This weekend brings us Part 2 of FLUX, Chris Chibnall's 6 part maxi-story/mini-season.
This weekend's episode is described thusly by BBC...
During the Crimean War, the Doctor discovers the British army fighting a brutal alien army of Sontarans, as Yaz and Dan are thrown deeper into a battle for survival. What is the Temple of Atropos? Who are the Mouri?
...and this way by Radio Times...
The Doctor has an unexpected encounter with one of her deadliest enemies when the Sontarans become a new faction in the Crimean War. As the British army goes into pitched battle with the warlike aliens, the Doctor and her companions seek the help of renowned nurse Mary Seacole (Sara Powell), while an ancient temple hides mysterious secrets
The Halloween Apocalypse demonstrates that Chibnall's unevenness is continuing into the long-form storytelling offered by FLUX's six episode arc (there had been hopes amongst fans that, perhaps, he'd prove himself more focused consistent upon a lengthier, broader palette).
Incoming 'companion' John Bishop acquitted himself nicely, brining an everyman charm and grounding to otherwise daffy proceedings. Bishop with any other Doctor would be a true sight to behold. Sadly, he feels a bit wasted here - surrounded by Whittaker's unerringly lackluster and disinvested performance, and the 'I'm over this' vibe Mandip Gil is increasingly conveying. Note how 'different' Bishop's Dan Lewis performance feels when working against Whittaker and Gils' character compared to his showing against Craige Els' Karvanista. There's so much more zing in his interactions with the later. Which points back to casting issues with Whittaker and Gil (chiefly Whittaker).
In the Pantheon of Chibnall Meh-ness, Halloween Apocalypse fares better than much of the Chibnall Era, but the erratic nature of its writing and directing often mutes some of the episode's more admirable accomplishments. Great and compelling scenes are counterbalanced by long-feeling, awkwardly lifeless scenes. Moments of lovely scoring are neutralized by the ever-recurrent 'game show suspenseful reveal music' which plods lifelessly through the background of every episode. A number of lovely visual effects are shorted out by some relatively cheap looking work. Etc. While more enjoyable than many recent installments, Halloween Apocalypse, on the whole, stands as a perfect metaphor for the Chibs Era itself: unclear vision, inconsistency conveyed, lurching and sputtering toward an end result of mediocrity.
Apropos of everything, various sources, including Radio Times, are reporting that 'creative control' of Russell T. Davies' forthcoming return to DW will rest largely in the hands of Team Davies, and that BBC has essentially seeded said 'creative control' of the franchise to Davies. The Times is reporting that BBC could miss out one 'up to £40 million in commercial revenue for every ten episodes.' Strongly suggesting that BBC has 1) admitted defeat, and 2) may have never fully understood DOCTOR WHO all along - which I have forcefully posited on many occasions, and witnessed first had in my previous dealings with them. Throughout its epic run, BBC has consistently been DOCTOR WHO's worst enemy. For my money, it may very well be best for the network to get out of the show's way at this juncture - before they mismanage it into oblivion.
Former Doctors Matt Smith and David Tennant have individually indicated an interest in appearing on the show at some point, which isn't particularly surprising given the number of times previous Doctors have showed up in a current iterations of the series. What is particularly interesting, however, is that Smith and Tennant made these comments in close proximity time-wise to one another, and also in the wake of the announcement of RTD's return to the franchise. This timing may all be completely happenstantial, but it's hard not to wonder if some kind of planning toward such ends is actually afoot already - as one way to repair the damage caused by Chris Chibnall's lackluster performance would be to recall the show's past popularity and glory via highly promotable guest appearances (like Smith or Tennant - and even more). Tennant's comments can be found HERE, and Smith's word are HERE.
With that, the War of the Sontarans discussion thingie is good-to-go!
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COMING NEXT WEEK:
Once, Upon Time