TV Review – ‘Flux – Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse’ (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

Hello everyone! 🙂

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

Here we are again, everyone! 🙂 We have a new season of ‘Doctor Who’ in the year 2021. It’s Jodie Whittaker’s third season as the Thirteenth Doctor (Series 13) and she’s joined by Mandip Gill as Yaz and newcomer John Bishop as Dan. Series 13 also happens to be a six-part adventure called ‘Flux’. 🙂

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Jodie’s third and (apparently) final season of ‘Doctor Who’ on TV. There are the 2022 specials to look forward to, but this is where it’s sort-of the beginning of the end of the Thirteenth Doctor. It’s rather sad as I have enjoyed Jodie Whittaker’s era of ‘Doctor Who’.

I know other people won’t be of the same opinion as me, but I genuinely feel that Jodie’s era has been something to look forward to each year since she began in 2018. I shouldn’t be too downhearted as there’s the rest of Series 13 to look forward and the aforementioned 2022 specials.

But does the opening episode of ‘Flux’ hold up well after seeing it on BBC iPlayer last Sunday on the 31st of October? Will the rest of Series 13 meet my expectations and be rewarding by the time it comes to an end? I really hope so. I don’t want to be disappointed and underwhelmed by the end. 🙂

It also should be pointed out that Series 13 of ‘Doctor Who’ is the first to be made during the Covid-19 pandemic – please keep safe. I have seen other TV shows like ‘Call the Midwife’, ‘Grantchester’ and new ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ that were made during the pandemic from 2020 to 2021. 😐

From watching the first episode of ‘Flux’, you wouldn’t think the cast were filming during a pandemic as the Doctor, Yaz and Dan seem to be at their natural best and not social distancing with each other. It’s a contrast when you see behind-the-scenes videos and photos of crew with facemasks on.

And yes, this happens to be a first for new series ‘Doctor Who’ to do a complete story across a season, as it’s a six-part story and there aren’t any standalone episodes to be featured. The classic ‘Doctor Who’ series has done something like it before in ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ with Colin Baker. 🙂

And no, I’m not counting ‘The Key to Time’ season in that category as each of the six stories are connected by an interlinking theme and don’t make up as a multi-part story. Having Series 13 be a multi-part story called ‘Flux’ makes it feel quite epic compared to the first two seasons of Jodie’s era.

Does the first episode of the season called ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’ reflect that epic scale? Well, there’s certainly a lot going on in it, and I did something that I don’t normally do after watching a new series episode of ‘Doctor Who’. I watched ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’ twice on BBC iPlayer! 😀

Yeah! I saw it twice! I had to recheck every detail that was going on in the episode to get a clearer idea of what was going on, because the first time I was mind-boggled (but in a good way). I’m glad I saw the first episode of ‘Flux’ a second time round. I’ll probably watch it a third time on BBC iPlayer.

So what’s the story of ‘Flux’ about then? Well, it begins with the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz dealing with a Lupar called Karvanista, who happens to be a member of the Division – the group responsible for wiping most of the Doctor’s memories of his/her early life as the Timeless Child from Series 12. 🙂

It was nice to see Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor and Mandip Gill as Yaz again. Apparently, the Doctor and Yaz have been travelling together for quite some time since they parted company with Graham and Ryan in ‘Revolution of the Daleks’. Who knows how many travels the Doctor and Yaz have had?!

Jodie Whittaker continues to be excellent as the Thirteenth Doctor in the series. I know people have a tendency to criticise Chris Chibnall’s writing (who’s written most of ‘Flux’, including the first episode here), but I wouldn’t say that’s Jodie’s fault since she does her best in delivering her lines. 🙂

It was intriguing to see Jodie’s Doctor being secretive some of the time, especially when Yaz is accompanying her in her TARDIS travels. I’m surprised Jodie’s Doctor hasn’t revealed much to Yaz of what she knows about the Division, like she shared hints of that revelation to Ryan in ‘Revolution’. 😐

I liked it when Jodie’s Doctor’s on the case in solving the mystery of Dan being abducted by Karvanista as well as confronting Karvanista aboard his spaceship. Jodie’s Doctor is also horrified by what she sees when the Flux is making its way to Earth and is destroying the universe as it spreads. 😐

Mandip Gill is equally good as Yaz in this adventure. Mind you, I’m curious as to where Yaz and the Doctor stand with each other in their relationship. Yaz is more argumentative than usual, especially when she blames the Doctor for what occurred to them when they were about to face death in pools of acid. 😐

Yaz is also frustrated by the Doctor not telling her much about what’s going on when wanting to see Karvanista; with knowing about the Division; and the mental contacts had with Swarm. I’m not sure if Yaz has entirely forgiven the Doctor for being absent for 10 months in ‘Revolution of the Daleks’. 😐

It seems that Yaz can co-pilot the TARDIS with the Doctor, which is intriguing to see. Yaz also gets to rescue Dan from his cage whilst the Doctor’s confronting Karvanista aboard his spaceship. It was intriguing to see Yaz’s reaction to Dan when he joins the TARDIS crew for the rest of the season here.

