I was genuinely dreading this. I wasn't even bothered about watching it, eventually catching up with it on the iPlayer on Sunday. That's the first time I haven't watched a new Doctor Who episode as soon as I realistically could have.
What does that say for the current series? I honestly don't know. I really like Matt Smith and the other regulars but something isn't working for me. Ho hum. It's Colin Baker all over again - nothing personal to Colin, I just ducked out when Davison (my Doctor, as we're obliged to say these days) bowed out.
Suffice to say, I have very little faith in Chibnall. His Torchwood episodes are genuinely beyond belief in some cases. His previous Doctor Who efforts were rubbish. No-one seems to like Chris Chibnall's work, except Stephen Moffat, rather crucially.
I really couldn't bear that title. I could barely utter it. There's so much smugness, self-referential toss bound up in it. It's so arch it would be a circle if it were any more pleased with itself. It's the work of a group of people who are so very amused by themselves, they're not bothered by how stupid it might appear.
Oh well. There you go. I hate it. Some little 'uns probably love it. I'm beginning to perceive some sort of new demographic that these 'motion picture episodes' seem to be aimed at. They seem, to me, simultaneously, exceedingly childish and child-like yet rather grim and disturbing. Perhaps the youngsters don't really get the nasty stuff and the adults can ignore the daft stuff (or indulge it as something so ridiculous it can be enjoyed on the same level one might enjoy Total Wipeout).
Again, I dunno. But I find these recent episodes - Dinosaurs On A Spaceship and Asylum Of The Daleks - to be tonally baffling. They make something like Rose or New Earth - episodes that are the equivalent of shoving Cream Soda e-Numbers down the maws of stupefied kids - look like I Claudius.
Perhaps The Moff has decided that Doctor Who needs to have a 'thing' every few years. RTD's first iteration was Buffy Meets Eastenders - the prevailing consensus at the time that you couldn't make sci-fi that didn't follow the law laid down by Joss Whedon. It looks rather horribly dated these days.
Davies' Who morphed into some awful cypher of those vampire things. All of a sudden our hero had to be tragic, unrequited, lonely and a horrid self-absorbed dickwad. Let's call him Captain Emo.
Moffatt's series felt, at first, like a new broom. There was something magical about it, a refreshing lack of side and offering straightforward storytelling. All of a sudden the weight of the self-referential RTD years was gone.
And then, suddenly and terribly (spot the reference there) Doctor Who was almost collapsing under the weight of its own mythos again. I genuinely couldn't be bothered with Series Six. Again, the series was in love with itself, making up its own rules as it went along in such a way that it was not remotely satisfying or fulfilling - like a dose of empty calories wrapped up in incomprehensible riddles and repeated cheats and swerves.
Again, the end of that series seemed to offer light at the end of the tunnel. The Doctor's past was wiped clean. No more story arcs, no more Timey Wimey? No more River Song? I would dearly hope not but I doubt Moff can resist - in much the same way that RTD couldn't resist bringing his companions back again and again.
Well, this series certainly feels different. In terms of time, Dinosaurs In A Spaceship is NuWho's Silurians to Rose's Unearthly Child. They're two absolute yawning chasms in terms of how those series were, where they were and what they were. So, perhaps we should not be surprised that we watch on Saturday evenings and are puzzled by what we see. What must people have thought when faced with the day-glo comic-book style of Terror Of The Autons, when it seemed only a short time previously that Hartnell was fuzzily appearing on a monochrome screen?
Before my time. Doctor Who has always felt like Doctor Who to me, even during the times when it wasn't at its best (barring, obviously, the McGann effort). But I'm finding DW very hard to get to grips with these days. Funnily enough I thought the last two episodes were decent, in the sense that they're enjoyable and different from last year's portentous stuff.
But I do find them unfathomable. Breakneck. Incoherent. Overflowing. Doctor Who has changed again. For the better? We'll have to wait and see. Perhaps that's why we're coming back; why I couldn't resist watching Dinosaurs.
Change, my dear, is Doctor Who's one great inevitability. And its greatest asset.
Rory's Dad - Nothing big or clever to this, but Mark Williams made what could have been a rather cartoonish invention rather lovely
The Doctor - Funnily enough I thought Chibnall wrote the Eleventh Doctor well. There was some token wackiness but a lot of quieter moments where you could actually believe that this Doctor was wise, warm, witty. And not just a jabbering bell-end.
Dinosaurs - Excellent CGI, for once.
Solomon - Nice to just have a straightforward bastard in the series again, though Chibnall and the director seemed unsure how to use him. Which brings me to...
The robots - They did not work. At all. Tossing ingredients together like this reminds me of the bit in Midnight when half a dozen different forms of entertainment assault the passengers all at the same time. It's indigestible and jarring and confuses everything. This seems to be Moffatt's modus operandi of late - and I hate it.
Nefertiti and the hunter - I thought they added absolutely nothing and really made the shopping list episodes pitches horribly obvious. And the Doctor shagging figures from history was never - at any point whatsoever - funny. Though I guess I'm only saying that because I'm a stupid, ugly virgin.
