DVD Review – Doctor Who Series 10 Parts 1 and 2

DW1The 12th Doctor found his voice in Series 10.

It’s not that Peter Capaldi’s Doctor didn’t have a voice in his debut Series 8 and Series 9 that followed, but it was more often spikey in those two series. That, is perhaps, at the request of show runner Stephen Moffat to make Capaldi’s Doctor contrast with Matt Smith’s take on the Doctor across Series 5, 6 and 7.

Something happened behind the scenes on Series 10 that saw Capaldi dial back the spikiness and deliver the cheerleader for humanity that we are used to.

Off screen, I can imagine it was the result of Moffat and Capaldi colluding and giving it their all in their final year on the show. On screen it was everything to do with the Doctor’s thrill of onboarding new companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) to the TARDIS.  Bill approaches her adventures as you and I might, if we had never seen Doctor Who, with questions about the TARDIS and the Time Lords. Bill’s pluck contrasts nicely with the Doctor’s occasional pomposity. The result is the strongest consistent series of Doctor Who since, perhaps, Smith’s last season in the 50th anniversary year of 2013.

There aren’t any clunkers this series, and there are quite a few stand out episodes. These include Thin Ice and Oxygen, which both did something completely different with the Doctor Who format.

The Pyramid at the End of the World is great for the commentary it delivers on the human need to wage war.

Empress of Mars did something new with the Ice Warriors.

The Eaters of Light brought Rona Munro, a writer of the classic Doctor Who series, back to Doctor Who.

World Enough and Time and The Doctor Falls paid more than a substantial homage to the original Mondasian Cybermen in Capaldi’s swansong stories. Plus, we’ve never seen two Masters on screen together before, even if one was Missy.

Special Features in these two DVD sets, which between them deliver Series 10 over four discs, are reasonably light. So, if value added material is your thing you might want to wait for the complete series in one package.

Each story is accompanied by an Inside Look of a couple of minutes containing soundbites on the episode from the Doctor Who production team. For the most part its Moffat and Capaldi, with occasional contribution from Mackie.

I’ve already reviewed each episode of Series 10 in depth on this blog, so what follows is the official BBC intro to each of the Series 10 episodes plus succinct quotes from the special features accompanying them.


Episode 1, The Pilot: Two worlds collide when the Doctor meets Bill, and a chance encounter with a girl with a star in her eye leads to a terrifying chase across time and space. Bill’s mind is opened to a universe that is bigger and more exciting than she could possibly have imagined. But who is the Doctor, and what is his secret mission on Earth?

Moffat: “Series 10 sort of begins the show again. The first episode is called mischievously The Pilot. If you’ve never seen Doctor Who at all this could be your jumping on point.”

Episode 2, Smile: The language of the future is emoji! The Doctor takes Bill to a spectacular city on a distant planet – but where are the colonists? A band of ‘cute’ droids hold the deadly answer.

Capaldi: “I think this year’s very interesting because it boils the show down to the basic elements. A mysterious stranger takes the companions to an exotic and dangerous place.”

Episode 3, Thin Ice: London, 1814. The entire city has turned out for the biggest Frost Fair in decades. But beneath the frozen Thames, revellers are disappearing, snatched through the ice. Pulled into the depths where a terrifying monster lurks. Will the Doctor and Bill stop the slaughter before they too are dragged into the icy waters?

Capaldi: “I think this is a very unusual episode based on a real historical event, which happened a number of times which is that the Thames froze. So, the fact that we’re able to recreate this real event is lovely.”

Episode 4, Knock Knock: Why do floorboards creak? When a sinister landlord shows Bill and her friends the perfect houseshare, they have no idea what lies ahead… knock knock, who’s there?

Moffat: “The memory of real primal fear, the Fear Doctor Who extrapolated and rejoices in is born in the nursery when the house was all a bit bigger and darker and noisier and freakier. The house from the point of view of a child, every house is a haunted house.”

Episode 5, Oxygen: “Space – the final frontier. Final because it wants to kill us.” Trapped on a space station with no oxygen, the Doctor, Bill and Nardole are horrified to discover the automated spacesuits keeping them alive are also trying to kill them!

