- Robert Lynch
Review - Doctor Who Season 11
When it was announced that Doctor Who was to get a new showrunner and a new lead actor I had high hopes. When I learned that Chris Chibnall had written previous Doctor Who episodes “42” and “Dinosaurs in Space” I was definitely concerned, but I hoped that with the creative control and a new doctor to work with we might get some good Who.
I’ve always loved Doctor Who. In the weeks it was released I would get up early and watch the episodes. It felt like Christmas morning. Often I would watch the episodes again with my flatmates the same day.
I didn’t feel like that this season. I didn’t re-watch the episodes. It didn’t feel like Christmas.
I was hoping for new stories and conflicts with old villains, new iconic villains to rise, and new aspects of the Doctor to be explored.
Instead, I got a Doctor Who that is a poor imitation of the last couple of years. Jodie Whitaker plays the Doctor differently every episode. She comes off as trying to be a cross between Tennant and Smith’s Doctors and fails to create a consistent Doctor of her own. No time is spent during the season getting to know the Doctor, and there is little to no time spent where any of the companions are getting to know her either.
Honestly, there are too many companions for a new Doctor. The first couple of episodes are eaten up trying to introduce three permanent companions and really shallowly touches on each of them.
Only one of the companions has a story arc for the season, Graham, played by Bradley Walsh, is mourning the loss of his wife who passes in the first episode. He has to grieve and bond with Ryan, his step-grandson. Bradley Walsh does a great job with the little he was given to work with and is the only character that seems thicker than a paper cut out for the season.
Ryan and Yas suffer from having information introduced in the first episode that never goes anywhere. Ryan is introduced as having dyspraxia, a coordination disorder, in the first episode, then this doesn’t affect him again any time in the season. Yas is introduced as a police officer who then in every other episode does not act at all like a police officer. As a cop she has training in subduing suspects, she should be naturally sceptical, and she shouldn’t take any guff at all. Instead she is taken hostage in one episode, wanders around oblivious to everything, and chokes down guff like it’s been marked to clear.
The villains for this season are weak beyond measure. They aren’t really a challenge for the Doctor, or at least they shouldn’t be, and they have no decent motivation beyond “the script told me so.”
Overall I have to say that this season has surpassed the dreaded Colin Baker stint as the worst season of Doctor Who ever made.
Doctor Who is different from other shows. The inbuilt system to change and reinvent itself will still bring me back to watch every episode of the eventual next season. Every episode carries the opportunity to write a great Doctor Who episode, no matter what happened last week. It is with that promise that I will keep watching. The last season’s ratings took a hefty hit, but Doctor Who isn’t cancelled again yet. I’ve watched every episode of Doctor Who, and even if this sinking ship keeps taking on water I will continue to watch.
All I can hope is that it will get better. You never know, next week the Doctor might show up and save the day.