S11 inched a smidgen closer to stylistic and tonal legitimacy last week with The Witchfinders.
Sadly, what began as an edgy, off-kilter, agreeably propulsive tale - much of which very much embodied the best sensibilities of contemporary DOCTOR WHO - collapsed completely in the final 13 minutes of its story. Resulting in a frustrating, tantalizing glimpse into how efficiently and smartly a Chris Chibnall-era DW episode could unfold, while also bludgeoning viewers with the inescapable reality that Team Chibs struggles to fully land its premises remain considerable, and may be altogether insurmountable by the talent currently on deck.
This week brings us It Takes You Away, the second to the last episode of S11 proper. It's scripted by Ed Hime, whose IMDb credits are scant at best, although crediting offered via his agency suggests a varied, interesting, and voluminous background. ITYA is helmed by Jamie Childs, who has (almost admirably) developed listlessness into an art form during his previous two assignments the Season/Series (The Woman Who Fell to Earth, Demons of the Punjab).
Meanwhile, BBC has unveiled a tweaked costume for Jodie Whittaker's Doctor. Which, by inference, will be unveiled in the forthcoming New Year's Special.
When I look at this image, I see the Peter Davison merged with Tom Baker - played by an actress whose affinity for the Tennant Era is clearly apparent. Meaning: a Doctor whose characterization is still struggling to find its own distinct voice...is being pointedly configured to evoke past Doctors...thus embracing the same history BBC went out of its way to besmirch and denigrate during the launch of the Chibnall/Whittaker Era?
So...what is the takeaway here? It's okay to malign over five decades of franchising and storytelling in order to entice new viewers - but it's equally OK to embrace and evoke that same marginalized background in order to create points of association with what one claims to be ashamed of?
This publicity approach is feeling passive-aggressive, a touch sociopathic, and more than a bit Trumpian. BBC should be ashamed of itself, and fans of this show...as well as BBC viewers in general...should hold the network accountable for such bizarre behavior. A very, very dangerous precedent is being courted here.
In regards to the scarf itself? I love the colors, don't mind the scarf (beyond my qualifications above), but I'm interpreting it as a 'rainbow flag' of sorts. It's an unnecessary, far too insecure (and on the nose) proclamation/statement for a show which has, historically, handled inclusion quite skillfully. Perfectly encapsulating the same clumsiness, and absence of self-confidence, that has defined the Chibnall Era thus far.
Along with the costume image came a thumbnail of the forthcoming New Year's episode:
As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring, from across the centuries of Earth’s history. As the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz return home, will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth?
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COMING NEXT WEEK:
The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos