New Series

Caves and Twins: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

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.

Classic Series General TV stuff New Series

Famous Doctor Who fans

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
Steven Moffat
Mark Gatiss
Gareth Roberts
Neil Gaiman
Chris Chibnall
Rob Shearman
Gary Russell
Paul Cornell
Matthew Jones
Simon Nye
Richard Curtis

Actors with direct involvement in new series

David Tennant
Peter Capaldi
John Barrowman
David Walliams
Peter Kay
Simon Pegg

Miscellaneous authors

All have been published or commissioned for TV/audio scripts outisde of Doctor Who, as far as I can tell

Marc Platt
Ben Aaronovitch
Andy Lane
Lance Parkin
Justin Richards
Martin Day
Simon Winstone
Mark Morris
Paul Magrs
Robert Perry

Miscellaneous actors and writers with some (possibly tangential) involvement in new series or spin-off media

Reece Shearsmith
Stephen Fry
Kim Newman
Michael Moorcock
Jon Culshaw
Nev Fountain
Mitch Benn
Matt Lucas