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‘Doctor Who: Wild Blue Yonder’: A Wildly Weird And Wonderful Adventure

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Doctor Who has undoubtedly become a pop-culture phenomenon. With over 60 years of iconic history, the show continues to enthral audiences worldwide with its time-travelling adventures, dynamic characters and imaginative storylines. Now celebrating its Diamond anniversary, writer Russell T. Davies returns to spearhead the trio of hour-long specials and the new series with 15th Doctor Ncuti Gatwa starting this Christmas with “The Church on Ruby Road”. This new regeneration of the show looks to be the third new beginning, following the original classic run, from 1963 to 1989, and the modern revival, which began in 2005 as Davies delivers a brilliant start to the new era that ultimately kickstarts the 60th celebrations in style. 

It’s been two years now since the exciting and surprising announcement that Russell T. Davies, the man who revived Doctor Who in 2005 after its 15-year hiatus and helped the show soar to incredible new heights, will be returning as showrunner for the 60th Anniversary and series beyond. Now, it’s time to find out what the future looks like. 

The second special, “Wild Blue Yonder,” premiered on Disney+ worldwide and on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK on Saturday, December 2nd. Check out our review below and check out next week for our coverage on “The Giggle” to see what Whovians can expect in the final 60th Anniversary Special. 

Image: BBC

At the end of “The Star Beast, Donna accidentally spills a cup of coffee onto the console of the TARDIS, activating its time and space capabilities and sending it into pure chaos as it explodes and whirls her and the Doctor off to worlds unknown. Unlike The Star Beast, returning showrunner Russell T Davies was certainly secretive about the second instalment, in DWM issue 587, Russell expressed his dream that Special 2 would air with no previews, not even the press received screeners beforehand so we discovered everything as it aired. Ultimately this shrouded secret led to wild fan theories, none of which could have predicted what was to come.

“Wild Blue Yonder” takes the Doctor and Donna to the furthest edge of adventure. To escape, they must face the most desperate fight of their lives, with the fate of the universe at stake. Written by Russell T. Davies and directed by Tom Kingsley, The Doctor and Donna find themselves all alone on a spaceship with no TARDIS, no sonic screwdriver, and no idea where or when they are. 

THE GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION

The episode opens on quite a light note with the Doctor and Donna landing in an apple tree in 1666 at the moment Sir Isaac Newton discovers the concept of gravity, or in this case, mavity. With a few lighthearted jokes, the TARDIS whisks the duo off once again only to land them at the very edge of the galaxy on a seemingly uninhabited spaceship. Chucked out of the TARDIS, which is actively repairing itself, makes itself scarce as it realises that there is a menacing force on board this ship. After the Doctor displays confidence and ingenuity, the Doctor and Donna grapple with the weight of being abandoned by the escaped TARDIS. The two blame each other and tempers boil over, before the pair focus on the situation at hand. Donna realises how isolated she is and panics. She is comforted by the Doctor, who again displays confidence before Donna resolves to overcome whatever threat activated by the TARDIS’ HADS protocol.

Donna and the Doctor march right into the action and set about figuring out where they are, finding nothing but a ship’s log revealing that an airlock was opened and closed three years prior. Whenever the voice speaks, the physical layout of the ship shifts. Panels turn, lights flicker, and it’s all a bit of Event Horizon. This isn’t stopping the Doctor and Donna from summoning a tuk-tuk and heading down the Very Long Corridor, though, passing a Very Old rusty Robot as they do until they get to the control room confirming that they are indeed on a spaceship. Not a starship, though, for there’s an astonishing lack of stars and outside is complete darkness…

Image: BBC

WILDLY BIZARRE

There’s something seriously weird going on here, as the episode refers back to the horror aspects that ramp up the tension. Why is there a rusty robot loitering in the corridor? Why are there no lifeforms on board? Why did an airlock open and close three years earlier? Why are there no stars outside? What’s that banging? And why has the air got a little bit chilly all of a sudden? Director Tom Kingsley adds all this to your growing sense of unease by making the camera peer through holes or rounded corners as if the Doctor and Donna are being watched. The plot and pacing of this episode are extremely different from that of “The Star Beast” ” where the first special had to accomplish a lot very quickly. “Doctor Who: Wild Blue Yonder” has no problems with taking it slow. as it’s a creepier, quieter, and slightly bizarre chapter of the three 60th Anniversary specials that echos as a slow-burn claustrophobic mystery. 

