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The Doctor’s nemesis returns as a chap with mommy issues conspires with extra-dimensional beings to turn humankind into wifi hard drives!

As secret agents all over the world are having their DNA reformatted, “C”, head of MI6, has The Thirteenth Doctor and Team TARDIS brought in to investigate. Doc, after all, is the only person who knows anything about any of this! Alas, Doc can’t really do anything without Fox Mulder wannabe “O”, who, after all, is the only person who knows anything about any of this. Thus, after a brief briefing from C, she loops in O, and that’s really when the proverbial hits the fam.

In California, meanwhile, Daniel Barton, a former spy himself and now the CEO of VOR, giant conglomerate and what would happen if Google, Apple, AWS and Britbox had a transporter accident, might be being nefarious. Doc naturally dispatches her most cunning agents, Yaz and Ryan, to snoop. Might they uncover an alien invasion plot? Is Barton somehow involved? Might “O” not be who he says he is, even though we’ve never ever heard of him before? Yes. The answer to all of that is yes.


This is the second time we’ve discussed Spyfall on Who Back When. Have a listen to our very first, instant-reaction review of the whole two-parter, B065 Spyfall – Series 12 Opener, pronto!

Here's what we think of N156 Spyfall, Part 1 (re-review)

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.2

Drew | @drewbackwhen

2.9

Here's what we think of N156 Spyfall, Part 1 (re-review)

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.2

Drew | @drewbackwhen

2.9

Here's what you think 6 Responses to “N156 Spyfall, Part 1 (re-review)”
  1. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    Well an action packed pre-title sequence, not bad for the first of Chibnall era. Yes, that’s the first one, either it’s gone straight to titles or there haven’t been opening titles until now.

    In fact, it is fairly action packed as a whole and therefore is more similar to Resolution in style than series 11. While having Stephen Fry very briefly might annoy some that he was wasted, I actually think he’s a good match for the length of part. Him being in it longer would have annoyed me. Lenny Henry as a bond villain is kinda fun tbf. I think Yaz should have been in the weird realm for longer, but I suppose we need it to be clear for peril for the Doctor at the end.

    So Sacha Dhwan as the Master? It seems strange to comment on him as he is still the current version at the time of writing (he appears to be in the upcoming finale). But I feel first impressions are good for me. His deception as “O” is actually fairly well balanced with the odd moment which hints at something more, particularly in hindsight. It’s a good cliffhanger moment but we’ll get to the resolution next time.

    I do question Chibnall’s use of Vor as the name of Barton’s company. He might have wanted to have googled that. Or maybe not.

    For me, enjoyable but has some of the typical Chibnall era issues, 3.8/5 Ghost Spies

    PS I’d forgotten the Terrance Dicks dedication at the end, masterful indeed.

    Cheers

    Kieren

  2. Daniel McGinley | @danieljmcginley

    For your eyes only, a confession: My fandom is split between the world of James Bond and the Whoniverse (Sorry!). Both are beloved to me.

    Anyone paying attention will know I have little regard for 13th’s era, so a 007 spoof, penned by the worst writer in Who history has the spectre of a massive dumpster fire written all over it. Strap yourself in for some thoughts.

    Jodie seems more settled and gives a toned-down performance, a much less stressful watch without all the gesticulation and raving.

    Nice subtle nods to Bond musical cues throughout, particularly enjoyed the reference to John Barry’s ‘007’*

    What is the alien forest? Am I the only one thinking it was hair on someone’s head? Hmm interesting. Well, not for Yaz, earnestly describing it as ‘nothingness, nowhere’. Aren’t police officers supposed to be trained in observation?

    Fun fact. The Kasaavin actor also was the voice of the Face of Boe.

    More Stephen Fry please.

    The Master reveal was great, especially after teasing the aliens being Cyberman a la Army of Ghosts. Good to see the Classic tropes; disguise, tissue compression, wordplay on the name, working with an alien race – but will they inevitably betray him?

    What a high octane ending, will they live to Die Another Day? The Doctor obviously will.

    With this story walking the tightrope of TV smashing apoplectic rage, hopes were incredibly low. BUT… it’s actually quite good. The Bond homage passed muster and with Doctor NO moralising lectures, it’s only the best Whitaker story to-date. Blimey, who saw that coming. Rating 3.8/5.

    Daniel

    *Featured in FRWL, TB & MR

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

    Hello lovely podcasters and listeners!

