“Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.”
Those were the last words spoken by the version of Doctor Who portrayed by Peter Capaldi. He had a tough act to follow, having succeeded the first Doctor that I finally grokked, Matt Smith, who had his own tough act in follow in David Tennant, who seems to be the most popular Doctor since Tom Baker, who played the fourth Doctor from 1974 to 1981. But Capaldi was a very good version in his own right.
Having been charmed by Jodie Whittaker in Broadchurch, I was looking forward to her take as the first female incarnation of the immortal-ish alien with two hearts. But it took a long time to warm up to her, in part because new show runner Chris Chibnall seemed to emphasize the show’s roots in educational TV and sent the Doctor and her friends on a pedantic tour of historical figures. Very often the crew took itself way too seriously and neglected the fact that Doctor Who has always been a whimsical story about an alien with two hearts who adopts Earth as his/her cheerful protector.
That brings us to Sunday afternoon and the world premiere of the first episode in Whittaker’s third and final series of shows, a six-part adventure subtitled Flux. The Flux is very much like The Nothing in The Neverending Story, except instead of sweeping through Fantasia The Flux is wiping out our own, real universe. Nasty stuff, that.
But the whimsy is back, beginning with an opening scene in which the Doctor and her current companion, Yaz, are hanging by a gravity bar that’s going to drop them into a vat of boiling acid, and if they escape that there are some little drones waiting to blast them out of the sky, and if they escape that the whole planet is going to be destroyed anyway. Talk about starting the story in the middle of the action! Oh, and did I mention the whimsy? The whole scene is hilarious in a very Whovian way.
It was a promising start to the last run of what has been an uneven few years for the venerable franchise. Whittaker has always been brilliant in the role; I just haven’t always been impressed by the scripts she’s had to rescue. From the early going, it looks like she and Chibnall have finally found the perfect tone and themes to right the ship.
W.B.’s NaNoWriMo progress report – as of midnight Nov. 2
Novel 1 – wrote 48 words, still 50% to 40k goal
Novel 2 – 40% to 40k goal
Plan for end of 2021 – in progress
Plan for 2022 – in development