Doctor Who has got its mojo back. After a disappointing first series as showrunner, Chris Chibnall has returned in spectacular fashion with Series 12, proving that Doctor Who is at its best when it pushes the boundaries of its 56-year history.
Opening with a stunning two-part episode on New Year’s Day, the show set the bar very high for this series, with its star-studded cast (finally, Doctor Who answers fans’ calls and includes Stephen Fry in the show) and unpredictable twists that set the tone for the rest of the series. The following episodes dealt with important issues such as climate change and mental health, whilst The Doctor and her clan paid visits to Nikola Tesla (Goran Visnjic) and Mary Shelley (Lili Miller). This made Doctor Who feel like the show it used to be again.
But the best aspect of Series 12, making it a huge improvement over the previous series, was the use of the plot arc running through all ten episodes, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats every week. The show went to new and very exciting places this year, factors that are going to dictate the direction of the show going into the future. It felt risky and had definite potential to go horribly wrong but ultimately the finale found the perfect balance between providing answers and allowing there to still be plenty of questions.
Series 12 also saw the return of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor and once again she delivered in the role, showcasing her incredible range as an actress in both the funnier moments of the show and in those where the character is pushed to their darkest limitations. However, there is still sizable disconnection from the companions. Yaz (Mandip Gill), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Graham (Bradley Walsh), barely added anything to the show, often they just felt like a plot device to aid new audiences who weren’t as familiar with the show’s complex history. The overcrowded casting meant that the trio weren’t able to get the character development that they deserved.
Another notable highlight of Series 12 was Sacha Dhawan as The Master. Dhawan is the perfect casting for The Doctor’s oldest and closest foe as he portrayed the renowned insanity of the role perfectly, providing some great moments of tension alongside Whittaker, but also fitting in seamlessly with the character’s history. His scenes really ramped up the jaw-dropping aspects of Series 12 and fans can only hope that he will back in future series.
Overall, Series 12 of Doctor Who has been one of its best in recent years, bringing back both the fear factor and the shock factor that the show thrives on. Hopes are high for the next series (scheduled to air in autumn 2021) but perhaps it is time for The Doctor to find some new friends.
Image: Movie DB
Betty Wilson is a screen contributor at Forge Press.
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