Dr Who – Flux VI – The Vanquishers

Okay. Am i missing something? Genuinely, i have been less than impressed this entire season, not just as a Doctor Who once-fanatic but as a watcher of cult television, science fiction and fantasy…and yet all i see are plaudits and hyperbole describing this six part spaghetti of plot and pace as the best thing ever to happen in the modern world.

Not once was a jot given, nor i feel earned, for any characters throughout. How could we possibly mourn the loss of every Lupari when we met none of them bar one, and didn’t even see their mass genocide, just told about it after the fact. I felt vaguely sorry for Karvanista because even through all that hairy makeup the talent of the actor Craig Els allows us a spot of empathy. Kudos to him.

Bel and Vinder; ah yes. A weird, stapled-on subplot that went utterly nowhere and played no real role in the development of the narrative, although it was “‘heart-warming’ and humanising in amongst all the sci-fi;” was it? It was disjointed nonsence.

Oh i love the fact that there really are only three species in the whole of existence that have comparable armies. In the infinitude of villainous species likely in our universe only the Daleks, Cybermen and Sontarans are important enough to warrant inclusion here.

Don’t get me started on the Doc and Yaz. I was about to throw the remote at the TV when they were about to kiss. I have tried and tried to tell myself thats not what was happening, but it was undeniably the intent of that scene to infer it. Even Dan’s cheesy interuption – which was then handled so awkwardly it left no dispute in my disappointed heart.

Yaz herself has no character. How is she a strong role model? Dan has been in the series for five episodes and is already more lovable and relatable than Yaz. Bring back Ryan the Plank. At least he owned his plankness.

Awww and was i supposed to shed a tear when Jericho sacrificed himself?

But the Division scenes. Terrible scripts. Are we to care that Tecteun is now gone? What was her plan again? To use the Flux to wipe out the universe so she can start it again without the Doctor but then – in nearly the same heartbeat she offers the Doctor to join her. So…what…ermmm… happened?

SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS – but I’m not left wanting to know the answers. Rather the complete opposite.

I don’t know, maybe the world has jaded me through its pandemic-enhanced cynicism, but it just seems Dr Who has lost its way so much. In its heydays (and i’m talking both classic and Nu-Who), it was rip-roaring, intelligent science fiction. Yes, some of it was on the nose (again, both series – i mean, the original had episode satires on environmental crises (Inferno) and tax evasions (Sun Makers), and the new one had takes on over-population (Gridlock) and moral ethics (Waters of Mars); so its not as if the Chibnall-era has tried anything new – except to, and i apologise, monumentally fuck with established canon.

And, also, to do so without the payoff. It didn’t make things better; this is not good Dr Who. This was not good television. This was not good…at all.

Can we look forwards to Daleks saving the series in the New Year? Not unless they exterminate the showrunner. And the writers.

Dr Who – Flux V – Survivors of the Flux

First: don’t worry everyone, that cool cliffhanger that saw the Doctor BECOMING A FRAKKIN’ WEEPING ANGEL OH WOW is resolved instantly. Turns out she was just being transported by ‘the Division’, and for some reason needed to be made of stone to do this. Can’t wait to see what the Angels do next! Nothing? What? They just serve as background things for the Doctor to talk to for a few minutes? What do you mean they don’t play any further part? ooooo this isn’t off to a good start.

If ‘the Timeless Children’ made me hulk-angry two years ago then its safe to say i’ve moved beyond that now. I didn’t get angry, i got ill. Physically sick. Gob-smacked with incredulity at the lack of pace, structure, narrative, excitement or even compassion that was on show here. A true disappointment like nothing before, i think. Its not that it was just bad Doctor Who – i mean, there was no good Who here at all; but not good science fiction either (i mean, wow, a multiverse?? Thats sooooo original, i mean, its not like its massively in the media now with both the MCU and the DCU evolving their own current iterations of this), but its not even good television.

TV shows rely upon us to care about the characters and their exploits. But the Doctor just spends her time arguing with an info-dump character who claims to be her adoptive mother, and who works for a MASSIVE, bigger than everything else company called the Division, which seems to be, um, just her, with a big f-off TARDIS console in a space dock between universes. Yaz and Dan are relegated to a uber-cheesy Indiana Jones sequence of events set in various places, where they meet a comedic shaman (what?), find a cup with magic lettering (what?), paint something onto the Great Wall of China (what?) just so they can tell a dogman in the future when they are – but he doesn’t have time travel so whats he supposed to do? Oh and we ALSO have this little girl looking for her husband, and we have her husband, who is tracking her through space. AND we have the bad guy from the boyfriend’s planet further interfering with the creation of UNIT (a beloved facet of Dr Who’s canon being reconstructed in front of our eyes) just so he can introduce another villain, the Grand Serpent, before ending the episode in a cliffhanger involving the Sontarans (which i’d forgotten about). And despite all these strings, i couldn’t give two figs about any of it. I was more concerned about the passage of time in the real world and how many times i could yawn before i developed lockjaw.

