TV Review – ‘Spyfall – Part One’ (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

And we’re back! 2020 has gone well so far with a new season of ‘Doctor Who’ back on TV, starring Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill. I’ve been looking forward to seeing Series 12 of ‘Doctor Who’ at last after a long time. Thankfully, the long wait has been so worthwhile.

I know there are still views circulating about the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor and the writing handled by showrunner Chris Chibnall. But after enjoying Series 11 so much, I hope Series 12 will be a pleasing season throughout. From what I’ve seen so far in the first episode, it looks great! 🙂

Anyway, how does Series 12 of ‘Doctor Who’ start off? With the first of a two-part adventure called ‘Spyfall’. Yeah! Clearly it’s a rip-off of James Bond, isn’t it? They even have an exciting car chase and a James Bond-styled music in the first episode. But I don’t mind that as I found it quite compelling. 🙂

The episode begins with intelligence agents around the world getting attacked by alien forces. Somehow secret agents get targeted by white glowing ghost-like creatures. Maybe they’re Cybermen from ‘Army of Ghosts’ or something. 😀 The agents also have their DNA being rewritten.

Eventually, the Doctor and her friends Graham, Ryan and Yaz get called in by MI6 to help out with this strange mystery. It was amusing to see each of the four TARDIS characters being collected by MI6 agents via car. I wonder how they managed to find the Thirteenth Doctor and her latest friends.

Like I said, the episode features an exciting car chase. This is when the driver of the car gets killed and the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz find themselves propelled forward and backward on the motorway. From watching the behind-the-scenes video, I recognised the motorways being in Cardiff!

The Doctor and her friends eventually meet Stephen Fry as…C. No, that wasn’t a joke. That’s what he’s called in the episode. It was great to see Stephen Fry in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. Having seen him in ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ and such, it was amusing to see Stephen Fry in a ‘Doctor Who’ story.

Maybe this was to make up for not delivering a script for Series 2 of the show. 😀 I was looking forward to seeing more of Stephen Fry in the episode…oh wait! He gets bumped off! Huh! That’s rather unfair. He was there for a few scenes and gets killed! Couldn’t he have lasted for ‘Part Two’?!

The episode also features Lenny Henry as David Barton, who might turn out to be one of the villains of the story. Lenny Henry was once the Seventh Doctor in his own comedy show ‘The Lenny Henry Show’. 😀 I point this out to you because he could’ve been the first black male Doctor in the TV series. 🙂

David Barton is the CEO of a search engine company called VOR. That’s the first time I’ve heard of it. 😀 He also happens to be a former MI6 informant. I enjoyed his scenes where Ryan and Yaz interview him at his HQ and his confrontation with the Doctor at his party. He’s 93% human apparently. Hmm!

There’s also Sacha Dhawan as O, an old friend of the Doctor’s and a former MI6 member. Sacha Dhawan is no stranger to ‘Doctor Who’. He played Waris Hussein in ‘An Adventure In Space and Time’. He’s also been in Big Finish audios including ‘Ghost Walk’, ‘Fallen Angels’ and ‘Dark Eyes 3’. 😀

In fact, I’m rather surprised Sacha Dhawan wasn’t credited in the ‘Radio Times’ listings for the first episode of this story. Perhaps it was an oversight. It must be. I mean it’s not like Sacha Dhawan is going to end up playing somebody so important in the first episode’s cliffhanger, right? (Pause) Right?

It was lovely to see Jodie Whittaker back as the Doctor. She’s still got the edge, the fun and the adventurous spirit about her. I like how forthright she can when getting answers, especially when facing a strange ghost-like figure inside a cage and confronting Daniel Barton at a party he’s holding.

It was also fun to see Jodie Whittaker in a tuxedo-style suit like in James Bond. Clearly they’re trying to mimic what David Tennant wore in his James Bond-outfit. 😀 There’s also a combination of Matt Smith with David Tennant in the bow tie she wears. She’s still got a grey coat and the boots to wear.

It was amusing how the episode began with the Doctor working underneath her TARDIS in Sheffield. I wonder what she was doing and how she managed to get the TARDIS tidied up again before the MI6 came along. The Doctor is concerned about how people’s DNA seems to get rewritten by aliens.

