I also enjoyed sassy Ianto.
  • “Adrift” (2008): A brutal, pessimistic (mis)handling of the mentally ill. This is one of the episodes flagged by fans comparing Moffat’s treatment of disability to Davies’. It doesn’t score well. (Interesting that Chibnall appears on both sides of the line, with this and the Silurian two-parter.)
  • “Fragments” (2008): Cool backstory, not much else.
  • “Exit Wounds”(2008): Jack’s personal drama gets more personal. I definitely remember rolling my eyes at this one.

A mixed bag of stories, to say the least. If anything I’d guess we’ll get more horror in Chibnall’s Doctor Who. We might even get some interesting character stuff: Chibnall aligns his audience with both Ambrose and Restac, both Jack Marshall and the community that turns on him, both acceptance and fear of the differently abled. I look forward to seeing what he does with Doctor Who‘s characters, what other writers he puts on his team, what new direction he takes from what we’ve seen in the past.

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