Doctor Who: The Return of Russellon
Russell T Davies sure knows how to make an entrance. Also he is not afraid to upset people, particularly the pro-bigotry brigade. How he gets away with this on the BBC I do not know, but I’m very glad he does.
Thus far in his new stint at the helm of Doctor Who we have had four episodes. One was an adaptation of a rather thin 2000 AD story enlivened by some amazing trans representation and a brilliant performance by Miriam Margoyles. One was a very creepy science fiction story. One was an excuse for Neil Patrick Harris to camp up an evil genius role to the max while the plot blew vast holes in the tattered remnants of the Who canon. And finally we had a full-on fantasy episode with a song-and-dance number and a new Doctor whose titanic screen presence has already made him a fan favourite.
Follow that, anyone? Fortunately for the world of TV showrunners, no one has to, because Davies will be back with a new series in the spring which promises, among other things, a meeting with the Beatles.
So yeah, that was impressive. I was, for obvious reasons, particularly pleased with the very positive trans representation in the first of the David Tennant specials. I note also that there was a trans woman in the cast of the Christmas special, and a trans man is slated to appear in the new series. Davies isn’t messing about. As a result, the UK’s anti-trans lobby has now become The People Who Hate Doctor Who, which I’m sure is doing their public image a world of good.
Having not paid a lot of attention to the original Tennant run, I didn’t fully follow a lot of the references to the past adventures of the Doctor and Donna, but Davies clearly felt that there was a wrong that he needed to put right. Also no one in their right minds would say no to having David Tennant do another three episodes.
The idea that there is a retired Doctor living in Camden while the new Doctor heads out across the universe doing the adventure thing is a bit batshit, but then the ability of the Doctor to travel through time has always meant that things could get very weird. Season #2 of Loki picked up on that same weirdness to great effect when Loki spent a thousand years becoming an expert in astrophysics while a few seconds passed in the lives of the other characters.
As for Ncuti Gatwa, he’s absolutely delightful. Thus far he’s a sort of Puck version of The Doctor who is determined to have fun as well as adventures. The kids will love it, and that will allow Davies to continue to offend the sensibilities of Daily Malice readers. Sooner or later, Who fandom will find an excuse to be outraged too, but in the meantime let’s all enjoy this splendid renaissance.