Dr Who – The Power of the Doctor

Okay. Its finally here. How many years have we been hyped now that this day would come. The definitive ‘end of an era’; when Jodie Whittaker hangs up her awesome long jacket, her iconic and subtly LBTGQ+T-shirt and her sonic screwdriving answer to everything macguffin, and when Chris “Chibbers” Chibnall hands back the reins of Dr Who to previous showrunner Russel T Davies.

But lets address the episode itself before we tackle the bigger picture. Needless to say this review contains spoilers, but unless you’ve been buried in a hole the last two months i reckon you’ve already heard about the game-changing cliffhanger, which i will also address later.

We begin the episode needlessly on a fancy space train, which highlighted for me something sinister. The plots of Nu-Who feel so lacklustre that in order to maintain its viewers attention it has had to develop two rather shitty attributes; one, the use of special effects to create ridiculous scenarios for the Doc and crew to battle through – this train sequence, the bit at the beginning of “Legend of the Sea Devils”, the swordfight in the same episode. Huge ‘action scenes’ that are there simply to impress the generation now watching dr who. Now don’t get me wrong, i love action. The motorbike chase in the 96 tv movie, the kawasaki chase in Day of the Daleks, the various Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennat run-montages, with awesome thundering music. But in Jodies reign the action scenes seemed excessive. Spectacle over story.

The second shitty attribute? Prepare to unview me folks because i present a controversial opinion: Thasmin was terrible. The need to put in a woke lesbian attraction between the Doc and Yas seemed so forced and leftfield. I don’t know whether to blame the actors or poor writing, but there was no obvious chemistry unless the plot required it specifically. But this is what the ‘fans’ want, apparently. They want a decent science fiction story sidelined by some whiny companions saying they’ve fallen in love with the Doctor and are devastated she doesn’t feel the same. I’ve lost count with the number of unrequited loves i’ve encountered, yet its the end of the world and ‘doesn’t make any sense’ that the Doc doesn’t fancy Yas.

So. The Cyber-Masters (cyberised time lords) kidnap a young girl of unknown origin who turns out to be an ancient space-borne time-eating alien from the Old Times, but was only a girl because…er, no that wasn’t suitably explained. Basically so that the entire viewership thought we were going to get some resolution of the crap Timeless Child plotline. Which we didn’t, by the by.

The plot itself from now on wasn’t complicated, but it lacked…coherence. I have an infinitum of questions that can all be answered by saying ‘it would look cool’, or ‘because thats what we all want to see’. I agree and disagree. Ace parachuting off the UNIT building INTO the TARDIS was awesome, but the whole time i was wondering why Tegan thought her best option was to run back into the Lions Den and take the stairs, which were literally crawling with Cybermen.

The Master’s Boney M scene arose as a highlight, effectively displaying the batshit craziness of the Master, but harking back effectively to a similar scene in “The Sound of Drums” so many years earlier. The Cyberman looking at the Dalek amidst the madness is one of the few pieces of humour that hit the mark.

My highlights, however, are pretty obvious. If i gave you three guesses you get it in one. Correct; the other Doctors. Seeing Peter, Colin and Sylvester on screen as their relevant Doctors was an absolute dream. Particularly their scenes with their appropriate companions, resolving an unspoken grudge between Tegan and the Fifth, and Ace and the Seventh. The highlight of these highlights of course, was the wonderful and surprising appearance of Paul McGann, now his third on-screen appearance as the 8th Doctor. Why oh why can’t we get a series – even just a couple of specials – with him as the Doctor?

My WTF moment, and not in a good way, was when the Doctor was forced to regenerate…into the Master?? But not really. I’m sure there was some ridiculous explanation of why Jodie became the Master, but the Master’s body remained lifeless. Where did our Doctor go? I guess somebody will try and tell me that she regenerated into her next persona, but the Master somehow interjected with his own mind and became that next persona, but why then did he keep his face? the silliness wouldn’t bother me so much if they’d explained it, even with glorious technobabble. But they didn’t. Lazy.

So the rest of the episode that has gone unmentioned above did so because it was boring, confusing narratively, and badly edited.

The end then. With the Doc finally ditching Yas and – emotionally – asking to regenerate by herself – she stands on the end of a famous landmark, utters some one liner about tagging the next actor…and then regenerates.

Into David Tennant. Microphone drop. What?

Maybe redemption is to come with the 60th Anniversary.

OH. I should comment on the title. The Power of the Doctor. The power is that this character has existed since 1963, and had since affected countless lives, formed an entire culture, and has become an icon of British TV. I may have outright hated some episodes, but i’ve seen every one. The power of doctor who has had an indefinable influence on my entire life. I can’t ignore that.

The Legend of the Sea Devils (2022)

Its time to quote a particularly favourite villain of cinema; Immortan Joe. Allow me…


And thats the review in one word. But, as i call myself a critic, albeit one with a chip on my shoulder the size of a breize block and enough childhood nostalgia to fill a small lochan outside of Creiff, then you deserve a more robust review than that. And, although i know you all think i’m going to be massively, massively pedantic and nitpick the fuck out of the material, i’m trying my best to also present unbiased, observant alternatives that will go hand in hand with my cynical, angry fan ranting.

But first, i’ll attempt a synopsis. Now, let me present a few things. Sea Devils. Ancient China. Pirates. There, given that, how can you fail? All the story needed to do was throw the above three things together. But no, for some reason, it had to be more. It had to be confusing. Not Moffat-confusing, i’ll grant you that. But, certainly more confusing than it needed to be. The problem is this: let me present a fictitious blurb-synopsis, the sort you might find on a streaming service for a TV episode:

The Doctor, Yas and Dan travel to ancient China, where they meet legendary pirate captain Madame Ching, and become embroiled in a Sea Devil plot to disrupt the Earth’s core and flood the planet, claiming it back as their own.”

Now you see why i wasn’t blown away by the actual episode, because that synopsis is bloody brilliant. So much potential, so much lucidity.

But here goes the reality. The actual summup of the transmitted story:

The Doc, Yaz and Dan arrive in medieval China to find a village in which the Pirate Queen, hunting for a mythical ‘keystone’ (which has power over reality), accidentally unleashed a Sea Devil from its frozen statue state…(good so far)… but then the Devil escapes in a flying pirate ship powered by hexatoxicology or something, and the Doc must travel briefly into the past to discover where the devils are hiding, discovering that legendary pirate captain Ji-Hun (whose ship the devils nicked) is in fact in stasis inside the flying ship now, theres a gaping monster-filled hole at the bottom of the sea and the ‘keystone’ will actually give the villainous sea creatures the ability to invert the poles of the Earth and reclaim the planet as their own. Oh and by the by, the keystone was actually given to a young escapee of the pirate ship attack, whose descendent is coincidentally the young man that Dan has befriended in the future…

And yeah whatever. The Pirates of the Caribbean plot is as nonsensical as it sounds and probably would be acceptable in a two hour epic, but not in a 45 minute special. (which raises the question – whats so special about it? Its actually shorter than a normal episode).

But thats the problem. Its not special at all. It feels less even than a mid-season cheap knock off, with far below par special effects and attention. Yeah, I’m sure the powers that be will blame COVID-19 and i do sympathise with that, but even then there just seems like a massive lack of interest from the film-makers. The editing is embarrassing. The fight scene on the ship looks like they took whatever number of minutes footage filmed, popped it into a blender and then were forced to use whatever the system spat out. I’ve seen Taken (Liam Neeson franchise) mocked for the number of edits used to disguise Liam’s lack of fluidity and use of stunt doubles, but this is ridiculous. I think i recall the Doc somersaulting off screen at one point, to evade a sea devil, only for that sea devil to turn up in front of her again. If you’re going to deliver a confusing spray of fisticuffs, you need solid, flowing direction; not a complete mess that just distracts the viewer from being ABLE to comprehend whats going on.

There were positives. The Sea Devils themselves were excellent. True to the past and delivered in a modernised way that made them into fully realised Dr Who monsters even in this day and age. Applause.

The comedy of Dan. Yes! You’d expect me to be more cynical of this but you forget i am also aware that first and foremost Dr Who should be for the kids, so Dan’s pirate costume and out of place one-liners had me smiling, just a little, under my array of frowns.

And….um, thats about it.

As i said, not rubbish, just hugely, massively meh.

And i guess i should talk about the shoehorned-in Doc-Yaz thing. Oh goodness. There is so little i want to say on the matter because for me, nothing made me aware of the ‘sparkling chemistry’ between the two characters. Only twitter’s huge fan base for Thasmin has given this weird relationship any credence. When the Doc described Yaz as the most wonderful person she’d ever met i was blown away; really? What has she done to achieve this accolade? I’m sorry, but the acting and the on-screen action just has not been enought to suggest anything… so this is all born outside of the TV in the fan fiction. I can understand why it all could be a ‘thing’ and i wouldn’t complain too much if it had developed, but only if they’d made it more natural. But it never, ever felt that way.

Anyway. Everyone’s forgotten about the episode now because Ace is in the next one.