Moffat: “I think Peter always comes in from the drama angle and finds the comedy and I think Matt [Lucas as Nardole] tends to come in for the comedy angle and finds the drama. They are both hugely inventive actors.”

Episode 6, Extremis: “The Veritas. The truth. Truth so true you can’t live with it. Is that looking into hell . . . or seeing the light?” Everyone who has ever read the Veritas has been found dead. In a forbidden library at the heart of the Vatican, the pope urges the Doctor to read the ancient text – but can he handle the truth?

Capaldi: “It was difficult playing a blind doctor mostly because I didn’t know what it looked like, I knew that there was a special effect going to be added. So. I didn’t know how much to do and not to do.”

Episode 7, The Pyramid at the End of the World: An “ancient” pyramid appears overnight. Every clock in the world begins counting down to the Earth’s destruction. Three opposing armies lie ready to annihilate each other. An alien race stands ready to offer humanity a deal that could save them, but also enslave them. It’s a terrifying race against time to save the world. Will the Doctor be forced to accept their help?

Moffat: “I think what [writer] Peter Harness came up with is a scenario in which you realise how close to destruction we can always be and that sadly will never not be topical.”

Episode 8, The Lie of the Land: Earth has been invaded and Bill is living alone, an isolated figure surviving in occupied Britain. The Doctor is imprisoned and appears to be on the side of the enemy, flooding the airwaves with fake news. Bill and Nardole must embark on a deadly mission to rescue the Doctor and lead the resistance against the new regime, whatever the cost.

Capaldi: “Toby [Whithouse] is a wonderful writer. His scripts were always very tight and funny very dark he’s got a great imagination. Thus, was a very interesting take that he had on a dystopian 1984-style future that was dominated by the mysterious and strange monks.

Episode 9, Empress of Mars: “God save the Queen” has been scrawled on the surface of Mars. What are Victorians doing on the home of the Ice Warriors? And what will they find beneath the Martian soil?

Capaldi: “It was delightful to go to Mars again as the Doctor and not only to deal with Ice Warriors but also to deal with Victorians, to finding them on Mars was great fun.”

Episode 10, The Eaters of Light: A hunt for the lost Ninth Roman Legion leads the Doctor, Bill and Nardole into the middle of an ancient battle that could cast humanity into the dark forever. What is inside the cairn? And how far will they have to go defeat the terrifying alien Eaters of Light?

Pearl Mackie: “I spent a lot of the day hiding in the TARDIS because it was the only thing that shielded you from the wind.”

Episode 11, World Enough and Time: A huge spaceship trapped in the gravity well of a black hole, teeming with impossible lifeforms, harbours one of the Doctor’s most feared enemies… Mondasian Cybermen.

Moffat: “I didn’t immediately have a story for the Master, I struggled with that character, right up until the idea of Michelle Gomez. From the moment I cast her I thought wouldn’t it be hilarious if John Simm turned up as well.”

Episode 12, The Doctor Falls: The Doctor makes a final stand against an army of Cybermen to protect a tiny band of humans from destruction.

Moffat: The fact that it’s Peter’s last series matters to the show. The fact that it’s my last series doesn’t matter at all.”

Buy Doctor Who Series 10 at the BBC Shop.


Doctor Who Christmas Special Cinema Release


Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker will debut on the big screen in Australasia with some exclusive content.

Twice Upon A Time, the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special, featuring 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi’s regeneration into Whittaker, will get a cinematic showing on Boxing Day. Whittaker is the first woman to play the Doctor.

It’s evident, from the last episode of Season 10 The Doctor Falls, that David Bradley will reprise the first Doctor introduced to television audiences in 1963 by William Hartnell. Actor Mark Gatiss, Doctor Who scriptwriter and Sherlock co-creator, will also appear in Twice Upon A Time.

The screening will include bonus pieces celebrating Capaldi’s three seasons as the Doctor, and departing show runner Steven Moffat who took over the show in 2010 with 11th Doctor Matt Smith.

BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand and Sharmill Films are behind the cinematic screening.

BBC Worldwide ANZ Live Entertainment Executive Louise Hill said: “Doctor Who fans love watching the show on the big screen and with Peter Capaldi regenerating into the first female Doctor, this promises to be an iconic episode.”

Sharmill Films Marketing Manager Jacinta Palmer said: “There’s nothing quite like the big screen experience, and we’re thrilled to give fans the opportunity to bid farewell to the fantastic Peter Capaldi in cinemas nationally, and to usher in Jodie Whittaker’s hugely anticipated debut as the 13th Doctor”.

As well as this great chance for fans to come together and watch Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time on the big screen, the episode will also be available on ABC iview immediately after the UK broadcast and will air on ABC at 7.30pm December 26th. Straight afterwards fans can join Rove and his guests for a special regeneration episode of WHOVIANS. 

For more information see: www.sharmillfilms.com.au/allfilms/doctor-who-xmas

As well as the Doctor Who films of the 1960s, starring Peter Cushing, Doctor Who has enjoyed a handful of cinematic outings. The 50th anniversary special, Day of the Doctor, was shown in November 2013. Capaldi’s debut, Deep Breath, also showed on the big screen as well as the 2016 Christmas Special: Return of Doctor Mysterio.


Review – Doctor Who – The Doctor Falls

Review – Doctor Who – The Doctor Falls


What would you die for?

That’s the question the 12th Doctor confronts rival Time Lord the Master and Missy with as he goes up against an army of Cybermen in the hope that he might save a settlement of insignificant humans.

It would have been a beautiful moment had any of the previous Doctors issued the challenge, but it was made all the more wonderful coming from the lips of Doctor Number 12.

When Peter Capaldi was handed the role by Matt Smith in 2013’s Christmas Special, The Time of the Doctor, we got a grumpier, pricklier version of the character who described his companion. Clara, as his carer. “She cares, so I don’t have to.” Show runner Steven Moffat was emphasising the alienness of our hero, showing how hard it is for him to sometimes empathise with lower humans.

But in tonight’s Series 10 finale, The Doctor Falls, we saw the 12th Doctor continue his softening as he announced he was willing to die doing the right thing, being kind, as he put it. Oh what a journey Capaldi’s Doctor has been on these last few years. Was this part of Moffatt’s master plan, or is Capaldi finishing his time as the Doctor in this way by pure coincidence?

Moffat’s penultimate script (assuming he is on writing duty for the next Christmas special) might just be the best series finale in a long, long time.

This action packed story picked up after last week’s The World Enough and Time, in which companion Bill (Pearl Mackie) was converted into a Cyberman. It was laden with danger, horror and tragedy, not to mention the Master/Missy double bill, a marriage made in hell which ended, somewhat, predictably although you can guarantee we haven’t seen the last of the character(s).

Capaldi really shone as the Doctor, perhaps delivering his most powerful performance yet. This meant that the rest of the cast brought their A game to the table, particularly Mackie and Matt Lucas who, as Nardole, had some wonderful moments. You can’t help wondering if his story is at an end.

The Doctor Falls surely evoked tears, but the beauty of Doctor Who means that anything is possible. Where there are tears there is hope.

Review – Doctor Who – The World Enough and Time

DW11.1In The World Enough and Time, clever, old, Steven Moffat has delivered both a sequel and a prequel to the first ever Cyberman story, The Tenth Planet.

At the end of that first Cyberman story, which aired in October, 1966, first Doctor William Hartnell regenerated into Patrick Troughton. The World Enough and Time is a prequel, because it shows the genesis of the Cybermen, while being a sequel, because the 12th Doctor is there to witness it.

Who, except for clever old show runner Steven Moffat who wrote this episode, could ever have imagined that the 12th Doctor, and his companions, could ever have played such an integral part in their creation? It’s 1975’s Genesis of the Daleks, ala Tom Baker, all over again!