Yes; the idea of the Division using the Flux to destroy the universe (and consequently the Doctor) is a good, epic idea worthy of Davros, the Master or other huge villain, but it doesn’t feel like the threat its made out to be.

And Tecteun. OH MY GOD i hate this character. The episode tries and fails to Empire Strikes Back us by having the reveal of maternity but also has the gall to try the ‘rule the galaxy as father and son’ mechanism. I genuinely laughed out loud when she complained that the Doctor didn’t even recognise her when she’s already established the Doc has had her memories wiped. If she doesn’t remember whole lifetimes of removed adventures she’s hardly likely to recognise a pair of eyes. The only redeeming bit in this whole shitfest of a story is that RazorFace just sort of turns up and kills her. Done. End of.

But where are we going with this, really? I mean, what is the exciting endgame going to be? The Sontarans are invading the Earth! Oh no! But…the Flux is going to destroy the Earth anyway. And what are the two stoneFace’s trying to do? They are gaining power to … do what?

And for pity’s sake. UNIT? Yeah throw in a cameo by Nicolas Courtenay, that was nice, but cameo’s can’t save drowning ships.

Too many plot threads (most of which still unresolved). Too many questions. Too many characters, too many villains, too much rubbish. A train crash involving a hundred carraiges.

I say to this entire show, get tae Flux. Because i’m fed up beyond fed up.

Dr Who – Flux IV – Village of the Angels

Following an excellent cliffhanger – and it knows it, because it uses it twice – we are hopefully thrust into a sturdy, claustrophobic nightmare starring everyone’s favourite weeping angels; beings, that, in case you don’t know, can’t move if you’re looking at them, because they are ‘quantum locked’. Plus, if they touch you, you don’t “die”, per se, you are just drawn horribly into your past (leaving your quantum signature for the angels to feast on). So you, as Doc 10 said, “live to death.” Unless your get touched again, because you then turn to ash and die horribly, screaming in agony. LOL LOL.

Well we are quickly introduced to our guest actors, and its nice to see Kevin McNally return to Who, since he starred in The Twin Dilemma way back when. The girl he’s questioning using his lie detector is the one we saw briefly in Ep 1 of this Fluxxing arc, so we’ll get some resolution from that subplot.

And speaking of said ‘plot’. Um; i got a lost a bit with some…well, as with the last one: It suffered from, ‘we don’t really have a plot here’, what we do have is some interesting ideas. I guess the idea is that it was all an elaborate trap for the Doctor.

What i’d like is to try and explain why it bugged me so. It should’ve been amazing, but there are so many little things that REALLY get to me when i start thinking deep down about it. (PEDANTRY WARNING). Like…well, the angels. In Blink, their debut, it was a few of them, and it was, literally, scary as f***. But now – hang on, so they can’t move when observed… so you can’t blink… but everytime Yaz, the Doc or Dan are confronted by them, they all walk backwards and try not to blink. Yes…but wouldn’t it make more sense for one of you to walk forwards and guide them, blinking all they want, and then swap round? Why do ALL THREE of you need to stare at it? And if they are locked when they look at each other, then how do any more than two or three angels get anywhere at all?

HOWEVER. My major gripe. We could never have learned anything of the plot or the machinations of the angels or anything at all, were it not for massive, MASSIVE information dumps and exposition from the Doctor. Every time something major happened, the Doc explained it to us. She tells us what the angels want. she tells us whats going on whenever things get complicated. So theres no sense of satisfaction, no feeling that a plot is unfolding around us.

So sadly the actual dynamic of this episode becomes another build up into the naming of a new enemy, The Division, which somehow ties into the memories the Doctor had stolen from her – i got a little bit excited, because yes that hints at perhaps we will have this lingering plot resolved (i say lingering because its conclusion will tread a rather dangerous line between utter bollocks and genuinely surprising. There won’t be a meh. It will either screw with 60 years canon and push me to chibnallicide, or it will be ‘yeah i accept that. happy now. cheers.’)

Oh and we learn a little bit more about the Passenger things and blue-face makes an appearance, although i’m not entirely sure that scene was required. Hopefully it will be a pay-off later, when Vinder the Unsullied finds his lost love and his unborn child.

The cliffhanger will no doubt greatly affect the new generation of fans which Dr Who is wonderfully growing, and i’ll never begrudge it that.

ADDITIONAL: i’m adding here my thoughts on the MP stating boys have lost their role model because Jodie became the Doctor. This is rot and codswallop. As a boy maybe the Doctor was a role model, but to infer that i didn’t turn to a life of crime because of this is ridiculity. I mean. James Bond was a womanising assassin. Han Solo was a smuggler. If anybody i learnt my honour, truth and justice from another male role model of my childhood.

