New Series

Caves and Twins: Season Six

Season Six – doesn’t time fly? Doesn’t seem long since Eccleston was running through a tunnel and enquiring as to whether we’d like to join him.

Blink and you skip forward over six years to the brilliant Matt Smith’s sophomore series – and that of show-runner Stephen Moffat too.

Portents are frequently poor. High-level fan gossip suggested that Series Fnarg would be a disaster and it was brilliant. But there were lots more unpleasant rumours this time around about the allegedly shambolic production office; Moffat distracted by his other series and various production commitments; an unloved and over-promoted production staff; the BBC at odds with the show’s show-runner; and a fickle press that’s apparently forgotten its love affair with out series.

Ratings do seem to be down this series too. Oh there’s timeshifting and there’s definitely poor scheduling but there does seem to be a drop-off in the public’s interest in the show. All of a sudden ‘do you wanna come with me?’ seems like a long time ago. So it’s a good time to take stock.

In the classic ‘what was good; what was bad?’ format of Caves and Twins I’ve turned my eye stalk on the whole series to figure out which stories worked and which didn’t.


The Doctor’s Wife – An all-time classic. Funny, scary, weird. And a Timelord called The Corsair. A manifesto for how NuWho can succeed.

Deaths: Rory

A Good Man Goes To War

A classic NuWho clusterfuck but on reflection I liked all of the elements and I loved the last 15 minutes. Matt Smith, especially, was fantastic.

The Girl Who Waited

A genuine hard sci-fi set-up that led into one of the best-observed emotional stories of the new run. Brilliant work from the regulars and another episode that could really show how Doctor Who can work shorn of its tiresome story arc trappings.

Deaths: Amy


The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon – I just didn’t care, probably because anyone who had any sense knew that the stand-out scene, and the peg the whole thing hung from, was a lie from the outset.

Deaths: The Doctor, Rory, Amy

Curse of the Black Spot – Classic NuWho shit episode. Not because of the odd swerve, which didn’t work anyway, but because of how utterly trite and dull the whole thing was.

Deaths: Rory

The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People – There was a lot on these episodes I liked but I didn’t really feel it had the courage of its convictions. The Doctor doppelganger didn’t really go anywhere or make much sense; the moral ramifications of the gangers were wrapped up in noble self-sacrifices and/or a big explosion and I didn’t feel any of the characters were well-drawn.

Deaths: Amy

Let’s Kill Hitler – Impossible to like something so in love with itself. A sprawling mess that tried the patience and had another death swerve.

Deaths: The Doctor

Night Terrors – Utterly awful. I hated this.

Deaths: Amy

The God Complex – I feel harsh putting this one here too as there were lots of bits that I liked but the ending was drivel and, given the promising set-up, it didn’t deliver.

Closing Time – I’ve seen this twice and can recall virtually nothing

The Wedding of River Song – Carried the sins of the season as a whole on its shoulders and, as such, couldn’t be rated as good. The whole season comes to a messy, shagged-out end in an episode that sparkles with lovely moments but ultimately collapses under the weight of how daft the whole season has been.

Deaths: The Doctor

New Series

Caves and Twins: The Doctor’s Wife

Neil Gaiman’a long-awaited Doctor Who episode hit the screens with an annoyingly glib title to give us a set-up that Who fans have long imaged or written bad fanfic about.

Lawrence Miles might be raising an eyebrow, with the first example of a sentient TARDIS I can think of occurring in Alien Bodies. Either that or he’s writing 10,000 words on The Power of Kroll.

Anyway, was The Doctor’s Wife Neverwhere or was it…. well, I like all Gaiman’s stuff.

The Doctor and the TARDIS – Although some of it went into kooky/wacky mode many of these scenes were touching and peculiar. The scenes at the end were almost heart-breaking. Lovely Doctor Who.

House and the planet – Seemingly another echo from a New Adventure. House seemed rather like God in The Also People, unquestionably the best in the range to my mind. An intriguing idea.

Everything else on the planet was fascinating. The set-up and characters and dialogue and actors all fell into place wonderfully – and it looked startling. For all Doctor Who’s ‘anywhere, anytime’ shtick it rarely looks so alien and odd as it did in The Doctor’s Wife.

Scary shit – The scenes of Rory and Amy in the TARDIS were genuinely unsettling and disturbing. Well written, well shot and well played.

The regulars – Smith seemed back to his brilliant bonkers best this week after a couple of weeks where he seemed a bit lost. Some quieter stuff from the Doc was more interesting, while Darvill and Gillen were strong too.


That title. A tiresome facet of the new series is the urge to fling out controversial, eye-catching titles. It seems to me to be the equivalent of writing stories about celebrities in order to attract search-engine traffic to your literary website. The result is always the same – the user ‘bounces’ back off the site the second they realise they’ve been conned.

Kooky TARDIS – While I generally loved this episode and the thing with the TARDIS I did feel, with a somewhat weary sense of inevitability that the embodiment of the TARDIS was one part haughty Time Lady and one part wacky Doctor-like cypher. Occasionally irritating.

TARDIS corridors – All of time, all of space, all those adventures and the TARDIS is still a collection of featureless corridors? Crikey.

Rory’s old make-up – A little whinge, but such a bad hooter. Arthur Darvill looked like Clouseau in one of his disguises.

Any complaints this week can be shrugged off as I felt the episode was an almost unmitigated triumph. It was scary and funny and weird and witty and touching – everything good Doctor Who should be.