Chris Chibnall is the new Doctor Who showrunner — a retrospective

Big news have broken in the world of Doctor Who this past week. Let’s summarise:

  • Due to big (inter)national events such as the Olympics, Series 10 will air in 2017, with 2016 seeing only the last Christmas Special overseen by Steven Moffat.
  • Steven Moffat is effectively stepping down as showrunner and executive producer,  with Chris Chibnall taking over before production on Series 11 starts. As such, we won’t actually see any of Chibnall’s new work until 2018, which at this point seems an eternity away!
  • There are currently no news on whether Peter Capaldi will stay on for Series 11, but he’s confirmed for Series 10.

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Since getting a new showrunner is big, big news and this has broken within a day, it’s a weird situation, since there’d been rumours, but there are always rumours, and rarely any hints. But now, from one day to the next, Doctor Who’s got a new daddy, and we know him.
Chris Chibnall made Broadchurch into an international success, and his work on Torchwood was fantastic. Kiss Kis Bang Bang and Exit Wounds, for instance, are two of my all-time favourites, and Cyberwoman was an incredible tie-in with the events of Series 2 Doctor Who. I haven’t seen all of Broadchurch, only started the first series, but the reviews were terrific — although I’ve read that we should hope that we get Series 1!Chibnall, not Series 2!Chibnall, but I’m not qualified to speak on that.

Regarding his work on Doctor Who, I used to be a little iffy on his stuff. His writing seemed, at first, to be better suited to the more dramatic and mature material of Torchwood, and certainly Broadchurch is as dark as they come, but in Series 7, I felt he’d really hit his stride.

I liked 42, but I wasn’t so sure about The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood, the two-parter that reintroduced the Silurians. I felt, at the time, that the writing was below Chibnall’s capabilities, and that the plot had holes and clichéd story beats that really could have been avoided. For instance, the episodes featured a relatively large guest cast, and most of them were relatively poorly realised, especially Ambrose.

There were no episodes written by Chibnall in Series 6, but he returned in Series 7 with two very enjoyable, well-paced and well written stories: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and The Power of Three. Chibnall introduced us to the marvel that was Mark Williams as Rory’s dad, Brian; as well as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, the late Brigadier’s daughter and current Director of UNIT.

I loved Dinosaurs because it was filled with fun as well as some chilling foreshadowing re: Amy and Rory’s fate. I loved Power of 3 because it showed the Doctor willingly taking the slow path and Amy and Rory finally settling. They were thinking of stopping travelling with the Doctor in that episode, and I loved how Chibnall wrote married Amy and Rory. (I loved the concept of married companions, as a whole.) Three also featured some of the most moving conversations between Amy and the Doctor, with the Doctor looking back at their life together and telling her, “you were the first face this face saw.” That summed up the importance of who the Doctor is with and meets right after he regenerates and becomes a new person so perfectly, I loved it.

Both episodes had great pacing and great character beats and Chibnall handled all sets of supporting characters very well. So, if we get the Chris Chibnall that wrote for Torchwood and these episodes and the produced the first series of Broadchurch as our new showrunner, I think we can consider ourselves very lucky.

I’m looking forward to Moffat’s final work on the series, and then I’m excited to see which direction Chibnall will take the show in after he takes over. (Perhaps he’ll go easy on the pain and suffering?)

Throwback Thursday — Doctor Who: Under the Lake + Before the Flood

Previously on Doctor Who: The Witch’s Familiar.

In this two-parter opened by Toby Whithouse, we see a bit of a reset — this is, in essence, the first proper adventure after everything that’s happened. After Clara said goodbye for the first time, after Danny’s first death and then his second. Being abducted to Skaro doesn’t really count because, well, it wasn’t the Doctor that called, it was UNIT. So this is the first we see of Clara and the Doctor on the road again, wherever they went at the end of Last Christmas notwithstanding. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday — Doctor Who: Under the Lake + Before the Flood”

Throwback Thursday—Doctor Who Series 9: The Magician’s Apprentice + The Witch’s Familiar

Previously on Doctor Who: Last Christmas.

Missy’s back, Clara’s a Dalek, and the Doctor’s got a case of mercy.

Welcome to Skaro.

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday—Doctor Who Series 9: The Magician’s Apprentice + The Witch’s Familiar”

Throwback Thursday—Doctor Who: Last Christmas (2014)

Previously on Doctor Who: Death in Heaven.

