It feels like only yesterday that we were all waiting for Jodie Whittaker’s first series as the Doctor to air. Now, a week after the series ended, it’s time to take a look back at the ten episodes we just saw. What worked? What didn’t work? What needs improvement? Just how good was the series, now that all the hype has died down? Let’s take a look! (There will be full spoilers for the 10 episodes of Series 11 of Doctor Who!)
Meet the new Doctor. The universe just got more exciting. The dazzling Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker, Broadchurch, Wired) falls out of the sky just in time to thwart an alien huntsman who is stalking human prey. With little time to spare and the population of Sheffield (and Earth!) at risk, the Doctor recruits three new friends – gentle Ryan, no-nonsense Yasmin and Ryan’s step-grandfather, Graham – who soon feel more like family than companions. Join the foursome in ten fresh and enormously thrilling roller-coaster adventures across time and the universe.
Defying all kinds of odds, Timeless is returning to TV screens on December 20th with a two-part series finale, greenlit only after massive amounts of fan support, wanting the show to have some kind of real conclusion that could wrap up the plotlines left unresolved at the end of the second season. Ever since the show started, I have a bit of a mixed relationship with Timeless. For most of its first season, I felt its premise was more interesting than its execution; the idea of someone (or, as it would turn out, some evil organization) wanted to go back in time to change events in order to create a future that would be more favorable to them is an interesting one, but the show often got a bit too caught up in the various romps through time and lost sight of the overarching storyline for my liking. Much of this was fixed with season two, thanks to its shortened episode-count and the grander scope of its overarching storyline. By the end of the season, I was genuinely onboard with what the show was doing. I wanted to know why Rittenhouse was doing what they were doing and I wanted to see how the Time Team would ultimately stop them. And then, the show was canceled on an unholy cliffhanger: Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) was killed by a Rittenhouse agent and the rest of the Time Team had to leave him behind in order to escape. After getting back to the present day, they are greeted by future versions of Lucy (Abigail Spencer) and Wyatt (Matt Lanter) who ask if they want to save Rufus. The idea that the show would end with that cliffhanger was an awful one, so thankfully NBC is bringing it back for a two-hour series finale, The Miracle of Christmas. After the break, I will talk about what my hopes for the finale are. (Note: I have NOT seen the finale so all of this is speculation/wants and not teasers or spoilers.)
It seems like only yesterday that series 11 of Doctor Who began, but here we are, ten weeks later, with the series finale! The finale is being written by Chibnall, who has delivered scripts of various quality throughout his run on Doctor Who, and especially this season. The only episode, solely written by him, that I’ve really loved this season was The Woman Who Fell to Earth. The rest of the episodes have had some fundamental problem that has impacted my enjoyment of them. Thankfully, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos falls into the same category as The Woman Who Fell to Earth and is an excellent close to this series of Doctor Who. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Episode 1110: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos (written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Childs) On the planet of Ranskoor Av Kolos lie the remains of a brutal battlefield. But as the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) answer nine separate distress calls, they discover the planet holds far more secrets.
Who is the mysterious commander with no memory? What lies beyond the mists? Who or what are the Ux? The answers will lead the Doctor and her friends towards a deadly reckoning.
Honestly, I really wondered how the writers of The Good Place will be able to top the previous episode, which felt like a great midseason finale episode, but then, lo-and-behold, they give us Janet(s), an episode that’s both insane and brilliant. This episode is not only the best episode of the season, but it might be my new favorite episode of the entire series, that’s how good it is.
Episode 309: Janet(s) (written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan and directed by Morgan Sackett)
With Janet’s help, Michael hatches a plan.
Well, this episode is probably my favorite of the entire season so far. Penultimate episodes of seasons have a lot to try and set up: they’ve gotta lay the groundwork for the finale while also still providing the audience with an interesting and captivating story. This is exactly what It Takes You Away does; it pays off some of the character arcs that have been developed over the season while still giving us a really cracking story. It’s a perfect blend of creepy, weird, and genuinely emotional and I just adored every second of it. (Spoilers ahead!)
Episode 1109: It Takes You Away (written by Ed Hime and directed by Jamie Childs)
On the edge of a Norwegian fjord in the present day, the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz discover a boarded-up cottage and a girl named Hanne in need of their help. What has happened here? What monster lurks in the woods around the cottage – and beyond?
