31 October 2021 1015 Views

(Doctor) Who Gives a Flux?

by James Murphy

New Series of BBC Sci-Fi/Fantasy show:

Launched in time for Halloween!

(Even though they no longer give us  a Christmas special, bizarrely??).

Brief Recap: I have never made any secret of these facts:

1: I LOVED Doctor Who as a boy.

2: ‘Was gutted when the show found itself axed in 1989, just as it started to develop some substantial, textured, ambitious stories.

3: ‘Enjoyed the McGann revival in ’96. Fell in love with the Russell T Davies version from 2005-10.

4: ‘Gave the Steven Moffat era a chance, because I rated his plot craft and felt Matt Smith to be a star in the making.

5: Lost all interest in the show, brand, character, lore around 2015.  It was clear that Moffat was out of ideas (imho). Preachy politics were starting to sub for story. And Peter Capaldi was playing 17 differing iterations of the Doctor, at once, none of which merged into a charming construct.

6: I had zero objection to a woman playing Dr Who. But it had to be done ‘right’. Jodie Whittaker is a fine actress and decent sort, so by rights, could and should have owned the role. Instead, she was directed to do a kind of David Tennant impression? Like when people thought Dr Who = big scarf. 

7: Sadly? Chris Chibnall succeeded Steven Moffat as showrunner / lead writer and basically, ran the show into the ground (imho, once again).


AND YET? It’s all about renewal, right? REGENERATION!


A: When I heard Russell T  was returning to replace Chibnall? I was thrilled!

B: Though sad for Jodie having been served poorly in her tenure, I was ok with her departure. She had a three year reign or so, which is average in the TARDIS. No longer would her talent be restrained by some poor person’s Tennant/Matt Smith/Bubbles from AB FAB routine.

TAKEN TOGETHER? It all ends up at FLUX!

I.) FLUX is the title for the latest DOCTOR WHO series. A whole arc bound by one title. Oh, the irony. Because Chibnall was, I thought, not a fan of TRIAL OF A TIMELORD back in ’86. Yet here he is, reduced to similar structure and with the show once again, on its knees?

II.) The new series set up is genuinely dramatic and atmospheric, boosting curiosities of viewers from the outset. Good!

III.) Episode 1 was fast, funny, daring, imaginative, bold, visually stunning, actual sci-fi. Well done!

IV.) Jodie is FINALLY getting to play the character in a more organic, convincing manner. Proving me..right..again. The girl can act. Big time!

V.) Balance restored? There is an equal measure of airtime for the world and the universe. Old foes and new. Comedy and drama. Exposition and mystery. Novelty and nostalgia. 


A: I should be singing from rooftops: DOCTOR WHO IS BACK! But no, still cautious.

2: This is all just too little, too late. Chibnall could and should have STARTED his regime with this kind of thing. He didn’t. So any ongoing lack of interest is on him.

III:) I found it patronising to Liverpool. Sorry. John Bishop (Dan, new companion) is clever, funny and charming. It LOOKED like they were setting him up as an academic? As in he is lecturing in a museum. But no. Course not. He works at a FOOD BANK. Because a ‘scouser’ could not just be a professor who volunteers for charity in his spare time. This is the kind of simplistic character sketch that ruins Chibnall’s writing and to some extent, did for Moffat, too.


Are Yaz (boring companion) and the Doctor (eponymous lead) in a lesbian relationship? I dunno. But I found it a BIT odd that they fell onto a BED in the TARDIS set (itself rather crammed and am dram looking, amidst the other, better effects on display). These actors have ZERO chemistry. There has been NO indication of ANY romantic spark. So whilst I have no objection, on principle? The execution is as ever, rushed, clumsy, disposable and pointless. 


Though a solid start to a series that has baited my curiosities? FLUX is just filling and killing time until we get the RUSSELL T DAVIES renaissance and literal regeneration of the show next year.

If you do tune in, then what you see is basically a series of set pieces. Though entertaining and clearly designed with new flair, they all just serve the build up to a finale.

IE: this new series of DOCTOR WHO has been activated to at once redeem the years of brand neglect and somehow, make way for the new. If you like that sort of thing? Fine. This is right up your time vortex. OH YES! 





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