I enjoyed Bradley Walsh as Graham in this adventure. I found myself laughing at some of his funny moments, including when he’s afraid to jump onto a plane that’s about to take off from a runway. Oh, did I mention a motorcycle and car chase between the Doctor and friends with Daniel Barton? 🙂

I found it peculiar that Graham, Ryan, Yaz and even the Doctor were doing some gambling at Daniel Barton’s party – well, to be fair, the Doctor was playing ‘snap’. I found that funny. And it echoed ‘The Railway of Time’ for me. 😀 Producer Graham Williams would not approve of gambling in ‘Doctor Who’.

There’s one point in the episode where Bradley Walsh’s Graham gets told by O that the Doctor used to be a man and that he has books on her/him on one of his shelves at his house in the Grand Victoria Desert in Australia. Oh now that should be interesting. I would’ve liked to have seen that. 😀

But the Doctor comes in and interrupts things. Oh drat! I was really hoping for Graham to find out more about the Doctor and to have explained how O comes to know who the Doctor is. Maybe they might save a surprise at the end of the episode. I’ve noticed how there’s a lot of travelling going on in the story.

Yeah the Doctor and Graham meet up with O in Australia whilst Ryan and Yaz meet up with Daniel Barton at his VOR HQ in San Francisco. There’s a lot of jumping about from Sheffield to London to San Francisco to Australia in this. Mind you, it isn’t distracting and complicated to follow throughout.

It was good to see Tosin Cole back as Ryan in this episode. Ryan’s still got the dyspraxia problem as established in that first basketball scene he has. But he still gets to go on an adventure with his TARDIS friends, even when reluctant to go undercover with Yaz to San Francisco, which is interesting.

I enjoyed the interaction he has with Yaz in the story’s first episode and when he gets worried about being snatched by one of the ‘ghost’-like creatures in Daniel Barton’s office. That scene between Ryan and Yaz where he tells her he’ll look out for her was pretty touching to watching in the episode.

By the way, the ghost-like creatures happen to be called Kasaavin, voiced by Struan Rodger. They’re a mystery to me at present. I don’t know how they’re going to be revealed in the story’s second episode, but it turns out Daniel Barton isn’t in control of them. Somebody else is. Who is that then?!

Mandip Gill is great as Yaz in the episode. I like how she comes to the forefront, playing out as an investigative journalist interviewing Daniel Barton whilst Ryan plays out being the photographer, taking pictures. Yaz and Ryan bounce off each other well as they snoop about Daniel Barton’s office.

It was tense when Yaz got kidnapped by a Kasaavin and was put into this strange, odd world that could easily be the Wood between Worlds from ‘The Magician’s Nephew’. Yaz describes the place as being ‘nothingness’ and ‘nowhere’ and that she thought she was dead. Is there foreshadowing here?

The story’s first episode also features Yaz’s family including Shobna Gulati as Najia, her mum; Ravin J Ganatra as Hakim, her dad and Bhavnisha Parmar as Sonya, her sister. They don’t appear much in the episode apart from the beginning. Sonya seems to want Ryan’s phone number. Will he give it to her? 😀

I seriously didn’t know what to expect when we got to the cliffhanger. The Doctor, Graham, Ryan, Yaz and O catch up with Daniel Barton on a plane. But once on the plane, the Doctor questions O about how he struggled to catch up. She points out to him that he’s known as an incredible sprinter.

And the truth gets revealed! O isn’t who he seems to be! He’s in actual fact…the Master! (super-surprised) W-what?! W-W-W-W-W-WHAT?!!! Where the heck did this come from?! I was literally on the edge of my seat after seeing that incredibly, out-of-nowhere yet wonderfully surprising reveal!!!

Even when Sacha Dhawan let out that insane evil laugh I knew the Master for doing, I was totally excited by this! It’s actually a pretty interesting role-reversal with the Master now played by a man and the Doctor played by a woman whereas it was the other way around in the Peter Capaldi era! 😀

In fact, this was a more satisfying reveal of the Master in ‘Doctor Who’ compared to how ‘Dark Water’ did it in Series 8. I wasn’t disappointed by it and it allowed us as the audience to appreciate Sacha Dhawan’s reveal as the Master when he shows what he did the original O in his little matchbox.

