DOCTOR WHO: THE POWER OF THE DOCTOR
The Wrong Goodbye
UK BBC One, now on iplayer Showrunner Chris Chibnall
Cast Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill,
Sophie Aldred, Janet Fielding
Where to begin with the way the Thirteen Doctor’s time ends? It’s a bit of a dog’s dinner, cooked up from a recipe of the least palatable ingredients of this era – pointless globe-trotting, gabbled exposition, easy solutions – with a jug of curdled fanwank poured on top. Bon appetit!
The one person who emerges from the wreckage with their reputation enhanced is Sacha Dhawan. Chris Chibnall has the good judgement to give him room to play, and the actor makes the most of it with a Masterfully mercurial performance, nailing the script’s handful of genuine zingers. His cossack-dancing to Boney M is a particular delight, even if the scene is a shameless crib from “The Sound Of Drums”. But even he’s hobbled by ludicrous plot turns. If the Master really wants a question-mark tanktop that badly it’d be simpler to just put a bullet in the Doctor’s skull and order one from Lovarzi.
You end up feeling rather sorry for the blameless Jodie Whittaker. This feature-length special really should have been all about her, but she’s crowded out of the picture as the outgoing showrunner seemingly tries to pre-empt the 60th anniversary specials by making his own. It’s a pleasure seeing Janet Fielding and Sophie
Aldred trot out Tegan and Ace’s old catchphrases. And the companion support group which provides gasp-inducing cameos by the likes of ’60s veteran William Russell is a lovely idea, well executed. But that should have been it. Steven Moffat managed to find a moving way to bring back Tom Baker. Here, the parade of past Doctors feels faintly depressing – like seeing a reformed ’70s punk band still doing the pub circuit, rocking mohicans and leather trousers they can’t really squeeze into.
Sometimes less is more. And always, always, an engaging story with some semblance of logic is essential.
The line “the blossomiest blossom” nods to a 1994 interview where Dennis Potter discussed his awareness of mortality.