Wild Blue Yonder proves more than worthy of its 60th anniversary billing as a superb episode of Doctor Who
“There’s something on this ship that’s so bad the TARDIS ran away?”
After the nostalgia-fest of The Star Beast and a huge amount of secrecy around the plot details for this second of three 60th anniversary specials, Russell T Davies managed that brilliant thing, to completely subvert our expectations. Wild Blue Yonder might not have been the episode of Doctor Who that many were expecting but it absolutely is the one the show deserves as it marks such a significant milestone.
Set at the edge of the universe and with the TARDIS seemingly out of control and then AWOL, the Doctor and Donna are once again up against it. They find themselves on a giant abandoned spaceship but of course, they’re not alone. Just who or what is with them though is deliciously withheld for the longest time with an eerie strangeness abounding, doppelgängers emerging and time itself slowing down.
I don’t want to give too much away in case you haven’t seen it yet (if so, why not?!), but there’s complete joy here in the way that Davies pulls in the focus to create what is essentially a bottle episode, its adventuring largely contained within itself. It recalls such series-best moments as Midnight and Blink in that respect, even if it goes a little way to explaining the ‘why of it all’ a bit more than is strictly needed.
And with the focus fixed so, it offers the perfect opportunity for David Tennant’s Doctor and Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble to deliver acting masterclasses, bouncing off their inimitable chemistry and exploiting their rich backstory to really justify the choice to bring them back. I’m not sure the Isaac Newton diversion quite fits in (though it may make more sense after the final episode has aired), if anything I just wanted more Nathaniel Curtis.
The new budget is in evidence with some extraordinary SFX (and the odd slightly dodgy one, truly in keeping with the show) and special mention to Daniel Tuite and Helen Cripps for their unheralded work in making the logistics of the episode work so well. It also feels like a bold statement about the types of stories that Davies intends to tell with his new take on Doctor Who and I couldn’t be more excited.