It was funny to see the Doctor and Yaz use a mallet (like the Ninth and Tenth Doctors would) to knock some sense into the TARDIS when she refuses to dematerialise. Come on, Doctor; Yaz. To knock sense into the TARDIS, you have to bang your fist on the console like the Fifth Doctor would. 😀

On a side-note, I would have liked to have seen a set of stories where the Doctor and Yaz are travelling companions together in-between ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ and ‘Flux’. Maybe that’s something that Big Finish can explore when it comes to doing the Thirteenth Doctor audio stories. 🙂

And now it’s time to talk about John Bishop, who makes his debut as Dan Lewis in the series. This is the first time I’ve seen John Bishop in anything. I don’t know much about him as a comedian, but I did enjoy his debut performance as Dan, as he comes across as quite likeable, friendly and funny. 😀

John Bishop also has a very distinct Liverpudlian accent compared to Jodie’s Yorkshire accent. 😀 Dan joins the TARDIS crew by accident. When we meet him, he works at a food bank and helps others. He can’t help himself however, as he has very little food at home. Should have taken that soup, Dan!

It was fun to see Dan, especially in that YouTube teaser clip, when he was giving out sweets to children on Halloween night. Mind you, it was a bit mean of him not to give something to that homeless guy taking advantage. I suppose he’s lucky Two-Face and the Riddler didn’t come to visit him. 😀

Chewbacca could have easily visited Dan’s house at Halloween night. Actually, I’m not far off there, as Craige Els as Karvanista, who comes to abduct Dan, does almost look like a wookiee from ‘Star Wars’. I know he’s meant to be like a dog-like man, but I can’t help think of Chewie when seeing Karvanista.

Or is it a Vulpine from the audio adventure ‘Zaltys’? Lupari and Vulpines could be of the same family/species in the ‘Doctor Who’ universe. 😀 And it seems that Karvanista has Jedi-like mind control powers. Or at least he’s meant to have them, but they don’t work when he uses them on Dan.

Karvanista: “You will not resist. You will do exactly as I command.”
Dan: “I don’t think I will.”
Karvanista: “I said; you will not resist! You will do exactly as I command!”
Dan: “And I said, get back out through that door or I’m getting the bizzies.”

You know, you could easily replace this dialogue with…

Qui-Gon: “I don’t have anything else, but credits will do fine.”
Watto: “No, they won’t.”
Qui-Gon: “Credits will do fine.”
Watto: “No, they won’t!”

The rest of the cast includes Nadia Albina as Diane, who happens to be a friend of Dan’s at a Liverpool museum and perhaps a potential love interest. There’s also Sam Spruell as the mysterious Swarm, who seems to know the Doctor well in his mind contacts with her. This is unclear at present.

There’s also Matthew Needham who plays the ‘old’ Swarm incidentally. There’s Rochenda Sandall as Anna, who ends up becoming Azure, Swarm’s sister in the ‘Flux’ story. Not entirely sure why Azure was Anna in human form for a while. Hopefully this will be made clearer as the season progresses. 😐

Jacob Anderson of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame makes his debut as Vinder, an observation officer aboard the Observation Output Rose who sees the Flux approaching as it causes the entire galaxy to be erased. Not sure what Vinder’s role is in Series 13 so far, since he hasn’t done much in this episode. 😐

There’s also Annabel Scholey as Claire, a woman who seems to know Yaz and the Doctor when they meet her in Liverpool where Dan lives. I was on the edge of my seat when I see Claire pursued by a Weeping Angel before being zapped back in time. I wonder what her role for the ‘Flux’ story is to be.

I did find the Weeping Angel scene quite tense and scary, matching to the efforts in ‘Blink’ compared to the Weeping Angels’ appearances in the Steven Moffat era of ‘Doctor Who’. It was also good to see the Sontarans appear in this episode. They happen to be ‘The Time Warrior’ versions of the Sontarans. 🙂

Dan Starkey still plays one of the Sontarans in the episode called Kragar, I believe. It’s amazing to see him in classic series-styled Sontaran make-up as opposed to the new series Sontarans we’d been getting lately. I’m looking forward to how the Sontarans’ journey will progress in the next episode. 🙂

There is something odd going on concerning the TARDIS when the Doctor and Yaz enter the ship. Apparently the TARDIS door is positioned in different places, whether it’d be the other side of the console room or on the TARDIS floor. I’m not sure what’s going on regarding that in the story itself. 🙂

The Flux happens to be a universe-breaking force that is bound for Earth, as it destroys and disintegrates planets and galaxies in its wake. I’m not sure where it came from and how and why it can cause so much chaos and destruction. It did put me in mind of the entropy wave in ‘Logopolis’. 🙂

The Doctor has Karvanista set up the Lupari fleet of ships to form a barricade around the planet Earth to protect it from the Flux approaching. But the Doctor is unable to get the TARDIS behind the barricade with her, Yaz and Dan aboard as the Flux manages to catch up with them whilst in space. 😐

In a last effort, the Doctor opens up the heart of the TARDIS to unleash time vortex energy onto the Flux to steer it away from Earth. But even that doesn’t seem to work. It seems like the end of the universe is upon our heroes. But how can this be? We’ve only like five episodes of the ‘Flux’ story left to be told! 😀

‘The Halloween Apocalypse’ is a decent opening episode to the six-part ‘Flux’ story, which is Series 13 of ‘Doctor Who’. This episode might require more than one viewing as there is a lot to take in with so many story strands occurring, but I’m glad that I’ve seen it and it was very exciting to watch.

