Jodie Whittaker’s 13th incarnation of the Doctor is back with her Tardis Fam in the New Years Special/12th Season Premiere of the long running BBC show “Doctor Who”. Before reviewing this episode let’s look back at last year which was full of ups and downs. Doctor Who first premiered in 1963 on the BBC in England with William Hartnell playing a time traveling grandfather named the Doctor. The show stayed on the air through the early 1990’s with several incarnations. In 2005 the BBC revived the show with Christopher Eccelston playing the 9th incarnation and the show has been on the air since with David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi playing the role until Whittaker. Each actor before her were able to carry the show and you had no doubt that they were the Doctor. For Whittaker that was the biggest problem that she had in her first season, I didn’t believe that she was this iconic character. Yes, there were flashes in the pan but they would quickly be dashed by either a horrible story or her bad acting. In Whittaker’s defense, she was hampered by horrible writing and a sense that there was no larger story arch by show runner Chris Chibnall as we had seen previous show runners Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat masterfully do. Hopefully the year off has given Chibnall time to figure out how to run a show and more importantly, how to write
Spyfall’s story is just as the name suggests, it starts with spy’s around the world being killed and MI-6 bringing the Doctor in to help with the investigation (since apparently U.N.I.T. was dissolved because of Brexit or something). The antagonist in the story is set up as Daniel Barton (Lenny Henry) who is the head of a Google type company. The Doctor sends Ryan and Yaz (Tosin Cole & Mandip Gill) to interview Barton while she and Graham (Bradley Walsh) travel to Australia to meet with a retired agent codenamed O. We find out just how horrible the Doctor is at Blackjack, they run onto a plane that ends up crashing and then the story gets lost in itself. The big reveal at the end of part 1 is that Agent O is actually the Master (Sacha Dhawan) which was the highlight of the 2 part episode.
To paraphrase Tom Hanks from The Simpsons Movie “Doctor Who has lost the credibility with it’s traditional fan base so they are borrowing from James Bond’s” with a not so subtle nod to one of 007’s most intense adventures “Skyfall”. Unfortunately it didn’t work because in the two hour episode you spend 1 hour and 45 minutes trying to figure out what is going on, only for the story to be explained in the last 15 leaving you with the impression that in typical Chibnall fashion, he had no idea how to end a story and through something together last minute.
Unfortunately, it looks like this season is picking up where the last one ended. Apparently Chris Chibnall spent zero time listening to the concerns of longtime fans nor did he work on his weakness of being able to tell a story. The writing and story telling in the first two episodes are just as bad as last season. I would give Spyfall parts 1 & 2 a 1 out of 5 cushions.