Yes, thats right. Lion-O.

Dr Who – FLUX III – Once, Upon Time

The one in which no actual plot was conceived, no sense of drama or threat was felt, nor even any sense of coherent storytelling was attempted. A brutal, medieval mess. Timey-wimey it attempts, slimey-wimey it achieves. The whole episode suffers from a – hmmm…we need to somehow make a third episode but we don’t know how to bridge the gap between the Sontarans in the Crimea and the Angels so… lets just do a load of stuff, shove in some random scenes that will have fans sit upright and non-fans drop their jaws in complete confusion.

Well Jo Martin was great, I’ll say that. But her appearance here did nothing for the plot, rather just reminded us all of the Chibnall clusterfuss that was The Timeless Child, and hinted that maybe, just maybe, we might get some resolution by the end of this mini-series (though I personally doubt it, to be honest).

Nothing is explained.

We get to see Jodie hovering in some limbo with big Gods of Ragnarock Mouri saying some time-lordy nonsense about being pulled back into timelines, and we get to see the various characters all stuck in variations of their own timezones, but then also seeing some flash-forward I THINK – on some planet (called Time, allowing us to create a clever title, where all the fans are tweeting and leaping and fretting about the “dark” doctor in a dark cloak. I don’t know, I kinda gave up.

No wait. Did i see Daleks? (really bad CGI versions in dead looking trees?) Oh aye i think i saw fantastic looking Cybermen as well!! I thought i dreamt those bits up. Oh i can’t wait to see them in their own episode with a proper st…oh wait… they were in a potentially non-existent time line?? what?

And who is Bel and should we care about her? (yes, we should, shes a sassy new character that will clearly be really important later on… so why introduce her in the middle of the whole thing…)

Who’s this bad guy giving us some backstory to Vinder that we probably don’t need in the long term? Its the guy from Line of Duty, yes, excellent, he’s a cheesy, OTT villain but don’t we have enough villains at the moment? I mean, i’m trying to assume that the villains of the piece are blue-face and stoney-face – whatever their names are… but are they in a parallel time line as well? No idea. Maybe if i wrote it down. There, i did. It just looks as if i spilled spaghetti all over my writing pad.

And was that the Doctor’s mother that we saw there? (clickbait! only joking). But no doubt this will be one of the theories that will inevitably choke up the babblesphere for the next three weeks. Or three centuries; you never know when threads like this will be resolved nowadays.

In no way was it gripping TV, it was sub-par doctor who. Far more akin to a messy moffat than a chitty shibnall but still, an unworthy addition to my television roster.

Hopefully that excellent cliffhanger line is a sign for a redemption next week, because we’re past the fluxxing half way point now…

Dr Who – FLUX II- War of the Sontarans

The cliffhanger of the previous episode is off-screen unresolved, presumably the HADS (hostile action displacement system) kicked in at the right moment. The Doc may have said this at some point but Jodie Whittakers wonderful ability to talk at the speed of thought means i may have missed it. The ‘fam’ finds themselves in the middle of a battlefield, with dead British soldiers lying all over the place. After the appearance of war field saviour Mary and the Doc’s wealth of Terran geological / historical knowledge, she reckons they’re in the middle of the Crimean War… but… dum dum dum…with the SONTARANS????

Feeling a lot more like a proper episode than the previous entry into the Flux cannon, which was more 90% setup and 10% story, this focuses on the war in point, and actually tells an A-B-C narrative, as well as contributing grippingly to the larger arc.

Its possibly my favourite Jodie episode yet. The Doc is brilliant, feeling loosed from her shackles a little and firing on all cylinders. The Sontarans, although again shown with certainly more comedy than was ever suggested in the original appearances pre-2005 revival, were still shown to be bloodthirsty maniacs who kill their own. The humour is evenly pitched – i consider myself a very, very pedantic cynic when it comes to nu-Who (i’m storing that particular bullet for the conclusion to this review, don’t worry), but even so Dan getting all Samwise Gamgee with his wok had me smiling. A wee bit so-so joke about sontaran obsession with japanese food i’ll let slide; i enjoy the fact Dan just shrugs and accepts the strangeness, vastly different to my feelings about Bill Potts, who seemed unable to let it go that the Doctor had two hearts.

Doc catapulting the Sontaran’s probic vent – oh yes.

Importantly the preachiness that was present only two seasons ago is somehow evaded here. We’re at war and war is hell, and yeah the Doc has a go at the British general (whom i only just now identify as Maddox from Casualty back when said program was an obsession of mine), but there is no in-the-face punchy morality. Bliss.

The scenes on the as-yet-to-be identified set with the five members of those people…the Mouri?… and the planet Time… well i still feel as if we don’t know enough about this for me to pass judgement. I’m not a fan of the two antagonists and their mute paintball-masked henchman, but theres no denying that having well-dressed, scene-chewing villains is deliciously Dr Who, so no complaints.

