Friday, December 29, 2023

Doctor Who: 60th Anniversary Specials

Yeah sorry, couldn't let it slip by.

Doctor Who! Also known as oh God Russell what will I do with you? Yeah after my....less than enthused reaction to seeing David back, the 60th anniversary has come and the 14th Doctor is on our screens for a brief jaunt in time and space. The real question is, have I mellowed on it and what do I think? The answer is somewhat, cause I was fuming and dreading just a big nostalgic fanwankery throwback to 2008 Doctor Who and it not progressing the character of the Doctor, but I am greatly happy to announce they did confront it and acknowledge it. So I will now laugh in crazed Time Lord manner at the imbeciles and cretins who thought Jodie was just gonna get retconned and tell them to suck it. Long. And hard. You know, for a whopping grand total of four specials spanning 4 hours only there is quite a bit to unpack here so we may just have to break this down special by special. But there's more than just what is presented on screen as well to discuss, we have had some changing of the guards and I can honestly say I have no major qualms with Disney+ possibly being the home to Doctor Who now in the States but I miss watching this show on the BBC America, the budget and scale has never ever been this big or better before, we get a lot of behind the scenes personel back on the programme besides just Russell including Julie Gardner and Rachel Talalay, and I feel the future of the show is up in the air mainly due to the fact I don't keep up with the making of process and what could potentially come next in terms of distribution, writers, or just overall production. I'll touch base on certain things before jumping into the specials themselves, mainly details we knew beforehand. Love the the new logo, classic but with a modern makeover. New title sequence, it's practically kaleidoscopic and I dig it. Theme tune not sold on yet actually, bit too orchestral and not enough sci-fi if that makes any sense but it could grow on me or change outright. New sonic, quite the amalgamation of every modern screwdriver since 2005, I rather like it. New console room, holy cow is that a set! Complete with mood lighting! Sign me up I'm here for it. Onto the specials! The Star Beast is a solid entrance to the anniversary, with our Doctor literally bumping into Donna not long after his deja vu regeneration as a spaceship crashes, leading to a delicate wire balance of save the Earth but don't trigger any memories from Donna. Although that tidbit gets handwaved, and I do frick fraking mean handwaved away at the end which really just hurts the drama and emotion of not only the end of Series 4 but also The End Of Time. I just do not like it, however seeing David and Catherine back is indeed nice and adds new and old elements that have been present in this universe, never did I get bored or was uninterested in viewing it once. It's a simple story with good character interaction, great effects, and is a stepping stone to the next adventure so I can walk away liking it just fine. Wild Blue Yonder is when we get real friggin' good, probably the first time on television Doctor Who has flirted with the concept of cosmic horror as the Doctor and Donna find themselves on a derelict spaceship on the edge of the universe itself when...well just watch it. It combines stuff from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, The Thing, and for you Big Finish fans out there I kinda got big Scherzo vibes from this episode and that is a terrifying story, seriously check that shit out if you haven't. It really did get under my skin especially when the Doctor just peers out at the sheer darkness beyond the universe, it was very effective stuff. Great episode! The Giggle oh boy here we go, the world has gone mental and one of the oldest enemies the Doctor has ever had has found his way into the universe where a series of games is played winner take all. Positives, love of my life Kate is back, Mels is back and marvellous as ever, even as a not big fan of Neil Patrick Harris he did pretty damn good and I didn't actually hate the Spice Girls number as well, Russell after a decade gets to prod and poke at societal norms today, and it gives a happy ending for David. Negatives and spoilers about to crash down on your head, the plot is kinda loose and is more a vehicle to get The Celestial Toymaker to confront The Doctor again and to get to the ohhh God...the bi-generation. I'm kinda on the fence about it, because as I have stated before I'm a dude that thinks decades into the future of the ramifications of decisions. Buuuuut at the exact same time I've come to accept the MetaCrisis Doctor, the extension of 13 faces/12 regenerations, The Timeless Child I took that shit in pure stride happily, so am I really gonna call bullshit on the bi-generation?? Welllll yeahhhh but like not really, it's a complicated matter and I can so clearly see in my mind's eye that's when some people quit Doctor Who outright. Okay let me put it this way, I don't like it but I'm accepting of it and who knows they could play about with it in the years to come to where I'm happy they did that. Minor sidebar on this episode as well, there is zero damn doubt in my mind the whole companion puppet show was entirely for the benefit of those people who quit watching when Ten regenerated, there is no way you can tell me otherwise. I am right on that. Now! However! When it comes to the man of the fucking hour Ncuti Gatwa as our new Doctor Who ho-ho-hoooo! I can firmly and safely say, hand over my hearts, for the first time in my life, I am so stoked for the new Doctor. Never ever has my excitement and love for a new incarnation even existed let alone be this high before, and not only that this is the first Doctor Who actor