The Doctor Falls
Episode / July 2, 2017

Aired 01 July 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW Crafting a satisfying finale for any series of modern Doctor Who is an incredibly daunting task, having to reference and wrap up lingering storylines and character arcs while also providing the requisite emotion and logic to satisfy loyal viewers while catering to the largest audience possible. With Peter Capaldi’s departure publically being touted as only one episode away during this year’s Christmas special, ‘The Doctor Falls’ carries even more weight than most, and Bill’s conversion into a Mondasian Cyberman in the presence of two iterations of the Master certainly sets the stage for a bombastic adventure, one that as a whole is one of the most satisfying finales to date. While some may lament that John Simm’s Master and Michelle Gomez’s Missy were not even more prevalent, each of their scenes together is pitch perfect and helps to lend a sense of earnestness to Gomez’s wonderfully unpredictable version as she flits between reverting to her old self and standing beside the Doctor in his continuing battle against evil. Simm’s version is so overtly evil that he is willing to destroy himself to prevent anything he does during any of his lives that could…

World Enough and Time
Episode / June 25, 2017

Aired 24 June 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW As with all opening instalments of Doctor Who’s multi-part stories, ‘World Enough and Time’ is charged with providing the exposition and plot developments that will hopefully pay off in the upcoming series ten finale, ‘The Doctor Falls.’ However, as has been controversially heavily publicized, there is more than enough intrigue as the original Mondasian Cybermen return to the screen for the first time in over fifty years and John Simm’s Master reappears to cross paths with Michelle Gomez’s Missy. Fortunately, rather than reveling in pure spectacle, ‘World Enough and Time’ is an episode brimming with clever ideas and superb atmosphere and imagery as the dark story of a 400-mile-long colony ship experiencing differing rates of passing time because of a nearby black hole’s gravitational distortion unfolds. With generations passing at the bottom of the ship as only days pass at the top, the story does well with presenting a world so diseased and decrepit that the alternative of upgrading to a cybernetic being seems viable. Many Cybermen stories over the years have been rather explicit with the body horror that the conversion process entails, but the sight of isolated, cloth-wrapped individuals in a…

Last of the Time Lords
Episode / May 7, 2016

Aired 30 June 2007 The third series of the modern relaunch of Doctor Who concludes with ‘Last of the Time Lords,’ the result being a story that exemplifies the very best and the very worst of Russell T Davies’s writing style. The character work and themes on display here are superb and arguably some of the strongest ever seen in the programme, but unfortunately the resolution feels rather rushed and makes use of the oft-maligned reset button. It was quite clear at the end of ‘The Sound of Drums’ that the reset button would need to make an appearance in some form since Davies has so firmly rooted his stories in modern-day Earth and it was clear that planetary enslavement and proper decimation would not be allowed to stand as a lasting historical event. This approach of keeping the setting for more fantastic events within the realm of viewers’ familiarity is undeniably one of the reason’s the new take on the franchise has succeeded so well, but it also means that there’s no way that the Master will be allowed to succeed with his bombastic plans. Just like the origins of the Cybermen were changed to an alternate reality to…

The Sound of Drums
Episode / May 6, 2016

Aired 23 June 2007 ‘The Sound of Drums’ is an interesting episode, the middle portion of what some call a three-part story. But whereas ‘Utopia’ was allowed to move along at a casual pace before suddenly flooring viewers with its final minutes, ‘The Sound of Drums’ must start off with events in full swing and the audience finally knowing exactly what the major threat of the series is. The result is a story that effectively raises the stakes and the tension, providing some great characterization along the way, but also one that feels a bit rushed with important plot points not able to be explored as much as would seem necessary. The Master has always been an effective counterpoint to the Doctor, and specifically to the Doctor he was originally pit against. As such, despite the divisiveness that the more manic and crazed demeanour that Russell T Davies writes into the role is sure to create, it remains an effective mirror to David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, an incarnation that is more energetic and manic that previous ones. John Simm is the perfect choice to bring the Master back to life as well, an actor who can easily handle the heavier…

The End of Time Part Two
Episode / February 8, 2016

Aired 01 January 2010 The first half of this epic two-part story spent a lot of time moving pieces about and setting up the board, and it’s up to ‘The End of Time Part Two’ to satisfactorily resolve those events while providing a worthy send-off for the David Tennant and Russell T Davies era as the Tenth Doctor must finally meet the fate he has been trying to hard to avoid. Beginning with the end, this is easily the most emotional regeneration sequence depicted so far. While it is never pleasant or easy to say goodbye to a lead, this is the first time that so much screen time has been devoted to the Doctor accepting and confronting the ramifications of his looming demise; these scenes are easily some of the strongest of the serial, allowing Tennant to explore a greater sense of melancholy than he is usually allowed. With this added time, the Doctor is also able to claim what he deems his reward- one final visit to several former companions, including a scene with Rose before she had ever met him. While undoubtedly a bit of ultimately unnecessary fan service, it does serve as a superbly remind the…

The End of Time Part One
Episode / February 8, 2016

Aired 25 December 2009 ‘The End of Time’, simply put, has a heavy burden of responsibility in that it not only has to provide a sterling swansong to one of the most popular Doctors in the long history of the programme, it also has to tie up all important dangling plot threads from the Russell T Davies era as it was announced that this serial would be his final as writer/producer after five unarguably successful years at the helm. Throughout this two-part epic, the Doctor is running from his destiny after claiming himself the Time Lord Victorious, aware that his death is imminent and confronting his flaws as much as his attributes as the spirits of key points in previous regeneration stories ‘The War Games,’ ‘Planet of the Spiders,’ ‘Logopolis,’ and ‘Castrovalva’ are all evoked. This is an unexpectedly dark tale, heeding no notice to the festive season in which it is set. Right from the start, the voiceover wastes no time in setting the scene, bringing the resurrected Master back into the fold. Ood Sigma then quickly explains that everyone on Earth is having bad dreams, but something even bigger than the Master is coming. In terms of exposition,…