TV Review: Doctor Who Series 12

Series 12 of Doctor Who goes hard on what we think we know about the Time Lord and finishes in a blaze of glory

“You can be a pacifist tomorrow. Today you just need to survive”

I don’t think I have ever minded anything that happened in Doctor Who so much that I have declared it cancelled, even at the point where all the magnificent character development by Catherine Tate’s Donna was undone in a plot point of real cruelty. So it is hard to take so-called fans of the show seriously when torrents of complaints are unleashed about the sanctity of a world of science fiction that has long enjoyed challenging and expanding what we know about characters we love. (See my Episode 1 review here.)

So it should come as little surprise that I really rather enjoyed series 12 of Doctor Who. Across the season as a whole, I felt that Jodie Whittaker has settled more into the role, especially as the writers feel more confident in finding her voice. And the balancing act of having three companions in the TARDIS has been more assured now that the business of introducing them is over, allowing the group to splinter off for large chunks of episodes has allowed much more of their characters to shine through, particularly for Mandip Gill’s Yaz (who I am mightily glad survived that final episode – I thought she was doomed after her chat with Graham). Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who Series 12”

TV Review: Doctor Who Series 12 Episode 1

Doctor Who returns for its twelfth series with a rollicking spy caper in Spyfall and a masterful twist at the end

“Don’t be ridiculous, the Doctor is a man
‘I’ve had an upgrade'”

Just a quickie as the latest series of Doctor Who starts with a real bang, neatly killing off Stephen Fry in short order before he got too annoying, making Lenny Henry a Zuckerberg-esque tech villain and introducing Sacha Dhawan into the cast where he looks set to be a genius addition.

Borrowing liberally from a range of spy capers, I enjoyed this widescreen take on the Doctor, splashing a fair bit of the budget on some strong location work, the effects team keeping the threat of the shadowy aliens ominously vague, and the returning team settling nicely into their established dynamic. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who Series 12 Episode 1”

Review: Custody, Ovalhouse

“There was a bit of a… 
There was a bit of a scuffle”

One of the most appallingly striking statistics around police brutality in the UK is that there has not been a single prosecution for homicide for a death in custody for over 30 years and a disproportionate number – 147 to be precise – of those deaths have been BAME victims. But where the Black Lives Matter movement has gained real traction in the US, stories like these still slip by too easily unnoticed on these shores, And combined with his own experiences of the problematic stop and search system here, it is this which inspired Urbain Hayo (aka Urban Wolf) to create Custody

It’s an undoubtedly powerful raison d’ĂȘtre and one which has been curiously, deliberately, filtered here through writer Tom Wainwright’s perspective as a white, middle-class man who, one assumes, hasn’t suffered the indignities of stop and search. It’s an approach that broadens the scope of the story from the directly personal to a more universal world-view but in doing so, also mutes just a little of the fury and tragedy that is felt by the family of Brian – a successful young businessman, black – whose flash car attracts the attention of the police with devastating results.  Continue reading “Review: Custody, Ovalhouse”