This year’s Doctor Who special, ‘Twice Upon a Time’ had a lot to get through, to the extent that when all was said and done, it was a miracle it managed to cover all its bases! We had Capaldi’s last story, Moffat’s last story, it had the return of the first Doctor, the return of Bill, Clara and Nardole, a nod to the Brigadier AND the introduction of Jodie Whitaker as Doctor 13! Yep, a lot going on but it still managed to be a Christmas story that intrigued and excited.
The whole story itself was a little odd, when you break it down there is no real problem for the Doc to resolve. The drama comes from the initial setting in WW1 and The Doctor’s struggling to understand what is actually happening. I guess you could say that the lack of dramatic intent means we get to spend a bit more time focusing on the true story of The Doctor accepting his regeneration.
Capaldi is excellent here too, he plays well with David Bradley and Mark Gatiss. There was plenty of fun to be had with Bradley convincing us he is William Hartnell, and the throw backs to Hartnell’s non PC attitude and remarks were topical and brave. The insert Dalek here moment was unexpected, and plenty of you were probably Googling Inside The Dalek from series 8 to catch up on that particular back story. I know fans often hate Dalek Overuse, but here it seemed to fit and I enjoyed those scenes.
As the story unfolds and we are faced with Bill and Nardole, and the eventual Clara cameo, it is worth remembering that as a regeneration story this is warranted and expected. We even get a past Doctor montage, remember when that was a drop your jaw moment in NuWho? The resolution of the initial conflict brings us to the Christmas Armistice, and this is again what we have come to expect from a Christmas special.
When Capaldi eventually does regenerate, after a rousing and inspirational final message both to the viewer and his replacement, we get to what many viewers consider to be the meat and veg of the episode. The musical cues for the episode were just brilliant, honestly go back and re watch and pick out all the past music references. Genius.
The little time we spend with Whittaker has her in a self destructing Tardis (why?) that is out of control and crashing. Her first words “Oh Brilliant” are in the same mold as other past Doctor utterances, and the shock of seeing her fall from the ship, and the ship itself seemingly being destroyed leaves us with a cliff hanger that may or may not be addressing the nature of the next series. To judge Whitaker in this short amount of screen time would be unfair. I’m not familiar with her other work (except Black Mirror) and as far as I can see she looks fine. Who’s falling ratings mean something has to be done to freshen things up, and this might do the trick.
As far as cries of diversity inclusion and pandering to the left go, can I just remind you this is Doctor Who. It has never shied away from such matters, so why are you surprised about recent events now? If the script is good, the stories exciting and the supporting cast well cast then Doctor Who will continue to be a TV jewel that hopefully shines on for another few years. This reviewer wishes her all the best, just like I did for every preceding Doc. Call me old fashioned, but at least it’s kind.