Continuing from yesterday where the classic film kid talked out his general thoughts and feelings on the season, today brings us to the main event of his Series 12 Doctor Who coverage.
This is the main part of my doctor who coverage, fully summing up my opinions on each episode with a ranking of the ten stories we received in Series 12. By the way, I will be counting the episodes of the two-parters separately (as in, I won’t be grouping Spyfall Pt. 1 and 2 and Ascension of the Cybermen/The Timeless Children together). This series was really hard to rank as the last series, but this time for different reasons: Series 11 had episodes that were really solid but nothing groundbreaking and similarly had episodes that were weak but not full-on appalling: the closest it got to bad was probably The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos. Series 12 had one major stinker, but aside from that, I enjoyed watching every episode despite some of the writing setbacks. I am basing this on enjoyment as well as objective quality, so please try and hear me out.
10. Orphan 55 (written by Ed Hime)
Orphan 55 is the most frustrating episode I’ve watched in a while. Not because it was painful to watch, but because a few little tweaks and this would’ve been brilliant. With last series’s It Takes You Away, Ed Hime managed to connect three large-scale ideas together and deliver a satisfying ending, resulting in one of my favourite episodes of the last series. This time, his approach to his ambition was to do all the ideas at once and it resulted in an incoherent mess with atrocious dialogue and characterisation. The climate change message was also really pushing it. If only he’d been stopped after the second idea he came up with, I would have loved this. Instead, he’s taken away any interest I had in him coming back by writing the worst episode of Doctor Who since 2015’s Hell Bent. Good job.
9. Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror (written by Nina Metivier)
Now it gets hard. If I was rating these episodes with a score like I usually do, Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror would still get a solid seven from me. I really enjoyed it on the first broadcast and three rewatches later, I still do. My issues with this episode come in the villain. Out of all the history-based episodes in the Chibnall era, this is the one with the weakest monster. It was nice seeing Anjil Mohindra from Sarah Jane Adventures again, but they felt generic. Imagine how great this episode would have been as a character piece between Tesla and Edison, it could’ve been a classic. Regardless, Goran Višnjić‘s performance is fantastic.
8. Praxeus (written by Pete McTighe + Chris Chibnall)
Praxeus was another one of those solid if unremarkable stories. I doubt this one will be rewatched to death like a few other episodes of the modern series, but for what it was it was a decent idea about an alien disease backed up with a nice supporting cast and a message that felt woven into the plot, and not tacked on like Orphan 55’s attempts at ‘preaching.’ It was pacey but not rushed and some good character moments to act as breathing space. Overall this was a decent comedown after Fugitive of the Judoon, but in terms of Pete McTighe’s scripts, I would take Kerblam over this.
7. The Timeless Children (written by Chris Chibnall)
This episode was a delirious fanboy-fuelled blast. Yes, it does fall apart the moment you start thinking about it and it probably wins awards for the most plot holes in a single episode. I’m sorry. Time Lord history, regenerating Time Lord Cybermen, blowing up Gallifrey, complete indulgence in lore and mythology, the Master and The Matrix? A Doctor Who nerd is not going to notice any problems with an episode that has this much going on in it. It completely blew up Doctor Who history in general and got us all drooling over the show. Well done, Chibnall. Your script was ridiculous garbage and I loved it.
6. Spyfall pt. 2 (written by Chris Chibnall)
This is a similar case to the Timeless Children, only there were genuinely great ideas in Spyfall pt. 2 rather than the successful attempt at disguising terrible scripting with mythology. The stuff with the two historical figures, following a bunch of weirdly-formed aliens through history accompanied by a borderline flawless Master performance from Sacha Dhawan was amazingly good fun. The final ten minutes, sending ripples through the fandom and setting up a huge arc, was also great. However, continuing on from the Daniel Barton and social media mystery from Part 1 and giving all companions purpose? Not so much.
5. Fugitive of The Judoon (written by Vinay Patel + Chris Chibnall)
The three episodes that utterly indulge in Doctor Who lore ending up back-to-back-to-back on this list might seem like a coincidence, but they all succeeded in blowing my brain out of my head so good job. It managed to string all these huge moments into a fun storyline involving the Judoon, build mystery and have a definite ending, something episodes like this often forget. And I don’t care if he never comes back again and his cameo was pointless – Jack’s return is the closest I’ve felt to being an eight-year-old in a long time.
4. Spyfall pt. 1 (written by Chris Chibnall)
Like I said earlier on, I was excited about Doctor Who’s return but I had nowhere near as much anticipation as something like the start of Series 11 or 10. I was glad to see that Spyfall manages to keep the tone of Series 11 but up the scale considerably and add a lot of great ideas. The mystery did get a little convoluted in part 2 but it worked wonders here, constantly building and changing and adding new layers. There were a few gags that didn’t work, but that cliffhanger alone was enough to save any of it. It’s probably time to say this – whoever’s job it was to keep the secrets this series, you deserve a raise.
3. Ascension Of The Cybermen (written by Chris Chibnall)
This episode didn’t really answer anything but this was some of the tensest action we got all series. I thought the Brendan cutaways were a little jarring at first but it did help to prepare us for the Timeless Child reveal next episode, and Ashad continued his winning streak from the previous story as a threatening power-hungry Cybermen. There’s not really much to say apart from that. It was just 50 minutes of really engaging Doctor Who and a good first part to the mind-blowing finale.
2. Can You Hear Me? (written by Charlene James + Chris Chibnall)
Why did people hate this? I loved this episode. Yes, it wasn’t perfect but Doctor Who rarely is. What gravitated me towards this story was just how many great and interesting ideas were brimming from it. Hidden in every nook and cranny was a great slice of sci-fi and unlike other episodes that collapse under the weight of their ambitions, Can You Hear Me managed to handle them all. The resolution was a little much but it worked and the mental health message felt woven in and was a great end coda to a fascinating story.
1. The Haunting of Villa Diodati (written by Maxine Alderton)
Well, here we have it. We are here at number 1 with the first bonafide classic of the Chibnall era. Starting out as a good fun spooky ride with the Shelley family with some great ideas seeded in, the second half just took it over the top. As soon as the Lone Cybermen turned up, it became a scary, claustrophobic, captivating and borderline disturbing episode with one of the most interesting villains we have received in years. It bordered on Torchwood levels of darkness at points, what with the skeleton baby and slitting-throats line, Jodie’s performance and how she describes the team structure was, in my opinion, the moment where she fully stepped up to the mark. I adored this episode, easily my favourite bit of Who since the end of Season 10.
Phew! That was exhausting but at last, we’ve reached the end, thank you for staying with us until the end. I will do some Doctor Who related articles in the next few months but we’ll divert our attention back to classic movies for the time being. Until my review of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, this is the Classic Film Kid signing off!