Hello everyone! 🙂
Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!
At the time of this review, I’m currently halfway writing my 60th anniversary special of ‘Doctor Who’ for 2023. Hopefully from watching ‘The Power of the Doctor’, I’ve gained inspiration in writing the rest of my 60th anniversary special. I hope to share details on it as well as its title soon on my blog. 🙂
But yeah. I’ve recently seen ‘The Power of the Doctor’, the last episode of the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall era of ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this special episode of ‘Doctor Who’ and I won’t deny that I had been feeling anxious about whether I would like this special or not.
Thankfully, ‘The Power of the Doctor’ turned out to be better than I expected and it feels like a worthy conclusion to an era of ‘Doctor Who’ that I’ve enjoyed a lot since 2018. It’s a shame the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall era has come to an end, as I feel more could have been told with this era. 🙂
I hope one day that Jodie Whittaker will be able to reprise her role as the Thirteenth Doctor in the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. I’m lucky to have met her at conventions, including two at London and Birmingham. She’s definitely one of my favourite Doctors and I will cherish fond memories of her.
‘The Power of the Doctor’ ended up being a fun episode, featuring lots of nods to the past as well as focusing on Jodie Whittaker’s exit as the Doctor. This shouldn’t be a surprise since this is the BBC Centenary Special of ‘Doctor Who’, but I’m glad the nods to the past were featured throughout this.
My Dad told me he was able to follow this 90-minute special as my parents and I saw it on BBC One at 7.30pm on the 23rd of October. To hear him say that was very reassuring. ‘The Power of the Doctor’ is also better as a Doctor’s swansong than ‘The Time of the Doctor’ and ‘Twice Upon a Time’.
With that said, it can’t be denied there are issues concerning how the special was presented on TV, even at 90 minutes. These issues are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but it’d be hard to ignore them whilst reviewing this special. Hopefully I’ll be able to outline what they are in this review.
For now, let’s start with how this special begins, shall we? ‘The Power of the Doctor’ begins with an opening scene where Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, Mandip Gill as Yaz and John Bishop as Dan are rescuing a space-train from a Cybermen attack. For an opening sequence, this was exciting to watch.
It was also exciting to see the Cybermen make an appearance in this ‘Doctor Who’ special, and these happen to be the CyberMasters from ‘Ascension of the Cybermen’/’The Timeless Children’, since they can regenerate after getting killed. I really wish we could have seen more of these Cybermen. 🙂
After their adventure in saving the space-train, the Doctor returns Dan home to Liverpool and… this is where we say goodbye to him. Yeah, I’m not kidding. Dan doesn’t appear much in the special. He’s there for the opening sequence and we don’t see him again until the closing scenes of this special. 😐
I won’t deny it, I was a tad disappointed John Bishop didn’t appear much in this special, especially since this is Jodie Whittaker’s final ‘Doctor Who’ story. Maybe John Bishop had another commitment at the time, but it would have been good if he stuck around long enough to help the Doctor and Yaz.
Full disclosure: So far, I’ve written more scenes featuring the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz and Dan in my upcoming 60th anniversary special compared to how much screentime Dan gets in ‘The Power of the Doctor’. Then again, my 60th anniversary special does take place before ‘The Power of the Doctor’. 🙂
Anyway, after the Doctor receives a message from a Dalek wanting to help her as well as her and Yaz visiting a second moon in Earth’s orbit (Are the Vok from ‘Beast Wars’ involved now? 😀 ), she ends up summoned by Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart to the new U.N.I.T. HQ somewhere in London. 🙂
It was nice to see Jemma Redgrave as Kate again (I’ve included her in my 60th anniversary special too by the way 😀 ). And this is where Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor gets to reunite with…Janet Fielding as Tegan and Sophie Aldred as Ace. Yeah, even for me as a ‘Doctor Who’ fan, it was terrific to see these two. 🙂
It was interesting to see how Jodie’s Doctor met up with Tegan and Ace after all these years since they last travelled with her/him in the TARDIS. It was also intriguing to see at what points in their lives Tegan and Ace were at in terms of their post-travels. And this is also where it gets confusing. 😐
Now, as I’ve clearly established in other ‘Doctor Who’ reviews, continuity does tend to get all over the place, especially concerning where companions’ adventures in the TARDIS fit in from various forms of media. As well as the TV show itself, there are the audios, comics, books, short stories, etc.
