It’s about time, it’s about space. It’s about strange people in the strangest place
It’s about time, it’s about flight. Travelin’ faster than the speed of light
-Sherwood Schwartz, probably
Once upon a time, Thirteen was falling from her T.A.R.D.I.S., and no one knew what to expect.
Girl, Time sure flies.
Time itself, of course, doesn’t actually do anything. It’s a concept, a possible dimensional aspect of reality, whatever that is. It just is. Like Cup A Soups.
We, however, can move. We move in accordance with what we perceive to be linear increments. Small, almost imperceptible divisions of observable existence, stacked up together, like tiny Egg and Soldiers.
So to us, Time sure flies.
Now that we are here at the end of Series Eleven, we are faced with yet another gulf of Time to wade through. Time enough to discuss, disseminate, pontificate, ruminate – basically all the “ates” – about the ten episodes and one New Year’s Special we were gifted with from Mr. Chibnall et al.
For what it’s worth, I actually enjoyed Series Eleven.
I think for the most part, despite history and the world waiting to pounce on the first inexcusable misstep, Jodie Whittaker did not do too badly as The Thirteenth Doctor. She wasn’t fully formed in her portrayal, but that’s ok. There’s still Time. If anything can be certain, it’s that Her Doctor is the absolutely the same Man. Flawed, humorous, fiercely loyal, confused, unpredictable, and full of hope. I also appreciate her seemingly consistent lack of filter (Suck it, Ryans Dad).
The Companions were appealing, but not really completely realized to the extent where they found their groove, with the exception perhaps of Bradley Walsh.
I never imagined that on this side of the series, I’d be thankful for the inclusion of Graham, and by extension Walsh, to the DW lexicon. By the end, he became such a warm and wonderful caretaker within the group, I was tremendously impressed.
Adding in a disability on top of dramatically rich family issues did nothing for my interest in watching Ryan develop, especially considering how quickly it was discarded. The character who opened the series by trying to capture the impact an infinitely more interesting character had on his life, should have been able to hit the ground running, no pun intended.
And then there is Yaz. Strongest out of the gate, but she lagged behind quickly when she was given very little to do. Her family dynamic is good tv fodder, and to really sell it, Chibs need not look any further than Martha and Francine Jones for inspiration.
Honourable mention: Grace totally should have been a Companion.
Chris Chibnall made it very clear that he would not be relying upon old favourites through the series proper, and we were given some new interesting baddies to consider as a result. Tim Shaw The Mental Dentist, Discount Danny Zuko the Futuristic Racist, Space Critters, and even the most evil creatures in existence: Entitled Human Beings!
However, upon reflection of the ten regular episodes, I felt a distinctive range emerged from crap to good. No outright stunners, however. Many complaints online were directed at the writing, and some of those issues raised were not without merit. Unfinished threads, lack of development for specific characters, dialogue. Pacing.
Brilliant moments, overshadowed by mediocrity.
“Rosa”, “Demons of the Punjab”, “Kerblam!” and “It takes You Away” were the four episodes I enjoyed most. The remaining episodes fought to keep their respective heads above the crap line.
Despite the success of “Broadchurch”, I feel Chibnall’s efforts are better spent on running the show, instead of writing for it. I know – that’s part of the job, but hear me out. I’d love to see some more offerings from a wider group of writers, and perhaps a few old favourites (RTD, Toby Whithouse, Sarah Dollard, Richard Curtis, Jamie Mathieson). Let the Big Man focus on the tone, feel and look of the show for his run, and let the people that can write solid, intriguing set pieces for these characters get on with the storytelling.
A lot of the ire has been set squarely on Chris Chibnall’s shoulders, despite the odds being stacked against him and the entire production team. A new Doctor, a new team, a new look. It’s a big hill to climb. He deserves to be given the Time, and a chance, to work it out.
It might take a bit. People will continue to lament, complain, and deride, safely waiting for the next episode.
Sometimes, we become keenly aware of Time passing. We take note of the speed, and weight of it, measuring our expectations against the actuality. Still, we can take some solace in the knowledge that, yes, the water will eventually boil, and the paint does, in fact, dry.
On other occasions, however, it is amusing to note how quick we are to lament the velocity at which a lazy afternoon becomes a workday morning. We are creatures of comfort and reflection, and we are also addicts, huffing Time like a sort of glue, never quite capturing the high we were hoping for.
We forget quite easily, how things felt before; how irate we all were that Christopher Ecclestone was leaving after one series; that we would never forgive the Beebs for Series 4; or that they could entrust our beloved show to a gray-haired old man.
But we survived. We healed, and we found new things to discover about the thing we thought we knew so well.
That’s the trick. Doctor Who is a show about Time. Ours, theirs, and the Spaces in between. The only guarantee we have from those who act as temporary stewards of our Wandering Alien and the Big Blue Box is that things will change. They will always, and forever, change.
Chris, Jodie, Bradley, Tosin and Mandip will all be back with us for Series 12, and perhaps beyond. We will have all new complaints, surprises and discussions to process.
So long as we choose to tune in and be a part of the reason for its existence, then there will always be Time for those Stewards to try and get it right.
For now, please enjoy these alternative Series 11 titles, offered in jest.
The Woman Who Fell To Earth
Time Doctor VS Space Dentist / Snakes & Ladders / Tossed Salad
The Ghost Monoment
The Amazing Race: TARDIS Edition / Killer Linen / Two, If By Sand
Back to the Racism Part I / SLAP: A Segregationists Tale / Get On The Bus Again (for the Very First Time)
Arachnids In The U.K.
Spiders, Man / Web Reservations / American Silk
The Tsuranga Conundrum
Ready Single Payer One / WebMDystopia / It Goes Pting When There’s Stuff
Demons Of The Punjab
Back to the Racism Part 2 / Grand Daddy Issues / Khan, Partition of One
We Can Ship it For You Wholesale / Blowing Bubbles / Inside Boy
Duck Duck Tree / Hats with Jimmy / Zombie Witches From Space/
It Takes You Away
Croaks in the Skin of the Universe / You Seein’ This Shit? / Pining for the Fjords
The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos
It’s A Small World After All / The Story of Ux / The Return of Dr Teeth
Dalek II: Even Rustier / The Despair Squid Rides Again/ Police Officer Will: One Last Shift