The Ghost Monument

Coming off the crest of an incredible series premiere, you’d expect the sophomore episode to aim a little lower, perhaps spend some time on world-building and deepening characters. Who knows? Maybe even float a new catchphrase. You might not expect crashing starships, toxic environments, psychic killer bedsheets, laser-wielding automatons, and a deadly space rally that doesn’t give a tinker’s cuss about collateral damage.

This is, however, life with the Doctor. Buckle up, buttercup.

With sand in our shoes, and a swank pair of sunglasses on our faces, we tumble across the viewing landscape in pursuit of the second episode of Series 11, “The Ghost Monument”. Jay calls in with a concern or two about the intensity of the story and characters, while Charles revels in the stunning visuals, Haley appreciates the diversity of challenges faced, and Keir floats a few crackpot theories about missing keys and “timeless” children. Oh, and there is this interesting little reveal at the end, if you’re interested in that sort of thing…

EXTRA: Submit your entries/letters to “Ask the Doctor”, and they may be posed directly to Paul McGann next month!

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The Woman Who Fell to Earth

The Woman Who Fell to Earth

Okay, quick maths analogy for you. When an equation has multiple variables, the risk of miscalculation goes up markedly, just like the odds of guessing a one-digit number versus two or more. With that in mind, when Chris Chibnall and his team spent the last many months telling us all the changes, revisions, and exclusions that would be made to first series of his tenure as showrunner, while we trusted him (it’s what we do), we knew that there was a wide margin of error to be mindful of. After all, when you change so many aspects of a known and well-established product, there are that many things that can be blamed if it doesn’t turn out to be something exceptional.

That said, here are two truths.

First, JODIE WHITTAKER IS THE DOCTOR, and has proven that now off and on the screen. We said it. We believe it. If you disagree, you’re really going to hate the next few years of this podcast. Heck ,you’ve probably been hate-listening to us for the past year, for that matter.

Second, for all the other facets of Doctor Who that we were warned would change, and heard the trepidation from various fans about this, that, or the other, we believe Series 11 is off to a start that has the four of us (and if that funny Twitter website is to be believed, more than a few others) very, very pleased.

This week, we finally drop from our levitation points above the couch to hug each other with adrenaline-fueled delight at the first full adventure of the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends in “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”. We take a look at the Series 11 premiere as a regeneration episode, as a “new viewer” introductory episode, and as a Doctor Who story in general. We note the technical and structural aspects that give it such a new (and interesting) tone and balance, the exceptional and in some cases surprising performances of primary and supporting cast, and the baseline this story and its delivery sets for the series to come.

One note of criticism with the episode: to paraphrase an adage, “Grace is when the heavens give us what we don’t deserve”. In an instance like this, the irony of that particular phrase is striking. 

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Dear Doctor; Dear Viewer

We don’t make any attempts to hide our excitement over the premiere of Series 11, and the overwhelming array of new personalities to meet, voices to hear, and talents to witness as we hit the ground running. We’ve talked at length (no, we’re not going to apologize, it’s what we do) about our satisfaction over casting, writing, and directing announcements, and the upcoming global broadcast of “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” is turning Sunday into nothing short of an observed holiday in our respective homes.

We’ve discussed what we feel about the new scores and soundtracks to anticipate, the new effect and post-production teams, the emerging cast comradery, the thousands of fan responses, the convention panels, press junkets, and trailers. At this stage, we feel there’s only one thing left to do: write a nice letter.

With only days to go before Doctor Who returns, we pause in the eye of the storm, and speak our hearts directly to two most important recipients: to Jodie Whittaker herself; and to the viewer who will be finding the program for the first time this season. Each of us reflects individually upon what can be said to these ‘readers’, but without stealing anyone’s thunder, suffice to say that there is a lot of love flying around this studio. You might want to maintain a low center of gravity, to avoid getting knocked over by the feels.

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Classic Rewatch: The Seeds of Doom

Your parents warned you repeatedly about the importance of eating your greens. Little did you know that the rationale behind it was actually “eat or be eaten”. We may never look at a bowl of spinach pasta salad the same way again…

Strapping on our weed-killer backpacks, and exercising absolutely ZERO patience for thug henchmen, we plunge into the undergrowth of “The Seeds of Doom”, the closing story of Season 13. Holmes and Hinchcliffe continue their horror theater tributes in this adaptation of “The Thing from Another World”, wherein we flinch at the Fourth Doctor’s hot temper, grimace  at the malice of Scorby, wince at the prospect of a giant compost thresher, and clutch our ears at the sound of Chase’s compositions. Across all the senses, honestly, it’s a lot to take in.

EXTRA: We reflect on how uplifting and reassuring Jodie Whittaker makes us feel on the cusp of Series 11’s premiere, in her beautifully dictated essay to IGN.

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And In This Corner…

We’ve been conditioned over the years to expect certain things from a full season of Doctor Who: a mix of light-hearted adventures, a few scares, and some emotional upheaval; a titular character who encompasses both staggering intelligence and dumbfounding eccentricity; a roster of ne’er-do-well characters and outright villains both familiar and unfamiliar to keep us either on the edge of our seats, or behind the couch entirely.

Take that last point of familiarity for a moment — the recurring adversary. We’ve had Daleks on the baddie radar for virtually as long as the show has aired. The Master has fascinated (messed with) us for nearly as long. Cybermen, Ice Warriors, Sontarans and Silurians have made returns to the screen in varying frequency, and critical success. You might even lump the Time Lords in there as well, for all their self-centered manipulations and machinations. But what if we lock them all away, and start fresh for a while? Is there a risk that a wholly new set of villains might in any way impact the continued success of the show?

This week, we process the statements by Chibnall and the BBC Worldwide informing us that Series 11 will have an entirely new roster of villains and dangers to be faced, and that the time-tested ranks of Daleks, Cybermen, Missy and the like will not be seen for some time. Does this have any discernible impact on the projected success of the season? Is this really such an original or unorthodox measure? And who, or what, might we see squaring off against the Doctor and friends instead?

We also officially welcome Charles to the GPR staff, and hope he doesn’t mind the permanent stains in the coffee mugs, or that one squeaky chair over in the corner of the studio. Sorry, newbie!

EXTRA: Now that we’ve processed the Sunday broadcast day for Series 11, what about the actual airtime, both in the UK and abroad?

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