Life — you know, that thing that happens when the Doctor’s not there to fix it. I had my own bit of Life in 2015, and it wasn’t going so well. Hence, I scaled back my usual blogging activity and treaded the Whoniverse more or less incognito. But now, it’s 2016, it’s a fresh start, and I do still love this idiot travelling in a box. So I’ll use the good old tradition of Throwback Thursdays to blog about Series 9, Clara’s exit, and Peter Capaldi’s second year as the Doctor.

In this case, I know I am horribly late to the party, but do indulge me — we’re travelling back to 2014, and Peter and Jenna’s first Christmas Special together. Last Christmas. Speaking as a plot detective, one might also call it The Curious Case of Suspending Disbelief for Strange Men Distributing Gifts. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday—Doctor Who: Last Christmas (2014)”

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride.

Previously on Sherlock: His Last Vow.

There are no ghosts in this world. Save for the ones we make for ourselves.

This is the story of five minutes in the life of Sherlock Holmes. Five minutes in the real world, but a lifetime in another — in Sherlock’s Mind Palace, to be precise. In the time it takes for the plane to turn around and come back down to land in His Last Vow, as John speaks the foreboding words, “There’s an East Wind coming,” Sherlock has already gone deep into himself, into the recesses of his mind, to solve a mystery that has kept us on the edges of our seats for two years.

How is he alive?

Continue reading “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride.”

007: SPECTRE

James Bond is back. Three years after the veritable anniversary smash hit that was Skyfall, director Sam Mendes gives us Spectre.

Here’s what I thought of Spectre in a nutshell:

It’s a fantastic James Bond movie, it shows the franchise adapting to a modern way of storytelling. It introduces repercussions and consequences into a narrative previously devoid of actual development. But it also fails to deliver on the big villain reveal, leaving the most hyped and most anticipated aspect of its story lacking and kinda… underwhelming.

If you want more than the gist, there be spoilers beyond the cut.

Continue reading “007: SPECTRE”

The Cultural Appeal of James Bond, and How He Could Endure

The twentieth-century James Bond is, to use M’s words, ‘a misogynist dinosaur, a relic of [a] cold war’ that never turned hot, and he’s the result of an unholy trinity of (toxic) hyper-masculinity, international terrorism, and whatever the hell ‘quintessential Englishness’ actually means.

Just after the UK premiere of SPECTRE, a colleague of mine and I got talking about my mild Bond obsession. Since he’d been put off by Quantum of Solace’s comparatively weak performance, he asked me how I would explain that 007 became such a cultural phenomenon that he’s still around today, and that the franchise is actually still growing. Since pulling meta out of my butt at a moment’s notice is kinda my whole thing, I may have gone off on a fifty-year tangent. I’ve been since asked to put my thoughts into writing, so here you have it. Continue reading “The Cultural Appeal of James Bond, and How He Could Endure”

New Fall Shows 2015/16 Quick Reviews: Blindspot, Rosewood, Minority Report

TV drama season 2015/16 has begun, and we’re off to the races with lots of returning shows and many, many new contenders. A lot of pilots have come out last week, and here’s a quick review for those that I’ve previewed in the summer: Blindspot, Minority Report, and Rosewood. Continue reading “New Fall Shows 2015/16 Quick Reviews: Blindspot, Rosewood, Minority Report”

Fiction Meets Science — Pippa Goldschmidt, “The Falling Sky”

(A German translation of this review is available on the Bremer Literaturkontor website.)

No spoilers were harmed in the making of this review.

On June 18, 2015, astronomer-turned-novelist Pippa Goldschmidt visited the House of Science in Bremen, together with her translator Zoë Beck, to read excerpts from her novel “The Falling Sky.” As part of the series ‘Fiction meets Science,’ novelists, literary scholars, sociologists, and STEM scientists observe the relationship between literature and science. This examination takes place on two levels: literature becomes the object of sociological study within the context of public discourse on science and scientific progress, for one. On another level, there is a field of tension between science and its representation in art. Continue reading “Fiction Meets Science — Pippa Goldschmidt, “The Falling Sky””

Mad Max: Fury Road

If you haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet, I strongly urge you to.

Not only does it tell us, in the wake of summer action blockbusters like Age of Ultron and Fast and Furious 7, that this genre is neither dead nor dying — it tells us that it works across gender boundaries.

Tom Hardy’s Mad Max introduces us to a not forgotten hero, but one left in the dust of time, at least when it comes to the silver screen. It introduces us to the hero of a franchise, the male hero — and we get to know him through the role he plays not in his own story, not in some heroic journey that he’s mapped out for himself. We get to know him through the action he takes not for himself, but for others, through his role in someone else’s story. Continue reading “Mad Max: Fury Road”