    Well part one of “ SpyFall” was actually great! The production and music was perfect, and one of the best reveals at the end for the Master. Finally we get the Master played
    actually quite terrifyingly, and Sacha Dhawan does a fantastic job. I’m going out on a limb to say he’s possibly the best actor since Delgado to play the Master. What a shame his material
    often lets him down.

    OK this episode is a 007 rip-off, but it’s a pretty good one!

    Lenny Henry is great as the CEO of Google, Sorry, I mean VOR. And Stephen Fry makes a great guest appearance, with the episode I feel only really spoiled by some stupid antics by Graham and Ryan as they examine the gadgets.

    Although the aliens aren’t quite properly executed, with some of the juxtaposition of scenes feeling too disjointed, I felt they are another attempt by the producers to introduce us
    to new concepts and ideas for aliens. Points for that, even if it didn’t quite work as good as it might have.

    I genuinely laughed out loud in the casino scene when the Doctor played “ Snap” and overall the story feels quite nicely paced and thrilling in parts.

    The highlights were definitely some of the plane scenes. And that ending!

    There is so much promise in this episode, what a shame it takes a turn for the worse…very shortly..

    Rating: 4.3 Dumb Australian secret service officers

    GP Haynes

    Australia

  4. Tracey from America | @yecartniatnouf

    Ok, I guess we are spies now. Let’s talk about this episode.

    Things I liked:
    “I’ve made iced tea. Possibly”
    The Doc working on the TARDIS, like really getting her hands dirty. She looks so capable.

    End of the episode when we learn the Master is involved, it makes total sense that lots of people around the Doctor died pointlessly. The Master’s entire deal seems to be finding ways to kill people, and pissing off the Doctor.

    Things that bugged me:
    Why is there such a bad mismatch between Yaz’s description of the weird realm and how it actually looks? It’s obviously drifting through a kelp forest, near Cape Peninsula, South Africa. I know it from one of my apple screensavers. So why does Yaz describe it as “like nothingness”? Baffling.

    It kind of annoys me that Doc can’t remember the last time the Master straight up stole someone’s body. We totally have a classic who precedent in Tremas.

    Other things:
    We have yet another “unless!” from Doc.

    Oh man, the rewatch of “O” seeing the TARDIS for the “first time”. He calls it ridiculous. Of course he’s being sincere, not trying to imply he is overwhelmed. He finds the redesign silly, and he can’t help getting in a little dig at the Doctor.

    Rating: Oh, that’s the Master?

  5. Maxwell Rayner | @thetruemisty

    Series twelve is finally here. Twelve must be a lucky number because this two parter is the best of Jodie’s era. The James Bond like style of the episodes was awesome. The doctor working on the tardis is cool. “Worst uber ever” – This is why Graham is kinda cool. The navigation system used in this episode was a copied idea of ATMOS. “I’ve had an upgrade”, a good line. Humanity is at stake, can we rely on y… OF COURSE you can rely on her. This episode is just one big jumbled mess to introduce ONE kinda new character, like come on, it could be better. And we get another example of the doctor underestimating the doors of the tardis. The doctor has met Oh once before, when and how, Why, so many questions.

    The interview scene is intense. Spooky flashing lights time. I like the look of the green tentacle realm, it is something that I have never seen before. Something about languages and then BINGO, wow look how far scripting has come. And to my utter disappointment there is no New Zealand on the map, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Oh’s reaction to the tardis has me thinking that maybe his incarnation is sometime before John Simms. Music is an absolute jam as always when they are walking up to the party. MOTORBIKES with more cool music. The entirety of the plane scene is just an awesome MASTERpiece.

    I give this episode a 3.5/5 motorbikes that the 11th doctor makes anti gravity to win a race. What’s that episode in the distance?

  6. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Likes:

    • Cliche Bond stuff was half fun.
    • Crazy light monsters, albeit rendered forgettable by the cliffhanger.
    • Stephen Fry’s death was a shocker.
    • *That* twist. And the return of the Master’s tissue compressor thing! Yuk.

    Beefs:

    • This Master. Oooooh! Discuss. 1) I was hoping for more teasers on second viewing. Beside the odd mad-eyed glint, there’s not much. Compare to the entire season of lead-in for Missy, and entire seasons lead-in for John Simm. 2) Is another crazy giggling nut-job Loony Tunes Master really what we needed? I wanted a Delgardo – a quietly calm, sophisticated megalomaniac, who would enjoy a cheeky cognac with you and then cut your throat for the hell it.

    Rating: 2.8/5 of Her Majesty’s finest, shrunken to tiny Hornby railway people.

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