Doctor Who Season 11 – Ep. 9 “It Takes You Away”

The Doctor deals with a girl’s missing father, only to find out that he’s even more lost than she could have imagined.

SUMMARY

The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and the TARDIS trio of Graham, Yaz, and Ryan (Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole) land in Norway in 2018. They find a cabin nearby that seems abandoned, until they find a blind girl hidden in the house named Hanne (Eleanor Wallwork) who has been terrified by a monster that she hears from the woods. They find out that Hanne’s father Erik (Christian Rubeck) has been missing for a few days. In the attic, they find a mirror that doesn’t reflect people, which the Doctor discovers is a portal to the Anti-zone, the buffer universal material that keeps universes separate. She goes into the portal with Graham and Yaz, while leaving Ryan to watch Hanne.

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Not that either of them is big on reflection… God, even I feel bad at that joke.

Inside the portal, they find a terrible alien called “Ribbons of the Seven Stomachs” (Kevin Eldon) who appears to be a scavenger. He tries to trade the Doctor information on Erik in exchange for the sonic, but attempts to backstab her on the way. He is eaten by one of the Anti-Zone’s resident creatures, the Flesh Moths (guess what they eat). Ryan discovers that the “monster” is actually just a speaker system that her father uses to scare her into staying home. He returns to tell Hanne, which she uses as an opportunity to knock him unconscious and follow the group. He wakes up shortly and follows her.

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Ribbons is a very happy sort of demonic alien.

The Doctor, Graham, and Yaz find a mirror copy of Hanne’s home and, inside, Erik. He reveals that he intended to come here because a copy of his deceased wife, Trine (Lisa Stokke), lives there. However, it’s revealed that it can’t be her, because she remembers dying. While the Doctor is still trying to figure out the situation, they run into Graham’s deceased wife Grace (Sharon D. Clarke). Similar to Trine, she remembers dying, insists she knows she isn’t real, but also says that she is real. Graham is tortured by seeing what he knows isn’t his real wife.

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This is a father who abandons his blind daughter after tricking her into agoraphobia. For booty.

The Doctor finally realizes what’s happening: They’re in the Solitract, a sentient universe which was severed from the regular universe because the Solitract interferes with the normal universe’s operations. It set up this “heaven” mirror-world in order to convince people to come to it and stay because it’s lonely. Graham finally manages to accept it and leaves. Erik refuses to leave, but the Doctor tells the Solitract that she’ll stay in his place. Erik is ejected. The mirror universe collapses itself and becomes a white room with a talking frog, the chosen form of the Solitract. However, the Doctor is incompatible with the Solitract, so she leaves, promising to be its friend even if they’re separate. Back in the normal universe, Graham and Ryan finally start to bond over Grace.

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This is the face of the universe.

END SUMMARY

I will admit at the beginning of this episode, I thought we were going to hit the final point for me. I thought that this was finally going to be the episode that was just too serious to feel like Doctor Who. See, this entire season, while I have enjoyed it overall has definitely been closer to the original Doctor Who episodes with William Hartnell which, while they were amazing for the time, isn’t quite the feel the show’s had since the reboot. They’re a little more serious, a little less campy, and a little less funny. However, while that’s been refreshing so far (for me at least), it’s bound to hit the point where it just feels not fun enough. With a missing dad, a mysterious monster, and a blind girl, I was about 30 seconds away from going “okay, we’ve hit the wall.” But then the mirror happened and Ryan said what is definitely one of the most “companion” lines ever: “We’d know if we’re vampires, right?” The delivery was flawless and immediately brought me back up a little.

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I also want to hear more of the war between sheep and humans.

From there, the episode goes through Ribbons and the Anti-Zone, which, if not particularly interesting and probably unnecessary, is at least well-designed and creepy as hell. Next, we get to the Solitract, find out that Erik actually isn’t a great parent, and witness Graham interacting with Grace again, and the episode suddenly has left-turned into super emotional. Bradley Walsh once again gives one hell of a performance as a man who has recently lost the love of his life. Then, we get The Doctor giving one of the better humorous monologues in the season so far when she explains how one of her seven grandmothers told her a fairy tale about the Solitract. The final scenes of Graham and Erik having to give up on their dead wives is another solid emotional scene, which leads into… the Doctor talking to a frog. We end the episode with Ryan finally acknowledging Graham as his grandfather, which, after all the buildup, is a solid tearjerker. Honestly, this episode is all over the place in terms of tone, but the comic scenes are exactly the kind of thing that I felt were missing from the show.

Doctor Who doesn’t have to be comedy sci-fi, of course. Some of the best episodes have horror elements or action, for example, but it always managed to balance that with some solid comic relief. This episode doesn’t quite nail the ratio as well as past ones, but it comes close. In a season filled with much of the darkness in human history, this episode at least was somewhat lighter at points.