The title - Taking the piss out of viewers? Or out of itself? Either way it sticks in my craw. What next? Doctor Who In An Exciting Adventure With A Robot Cowboy? It's neither funny nor clever. Stop it.
I remember reading an interview a few years - mid-90s at a guess - in which someone, possibly Mark Gatiss, said he was sure that Doctor Who would return one day because there'd soon come a point where people in strategic positions all over the higher echelons of the BBC (or media generally) would be Doctor Who fans.
It struck me as a thrilling prospect - and one that made a lot of sense. You only have to look at the people who worked on the New Adventures and follow a few of their career paths to see how true that prediction turned out to be.
I thought I'd see how true it was and found that Doctor Who creeps into various different areas of UK media - almost as if someone had interfered with their personal time lines 40-odd years ago and ensured they were in the right places at the right time...
Writing and production staff with direct involvement in new series
Russell T Davies
Actors with direct involvement in new series
All have been published or commissioned for TV/audio scripts outisde of Doctor Who, as far as I can tell
Miscellaneous actors and writers with some (possibly tangential) involvement in new series or spin-off media
Stephen Moffat is polishing his Hugos in Upper Boat. A mobile phone chirrups into life, playing a rendition of the theme tune to hit 90s sitcoms, Chalk.
Moffat: Yes? Oh it's you BBC Enterprises, what now, you want me to redesign to TARDIS? Only joking. Oh, you do want to me redesign the TARDIS...More toys...Easier to make...Uh-huh. OK, something else you say? A stage show. Well, I can't possibly. I'm busy actually writing Doctor Who and Sherlock and stuff. Gatiss? No, he's busy ploughing his Victoriana furrow...well, for the forseeable future I'd say... Chibnall?! Look, I'll write it, OK? Matt? No, he's busy in a gay play. Tennant? To soon, we could ask Sylv of course. No, no you're quite right. Barrowman said it was too broad? Jesus! Gatiss? Er, no. No. Neil out of the Young Ones, sure. The kids will love that. Tell you what else the kids will love...Carnival of Monsters references...yeah, exactly. Monsters come out, prance about a bit, monster walk back, repeat eight times - we can string it all together with Nigel Planer and some pre-recorded bits with Matt. And we'll get a band to play Murray's terrible music over some clips of the show we've culled from a Confidential. What's that? Churchill? Gatiss? No. Nick Briggs? Well, he'll have to be there with his ring modulator anyway, and I expect he's got his November payment to make. Yeah, it is a bit thin but what at least it's not The Ultimate Fucking Adventure eh? Oh, I dunno. Twenty quid? You were thinking fifty? And we charge three quid a pop for paper Cybermen masks? Keep talking...
So that was Series Five. Or Series 31. Or Series One. Or Series Chin, whatever you want to call it.
The stakes were high, with news that filming was overrunning horribly, Matt Smith was crap and kept forgetting his lines, Karen Gillan was 'wooden' and Phil Collinson had been called back in to sort the whole mess out.
We won't reveal our sources, although it seems entirely likely that pretty much everyone in fandom knows where they came from, but let's just say there was an element of fear going into Series Fnarg.
And how wrong we all were eh? Chief among this wrongness were the rumours that Smith was crap. In fact, it's hard to imagine this being any further off the mark.
Matt Smith is wonderful, and his gentler, more alien, Doctor is perfect for Moffatt's 'fairytale' Doctor Who. The whole tone of this series feels a more comfortable place for Doctor Who, and the Doctor, to be than Russell T Davies' iteration - which was a series of ever-decreasing circles by the time the excellent David Tennant went, though his Doctor was not highly-liked in these parts.
It seemed almost unthinkable that the series, and Smith, could carry on where RTD and Tennant left off, but a fairly hefty shift in tone and pace and lead character has made it all look rather effortless.
For the first time in quite a while, the series felt much more Who than it had in a long time. Smith may just be the best Doctor... ever.
But while all the big things got sorted out, the parts that made up the whole didn't always feel right. Murray Gold's presence dragged the series back to a RTD vibe, and his syrupy/BOMBASTIC! style took away a lot of the nuances of the new series.
More bizarre still were some of the author/story choices. Toby Whithouse and Chris Chibnall delivered exactly what their previous stories suggested they'd deliver - utterly underwhelming stories that felt like a throwback to a couple of years ago.
Against rather lovely oddities like Amy's Choice, Vincent and the Doctor and The Lodger, they felt jarring in their straight-forward simplicity.
Mark Gatiss' Victory of the Daleks was, by all accounts, rather hacked to death in the editing suites and the end result was, frankly, a mess.
And stepping up to show-runner certainly sapped Moffatt's brilliance, with the slapdash The Beast Below and breakneck incoherence of The Big Bang.