It shocks even the Doctor when she discovers who O truly is and goes to try and get to Daniel Barton before seeing a box ready for detonation there. Yeah, it does seem strange the Doctor didn’t recognise O as the Master earlier, but he is pretty cunning when it comes as the ‘master of disguise’.

Oh my goodness, this is crazy! How can this episode end even more on a cliffhanger? Well, how about a plane about to crash-land as it nosedives with Graham, Ryan, Yaz aboard, clinging to their seats? And the Master teleports the Doctor away after telling her that everything she knows ‘is a lie’?

The Doctor eventually finds herself in that Wood between the Worlds place (whatever it’s called) and is trapped whilst her friends are in terrible danger. I’ve no idea how the Doctor’s going to get out of this one; how she’ll save her friends and how she’ll stop the Master. But I look forward to finding out! 🙂

I was immensely pleased with ‘Part One’ of ‘Spyfall’ as the opening episode to Series 12 of ‘Doctor Who’ on New Year’s Day. It has got me geared up to enjoy more in the rest of Series 12. I was expecting Daleks, Cybermen or Judoon to appear in the first episode of Series 12. I didn’t expect the Master! 🙂

The next episode this coming Sunday is ‘Spyfall – Part Two’ by Chris Chibnall. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

4 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Spyfall – Part One’ (Doctor Who)

  1. Great opener, love Jodies manic interrogation scenes she got that energetic vibe to her “who are you, what you planning, I’m going stop you” lol that’s her most defining character trait inquisitive.

    The reveal was a good one although there’s something afoot here Tim, the Doctor didn’t sense this Master & even though i wasn’t fan of Missy her story arc did hint at redemption, for this to be tossed aside for a pantomime Master again would be a step backwards which is why i think this Master from another universe it’ll be interesting see what happens next.

    Spot on review Tim, bit gutted Bradley Walsh as Graham didn’t say “the chase is on” during the car chase might have dock a point for that lol.

    Overall a wonderful hour of television & to think over a year ago i wasn’t a fan of a female Doctor, even old farts like me can change.

    Noticed lots toxic comments on You Tube about Jodie it’s quite sad really, if don’t enjoy it switch off & stop complaining.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed ‘Part One’ of ‘Spyfall’.

      Yeah, I liked it when Jodie’s Doctor is straight to the point and doesn’t waste time with interrogating the bad guys like Daniel Barton. She means business when she says “I’m going to stop you, doesn’t she?”

      I greatly enjoyed the Master’s reveal at the end of ‘Part One’. Yeah it does seem strange the Doctor didn’t recognise O as the Master and it doesn’t seem to be followed up as to whether he’s after Missy or from a parallel universe like you suggested. Hopefully that might get explained in ‘Part Two’, a future episode or in a Big Finish audio. I’m wondering if Sacha Dhawan’s Master will be in the ‘Master’ box set by Big Finish with John Simm, Derek Jacobi et al.

      I’m not surprised Bradley Walsh’s Graham didn’t say “The chase is on!” during that motorcycle chase (I believe) – even though that would’ve been awesome for him to say. I’m still disappointed Catherine Tate’s Donna didn’t say “Am I bothered?” from her comedy show. 😀

      I’m glad you’ve grown to like Jodie’s Doctor over the years since the announcement was made she’d be the Doctor back in 2017. I’m hoping the rest of Series 12 will get better at this point.

      I don’t read up on many comments about ‘Doctor Who’ on Facebook or YouTube nowadays. I try my best to ignore them and enjoy the show for what it is rather than it isn’t. Same thing with ‘Star Wars’. If I’m enjoying it, there must be a valid reason despite issues with storytelling and characters. I’m glad ‘Doctor Who’s working well for me in the TV series again so far with Jodie as the Doctor.

      By the way, there’s a midnight movie called ‘Attack the Block’ on Channel 4 starring Jodie Whittaker from ‘Doctor Who’ and John Boyega from ‘Star Wars’. Don’t know if I’ll watch that, but it looks interesting. 😀

      Thanks for your comments, Simon.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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