And here, it seems Chris Chibnall chose to ignore what had been established in the audios, comics, books and short stories and just stuck to what’s in the TV show (more or less). I know I keep bragging on this issue every time it comes up, especially in ‘The Haunting of Villa Diodati’ with Mary Shelley. 😐
But here, it’s pretty evident. Regarding Ace, this is presumably her running A Charitable Earth after the Doctor, as established by Russell T. Davies in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ story ‘Death of the Doctor’. But there have been other stories since then, including the book story ‘At Childhood’s End’.
A book story where Ace should have met the Thirteenth Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz already by this point. Yet, ‘The Power of the Doctor’ seems to ignore that fact and it looks like that Ace has met the Thirteenth Doctor for the first time. This is frustrating, since ‘At Childhood’s End’ is a recent story.
Now to ‘At Childhood’s End’s credit, the issue of multiple timelines for Ace is addressed in that story and there’s even a reference to Ace and the Seventh Doctor parting on bad terms from that story in ‘The Power of the Doctor’. So, I’m pleased ‘At Childhood’s End’ is referenced in at least one respect.
But it’s sad when ‘The Power of the Doctor’ as well as the Chris Chibnall era overall can’t be brave enough to refer to other ‘Doctor Who’ stories in book, audio and comic form to establish the wider continuity in ‘Doctor Who’ terms. Even the multiverse theory from ‘Flux’ doesn’t get a mention here.
And now we come to Tegan. This is interesting, as Tegan says to Ace that she hasn’t seen the Doctor for nearly four decades. Um, what about the time when she met the Sixth Doctor in ‘A Fix with Sontarans’ (even though the continuity for that story is debatable). And what about ‘The Gathering’?
The story where the Fifth Doctor reunited with Tegan on her 46th birthday? Did she forget the events of those stories? Granted there could be some ground for that, considering the Doctor could have found a cure for Tegan’s tumour from that story. Perhaps it erased her memories of that tale. 😐
Also, does this story take place before or after ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’? My guess is ‘before’, as there’s no mention of Nyssa living with Tegan, as established from that short story. Or maybe Chris Chibnall forgot that story was ever made. Or perhaps ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ never occurred in this timeline. 😐
And yes, it would have been nice if Sarah Sutton as Nyssa made an appearance in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. How come Ace and Tegan get to appear in ‘The Power of the Doctor’, but Nyssa doesn’t. I feel that Nyssa is one of the Cinderellas of ‘Doctor Who’, since she’s often overlooked as a companion. 😦
By the way, it’s interesting that Tegan has had two husbands in her lifetime. Is one of them Michael Tanaka from ‘The Gathering’ and the other William Haybourne from the Short Trip story ‘Good Companions’? Also, who is this adopted son Tegan mentioned? I never thought of Tegan as a mother.
Eventually, the Doctor comes up against Sacha Dhawan as the Master in this adventure. It was great to see Sacha Dhawan back as the Master in this, especially for Jodie Whittaker’s swansong. It was tense and gripping to see what plan the Master had for the Doctor, especially once he captures her.
In this story, the Master forces the Doctor to regenerate and he ends up in the Doctor’s body. I don’t know if this is crazier than turning the world into John Simm or not, but it was quite frightening to see Sacha Dhawan in Jodie Whittaker’s clothes for a bit before he donned other Doctor costumes. 😀
This includes Sylvester McCoy’s pullover, Tom Baker’s scarf and Peter Davison’s celery stick. He also plays Patrick Troughton’s recorder whilst waiting for Yaz to return in the TARDIS. I do find Sacha Dhawan’s Master intimidating, especially when he manages to get out of a prison cell at U.N.I.T. HQ.
