The lockdown writeup continues in earnest. Today, we’re looking at episodes five through seven – also known as the Dreammaker Revisited, the Plastics Rant, and The One That Changed Everything, not necessarily in that order. I’d been reading a lot about Mondrian during the mid-point of Series 12; possibly that comes across.
Fugitive of the Judoon
(We published this one as a separate piece, because…well, you’ll see why. It was far too long!)
Doctor: The streets of Gloucester are beset
With things to make you scream and fret
A great big stomping black platoon
Of horny, militant Judoon!
I think they want to make a capture
To transport like some ghoulish rapture.
Quick, Yas! To them you’ll have to speak
And earn your crust, at least this week.
Yas: Well, yes, I’ll try to play ’em
But hang on, aren’t we missing Graham?
Ruth: I’ll have to hide! It’s me they want
I’ll head for that baptismal font
Doctor: Too late! They’ve seen you, don’t you know
We’ll have to make a-
Ruth: KO BO SO!
Doctor: I didn’t know you spoke their tongue.
Ruth: Neither did I. And why’ve I flung
A rhino cop across the floor?
Doctor: The scene lacked pace. But here come more!
We’d better drive out to the coast
Or otherwise we’ll both be toast.
Ruth: But where’s your friends? You’re on your own
You’ve got no clue just where they’ve flown
Or what they’re doing, now they’re missing!
Doctor: I imagine mostly kissing.
Jack: You read my mind. Which one’s the Doc?
Graham: It isn’t me. But what a shock!
What did you want?
Jack: I had a plan.
Beware the lonely Cyberman
And – arrgh! They’ve pulled me from this joint!
Yas: That cameo really had no point.
We’ll have to see if Whittaker
Can find out what the answers are.
Doctor: I’ve dug and dug, and found a TARDIS!
I’m lost, although I’ve tried my hardest.
Ruth: Allow me to explain, my dear
I’ve just remembered why I’m here
It seems that I’m a Time Lord too
Another Doctor, just like you.
Doctor: You can’t be me! I won’t allow it
The fans’ll surely disavow it!
You cannot be me night or day
On Calufrax or Gallifrey
You can’t be me on Metabilis
Unless you tell me what the drill is.
You can’t be me in acid rain
Ruth: Please, let’s not do all that again.
I’m this year’s overarching query
Left to the mercy of fan theory.
Doctor: I simply do not have a clue
About these Doctors One and Two.
It makes no sense! I just can’t see
How I am you and you are me.
I’ll sulk for weeks in sheer frustration
About this mystery incarnation.
This duplicated wooden box
This ghastly temporal pair-o-docs.
Ruth: I understand now why you run.
The crowds’ll hate you for that pun.
Doctor: I like your dual role though, kitten.
It makes me feel quite underwritten.
We’re kicking up the hornet’s nest
The fandom’s going to be quite stressed.
As retcons go, this one’s encumbering
We haven’t even touched the numbering.
I need a break – you must agree
This story’s been enough for me.
Graham: Well, yeah, that’s true – but wait a minute,
Nothing really happened in it!
With apologies to another great Doctor.
‘I’m going to level with you: I spent certain key moments of Praxeus hiding my face in my hands. It’s nothing to do with virtue signalling. It’s simply because the type of death depicted this week – the scaling of the body, from fingertips to skull, followed by sudden facial disintegration – is something I’ve never been able to watch, and thus something I’ll avoid watching as much as possible. You remember that scene in Resident Evil where the guy gets sliced into cubes by the lasers? I don’t.
It’s an exercise in empathy, this cowering behind the fingers, because my ten-year-old was similarly freaked. And I suppose this was an episode for him, in a way, given the message it was conveying, delivered with the same sense of understated reserve we’ve come to expect from Chibnall’s time on Doctor Who. It isn’t enough simply to show the effects our disposable culture is having on the oceans; we have to get a hastily delivered lecture as well, Whittaker pacing and gesticulating with the ferocity of a BSL interpreter during a Stormzy gig, pausing to dip her head and lower her register during the important bits. Regular readers at the DWC will know that I was one of the few champions of Series 11, and I stand by everything I said in 2018, but even I’m finding this a bit much.
That’s a shame, really, because the more this run of episodes continues the more Jodie seems to be hitting her stride. She really is very good this week: confident and calm, pulling off precise TARDIS manoeuvres without breaking a sweat and appearing, it seems, in all corners of the world at a moment’s notice with the sort of omnipresence that Jennifer Saunders’ character managed in Muppet Treasure Island. Indeed, Praxeus is one tribute act after another, paying homage both to The Birds and Hot Fuzz almost within the same minute. Indeed, there’s a glossiness to Praxeus that lends it an elegant, packaged feel: who cares if the scenery is largely recycled when it looks this good?
But as good as it is – and there is much to enjoy this week, from Graham’s heartfelt, beautifully photographed beach conversation with Jake to the happy ending we arguably didn’t deserve – it’s very much Been There, Done That. The timing doesn’t help – we’re only three weeks after Orphan 55, remember – but it’s hard not to shake the feeling that someone high up at the BBC is sending down notes, mostly along the lines of “Needs a monologue”. Would it hurt to simply mention things and then drop an advisory message at the end of the programme so that people can look things up on the internet? Because we’ve got 490 minutes a year, which really isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, and I’d really not be wasting any more of them listening to another lecture about how plastic is killing the environment. Not when the BBC have just greenlit another line of action figures.
Oh, and just as an afterthought: somewhere, millions of years ago on prehistoric Earth, a charred and bloodstained young maths prodigy is crawling out of a wrecked spacecraft. And he’s really, really pissed off.’
The DWC write-up is still missing.
Can You Hear Me?
“James, are you sure you want me to use this?”
“Yeah, sorry. I just don’t have time to write anything this week.”
“Yet you somehow found time to throw this together.”