I’m curious as to whether the Doctor, Yaz and Dan will manage to escape the Flux in time. If they do escape, how will Dan fit in a travelling companion with the Doctor and Yaz? Will the Doctor, Yaz and Dan meet Claire? Will they meet Vinder? How are the Sontarans and the Weeping Angels involved?!

It was nice to hear Nitro-9 mentioned and the TARDIS cloister being heard. 😀

Next week’s episode is ‘Flux – Chapter Two: War of the Sontarans’ by Chris Chibnall.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

4 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Flux – Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse’ (Doctor Who)

  1. Williams Fan 92

    Great review Tim.

    I have to say that ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’ was a wonderful start to Series13/’Flux’. Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill were great as the Doctor and Yaz and John Bishop as Dan was fun to watch. Karvanista was quite an interesting character. I also thought of Chewbacca when looking at him. I wonder why he had a northern English accent. It was also interesting to see the Sontarans and the Weeping Angels. I wonder what we’ll get from them, as well as Jacob Anderson as Vinder.

    I didn’t expect the episode to end on a cliff-hanger. I’m sure the Tardis team will escape the flux. That and the cloister bell certainly put me in mind of ‘Logopolis’ when watching the episode. Speaking of ‘Logopolis’, I’ll try and add some more to the ‘Strange Love’ discussion on that story tonight. I also still have that backlog of ‘Doctor Who stories that I want to share my thoughts on. I’ve been rather stressed lately because of University and having a lot to do.

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi WF92,

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’. I’m pleased you enjoyed the episode. I’m hoping to check out the episode again before seeing ‘War of the Sontarans’ next Sunday. It was lovely to see Jodie’s Doctor and Mandip’s Yaz again and John Bishop makes a good impression as Dan so far. I’m glad you thought of Chewbacca when you saw Karvanista. 😀 Lots of Lupari have a ‘north’, I expect (See what I did there? 😀 ) I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Sontarans and the Weeping Angels. Hope we’ll see more of Vinder in the season.

      Yes, the cloister and the Flux did echo ‘Logopolis’, didn’t they? I look forward to your new bits in our ‘Strange Love’ discussion on ‘Logopolis’. Yeah, I have a backlog of things to do at my end. I’m getting sorted the November ‘Basement News’ post this weekend, the seventh ‘Coins of Deno’ episode and the upcoming Advent Calendar for December. Hopefully all be sorted by the time December come along. Hope you’re not too stressed out and hope you’ll be able to take it easy.

      Many thanks,

      Tim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Timelord 007

    Brilliantly reviewed, definitely needed second viewing but i enjoyed it, i think Yaz shines better now the Tardis is less crowded & Jodie was brilliant & this from a person who was against a female Doctor but she proved me wrong.

    Dan is a great addition to the Tardis team he’s warm, modest & likeable, the story sets up a big arc that hopefully pays off & doesn’t disappoint in the climax like Moffat’s era “yes Series 9 finale i mean you”.

    My only gripe with this episode was Karvanista he looks awful, he’s like a cut price Ikea Chewbacca, i kept thinking of Bungle the bear & half expected Zippy & George to appear.

    I’d rate it 4/5.

    Have you seen the toxic fandom reactions on You Tube, do these people watch the show just to bad mouth it or do they actually watch it? Really annoys me.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon,

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’. I’m hoping to see this episode again tomorrow before ‘War of the Sontarans’. Yaz does seem to have a larger role in the TARDIS compared to when Graham and Ryan were around. Yes, Jodie is brilliant in this adventure and John Bishop does well as Dan so far. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Jodie’s Doctor, Yaz and Dan in their adventures for the rest of ‘Flux’/Series 13. Hopefully the season finale will be satisfying to watch and won’t be confusing like Series 9’s finale was. 😀

      Wow, it seems I’m not alone. You, WF92 and me think Karvanista looks like Chewbacca. 😀 Never thought he also would like Bungle from ‘Rainbow’. 😀 I avoid checking out the toxic fandom reactions on YouTube at all costs to avoid spoiling my enjoyment of Jodie Whittaker’s era. The reactions are probably one-sided and not interesting enough for me to check out. Yeah it annoys me too when people aren’t giving Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall a proper chance to prove their worth, which is probably one of the factors why they’re leaving the series, which is a shame.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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