David Tennant’s tenure as Doctor Who comes to an end in The Giggle, or does it…?
“The puppet’s just a puppet. We’re looking for the puppeteer”
Lots to take in with The Giggle, the third and final 60th anniversary special of Doctor Who. A proper return for Bonnie Langford’s Mel and some decent characterisation at last (gotta get my priorities straight!); the return of the musical sequences (ha si ya, hold tight indeed); a classic villain in the Toymaker; oh, and a tiny little change to Whovian lore in bi-generation, allowing for a hugely pleasing debut appearance for Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor.
In and of itself, I thought it was a good, occasionally very good, episode which, for better or worse, tipped a little to Russell T Davies’ playbook. Bombastic peril opening the show but ultimately proving to be a bit of a distraction (given the potential, it’s a shame we didn’t get a little more of The Giggle’s effect on society); a totemic villain figure defeated perhaps just a little too easily (Neil Patrick Harris was great value for money); and a cheesy happy ending which poses some intriguing questions.
It was all very watchable, Disney’s budget meaning it looks great, particularly in UNIT’s swanky new base. Puppets are always effectively scary and the nods to the Doctor’s past were well done throughout – the Gods of Ragnarok, Mavic Chen and Adric all getting a mention among many. And having David Tennant’s Doctor bigenerate into Gawta’s meant that we got substantive scenes of (successive) Doctors like never before which I thought was a lovely innovation.
With a slightly more cynical hat on, I’m not mad keen on 14 still having a TARDIS (I really, really, hope there’s no spin-off in the making here) as the notion of him being allowed to retire is again sweet in its nature. They need to just leave alone now, particularly I don’t think we ever really got enough of a reason why that particular face was the one to return. Still, it was a delightful nostalgia fest to have Tennant and Tate back in such fine form; we just all need to remember that Gatwa’s 15 is the future.