It’s a story that even when the threat begins to appear, becomes rather insidious. It’s a cerebral, scary plot, and the frights are unique within Doctor Who invoking elements from favourites such as ‘Midnight’ and ‘Listen’. It’s close to body horror while also featuring trickery and spatial manipulation. Most of the episode takes place within the isolation of the spaceship, which has a haunting quality. When the duo separates for the sake of getting the ship back online, imposters appear for each of them pretending to be the other with convincing enough charm and enough of their memories until warped horror begins to give them away. From there, “Wild Blue Yonder” forces the Doctor and Donna into a deep character study that examines their duality, both together and individually, as they fight the copies of themselves and face some difficult truths.

Image: BBC

These beings, which are called “Not-things,” come from the darkness and are filled with a malevolent rage that they wish to unleash upon the rest of the galaxy. To achieve that goal, they go about turning themselves into perfect evil replicas of the Doctor and Donna, determined to trick the TARDIS into bringing them back to Earth upon its return. All the while they’re able to bend and manipulate their bodies into horrific shapes and terrorise the Doctor and Donna with secrets hidden in the depths of both of their memories. This Special features some of the most disturbing scenes within Doctor Who history, with CGI and practical FX techniques brilliantly Crafted by Millennium FX and that may not have been possible before the collaboration with Disney+. 

Tate and Tennant. what a duo to have led this claustrophobic entry. They are phenomenal together, blessed with the script from Davies, who knows and adores the characters so much. Both the characters get a chance to have a speech on their own, which is an intelligent scene. It allows the performers to shine and the characters to demonstrate just how far they have come. Donna imagines what Shaun, Rose, and Wilf will do if she never returns to London with a parallel scene where the Doctor proffers a future for the abandoned TARDIS.

The friendship and the chemistry may be eternal, but lifetimes have passed. Fifteen years for Donna, potentially hundreds and four regenerations for the Doctor. Both the familiarity and that are obvious. These are the first honest conversations the best friends have had in so long, now untampered by blocked memories. The exposition has to be told by them because there is no one else to do so, and the unravelling of the mystery is superbly written. Throughout, this episode was a chance to focus on them and to see what they’re like in extreme circumstances. The entire episode is a tribute to their talent. As the tension builds it becomes harder to determine who or what is real. It is to Tennant and Tate’s credit that it is immediately evident that these additional characters are not the Doctor and Donna, and that later scenes can play with the are-they-or-aren’t-they dynamic, as the not-things learn to replicate more accurately.

Image: BBC

The 60th Anniversary specials being so different in tone is a brilliant example of the spectrum of stories that can be told and why the show has so much longevity. This one draws the best out of two of the most talented actors to have ever graced the series and is helmed by one of the greatest writers and executive producers.

HELLO ME OLD SOLDIER

Following a last-second rescue from the TARDIS and a much-needed double take from the Doctor, he and Donna make it out by the very skin of their teeth, clinging to each other in the now-repaired time machine. This episode reveals a sweet surprise after putting the viewer through emotional turmoil. When Donna and the Doctor arrive back in London, they find themselves face to face with none other than Donna’s grandfather Wilf (Bernard Cribbins). The reunion with Wilf is perfectly delightful and emotionally heartbreaking to see the late Bernard Cribbins in his final onscreen appearance as the beloved character. His pure spirit lifts our hearts after everything we’ve watched the Doctor and Donna go through. However, moments later, it’s revealed that all of humanity has gone mad as shops explode and planes fall from the sky, setting up the third and final special which is still to come.

