A deep-dive into the successes (and failures) of a Doctor, a show runner and an era of Doctor Who.

If you haven’t already, then listen to our reviews of the 31 13th Doctor episodes!

Jodie Whittaker’s and Chris Chibnall’s Thirteenth Doctor Era came to an end on TV just a year before we wrapped it up on Who Back When. We’ve reviewed every single Thirteenth Doctor episode — some of them twice! — and as we are wont to do, we are taking a step back and reflecting on what we’ve just experienced.

It was, in so many ways, a game changer: we finally had our first-ever female Doctor; it became an altogether more cinematic production; and Doc’s backstory was rewritten, for better or worse. For only the second time in Doctor Who history we even got a single-arc, standalone-story season in Flux (the first time since Trial of a Time Lord)!

Ipso facto, there was a lot to unpack here. In this bonus episode, we obviously touch upon the standard categories of our Doctor Retros (companions, villains, best/worst episodes…), but more than that we reflect on a Doctor and show runner who tried to do things a little differently, dissect what worked and what didn’t, and look ahead at what their legacy will mean for future incarnations. You won’t want to miss this one, Podcastland!

Here's what you think 5 Responses to “B092 The Thirteenth Doctor Retrospective”
  1. Izaak | @msmonsteradams

    Perhaps Jodie Whittaker’s time on Dr. Who could be considered as important a chapter in the show’s history as Christoper Eccleston’s return in 2005. The last five years have made incredible leaps in progress for the show – first female Doctor, first POC Master and Doctor, First POC writer for the show(!?) – and overall have taken the show in a clear change of direction from where it was in 2017.

    I love this era. It has its faults and, in fairness, some of the negativity towards it is justifiable, but for me the Thirteenth Doctor is my comfort era – my go-to place for rewatching. Jodie Whittaker is my Doctor; my absolute favourite incarnation due to her infectious sense of wonder and enthusiasm that drove her through her adventures, always pushing her friends to challenge and better themselves while showing them the universe without the ego and self importance of some of her predecessors. Yaz grew from being a background companion in series 11 to a brilliant space explorer, the exploration of her character’s vulnerabilities, desires and adolescence a great part in making her one of my favourite companions.

    Anyway, awards!

    The 0 to 11 award for wonderful nonsense: It takes you away
    Maybe give that script another pass award: Spyfall
    Biggest missed opportunity: putting the Doctor in a space prison with famous monsters and not having her form a breakout team with them in ‘Revolution of the Daleks’
    Two’s a company, three’s a crowd award: Ryan (runner up: the Grand Serpent)

  2. GP Haynes | @FindingGspots (Insta & YouTube)

    Hey everyone,

    I think I may have missed the cutoff for this episode- time is just going too fast!

    Nevertheless, I will share my thoughts on the 13th Doctor.

    I really loved the first two seasons of Whitaker. I had/ have no qualms about the Doctor being a woman.

    Yes, there was some questionable writing, and for me a noticeable decline in the stories by the time “Flux” came around. Sorry, not a fan of this series of episodes.

    Likewise, the specials too started promisingly, only to decline into too many dalek stories and unimaginative plots.

    I wonder how much Covid played into production disruption during her tenure, but the thing is, production has never been better in Dr Who!

    Gorgeous visuals, and seamless CGI integrated into location shoots, coupled with amazing sets, graphics and props.

    So it looks fantastic, but somehow doesn’t make up for some questionable story lines and character development.

    Best Companion: Graham, Best villain: The lone Cyberman ( but just him on his own! ) Best episode: Village of the Angels ( A Flux one! )
    Worst Episode: That Sea Devil one!
    Overall I enjoyed Whitaker and would gladly watch the first 2 seasons again….OK, ok and the “Village of the Angels”

    One of the hardest doctors for me to rate. But I’ll go with:

    3.7 … But maybe we should keep companions to 2 or less!


    GP Haynes


  3. Oli Raven | @FoggyDrWho


    Ever since Colin, the lead role seems to have alternated between fans of the show and actors who see it as just another gig… which makes Jodie the latter, and yet she fully embraced everything that came with the job, including recording some in-character reassurance to younger viewers from her cupboard under the stairs when the pandemic hit.

