Doctor Who: Season 12 - I'm not cross, I'm disappointed - Part 2

Niamh Brook - Writer

Note: This article contains spoilers from Series 12 of Doctor Who
Read the previous part in this series here.

Moving forward, I jumped to episode 5, Fugitive of the Judoon. This episode was good. And for season 12 having a good episode felt like watching the best picture at the Oscars. Telling the story of Ruth, a tour guide from Gloucester who actually turns out to be a different version of the Doctor on the run from the Judoon and Galafreians. Jo Martin’s take on the Doctor was fantastic. Her costume vibrant matched her carefree and sassy attitude. I finished the episode somewhat disheartened that Jo Martin’s Doctor was not the one that graces our screens every week. The episode had good pacing, a fab mystery and also the brief return of Captain Jack. The episode was good fun and I will definitely find myself one lazy sunday popping it on and enjoying it all over again. It must be said however, that the best aspect of the episode was the mystery surrounding Ruth. Who was she? How could she possibly be the Doctor? The season finale abruptly ended this mystery with next to no pay off for its build up. The reveal was so lackluster that it wouldn’t surprise me if we never see Ruth again, which is a real shame. This just highlights yet another issue with Chibnall’s writing. Big build up, no pay off. And to be frank, that is the only theme within the show that is consistent throughout.

Lastly, let's move on to the final two episodes of the season, Accession of the Cybermen and The Timeless Children. I sat and focused when watching these two episodes and I still could not tell you what happend. For a show that is typically aimed at families, the plots are so confusing that me and my housemate had no clue what was going on most of the time. Starting with the good aspects of the episodes, the idea of a half human, half cyberman is interesting but Chibnall has done it before in the somewhat sexist Torchwood episode ‘Cyberwoman.’ Did Chibnall write the episode crossing his fingers that people wouldn’t notice he’s repeating stories. Has Chibnall already run out of ideas? Or did he lack them to start with?

Now it’s time to talk about the plot point that has spurred many discussions amongst fellow whovians. The timeless child. To cut a long piece of exposition disguised as an episode of Doctor Who short and spare you of the word ‘Tecteun’: the Doctor is a god, has multiple lives she can’t remember and is the basis for the genetic code of all Time Lords. I have mixed feelings about this.

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On the one hand I’ve not really watched the show for years so I really shouldn’t care but on the other why does Chibnall feel the need to re-write over 50 years of cannon on a whim. Changing everything we know about the iconic time lord is a massive decision and it feels that Chibnall did it with no real thought. It felt rushed and messy (matching the tone for the rest of the season) and don’t get me started on the fact that the Doctor was pretty much silent for half the episode. It’s like Chibnall forgot to write her dialogue, she just stood around looking confused watching the Master monologue nonsense. Also, it must not be ignored that when she eventually started speaking she blew up the time lord matrix with the bloody theme tune of the show. The theme tune. It wasn’t meta or fan pleasing, it was just strange and genuinely made me burst out laughing.

Lastly, the episode finished with the Doctor being arrested by the Judoon and to be frank, I sighed with relief knowing that she can no longer plague our screens. If you haven't gathered, The Timeless Children was a mess. A family relaxing after their sunday roast would have been both bored and confused out of their minds. It was a fan service episode that contained no fan service. You could even call it a ‘fan dis-service’. (Please picture me raising my eyebrows when you read that pun.) Chibnall gave the fans yet more questions with answers that without a doubt will be resolved in a rushed conversation in the season finale of the next season. Much like this season, these answers will be just as ludacrous and silly and most importantly, equally unsatisfying.

Now I know I've been harsh on the season. There are probably some good parts of the season I've not mentioned during this. But the show has so much potential. For years it graced our screens and we as a nation loved it. Seeing the show become such a car crash is painful and it’s clear they have lost sight of what the show once was. For years the Doctor was somewhat of a pacifist who cared about those around them. Now they're quick to throw a grenade and be rude to their companions. What needs to happen at the BBC is a discussion on whether the show should continue. Whilst it would be heartbreaking to see it go, there is no point dragging it out beyond recognition. Personally, I think it should end after the next season and then mimic the past and bring the show back in 20 years time with new stories to tell to a whole new generation. Much like the Doctor, the show needs to regenerate in order to save itself and continue to entertain people in the years to come.


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