Honestly, this episode should have been broadcast closer to Halloween because it would have been so perfect as a Halloween episode. Doctor Who has had an interesting relationship with witches and magic over the years. It tends to take the stance of magic being misunderstood science and any “witches” either being persecuted women or an actual alien threat. The Witchfinders, written by new-to-Who writer Joy Wilkinson, is no exception to this rule. Much of the episode is spent with King James I (Alan Cumming) and landowner Becka Savage (Siobhan Finneran) going around the village of Bilehurst Cragg accusing various people of being witches only for the episode to eventually reveal that an alien intelligence is responsible for things all along. That being said, the episode is still a whole lot of fun.
Episode 1108: The Witchfinders (written by Joy Wilkinson, directed by Sallie Aprahamian)
The Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz arrive in 17th century Lancashire and become embroiled in a witch trial, run by the local landowner. As fear stalks the land, the arrival of King James I only serves to intensify the witch hunt. But is there something even more dangerous at work? Can the Doctor and friends keep the people of Bilehurst Cragg safe from all the forces that are massing in the land?
I really love Mystery Science Theater 3000. I love the episodes where (original host) Joel Hodgson hosted it, I love the episodes where Mike Nelson hosted it, and I love the episodes where Jonah Ray hosted it. I love the Turkey Day marathons. I was too young to watch them when they actually aired on Comedy Central and, later, Sci-Fi channel, but I’ve been enjoying them since Shout TV resurrected them a few years ago. So the idea of the newest season of the show, subtitled The Gauntlet, premiering on Thanksgiving was one that was immediately appealing to me. What could be better than eating Thanksgiving dinner and watching some cheesy movies being made fun of by a man and his robot friends? Answer: very little, because The Gauntlet is an excellent season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
After her failed stunt-marriage to Jonah Heston (Jonah Ray), mad scientist Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day), and her sidekick Max (Patton Oswalt), decide to subject Jonah, Crow (Hampton Yount), and Tom Servo (Baron Vaughn) to a six-movie marathon she’s calling The Gauntlet.
When I first saw Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald last week, I had some mixed feelings about it. The film had too many characters it was trying to follow and the whole thing felt like more of an in-between film whose sole purpose was to set up the following film instead of something that could stand on its own. Since that first viewing, I’ve read the published screenplay, listened to about two hours of the Audible documentary Makers, Mysteries, and Magic, and seen the film a second time. While I still have the same problems with the film I previously did, I liked it a whole lot more on my second viewing. I think it’s down to the fact that I’ve started to appreciate the film for what it is; it’s not trying to be a stand-alone movie, rather, it’s trying to, essentially, be part 2 of a five-part story. It’s chapter 2 of a five chapter book. The film isn’t really meant to be viewed on its own but in the context of that larger story. The problem that we as critics face is: how do we evaluate a story that is, by nature, not actually completed by the end of the film? I think the best thing to do is to examine what the film does have instead of what it doesn’t. (There will be full spoilers for the film ahead!)
Sometimes a simple, cool sci-fi idea is the best way to go for an episode of Doctor Who. After six episodes without a nice, solid sci-fi premise, Kerblam! finally gives us one with the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Gill) investigating a futuristic Amazon-like company on a moon. It’s a pretty solid, enjoyable episode with a small cast of supporting characters who are all well developed and interesting and a resolution that actually sticks the landing. (This review will contain spoilers!)
Episode 1107 – Kerblam! (written by Pete McTighe and directed by Jennifer Perrott)
“‘Delivery for the Doctor!’ A mysterious message arrives in a package addressed to the Doctor, leading her, Graham, Yaz and Ryan to investigate the warehouse moon orbiting Kandoka, and the home of the galaxy’s largest retailer: Kerblam!”
I loved the first Fantastic Beasts movie. I thought it was one of the best, if not the best, movies in the Wizarding World franchise. It definitely helped that that movie wasn’t, strictly speaking, based on any preexisting story and could really be its own thing. It introduced a lot of new and interesting characters and opened the Wizarding World up in new and exciting ways. Plus it set up a pretty cool plotline for a series of films: the rise and fall of Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), the big, evil wizard before Voldemort was the big, evil wizard. So, naturally, I’ve been pretty excited for this film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, to come out. The big question is: could it live up to two years worth of hype and excitement? The answer is: yes, and no. (There will be mild spoilers for the film in this review.)
At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.