The special effects – particularly the destruction of the Liverpool docks (but with massive upside down krenim timeships / kryptonian planet eaters / sommarian battlecruisers) were astounding…well done on use of excellent CG budget, BBC animators!

In conclusion, a vastly superior entry compared to anything in Jodie’s first two televisual seasons, and i look forwards to next week.

However. (warned you).

The idea that the Sontarans, bred entirely for war, conflict and combat – have to come to a complete stop every 20-odd hours for a whole 7.6 minutes, or whatever (numbers are guesses)… is this not a really, really stupid oversight? I mean, all that war strategy and they didn’t think of including a basic shift system that would mean they have no break in the workforce efficiency? Seems a bit..rubbish. Sorry Chris, there was perhaps a better, more imaginative resolution in that writers mind of yours…surely?

Dr Who – FLUX – The Halloween Apocalypse

After a fair wait and an as-yet-unresolved global pandemic, we’re back with some regularity in our Dr Who, following the special, “Revolution of the Daleks.” To describe this six-part one-story adventure as ‘highly anticipated’ is akin to saying everyone was ‘looking forwards to’ the end of the COVID threat.

Just what has the hype for this current run actually consisted of? WELL: i mean, thats a massive blog all by itself, but heres a quick summary. We said goodbye to Bradley and Ryan the Plank at the end of the last episode, so in the new series we have the ‘fam’ reduced to just the Doc and Yaz, but we’re promised Dan the Plast-er-er-er-er, played by liverpudlian comic John Bishop. We know that old-old villains The Sontarans will be appearing, and that old-new villains the Weeping Angels will be breaking quantum locks and scarying the bejesus out of anyone that visits a cemetary from now until the end of time. But then, going by the trailers, is the end of time about to occur and the known universe about to be consumed by something known only as the Flux?

Although Dr Who has done the whole one season – one arc thing before, (Tom Baker’s “Key to Time” season, and Colin Baker’s “Trial of a Time Lord“) its not quite the same as the structure here. “Flux” is to be six chapters of the very same story, mirroring more to the likes of Star Trek: Discovery, or, i guess, Line of Duty, for those non-geeks that might be reading. This is new territory…

Oh and we still have The Timeless Child hanging in the air like an unwanted / highly desired smell, depending on which side of the force wall you’re standing. Will we have the answers, or at least more of the clues?

“The Halloween Apocalypse” begins with a scene reminiscent of Thor: Ragnarock, with the Doc and Yaz already trapped in some scenario that has zero threat because everyone is quipping this way and that, and with some decidedly ropey CGI / green screen shenanigans that then turns into a Harry Potter broomstick chase through a level from Panzer Dragoon, and (i swear) the Doctor shouting “willy!” at her handcuffs.

The episode then introduces us to its new narrative structure; following various characters, somewhat disjointed, and yet all coming together to form a coherent, maddening plot.

Here are the threads. John Bishop being wonderfully and romantically awkward with a girl at work, whom he clearly fancies, and said woman clearly fancying him, in a genuinely heartwarming series of awww moments (i loved this bit)), to two gents in a mine (eh? whats going on here? random), to Sontarans commenting on how disgusting the other looks (haha, those comedic sontarans!). Oh – i’m not finished. We also have a man-shaped dog thing (or a dog shaped man thing), two people talking to Pinhead Lektor in an Eldrad cosplay strapped inside a clearly about to be revealed as malfunctioning force-field prison – these things are NEVER RELIABLE – who can contact the Doc telepathically – a woman talking to Yaz and the Doc saying she’s already met them but not in their time line yet – and then a guy in an outpost in the middle of nowhere suddenly witness to a barrelling cloud of Galactus eating everything in existence. And take a breath.


The various tendrils interweave through the course of the next fifty-odd minutes, with it turning out the dog man and his kind have each been assigned to protect a single individual of humanity (man’s best friend taken to the future extreme), that the psycho with the rocky face is somehow an arch-nemesis of the Doctor (but she doesn’t remember him), the Sontarans are about to invade Earth (no surprises) and the random woman encounters a weeping angel that then sends her into the past.

Knackered yet? I am. In a good way. Blown away by so many unanswered questions, my only fear right now is the massive, titanic behemoth of backlash and theorising that is about to swamp social media and create monsters of men. I guarantee there will be a Who-ha about Dan’s girlfriend, a will-they-won’t-they dance with Doc and Yaz, some speculation that the villain is the Master (has to be, its THAT stupid) and a supposition that the doc / villain met before she became the First Doctor. Or something equally silly.

Which is why i’m going to ignore everything until next Sunday, when we get to see the Sontarans on horse-back! Hi Ho, Sontar!