Classic Film Kid on Doctor Who Series 12 – part 1

SPOILER ALERT

We have a lot of stuff to unpack here. If you haven’t fully seen the season yet, please read this review after you’ve watched the finale.

Hello, it’s the Classic Film Kid here, and with another series of Doctor Who over and done, it’s time to take a look at Series 12. Series 11 was by no means bad, but it had a rather lukewarm reception with me and indeed a lot of other people. While there were episodes I enjoyed, overall I felt indifferent to poor reactions to most episodes. For the first time since becoming a fan, I felt slightly disconnected. Therefore, when Series 12 started its promotion, I was excited but not absolutely ecstatic about what was to come. I was very, very happy to see that while Series 12 still has a quite a few issues, this is the most excited I’ve been for Doctor Who in years. And also a fair few of Series 11’s setbacks have been rectified.

Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor really came into her own this year. There was more of an ensemble feel last year which wasn’t a bad approach but it did mean her character came up a little shorter than she should have done in her first series. Here, they’ve really allowed Jodie to act – some of the dialogue is still a little fast and hyper, but I think Jodie’s allowed to work around this a bit better. Some of the shining moments for me are her confronting the Lone Cybermen, all of her exchanges with Sacha Dhawan’s Master, and basically every scene in the final episode. Seriously, that woman is brilliant in front of a villain.
Unfortunately, this has kind of come at the companions’ expense. I feel like they spent this season rectifying the issues with the Doctor and Yaz because my God Mandip Gill got some good character development this year, however, Ryan and Graham drew the short straw a good couple of times. This crowded TARDIS is definitely showing cracks, considering some episodes this year have a pretty large guest cast on their own, and while they all had something to do, I don’t think they offered much that was new. But honestly, well done with Yaz.

This story arc was definitely ambitious – probably the biggest of the modern series. And while the ending has proved incredibly divisive (being the Doctor is the Timeless Child, a child from another planet whose genetic data was spliced into the Shobogans/Gallifreyans to create the concept of regeneration), I felt perfectly fine with this twist. It’s not taking away from canon if anything it’s adding even more information, the mystery of the Doctor’s identity and origin still remains intact, and it makes The Brain of Morbius even more awesome. The little seeds sown for the next series were very cool, too: seemingly the arc will centre on Jo Martin’s Doctor and whoever this Division organisation is, and while I’m a bit sceptical about Jo Martin’s identity (I’m still holding out hope she’s the Valeyard) these ideas do genuinely interest me.

Although this arc was really engaging, I do have an issue with its structure. The setup at the end of Spyfall Part 2 was great, but having standalone episodes and in the middle big game-changing story arc episodes such as Fugitive of the Judoon wasn’t a good move. It should have been answering more questions as the series progressed or at least providing some hints, not just creating more questions and expecting us all to wait for Ascension Of The Cybermen/The Timeless Children for any of the questions to be answered. I do accept that Series 12 has had a lot of issues, but I want to go back to something I stated in my overview of Series 11 about what I wanted from the next series: “Personally, I think we need a bit more experimentation. Some more risks, more challenging sci-fi concepts.” I think that this series has definitely delivered on this – there was more that I personally wanted to see in a series of Doctor Who, and some aspects have definitely been good enough for me. At the end of the day that’s all I want from my favourite show – so long as I’m satisfied, whether or not others like it or hate it, I’m happy. And while some things that this series revealed will go in the history books, there won’t be any all-time greats aside from one. That’s fine though – as I said, all that matters at the end of the day is if I, the viewer, enjoyed what I got. And I did.

I found that at the end of Series 11 I could predict everything – the writing style, the plots, what the Doctor would say, etc. As I said, the writing hasn’t changed that much, but there’s a lot more to engage in content-wise and I genuinely couldn’t tell what was around each corner, so I can forgive the weak scripting in places. That said, I am definitely excited as to where we go from here – Series 11 was a series that deliberately stayed away from mythology so as to confuse newcomers, whereas Series 12 utterly indulges in it. Will Series 13 have the same companions? Will it explain Jo Martin’s presence and where she fits into the Doctor’s timeline if at all? SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT.

Come back tomorrow for an episode by episode rundown of series 12 of Doctor Who from the Classic Film Kid.

Alex Paine

Alex Paine started reviewing films on the site IntoFilm when he was 9, but now his forte is classic films and TV on the wonderful site The Geek Show. He puts his opinions into detailed reviews with plenty of geeky banter on the side. And in terms of classic films, he has seen some of the greats. Although he still hasn't watched Citizen Kane. Or any of the Godfather films. Or The Shawshank Redemption. Or Apocalypse Now. Or - Let's just say he has a lot more work to do.

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