Overall, it’s not a bad episode, but it doesn’t have the gravitas of the good episodes of the season. The sequence in the Anti-Zone is basically just filler that amounts to nothing and should have been cut. However, aside from that, this was still pretty enjoyable.

I give it a B.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

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Doctor Who Season 11 – Ep. 1 “The Woman Who Fell To Earth”

I love Doctor Who. I’ve loved it since I first saw it on PBS as a child, not realizing that the episodes I was watching were more than 20 years old at that point. When it came back, I was elated. I’ve enjoyed the majority of the episodes since the revival, putting two among the best episodes not only of the series, but of television in general. It’s truly a magical show for me and I was completely thrilled that someone requested that I review this season for the blog. I will try to have these up ASAP after airing, but life will get in the way sometimes, so Tuesday at the latest.

So, Allons-y! (if any of you are named Alonzo, then I am so f*cking happy right now)

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Where we last saw our hero….

SUMMARY (SPOILERS – In River Song’s voice)

Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), a young adult with developmental coordination disorder (your body doesn’t send the right nerve signals strongly enough), finds a set of strange glowing symbols floating in the air in the woods and, after touching them, a blue pod appears. Ryan calls the police and PC Yaz Khan (Mandip Gill), a former classmate, arrives to investigate. However, the pair get distracted by a call from a train containing Ryan’s grandmother Grace (Sharon D. Clarke) and her husband, Graham (Bradley Walsh). The train gets attacked by a creature made up of writhing tentacles and electricity which moves towards Grace, Graham, and another passenger named Karl (Johnny Dixon). They’re saved by a woman who falls through the roof of the train. Who is this mysterious woman. Yes, there’s supposed to be a period there because I love bad jokes and it’s the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker).

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Thirty minutes into not being Scottish.

The creature tags the passengers and the doctor with sparks before leaving. The Doctor reveals that these sparks have implanted DNA Bombs, a dangerous and mostly banned weapon. They try to track down the pod that Ryan found, only to find another alien creature has emerged from it. That alien disappears, apparently sensing the first one, after killing a man and taking his tooth. The Doctor rebuilds her sonic screwdriver and takes the group in pursuit of the tentacle monster, revealed to be a bio-data-gathering device called Gathering Coils. They are confronted by the second alien, revealed to be Tzim-Sha of the Stenza (Samuel Oatley) who is basically Predator if he collected teeth instead of skulls.

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… Arnold Schwarzenegger would kill him without trying. 

The Doctor’s group confront Tzim-Sha and the Coils at the site of his hunt. The Doctor manages to trick Tzim-Sha into taking back all of his own DNA bombs and saves the target, but Grace dies trying to stop the Coils. Ryan tries to learn how to ride a bike in tribute to her, but never succeeds due to his condition. After Grace’s funeral, the Doctor tells them she has to find the TARDIS which is supposed to be in space above Earth. She builds a teleporter to go to it, but accidentally teleports herself, Ryan, Graham, and Yaz into the vacuum of space where no TARDIS appears to be.

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And debuts her new outfit.

END SUMMARY

Well, let’s get it out of the way, the Doctor now has 27 X Chromosomes, whereas she previously had 17. Not my fault you didn’t take Time Lord anatomy if you don’t understand this joke, but you really should have at least taken Nth-Dimensional Sex Education so that you’d know about the Birds and the Branes.

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Yeah, but my name’s on the site, so… bite me.

Yes, the Doctor is now equipped with a vagina and, honestly, it didn’t impact the episode much. That was probably a solid move on the writer’s part not to go too heavy into pointing out the differences between her and previous incarnations. That made it seem less like Jodie Whittaker was playing a Female Doctor and was just playing The Doctor… WHICH SHE F*CKING NAILED. Seriously, this might be my favorite Doctor debut, right up there with “The Christmas Invasion” and “The Eleventh Hour.” Whittaker debuts by falling into the path of a monster and briefly incapacitating it, which is one of the most Doctor-y ways to be introduced.

The main thing is that Whittaker quickly embodied the Doctor, filled with all of the pain, curiosity, and excitement that usually define the character. I think one of the best moments is when she is forging a new sonic screwdriver and gazes at a spoon so enthusiastically, realizing that it’ll be one of the perfect components to the device, and you really feel almost drawn to her because of the sincerity she gives off.

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It’s the little things.

Her new companions are going to be more of a team than the usual one or two people who follow the Doctor at a time. I like most of their dynamics, although they seem to shift back and forth during the episode. Still, I think that they’ll serve a much different role than previous companions, if only because of the number.

As for the episode itself, it’s fine. The Coils are visually interesting. The jokes that the Doctor makes about Tzim-Sha’s name (mostly just calling him “Tim Shaw”) are pretty good. The main thing that shocked me was that they killed off a character that we were definitely starting to like… and one that was central to two of her companions’ stories. That’s kind of crazy for a show like this.

Overall, I liked this episode. I’d say that in Doctor Who terms, this was probably about a B+.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.