Has it truly been over a year since we said goodbye to Jodie Whittaker in a special episode filled with nods to classic Doctor Who? We had to liveblog it because we weren’t sure if we would see David Tennant or Ncuti Gatwa at the end.
The change has definitely occurred. However, following a clever introduction for new viewers, Russell T Davies, David Tennant, and Catherine Tate quickly moved on to a fresh era of Doctor Who. This new version is now produced by Bad Wolf Studios and distributed internationally by Disney, with a noticeable increase in the budget.
We were promised an exciting and innovative new version of the show for the second era under Davies, and although this may not have been exactly that, it still delivered as a strong “holiday” special. During the launch, Davies expressed his desire for it to be similar to a Pixar movie, with humor and frights suitable for all ages. The episode skillfully combined a monster story reminiscent of the Sarah Jane Adventures with an emotional reunion of Tennant and Tate.
Miriam Margolyes’s voice coupled with the Meep’s appearance was adorable, and the “Most High” of the Meeps remained a cutie even when they turned bloodthirsty. Another highlight was having Jacqueline King back as Sylvia Noble. During his initial turn as showrunner, Davies created memorable but somewhat abrasive mothers for the Doctor’s Earth companions, but King got a chance here to show a greater range and more sympathy for her daughter’s plight.
Yasmin Finney as Rose was a bright and kindly presence. The bores who thought the Whittaker era was too “woke” – whatever that means in the context of a science fantasy show that has always pushed stories with progressive values – will be choking on the scene where the Doctor is chastised by her for assuming the Meep’s pronouns.
Can we see the impact of the larger budget in the final product? Definitely. The creators of Doctor Who in the 1970s would have been ecstatic to have the opportunity to film a drone-shot street battle like the one we witnessed here. However, the main focus was on the dynamic between the Doctor and Donna, and it was truly heartwarming to see Tennant and Tate rekindle that chemistry.
Can you summarize it in one sentence?
The Meep takes center stage as the 14th Doctor makes a comeback in Donna Noble’s life, bringing excitement to her family.
Living on the Tardis spaceship
We didn’t find a lot in the Tardis, but we did discover a new Tardis inside, and it is stunning. It is filled with “the round things” and pays homage to the classic era more than any Tardis interior seen since the 2005 revival. Tennant himself came up with the idea of running on the ramps, but by the eighth take, Davies noted that it seemed less enjoyable for the actor.
The inspiration for The Star Beast came from a comic book, and the antagonists were very much like those found in comics. There were no truly scary moments, unless you were genuinely concerned about Donna’s survival – even though we know Tate appears in the next two specials. And there was hardly any fear left for the Wrarth Warriors once they opened their mouths and spoke with posh voices that would have fit in perfectly on Doctor Who in 1963.
Mysteries and questions
The reason for the 14th Doctor’s face remains a mystery, as does the current state of Unit after being disbanded and manipulated in time during Flux. The destination of the Tardis and the identity of the boss mentioned by the Meep are also unknown. However, it is likely that we already have some information, as we know that Neil Patrick Harris will appear as the Toymaker in the third special and that all three specials are likely connected.
Exploring further into the whirlpool.
The Star Beast is a comic strip from 1980 that was published in Doctor Who magazine. It originally featured the fourth Doctor, Beep the Meep, and the Wrarth Warriors. The creators of the strip were Pat Mills, known for creating 2000AD, and John Wagner, who co-created Judge Dredd. The artist, Dave Gibbons, is most famous for his collaboration with Alan Moore on Watchmen. The strip is highly regarded by fans of Doctor Who and follows a similar plot to Steven Spielberg’s ET, with children discovering a stranded alien and keeping it hidden. However, unlike Beep the Meep, the alien in ET did not have a thirst for blood.
We were informed that Wilf is now living in assisted housing, and we have knowledge that the late Bernard Cribbins filmed scenes last year, but he was not included in this one. In April, Tennant mentioned that they were not able to film as much with Cribbins as planned. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to see the beloved storyteller’s final appearance in the Doctor Who universe within the next few weeks. After all, Cribbins first entered the Tardis in the 1966 movie Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 AD, and it would be a delightful 60th anniversary surprise and tribute to see him one last time.
If you’re curious about why Tennant had a different sonic screwdriver in the broadcast of “Power of the Doctor,” it’s because Doctor Who magazine has released a 14th Doctor comic called “Liberation of the Daleks.” This story continues directly from the regeneration scene and leads into the recent Children in Need sketch set on Skaro. In this comic, Jodie Whittaker’s sonic screwdriver design doesn’t fare well, encountering two mishaps. Those who dislike the frequent use of the sonic in modern Who probably won’t appreciate the new abilities it showcases in this episode.
As of this writing, there has not been a separate trailer released for Wild Blue Yonder. Therefore, dear reader, you may already be more informed than the Guardian. According to Davies, the episode is “strange” and challenged the design team to bring the story to life. Tennant has described it as “unlike any other Doctor Who episode” and the most recent issue of Doctor Who magazine withheld the names of the guest cast. So, it remains a mystery. We’ll reconvene next week – let’s go!