I've ever seen prior to the show. Chris, David, Matt, Peter, Jodie, never seen them in something before Doctor Who (I know David was in Goblet Of Fire but that revelation didn't click until a whiles later and I wasn't watching Doctor Who yet so I don't count that.) so it really feels like all the rules be broke and damned for this iteration. My mans kinda stole my heart and he can damn well keep it, I cannot wait to see more of him! So pure 10/10 for Ncuti, but how do the performances stack up for the rest of the cast? The day David Tennant gives a bad performance Hell will freeze over, pigs will have learned to fly, and I will become a monkey's uncle. Is he pretty much the Tenth Doctor all over again? Yeah, but there are added layers to the performance to make it unique enough. Catherine Tate I liked better when she didn't have her memory back but just the unbreakable bond of friendship she has with David off screen practically oozes from the interactions and dynamic they have on screen, and she has a spectacular standout moment at the end of Wild Blue Yonder just oh my God that woman can still act her ass off. Again Neil Patrick Harris is a surprisingly good casting choice and can hold some menace even though he really only has one episode to spread his wings. The Noble family are class, and I thought Yasmin Finney as Rose Noble was quite nice and her presence was felt even when it was just the Doctor and Donna, and okay we have to talk about Bernard Cribbins. That was a hard day after hearing he passed away and knowing this was his final acting role made it special but also sad, and I'm not saying this out of anger or resentment or "how dare they" but I genuinely expected more footage of him in the specials when in truthful reality it was a cameo. I mean clearly I wanted him to be in it a lot cause I love that man, everybody loves him, so I'm not upset at the production team far from it in fact. It just sucks you know? But on the brighter end of things Ruth Madeley as UNIT scientific advisor Shirley Bingham instantly had my attention, I don't know what it is but I would love to see her in more Doctor Who and she is just so goddamn pretty and lovely, that character is Kino. Production values from the costumes, sets, effects both practical and CG, it still wholeheartedly fits in that Doctor Who style but it unmistakenly has had a major facelift and I was impressed, happy, and even nodded approvingly at the silly bits. It truly is a new era for this show and it's just a tiny taste of what is yet to come. Now I would be remiss to not include the Christmas special, Ncuti's first full fledged adventure, so let's shift gears over to that. It may have the most average and dirt simple story of not just all the Christmas specials beforehand but all previous episodes but The Church On Ruby Road is easily one of the most fun and fancy free, ludicrous, and just plain entertaining installments in this whole series. I don't think I can adequately explain why that is, but if you just roll with it and are here for the ride you get a lot of fun! It's basically the Fifteenth Doctor meeting his companion Ruby Sunday as they try to stop meddling goblins, but the story barely matters because how the dialogue is written and vastly more importantly how the actors handle the material and interact with one another is practically electric. It's sheer emotional storytelling and I was smiling like the biggest dweeb on the face of the Earth but it has sad moments to it as well, but the energy and passion presented pretty much made me think, "Wow this is what it must have been like when Doctor Who premiered in 2005 with Rose." like it was kind of amazing. Ncuti Gatwa, 10/10, could not adore him more if I tried. Millie Gibson, I'm pretty much already cherishing the ground she walks on, oh my days and stars! The chemistry is flawless, it really does seem like they are the greatest of friends more so than even Ten and Donna with almost sibling energy at times, it really is exactly what I wanted for Christmas. Twelve and Bill are my pinnacle of modern Tardis teams, but man if this keeps up they will be usurped like yesterday. The positives almost outrageously outweigh the negatives, which really is just I'm still getting used to Ncuti's sonic screwdriver, it almost is like the sonic lance in terms of different (but I love with a capital L the story behind the Gallifreyan text on it) but that can so easily change with time. The goblin song is kind of a groove man, and while the Doctor bursting out into song is no Gallifreyan Buccaneer I still unashamedly dig it. Also shoutout to Ruby's mum that woman is a saint and I want you to acknowledge her, that's how I would have kids I would most certainly adopt and not subject any woman to the body horror show of pregnancy thank you very much. But anyway, easily my favorite of the 60th specials and I can't stand the thought of having to wait March at the earliest and May at the latest for the next proper series. If I had to give individual ratings for each special The Star Beast gets a solid 7/10, Wild Blue Yonder gets an 8/10, The Giggle gets a 7.5/10, and The Church On Ruby Road gets a 9/10. Not bad at all for the special occasion and the hype has never been more real for this show. 

And now to reveal the plan for next year. I'm sensing a drought is going to occur because of the strikes and to level with you this year's amount of written material tied with my first year ever and while I greatly enjoyed the time off I wish to contribute more than I did this year. So I'm not quite gonna get back up to 3+ reviews every week but I will try to punch up a review or two every week besides just new movies once the anniversary arrives. Year 9 here we come, the long way around.

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