Author Topic: Doctor Who Series 12B: The Timeless Chibnall (Xmas special & pre-Series 13 chat)  (Read 18069 times)

Alberon

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The Matrix spat her out rather than relive the Chibnall years again.

EDIT: Ooh, new page sarkiness!

I'm still maddest about this mental process of Chibbers':

"The Doctor can be anyone, including a black woman."
Yes, of course.
"But WHY can The Doctor be a black woman?"
Sorry, what?

So, what the hell was that Ireland business all about?

It's a version of what happened to the Timeless Child, rewritten as a story about Ireland in order to get it out of the Matrix. Or something.

Thomas

  • well they do all sixteen dances.
In light of being all miserable about it, I've decided to list the things I enjoyed about series 12:

  • Sacha Dhawan’s performance. The Master has returned way too soon, and at the expense of Missy’s recent conclusion, but I really like Dhawan’s interpretation. He made swathes of the finale watchable. Great voice for the Master, too. The Master needs a good voice. I’ve rewatched some of his scenes, out of context. The way he coldly discards the matchbox containing the shrunken O is – lol – masterful.
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  • The Master’s theme. Though others have their criticisms, I loved Murray Gold's contributions, and I think memorable, recognisable motifs are a positive thing.
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  • The return of tissue compression. Fair play.
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  • The Haunting of Villa Diodati – a straightforwardly good episode. Maxine Alderton took the struggling elements of this era and writ a good ep. I'd long thought there was potential in a story set on that night, and the result satisfied.
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  • Goran Višnjić’s performance as Tesla. Don’t know if it’s in any way historically accurate, but it was engaging and endearing for the purposes of the episode.
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  • The intermittent Ireland sequences were successfully intriguing in Ascension of the Cybermen, though ruined on the reveal that they’d actually been happening in the Doctor’s head (absolutely no indication of this until the Master told us so) and were actually a metaphor about the universe's most magical kid falling off a mountain.
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  • Bradley Walsh.
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  • The fact that we've all quickly prepared feasible storylines to un-make the Doctor the Timeless Child. Should be a doddle for a future showrunner.

I'm going to be a dissenting voice on Dhawan. Not blaming him, but he's all over the place and often incongruously so. It doesn't feel like a coherently mad performance, but a collection of wildly different performances that chop and change between scenes and edits. The scene where he jumps through the barrier all chuckles and then next shot is sombre af feels like he's been shot doing two violently different performances that were slapped next to each other.

Positivity, though:

Goran Višnjić’s performance as Tesla. Don’t know if it’s in any way historically accurate, but it was engaging and endearing for the purposes of the episode.

Yes, he was outstanding.

The intermittent Ireland sequences were successfully intriguing in Ascension of the Cybermen, though ruined on the reveal that they’d actually been happening in the Doctor’s head (absolutely no indication of this until the Master told us so) and were actually a metaphor about the universe's most magical kid falling off a mountain.

This too. A proper mystery. I don't think the twist was bad either, just ineptly presented. In another world, there's a really strong single episode focusing on Brendan where the Doctor does show up until towards the end, after the Life On Mars reality of it has started to get more and more uncanny (Brendan aging, but otherwise time not moving on). The Doctor could actually be active! Working it out, fighting her way out, angrily turning on the Time Lords she realises are behind it all. I suppose that wouldn't be far off a rip off combo of Amy's Choice and Heaven Sent, but hey ho.

I also really liked the Scary Baldy episode, until it got thrown away for some rubbish at the end.

Alberon

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Being positive I loved the Judoon captain gasping at a plot twist. A superb (if deliberately silly) monster brought to life very well.

CyberBastard was a very original twist on an old monster, though the way he was killed was very disappointing.

I too enjoyed Goran Višnjić’s performance as Kevin Kline.

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That’s how I’d respond too, I think.

Just came across this brilliant summing up of one of Chibnall's major failings, from an old set of Andrew Ellard's #tweetnotes. It's from his notes about Resolution, but absolutely applies to the episode we've just seen (and to Chibnall's writing in general).

Quote from: Andrew Ellard
Scenes in Chibnall’s shows are rarely written from a character’s perspective. They’re from outside, the POV of the chess player, not the pawns.

It’s all very…even handed. One might say fair-minded, even. But it makes emotional connection hard.

Note how quickly we drop the POV of a kidnappee - how she feels after isn’t looked at.

Note how Aaron is as much the POV character in his big scene with Ryan. How we’re ahead of the Doctor thanks to the opening VO, so we watch her learn what we know already.

Across the series, these companions have never worried when their tales will end, or who time Time Lords are, or if this lifestyle is dangerously addictive.

They move when the plot moves them. They don’t make it happen. Because they’re seen only from outside.

For some, this will also be why the show *works* - after all, you can fill the character up with your own imagination when they mostly just say “What’s that, Doctor?” (Hi Yaz, I love you for this reason.)

But it’s an approach that leads to “But…” responses.

‘But why isn’t Yaz acting like a cop? But why would you let a criminal Trump-alike with a gun go? But you must know you’re on a ship since it looks exactly like one?’