    All of which is deeply appreciated, but it doesn’t elevate her actual performance on the show which is mainly what we’re here to evaluate. So, how do we sum it up:

    • Busy TARDIS? ✓
    • First season that tried to do something different but fell back on a classic monster (without mentioning them by name in the episode title) near the end? ✓
    • Second season that relied a whole lot more on continuity and nostalgia? ✓
    • Campy, hammed-up appearances by a new Master? ✓
    • A truncated hit-and-miss third season in which the lead actor finally seemed to be hitting their stride once the audience already knew they were halfway out the door? ✓
    • A big celebration of the show’s history featuring past Doctors somewhere along the way? ✓

    Yes, that’s right folks: it’s the Davison era reborn! Hopefully this means Fourteen will be like Sixie and then Gatwa will resemble his fellow quirky Scot, the Unreal McCoy himself, and usher in a new Golden Age for the show.

    Overall: 2.3 wet drips for the era, 2.9 patronising primary school teacher lectures for the Doc. Or the other way around, I dunno anymore.

    Oli Raven
    (IG: @FoggyDrWho)

    P.S. I saw that portly blue dude at my local ComicCon too! IMDb tells me he’s called Simon Fisher-Becker and his character’s name was Dorium, but I very much needed to look it up. No former Docs in Burnham-on-Sea, sadly, so perhaps he wasn’t in such a bad mood here because he wasn’t being upstaged.

    P.P.S. This was listed on the docket as the next bonus ep for a while but now it isn’t, so is this even still happening? Also, is it really the end this time, and has the moment been prepared for… ??

  4. Tanz Sixfingers | @tanzsixfingers

    Greetings Who Back When Fam!!

    So I think Jodi Whittaker received the short end of the stick in her role as the Thirteenth Doctor. I think she performed admirably for the writing she was given. I feel bad that she and Chibnall entered into that pact that she would only do three seasons and then leave as he did. I would love to have seen what she could have done under a different showrunner. I’m guessing Chibnall wanted her to leave during his run because he wanted to do a regeneration story (whether that was Power of the Doctor all along is anyone’s guess), so she was sort of required to leave when he did. Maybe RTD will arrange to write some specials for her down the road.
    I think the two biggest issues with the Thirteenth Doctor’s run, and subsequently Chris Chibnall’s time as showrunner, is first that they gave the Doctor three companions, and then separated the Doctor away from them for most of the stories, so there is no character bonding. They end up more like passengers on a bus waiting to get off at the next stop, but it’s never theirs.
    Second, Chris had a lot of great ideas that he wanted to include in each episode; so much so that none of them are ever fleshed out and the stories feel lacking in completion. If he could have used just a few great ideas and fleshed them out more, maybe even into two-parters, then I think these episodes would have been ten times better. Also, so many are left with unfinished story lines that are never picked back up. I thought most of season 11 was a bunch of good first parts of two-parters that were cut short.

    companion – Graham
    stories – Fugitive of the Judoon, Rosa, Haunting of Villa Diodati
    alien – Pting (the creature that looks and acts like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch)
    CotW – Prof Jericho (I think he was an homage to Douglas Adams because Dirk Gently’s mentor was Professor Jericho in the TV series.)

    Companion – Ryan
    stories – Praxeus, It Takes You Away, Legend of the Sea Devils
    alien – Morax

    I’m just looking forward to see what RTD will do to untangle this mess or if he will just ignore it and write as if he never left the show. I did like the Flux idea and season, just not the way it ended.

  5. Tracey from America | @yecartniatnouf

    Hello all, and welcome to the Tracey from America Doctor 13 Awards Show. I am your host, Tracey. Here are my picks for best and other superlatives.

    Best Episode: tie between Rosa and It Takes You Away
    Rosa has the most compelling real-world tension as well as the interesting scifi concept of ‘nudging’ history. While, It Takes You Away was a treat for the senses in the beautifully done boundary zone populated in weird and dangerous creatures.

    Best whimsical representation of an entire universe: the Soletract frog from It Takes You Away

    Best creepy weirdo: Ribbons of the seven stomachs

    Too-many-closeups-monster: Skithra Queen

    Scene Stealingest Guest Star: Goran Visnjic as Tesla

    Most Memorable Pregnant Guy: Yoss from The Tsuranga Conundrum

    Preachiest concept: environmentalism as seen in Orphan 55 and Praxeus

    Best alternate Doctor: Fugitive Doctor

    Most outlandish Doctor claim: maybe she’s Banksy?

    Most underwhelming returning villain: Tim Shaw

    Best Master line: “Come on Doctor, CATCH UP!” from Spyfall when he reveals he’s not “O”

    Best episode of flux: The first couple minutes of it, aka escape from Karvanista.

    In conclusion, bring back Murray Gold.

    Bonus! Husband from America’s picks-

    Best companion doing something with nothing: Graham

    Best composer: Boney M

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