The latest piece of DW news is full of win.
The Return Of…
On the surface it’s all about the baddies. Capaldi has not been shy about his hopes for an encounter with the original Cybermen of Mondas. They of the spooky cloth faces introduced their race in the First Doctor’s final episode, and were never seen again. Until now…
But the buried lead is even more fun. A while ago I observed the empty space where a director’s name ought to go on the final two episodes of the season. Given how the last two seasons ended, I was hoping for another round of Rachel Talalay. And indeed, my hopes are answered.
Last but not least is the inclusion of one final name in the major cast: Michelle Gomez. Of course I’d already heard that she’d be back – but to have her for the final two-parter – very nearly the final of this Doctor’s career – is extra bonus fun.
More here, in the Who’s Day roundup.
*what the TARDIS probably contains.
I have been remiss here of late. Other than the holiday special I have mentioned none of the fun DW related things that have abounded.
Well, maybe not abounded as such…
Ages ago, we finished watching the spinoff “Class.” As of yet the show has no future – it has not aired on actual TV and no second season is confirmed – although the series ended on a hell of a cliffhanger. It was a lot of fun overall: well made, well performed, with no more adolescent melodrama than you would expect from a show about teenagers and rather less than the supposedly grown-up Torchwood. Miss Quill, played by Katherine Kelly, is one of my new favorite characters. She is badass, vengeful, unfriendly, and unkind – the antithesis of the pretty blonde alien. I enjoyed the hell out of her.
Unfortunately our DW meetup group more or less disintegrated toward the end of last year. The organizer came down with a series of malignant viral infections, cancelling first the “Boom Town” and “Bad Wolf” screening and then the series-ending three-parter from “Bad Wolf” through “The Christmas Invasion.” Our S1 rewatch effectively ended with “The Doctor Dances” – not a bad place to stop, of course, but I was looking forward to finishing the season among my nerd horde. Still, we could resume come spring. A new organizer has stepped forward, and he hopes to add more social events as well as screenings to our calendar.
I thought I had posted earlier about a certain writer’s return to the show, but it appears I never finished the post. Ages back – last summer? last fall? it was teased that a classic DW writer would be writing an episode for S10. When I heard, I thought instantly of Ben Aaronovitch. Aaronovitch wrote “Remembrance of the Daleks,” in which Ace defends Coal Hill School with a baseball bat, and “Battlefield,” an Arthurian story with the Doctor in the role of Merlin. Both are strong, memorable stories from a difficult time in the show’s history. Since then, Aaronovitch has created his own ongoing series of novels about a young mixed-race London cop who can see ghosts and who learns how to do magic. The Rivers of London series is great fun and very nerdy – any DW fan will relate to Peter Grant right off the bat.
However, it isn’t Aaronovitch. The returning writer is Rona Monro. Monro wrote the very last aired classic DW story, with the oddly prescient name “Survival.” Since then she has written extensively for film, television, radio, and the stage. Her return, and that of Sarah Dollard, marks the second series in a row in which two (or more? 1 writer may still be TBA) episodes are written by women. Yes, a pittance against the 5 or more male writers appearing every season, but better than the long drought of series 5-8. (Not to mention 1, 2, and the vast majority of classic DW.)
I have not seen “Survival” but I plan to fix that before S10 begins.
On the topic of women behind the camera, I note that the director slot has yet to be filled for episodes 11 and 12 of the new series. Rachel Talalay has admirably taken that role the last two seasons. Dare we hope for three in a row?
Finally, the holidays may be over, but I only recently stumbled across the Doctor Puppet’s latest Christmas special. It’s adorable, as always. Enjoy.
Here are a few new S10 tidbits (and some old ones too):
Favorite bits include set photos – those clothes! that hat! – and confirmed premiere date of Spring 2017. Since I was resigned to wait for fall, spring is good news. Even if it’s still forever away…
The source document from DW TV has some better images and mentions that the episode being shot is Sarah Dollard’s.
Neither has anything firm on other writers, just Moffat’s usual obscure tease. I hope some of them are worth the hype.
Days to go: too many.
Sarah Dollard (among others) returns!
I am of course delighted by the news. “Face the Raven” was smart, wrenching, and beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what Dollard has on offer for S10.
I have less to say about the other bits included in the announcement. Matt Lucas was funny but not especially compelling. I don’t know Stephanie Hyam or Mike Bartlett. Cottrell-Boyce’s “Forest” was silly but sweet; I won’t mind more from him.
Here’s a little Pearl to help us with the waiting:
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.
- “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.
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.