Tonight, the Doctor Who season 11 arrived on BBC One and with, offered up a fascinating story that was about hope, seeking answers, and also overtaking false gods.
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Was this a fascinating story to send things off? Sure, but we don’t want to really focus just on the specifics of this story. Instead, we want to examine a little bit further what has been a strange, at-times uneven season that didn’t quite live up to what we wanted from it.
Perhaps the prevailing criticism with Doctor Who this season is that it hasn’t felt completely like itself, and some of that is likely very well a function of new showrunner Chris Chibnall anytime you get a new boss on board, you’re going to see them try their best in order to implant their own stamp on the proceedings. That is what we got throughout this season and there were some standouts like “Rosa” or “Kerblam!” over the course of the fall. we also do think that the finale had its finer moments, especially when it comes to its story about how small events can often unfold and unravel in some interesting ways.
The one thing that was the most surprising here, meanwhile, is the simple notion that there wasn’t more of a continuous, larger story here. Finales should feel at times like finales, and this one didn’t feel all that different from any other this season. The writing was perhaps a little bit stronger than it was for the most-recent batch of episodes, but it did nonetheless feel like there was more that could have been done to raise the stakes beyond just the current mission at hand and Graham contemplating some element of vengeance.
So while this was a nice way in order to wrap up season 11, there’s still another gear that season 12 needs to reach — one that dives a little bit more into nostalgia, into humor, and a few more elements of what makes Doctor Who the series that it is. We do like the Companions, the Doctor herself, and some of the visual elements of the new batch of episodes. This is a solid season, even if it is at times imperfect. There are many strong things that the writers are delivering on and we certainly think that there are lessons that can be taken and carried into season 12. We just hope that there are ways in which to combine some of these elements with other components of the past, leading up to episodes that are memorable beyond just creature effects and a rousing speech by Jodie at the end.
So, for now, farewell Doctor Who — we will see you again come New Year’s Day.
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