We’ve known Series 10 would be Capaldi’s last for a long time, so including what appears to be his regeneration ahead of the title sequence this week only serves to remind us of this Doctor’s walk to the gallows. Now it’s coming, every moment with 12 seems bittersweet. One wonders whether we’ll see the 12th Doctor (Peter Capaldi) regenerated at the end of this story, or whether we’ll have to wait until the 2017 Christmas Special.

Moffat’s script, under the skilful direction of Rachel Talalay, hooked the viewer from its opening moments, exploring the narrative like a TARDIS that has jumped a time track.

The TARDIS crew, and Missy (Michelle Gomez), arrive on a mysterious generational spaceship stuck on the event horizon of a black hole. Bill (Peal Mackie) is seemingly killed on the top deck of the ship, before we flash back further to a conversation between her and the Doctor in which he cannot guarantee her safety.

It was lovely to hear reimagined strains of composer Murray Gold’s This is Gallifrey strike up as the Doctor describes the Master/Missy as the person most like him in the universe. After all, they were young Time Lords together. Here, we learn, the Doctor wishes to discover if Missy is truly reformed by sending her on a mission of his choosing with Bill and Nardole (Matt Lucas).

Back to the generational ship, and Bill has been taken below decks by mysteriously bandaged humanoids serving a battle axe of a nurse and a skittish, yet familiar, little man. They’ve repaired Bill, and revived her, after inserting a mechanical heart, but she must stay within the confines of the hospital if she is to survive.

It’s pretty clear, at this point, that there’s more to the skittish man than meets the eye, and all will soon be revealed. Bill, as predicted, is well on her way to becoming a Mondassian cyberman or woman.

The penultimate episode of Doctor Who: Series 10 is an instant classic and next week’s episode looks set to be heart breaking.




Review – Doctor Who – The Eaters of Light

Review – Doctor Who – The Eaters of Light

EatersThis week’s Doctor Who episode achieved a first.

It’s the first time, since Doctor Who returned to television screens in 2005, that the reimagined show has really felt like what is now known as the classic show it was based on.  For the most part that’s down to this script being written by Rona Munro, the Scottish writer credited with the last Doctor Who story of the classic era.

For a good portion of this story team TARDIS find themselves on different sides of the war for Roman Scotland, a story which could just as easily been told in the classic era. In fact Munro calls back to the First Doctor (William Hartnell) story The Romans early on in the script.

Bill (Pearl Mackie) is trying to impress the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Nardole (Matt Lucas) by finding the legendary ninth legion, which vanished from history. The TARDIS crew separates as she heads one way, and the Doctor and Nardole another. As Bill stumbles across what remains of the legion the Doctor and Nardole are captured by Pictish warriors. But there’s something far more sinister going on than human battles, there’s a killer alien monster on the loose, and the future of humankind depends on what happens next.

The Doctor must unite the two sides, at the satisfying climax of the story, if the world is to be saved.

The Eaters of the Light is a clever script, it’s fun who it uses the lore of Doctor Who to explain Scottish folk tales of music coming from below the ground as heard in the opening and closing scenes in modern Scotland.

But there’s another, broader, story going on here, as the TARDIS crew discover Missy (Michelle Gomze) waiting for them in the Doctor’s space-time ship upon their return. The scenes between the Doctor and Missy are just so watchable, as he (and we) are led to believe that she is a reformed character, and not the megalomaniac Time Lord the Master/Missy has always been.

This dance of the Time Lords, which really shone through this week, isn’t a stone’s throw from the relationship between Third Doctor Jon Pertwee and The Master’s originator Roger Delgardo.

Next week looks promising, with a return of John Simm’s Master and the Mondasian Cybermen first glimpsed in the Hartnell story The Tenth Planet. Doctor, what the heck?

Review – Doctor Who – Empress of Mars

Review – Doctor Who – Empress of Mars

Mark Gatiss take a bow.

Empress of Mars, the ninth episode of Series 10, was everything a Doctor Who episode should be.

It started pre-credits with quirk with the TARDIS crew gate-crashing a NASA mission control room as a robot probe beams back a message written in English below the ice on Mars: “God save the Queen”.