All those Buts happen because the script’s been written from *outside* the characters.

If you were writing from inside the Doctor’s head - really connected to her worldview and emotions - she’d never shrug and let the villain go off to kill again.

And if she did something like that, you’d know why, and know it was *hard*. You’d get it and care.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not *never* this. Demons o/t Punjab was a series fave for me because it did get inside the Doctor, and Yaz. Other episodes had their moments.

But overall, it seems CC’s showrunner/writer instinct is one of overview.

(You’ll find a similar method in series one of Broadchurch, where we follow cops, but their POV isn’t ours, we cut to everyone.

Both shows also do a lot of that ‘But people might learn about Secret Thing!’ dialogue you only say when cameras are watching.)

I find that lack of POV frustrating. Harder to engage with, less emotional, and really damaging when it comes to character - some of their choices seem forced, they often feel unaffected by what happens, or short on opinions or reactions.

It’s not ‘wrong’, but it’s not getting me to a show I’d love.

RTD lives in the POV. All the time. Swims in it.

Moffat would get plotty, then stun you with an ‘actually, *this* is my take on the world’ character line, at once surprisingly and true.

CC’s POV mostly articulates things we know already - “I feel sad about Nan” - or is used for a joke.

And *that*s how you get “We could talk to each other.”

That’s why it bothers. A character gets clear POV for once, and it’s a nobody, for a dad joke.

The whole rewriting of the Doctor's origin is written from an outside perspective. It's a fan's "wouldnt-it-be-cool-if" perspective. We never really get to see the Doctor's perspective at all. We get a couple of minutes of her trying to work out what it means, then Doctor Ruth turns up and says "Nah, mate, don't let it affect you" - and from then on, it doesn't. It ought to be a massively important character moment, but to Chibnall, it's just showing off how audacious a plot device he can pull off (whilst somehow only managing to graze an actual story in passing).

Thomas

  • well they do all sixteen dances.
Some really interesting insights from Andrew Ellard, there. Lore- and mythology-wise, the last episode of comparison is probably The Day of the Doctor, which opened up the Time War and tinkered (in a comparatively small way) with what we knew of the Doctor’s past. And that episode lives inside POVs. We’re in the Doctor’s head for so much of it. The multi-Doctor scenes are played almost metaphorically, with each incarnation representing a conflicting aspect of the character’s mind as he talks to himself.

For all the character and emotion of The Timeless Children, on the other hand, its plot reveal might as well have been announced offscreen. The BBC should have saved some budget cash and done a Facebook post. ‘Canon update: the Time Lords took their ability to regenerate from an alien child, who was secretly a pre-Hartnell incarnation of the Doctor. Please like and share.’

Cerys

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CyberBastard was a very original twist on an old monster, though the way he was killed was very disappointing.

I don't think we've necessarily seen the last of him.  There are precedents for victims surviving being shrunk by the Time Compression Eliminator.

Alberon

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True, but then he was blown up and the awfully named ‘Death Particle’ would have finished off any organic bits left over from the blast.

He’s deaded.

I'm going to be a dissenting voice on Dhawan. Not blaming him, but he's all over the place and often incongruously so. It doesn't feel like a coherently mad performance, but a collection of wildly different performances that chop and change between scenes and edits. The scene where he jumps through the barrier all chuckles and then next shot is sombre af feels like he's been shot doing two violently different performances that were slapped next to each other.

Positivity, though:

Yes, he was outstanding.

This too. A proper mystery. I don't think the twist was bad either, just ineptly presented. In another world, there's a really strong single episode focusing on Brendan where the Doctor does show up until towards the end, after the Life On Mars reality of it has started to get more and more uncanny (Brendan aging, but otherwise time not moving on). The Doctor could actually be active! Working it out, fighting her way out, angrily turning on the Time Lords she realises are behind it all. I suppose that wouldn't be far off a rip off combo of Amy's Choice and Heaven Sent, but hey ho.

I also really liked the Scary Baldy episode, until it got thrown away for some rubbish at the end.

the other way of doing the Brendan would have been for it to be over several episodes and clearly shown to be in the Drs mind.

Norton Canes

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Yeah, glimpses of Brendan might have been a nice little abstract puzzle to glue the stories together.

'Glimpses of Brendan'... sounds like a Mulligan and O'Hare album

Norton Canes

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In light of being all miserable about it, I've decided to list the things I enjoyed about series 12:

  • Sacha Dhawan’s performance

I'll definitely go with that - though by the end, during those interminable expositions sequences, he was really going overboard. Don't blame him for trying to keep them interesting, I suppose.

I did honestly think that several of the stories started well. Spyfall, Tesla, Praxeus, Can You Hear Me? and even Orphan 55 all held the interest for the first quarter to half an hour or so, before disintegrating to various extents.

Segun Akinola remains a qualified success - his arrangement of the main theme is great and he excels with the quietly atmospheric stuff but he does rely on that cliched sort of mid-tempo, sparse, choppy funk motif in moments of tension. His Cyber stuff was fun.

