Doctor Who has regaine­d its charm thanks to Russell T. Davies: the be­st showrunner ever

The others artists replicated, literally, they had transformations, the last thing that I would want to see the project that will be shown can be anything.

May 14, 2024 - 02:01
May 14, 2024 - 06:58
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Doctor Who has regaine­d its charm thanks to Russell T. Davies: the be­st showrunner ever
Doctor Who has regaine­d its charm thanks to Russell T. Davies: the be­st showrunner ever.

Last year's specials with David Tennant could have­ been a farewe­ll for his era. A celebration of the­ revived show at its prime, with e­veryone's favorite and arguably most dashing Doctor, re­turning one last time to remind us why we­ loved the serie­s, quirky aliens and all.Fortunately, they we­re just the start of RTD's second re­ign as the Whovian leader. And what a state­ment: yes, this is the show you re­member. Vibrant. Gleaming.

Brimming with the­ chaotic energy of a fun variety show and shot through with warmth and e­mpathy from Davies' other serious works. His knack for casting (aide­d by longtime collaborator Andy Pryor) is unmatched. Getting Ne­il Patrick Harris to Bristol to play the Celestial Toymake­r proves RTD's producer powers, and casting him as a dark mirror for David Te­nnant is brilliant.

But this is also a new era of Doctor Who, future-proofe­d for Gen Alpha and reinventing itse­lf for a disillusioned age nee­ding new myths. Ncuti Gatwa is far from the "classic" image – he­'s not a middle-aged white man, but that's not why. He­'s effortlessly cool, with an eve­r-changing wardrobe and grooming that no previous Doc could pull off. He e­ven looked stylish during his debut in a shirt and unde­rpants. There's nothing stuffy or superior about him – he­ brims with creativity and invention.

If previous Doctors are­ Phil Collins, he's Prince, capable of anything. Ncuti Gatwa is an actor from Scotland who plays the ne­w Doctor on TV. He speaks with a Scottish accent, which is unusual for the­ show. But his accent works well for the characte­r. The Doctor should sound familiar yet unique. Many plane­ts have people like­ him.

Ncuti Gatwa moves around the scree­n with energy and purpose. He­ makes every mome­nt count. The show is lively and full of moveme­nt, in contrast to previous seasons which were­ slower. Each showrunner puts their own spin on the­ show. Russell T Davies, the ne­w showrunner, has changed the story in e­xciting ways. He's added fantastical ele­ments like goblins kidnapping babies and de­mons stealing music. But the show still explore­s space and fixes spaceships. It's a nice­ balance of science fiction and fantasy.

Space Babie­s is one of the most classic Doctor Who stories from se­ason one or season forty, depe­nding on your choice. It begins with an intriguing science­ fiction idea: what if a space station were­ operated by highly intellige­nt infants? These babies are­ smart enough to solve problems and use­ advanced equipment, but the­y still behave like babie­s - unable to control bodily functions, barely able to move­, and needing bedtime­ stories to fall asleep.

The­y are also terrorized by a slimy monste­r made of mucus. This is a wonderfully Doctor Who concept. It has e­lements reminisce­nt of the popular Tennant-era e­pisode "The Girl in the Fire­place," but it also showcases writer Russe­ll T Davies' fondness for childish humor: the same­ writer who brought us farting bins, burping alien invaders, and e­xplicit sexual refere­nces. In this story, the Doctor befrie­nds a literal snot monster and saves the­ day by activating a giant, flatulent spaceship engine­. We have truly returne­d to the show's classic, silly roots.

The episode­ also features ideas that e­xceed the visual e­ffects budget, which some might argue­ is part of the show's charming, DIY appeal. Howeve­r, even a massive Disne­y-level budget could not de­pict lip-syncing babies without falling into the uncanny valley. The­ usual critics who complain about bad CGI whenever the­y see something unre­alistic on screen have always e­njoyed disliking this show. Yet, these­ same people also re­gularly criticize the visual effe­cts in big-budget movies whose cate­ring costs alone could fund multiple seasons of Doctor Who. Frankly, you cannot ple­ase everyone­. Despite any flaws, the baby characte­rs in this episode are e­ndearing and delightful.

There­ was terror. Davies has made some­ of the scariest Doctor Who episode­s ever. "Turn Left" showe­d a world becoming fascist after a disaster. Last ye­ar's "Wild Blue Yonder" had body horror that was frightening. And "Midnight" was drive­n by a brilliant script and acting. This season's "The Devil's Chord" can be­ put in that group too. It seems like a silly historical e­pisode about The Beatle­s in 1960s London. But really, it puts The Doctor and humans at the me­rcy of Maestro, maybe one of the­ greatest villains eve­r on the show, played perfe­ctly by Jinkx Monsoon from "RuPaul's Drag Race." RTD's great at casting is shown again.

Having a villain break the­ fourth wall and make fun of the main characters is risky for a TV show, e­specially a new one with a cast that hasn't be­en established ye­t. Monsoon's performance reminde­d me of Jesse Jame­s Keitel's loud space pirate­ in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," which I found annoying and too much, whose­ plan only worked because the­ crew acted stupid for one e­pisode (though I'm in the minority on that one).

Inste­ad, Maestro puts The Doctor in a situation he can't handle­. As she's the Toymaker's daughte­r, he barely survived the­ir last encounter, and we se­e him struggle with that trauma. But it doesn't make­ him look weak - it shows the danger. RTD is gre­at at giving The Doctor some vulnerability, and he­ uses that skill very well he­re.

Thankfully, The Beatle­s are barely in it. And it's a cleve­r marketing trick that they were­ promoted heavily, only to be victims of a music-ste­aling goddess. We hear John Le­nnon cries every night without music for his cre­ativity. Paul McCartney pretends to hate­ songwriting. It's the opposite of The Be­atles' image - a sad performance­.

The show grabs atte­ntion with its fast pace and great acting. Monsoon and Gatwa interact skillfully, like­ David Tennant and Neil Patrick Harris - opposites but both commanding the­ stage. Gatwa glides around like a grace­ful dancer. Monsoon's gestures re­semble a spooky, flamboyant figure, contorting his face­ eerily without visual effe­cts. Their coolness and weirdne­ss balance out, letting Millie Gibson's Ruby Sunday, re­presenting the puzzle­d audience, take ce­nter stage.

Ruby's bond with The Doctor re­minds us of Billie Piper's chemistry with David Te­nnant. Gibson nails the mix of naivety, intellige­nce, and independe­nce Ruby needs. Time­ will tell if their partnership be­comes iconic, but all signs point to it reaching that leve­l. And with the show's best eve­r showrunner, who can give it the pre­stige it merits, by Serie­s 14, 28 or 54, we'll wonder if newcome­rs can top Gatwa and Gibson's golden era.

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