Mind you, the Rasputin song played in the special might be a bit too much. 😀 It was great to see the Daleks in this special as well as the Cybermen, both voiced by Nicholas Briggs. It was intriguing to see a Dalek genuinely helping the Doctor in the special before it got exterminated by the other Daleks. 😐
I wonder if the Doctor forgot about Rusty the Dalek from ‘Into the Dalek’ and ‘Twice Upon a Time’. This special also features the return of Patrick O’Kane as Ashad, the Lone Cybermen who previously appeared in ‘The Haunting of Villa Diodati’ and ‘Ascension of the Cybermen’/’The Timeless Children’.
I can’t say much about Ashad the Lone Cybermen, as his role is relatively being the leader of the Cybermen attacking U.N.I.T. HQ. Though it was terrifying when Kate Stewart got captured by a Ashad and she was almost converted into a Cybermen before Tegan managed to save her in the end.
And by the way, YES! AT LAST!!! The Cybermen in this ‘Doctor Who’ story have found a way to resist being killed by gold. Sorry, Ace; Tegan. It’s a shame the gold bullets you tried on them didn’t work, but YES! AT LAST!!! The Cybermen can now resist gold! I found the gold weakness thing very stupid. 😀
And of course, we have surprise guests in this special. When Jodie’s Doctor is on the threshold of regeneration, she meets with previous Doctors – David Bradley as the First Doctor, Colin Baker as the Sixth, Peter Davison as the Fifth, Paul McGann as the Eighth and Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh.
There’s also Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor making an appearance in this special. It was so lovely to see the classic Doctors making an appearance in this special and it was a nice surprise to see them interacting with Jodie, as they help her with to find a way to thwart the Master in his deadly plans. 🙂
Even the scenes where Tegan gets to reunite with Peter Davison’s Doctor and Ace gets to reunite with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor via holograms were nice to watch. It was also very good to see some reconciliations, especially since Tegan and Ace didn’t part on very good terms with their Doctors. 🙂
I was disappointed that Tom Baker didn’t make an appearance in this special, though to be fair, he already made his appearance in ‘The Day of the Doctor’. Whether Tom Baker was unavailable or he wasn’t able to make an appearance, I don’t know. It would have been nice to have seen him though.
It also would have been nice to have seen Christopher Eccleston, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s Doctors in the special. Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee could have been tricky (though Jon Culshaw would be good for Jon Pertwee). David Tennant however…well, we’ll return to him later on.
It was good to see Jacob Anderson as Vinder making an appearance in this special, although I wonder whether it would have been good to have also included Bel from ‘Flux’ too, as well as have an update on how Vinder, Bel and their kid have been. Their kid could’ve been the Doctor in the end.
In fact, I wondered whether the kid the Cybermen had captured from the container aboard the space-train at the beginning of the episode was Vinder and Bel’s kid and whether it was the Doctor as ‘the timeless child’. I wonder if Chris Chibnall meant to mention that in the story, but didn’t have the time.
It was good to see Bradley Walsh back as Graham O’Brien in the special. A shame that Ryan Sinclair didn’t appear in this special, but I’m glad Graham was able to make a comeback. I enjoyed his scenes with Ace in the special and it was lovely to see him with Dan as they made their way for a companions’ get-together. 🙂
And yes, the special also includes guest cameos of William Russell as Ian, Katy Manning as Jo and Bonnie Langford as Mel when they, Graham, Yaz, Dan, Kate, Tegan and Ace meet up for a get-together. I hoped that Sarah Sutton as Nyssa would have been among those companions, but sadly not.
Not to worry. Nyssa and Billy do get to meet the Thirteenth Doctor in my upcoming 60th anniversary special. 😀 I liked the farewell scene between the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz, as they sit together atop the TARDIS eating ice creams before they part company, as the Doctor takes Yaz back home to Earth.
Surprisingly, not much was explored in terms of Yaz’s feelings for the Doctor as opposed to what was established in ‘Eve of the Daleks’ and ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’. I was expecting it to come up, as a big deal of it had been made in the two previous specials. Then again, I suppose it’s for the best that it wasn’t explored again in this special.