It continues, post-credits, with mystery. We’re below the surface of Mars with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill (Pearl Mackie) and Nardole (Matt Lucas). It’s 1881 which is when, apparently, the message was written.

Soon the TARDIS trio discover an ice warrior with an encampment of pith-helmeted red coated British soldiers who call him Friday. He crashed on Earth, you see, and they joined him on his return to Mars. (Gatiss bought the classic ice warriors back in Series 7’s Cold War featuring 11th Doctor Matt Smith).


Surprise is up next, when we learn technology from Friday’s ship is helping the soldiers tunnel for treasure. It’s their reward for helping him, only it turns out that the treasure is the tomb of the Empress of Mars.

Like Gatiss’ Series 1 script, The Unquiet Dead, it turns out it’s not her tomb. The Empress and her retinue of warriors are hibernating. The Doctor warns she’s about to be woken by an army which is primitive by comparison.

Things could have been highly predictable from there, and Gatiss doesn’t disappoint with the clash of armies, but the story takes a few unexpected turns, particularly for the supposedly cowardly commander of the British expedition.

The upshot is one of the best episodes of the series, which is no mean feat this year.

Gatiss’s pedigree as a Doctor Who fan in its early days is well known, so it’s lovely to see the writer bring back the ice warriors who were first seen 50 years ago in Second Doctor Patrick Troughton story The Ice Warriors.

The surprise appearance of Alpha Centauri at episode’s end was the flashing light on top of the TARDIS, especially as this most peculiar of aliens was voiced by Ysanne Churchman. The actress played the character in two Third Doctor Jon Pertwee stories The Curse of Peladon (1972) and Monster of Peladon (1974).

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Gatiss script as good as this. I absolutely adored it.

Review – Doctor Who – The Lie of the Land

Review – Doctor Who – The Lie of the Land

The Lie of the Land.

What a clever title for the latest episode of Doctor Who, the third and final part in the meddling zombie monk trilogy of Series 10.

The title, by Toby Whithouse, has double meaning.

It speaks of the metaphorical lie of the land about how things are since the monk invasion just a few months ago.

Lie 1

It also refers to the propaganda the monks have pedalled, that they have helped humanity almost from the beginning, and managed to brainwash the population with.

What a clever way to conquer a world: take over them brainwash the population into thinking you’re benevolent and have always been there. The only problem with this idea, is the monks lack motive, other than the standard megalomaniac motive to rule the world. Then again, Nazism makes no sense to the sane. Yet it brought the world to its knees.

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), partaking in one of the monks’ propaganda videos, seems to have bought the lie. But his companion Bill (Pearl Mackie) hasn’t.

The monks’ giant statues, erected around the world, are reminiscent of the Weeping Angels of the 10th and 11th Doctors’ eras. They also, spookily, feel like the Silence, who plagued the 11th Doctor throughout Series Six.

Bill’s reunion with Nardole (Matt Lucas), who hasn’t quite seen eye to eye with her thus far this season, was a beautiful scene. A reminder of that old saying that a friend of my friend is a friend of mine.

The revelation that the Doctor is a prisoner on a prison barge in the North Sea is both sinister and funny. He’s so dangerous to the monks’ plans of world domination that he must be kept off shore, which raises as smile as this is how the anti-establishment pirate radio operated back in the day.

How devastating for Bill to discover, when she and Nardole arrive on the barge, that the Doctor has thrown his lot in with the monks thanks to her deal with them. She made a deal with the devil and the whole world lost.

How predictable that the Doctor is just playing along with them to lull them into a false sense of security.

Missyâ’s help, halfway through this story, was inspired and helped to reinforce just how close she and the Doctor once were, and perhaps still are. Her solution was, shall we say, also predictable. As was the conclusion to this story.

The Lie of the Land felt like a re-tread of some of the best bits from Matt Smith’s era, with a twist of Peter Capaldi in his final season. I’m already beginning to miss him. I do hope we don’t learn who the new Doctor is before he appears on screen. I know the chances of that are virtually nil.

The Ice Warriors are returning to Mars next week, in Victorian times, in a script that feels it might have been written by Mark Gatiss. Time will tell.