Quote
Goran Višnjić’s performance as Tesla. Don’t know if it’s in any way historically accurate, but it was engaging and endearing for the purposes of the episode

Nicely offset by Robert Glennister's ornery turn as Edison, I thought.

And Bradley Walsh, yeah, obviously.

Apart from that it's all about Villa Diodati, by a huge distance the best story thus far of Chibnall's era. I actually rewatched it ( I know!), something I have little to no inclination to do for any other season 11 or 12 efforts. Much as I'm prepared to ignore any iteration of the show that isn't up to scratch I was genuinely delighted that Jodie got a decent story because it doesn't seem right that any Doctor should miss out.

It's surely a given that Maxine Alderton will be invited to write for the show next season and if I was Chibnall I'd give her a couple of stories or even a trilogy, along the lines of the Extremis series in season 10, to prove her mettle. Genuinely think she has potential show-runner capabilities.

Ambient Sheep

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Quote from: Andrew Ellard
Across the series, these companions have never worried when their tales will end, or who time Time Lords are, or if this lifestyle is dangerously addictive.

Although to be fair, this did get addressed a bit towards the end of this series.  (Perhaps someone pointed this out to Chibbers in a script meeting?)

But yeah the rest of it, as ever, spot-on.

Ellard for next showrunner?

EDIT: Blimey, he doesn't half have some good recommendations on his website, even if one of them is from Glinner.  And I just learnt that Jane Bussman has written for South Park?!

daf

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'Glimpses of Brendan'

I used to wake up in the morning
I used to feel a disaster
I got so sick of having sleepless nights
I went and told the Master

He said, "Doc now here's some little something"
And stuck them in my head
And now my nights ain't quite so lonely
In fact I, I can never be dead

Glimpses of Brendan made my life so wonderful
Glimpses of Brendan helped me sleep at night
Glimpses of Brendan solved my childhood problems
Glimpses of Brendan helped me feel alright

~ (Matrix smashing solo) ~

Norton Canes

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Crazy Caption, anyone..?



Thomas

  • well they do all sixteen dances.
Oh, yes, you've all reminded me; I also liked CyberBellend and the endearingly bewildered Judoon Captain.

With a few days' remove, I have to say I think the Timeless Child revelation is still fucking rubbish.

Small Man Big Horse

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I've just caught up with the most recent Thirteenth Doctor comics where they've a team up with Ten and Martha and the villains are Weeping Angels and Autons, because I'm guessing sales figures weren't what they'd hoped for. It's great fun anyhow, even Yaz and Ryan had the odd decent moment, and I wish Chibnall would hire Jody Houser to write an episode as she's proven over and over again that she knows how to have fun with these characters.



Also: The comic reminded me that Yaz and Ryan are both supposed to be 19 which I keep forgetting as they act like far duller, older types than the teenagers they actually are.

With a few days' remove, I have to say I think the Timeless Child revelation is still fucking rubbish.

Genuinely think you're being too kind there, I'd be much much harsher if I met Chibnall in person.

Mister Six

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Why does everyone have such tiny little mouths?

Cerys

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Penis reasons.

The comic reminded me that Yaz and Ryan are both supposed to be 19

What? This can't be true!

Small Man Big Horse

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What? This can't be true!

Shockingly it is, I mean they might have had one birthday since teaming up with the Doctor but no more than that, and it makes the casting of a 27 year old (Tosin) and a 32 year old (Mandip) all the odder.

Odder still when the flashbacks in Can You Hear Me? showed that Mandeep can convincingly play that age.

weekender

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It's almost like everyone in this thread is in general agreement that the characterisation in Chibnall's era has been fucking shit.

One question - how was Chibnall's characterisation in Broadchurch?  I've not seen it, but have a vague awareness that the first series got good reviews and the second didn't.

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Why does everyone have such tiny little mouths?

Because the artist's only frame of reference for other humans is this photo that they have:


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Shockingly it is, I mean they might have had one birthday since teaming up with the Doctor but no more than that, and it makes the casting of a 27 year old (Tosin) and a 32 year old (Mandip) all the odder.

I know - it's a lot like watching the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man films in many ways.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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I've just caught up with the most recent Thirteenth Doctor comics where they've a team up with Ten and Martha and the villains are Weeping Angels and Autons, because I'm guessing sales figures weren't what they'd hoped for. It's great fun anyhow, even Yaz and Ryan had the odd decent moment, and I wish Chibnall would hire Jody Houser to write an episode as she's proven over and over again that she knows how to have fun with these characters.

I don't doubt your positive assessment of these strips, I haven't read them myself, but on that page Docs 10 and 13 share identical voices. That's not the writer's fault, really, as she's being faithful to the way Doctor 13 is portrayed on screen - a diluted version of Doctor 10.

Mister Six

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Odder still when the flashbacks in Can You Hear Me? showed that Mandeep can convincingly play that age.

As with so much of Chibnall's work, I think he made those decisions almost arbitrarily then found himself unable to (or didn't realise he should) view the world from a 19-year-old's perspective. Or from any perspective that isn't a middle-aged man, which is why Graham is the only character whose internal world has ever rung true.

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