Had ‘The Power of the Doctor’ been a two-parter instead of a 90-minute special, I suppose more time would have been spent on the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz exploring their feelings for each other. As is, with so much to cram into a 90-minute special like this, it’s to be explored for another time.
And thus, we have the Thirteenth Doctor’s regeneration scene. I like how Jodie Whittaker’s regeneration is handled, especially when she takes the TARDIS to a beach where she regenerates out in the open. At least she doesn’t blow up the TARDIS interior like before on previous occasions in the TV series. 😀
And of course, we have Jodie Whittaker regenerating into Ncuti Gatwa…err, David Tennant. Huh! What?! How come Jodie Whittaker regenerated into David Tennant again? Shouldn’t it be Ncuti Gatwa next? Also, the Doctor changes his clothes in the process. That’s not how regeneration works!!!
The special also features Joe Sims as Deputy Marshall Arnhost. Are you sure he’s not Mark Seven in disguise? 😀 Richard Dempsey (from BBC’s ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’) also appears as Tsar Nicholas II in the special. 😀 Barnaby Edwards and Nicholas Pegg are also Dalek operators in this special episode.
‘The Power of the Doctor’ has been a rewarding and very satisfying ‘Doctor Who’ special to conclude the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall era on. I found it worthwhile and way better than what I expected it to be. All my anxiety that had led up to the special had been dispelled once I came to the end of it. 🙂
Yes, there are continuity issues concerning some of the classic ‘Doctor Who’ characters I’ve grown to love in the series, including Ace and Tegan. By the way, Mel, it’s really good to see you in this special, but what the heck are you doing on Earth? Shouldn’t you be with Sabalom Glitz or something here?
But quite frankly, that does sum up the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall era of ‘Doctor Who’ era overall. Before it began, I didn’t know what to expect when it came to checking out each episode of a ‘Doctor Who’ era featuring a female incarnation of the Doctor – the first official woman to play her in fact.
I didn’t expect to find myself loving Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor all the way through from beginning to end. I know people have reservations about Jodie’s era in general as well as her performances as the Doctor in general, but for me, I’ve found Jodie’s era to be one of my favourites.
Not only did this ‘Doctor Who’ era excite me as ‘Doctor Who’ eras should, but it also challenged my perception of what the show should be, and in a very positive way. Rather than diminishing my love for ‘Doctor Who’, it has allowed me to embrace it in a way that I didn’t really expect that it would. 🙂
Yes, the issues regarding certain continuities and how certain ‘Doctor Who’ stories in various forms, spanning across the TV series, the Big Finish audios, the books and the comics not matching up, are evident. I can’t help be frustrated by that, especially as a dedicated ‘Doctor Who’ fan over the years.
But on reflection, that doesn’t worry me too much, as ‘Doctor Who’ is a show that keeps changing and evolving. I find that every time I come across a new era of ‘Doctor Who’, it always has something intriguing to say. Whether you agree with each era or not is down entirely to your perception of it. 🙂
I’m glad I’ve experienced the Jodie Whittaker era from 2018 to 2022, as watching it has restored my faith in the show compared to when I experienced the Matt Smith/Peter Capaldi eras run by Steven Moffat, which I found quite underwhelming. I know people won’t agree with me on that, but it’s how I feel.
I’m also lucky to have met Jodie Whittaker twice at conventions. To have met Jodie, one of my favourite Doctors and one of the recent incarnations, twice at conventions really says something about how much I love her era. It emphasises how much of a deal it has meant to me over the years.
Whether you’re a fan of the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall era or not is entirely up to you. Me personally, I know I’m going to go away filled with happy memories of Jodie’s era of ‘Doctor Who’. And I’m very sure there’ll be plenty of opportunities to revisit Jodie’s era in many shapes and forms.
Well, that’s all folks. 😀 Stay tuned for when ‘Doctor Who’ returns for its 60th anniversary in 2023! 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Bye for now!