There were no new, interesting monsters. In fact, the closest thing we got were the rubbish new Daleks. We had to put up with CGI thing hiding inside humans on at least three occasions, and the limits of the budget were evident in The Pandorica Opens when it turned out the Fucking Sycorax and the Fucking Weevils were in on the intergalactic plan to put the Doc away for good.
Still, Moffat handled the Autons and the Cybermen ten times better than RTD ever did - another subtle difference to the approach the two brought to the series.
And yet, funnily enough, it didn't really matter to me. The series felt fresh and fun. The Doctor seemed like, well, The Doctor. And Amy was breath of fresh air; a believable, volatile girl who didn't love her favourite Time Lord.
She may have had a slightly less healthy obsession with him, but inter-personal angst was banished from the TARDIS forever - 'I'm not that clingy!' seemed like a great riposte to the years of Marf and Wose.
Arthur Darvill's Rory eventually eclipsed the 'emasculated male' cipher that's been the default setting for most recurring male characters in the new series to become a rounded companion in his own right.
And, always at the centre of it, was Matt Smith. It's interesting to note that most new Doctors come into the role praising Patrick Troughton, and Smith took it a step further.
Watch him running - it's a straight lift from the Second Doctor. And he's always doing something with his hands - First Doctor? There's a bit of Four, Five and Eight in there too by our reckoning.
Not that The Eleventh Doctor is a pastiche; Smith has brought something new to the role again, and emphatically made it his own. He's a perfect choice.
So, series thingummy. A hearty slap on the back from us, and the best TARDIS crew in ages. No doubt tweaks will be made for next season.
Probic Vent demands Zygons and Yeti and the Dream Lord and a past Doctor and The Brigadier. And a remake of The Horror of Fang Rock. Simple enough eh? Oh yeah, and STOP RUINING OLD MONSTERS!
• Here's an end-of-season C&T for the series.
The Eleventh Hour - Fresh, fun and firmly established Smith as something new and interesting
Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone - A home run from Moffat, with plenty of twists and turns and great monstering
Amy's Choice - Offbeat and enjoyable - an episode that seems unthinkable under RTD.
Vincent and the Doctor - Intriguing, if cloying
The Lodger - Would have been horrible with Tennant. Good with Smith.
The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang - Absolute gibberish, but wins points for not having thousands of cloned Sontarans invading the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower. Magic Light and Power of Love notwithstanding.
The Beast Below - Too many elements that didn't seem to add up.
Victory of the Daleks - A horrible mess, and shit new Daleks. Almost saved by performances, but not quite.
Vampires of Venice - Dull filler
Hungry Earth/Cold Blood - Dull Chibnall filler that fluffed one of the most interesting premises in Who mythology.
• Caves and Twins? What are you dribbling on about?
Go here: Caves and Twins
The second half of Chibnall's Silurian two-parter, which has referenced half the Pertwee era thus far, had to pull it out of the bag rather to improve on the disappointing The Hungry Earth. So, was it a pretty Okdel, or was the whole thing a pile of Icthar?
All the regular were excellent
Kiling of Rory - brave and unexpected
The return of the crack - Just when you that particular arc had been magicked away
The shrapnel - An intriguing lead in to the climax of this season
Most of the guest cast. Pretty poor, in my opinion.
The plot - Earth Reptile Plot Number One gets yet another run out
Silurian redesign - Sorry to be a bore on this, but it was totally uninspired. Straight out of the TNG/DS9/Voyager monster make-up book. Humans with masks on.
Murray Gold's music - Back to intrusive, bombastic and totally lacking in subtlety
Loose ends - I expect things like the wedding ring and the future Rory and Amy will pay off in the future, but what about the little kid's dyslexia? Seemingly deliberately flagged up, only to be abandoned. Or did I miss something?
All in all, Cold Blood was OK, but the two-parter as a whole felt like marking time until the last ten minutes.
• Caves and Twins? What are you dribbling on about?
Go here: Caves and Twins
Chibnall's much-dreaded two-parter kicks off with Inferno meets The Silurians meets some dreary regional soap opera. So, was The Hungry Earth like some of the bits from the five-part Torchwood, or was it like everything else he's written for Who and Torchwood?
Scenes in the night-time churchyard - They were quite good.
Regulars - Generally coped OK with some really weak stuff
Chibnall's characterisation - None of the lines he put in the mouths of his characters, none of whom are well-drawn or interesting, sound believable. I couldn't care less about any of them.
Chibnall's dialogue - Awful speeches by the Doctor again and again. Cliched lines for everyone concerned. Who's editing this stuff?
Meera Syal - A terrible actress in everything she's in
Pacing and plot - Stop-start, long spells where nothing happened. Boring and incoherent - with a side dose of running around.
TARDIS scenes towards the end - Simply embarrassing
Redesigned Silurians - What's the point? Predictably shit.
Worse than I'd anticipated. A misfire on virtually every level. Chibnall took one of the most interesting concepts in Who mythology and totally fucked it up.
• Caves and Twins? What are you dribbling on about?
Go here: Caves and Twins