Image: BBC

FINAL THOUGHTS

“Wild Blue Yonder” the second special celebrating the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who is an episode that’s so wild, fun, bizarre, very experimental & original like nothing that’s ever been done in Doctor Who before! It’s a slow burn claustrophobic mystery, classic who style! Anchored by two incredible dual performances from Tennant & Tate! in this special alone they’ve delivered a masterclass in character-driven storytelling! Davies writes a truly weird/unhinged episode of Doctor Who pushing everything to the limit including budget

Doctor Who ‘Wild Blue Yonder’ is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer in the UK and Disney Plus in the rest of the world.

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The Acolyte | Official Trailer | Disney +

Star Wars series that takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Drama

Release Date:

June 4, 2024

Director:

Leslye Headland

Cast:

Dafne Keen, Amandla Stenberg, Jodie Turner-Smith

Plot Summary:

Star Wars series that takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.

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Maya’s Story To Echo Through Time

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Vincent D'Onofrio (Wilson Fisk) & Alaqua Cox (Maya Lopez) (Disney)

Here is the review of Marvel Studios’ Echo, now streaming on Disney Plus.

Plot

Marvel Studios presents “Echo,” spotlighting Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) as she is pursued by Wilson Fisk’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) criminal empire. When the journey brings her home, she must confront her own family and legacy. Streaming January 9 on Disney+ & Hulu. Set your Disney+ profile to TV-MA to stream. All episodes will be available on Hulu until April 9.

Starring: Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Chaske Spencer, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, and Devery Jacobs.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez / Echo (Disney)

Review

There is in total 5 episodes and it was available immediately and this is really amazing, allowing us to binge watch the season in 1 sitting. A big part of Echo’s storyline focuses on giving the viewer a glimpse into her ancestral history and her past with the Kingpin of crime.

Maya develops as a strong character in this story more than the Maya we met in the Hawkeye series. Alaqua Cox really delivers an exceptional performance. As always Vincent D’Onofrio plays his heart out as Wilson Fisk, the notorious Kingpin who has been dominating our screen since the Daredevil TV Series on Netflix back in the day. We get a few surprises, even though short pieces, but it is still appreciated and I will not spoil those surprises in the hope that you will go and watch the episodes later and experience the same level of joy I experienced.

A lot of effort was done with regards to the language options. Choctaw was added as a language option on Disney Plus. I read that some of the cast learned American Sign Language (ASL) in order to communicate with Alaqua on set and this really warms my heart. A lot of research was done on the Choctaw nation and was incorporated as part of Maya’s storyline.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez / Echo (Disney)

Some of the less positive notes are the series was rated as meant for mature audiences only. However, the action scenes were little and not as brutal as expected if compared with the likes of the Daredevil series. Maya’s powers was also changed slightly from the comic books but it takes a positive turn closer to the end. Really looking forward to the part Maya / Echo will play later on as I feel she portrays the part of a hero very well.

I highly encourage watching the original Netflix series’ Daredevil and Hawkeye to get the background of some of the key characters in this story. I highly encourage subscribing to Marvel Unlimited to read up about Maya Lopez / Echo, Wilson Fisk / Kingpin or any of your favorite Marvel characters.

There is a mid-credits scene that you don’t want to miss, but no post-credits scene. The mid-credits feel familiar to the comic book direction.

I rate this series a 3.5 out of 5. Maya’s story will echo through the cinematic universe, as a story of bravery and strength. Sometimes all you need is a healing hand, a key theme from Marvel Studios’ Echo. I’m looking forward to more of Maya on the screen.

Watch all 5 episodes on Disney Plus now!

Echo Official Trailer (Marvel Entertainment)

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Doctor Who: The Giggle, A Wildly Satisfying Finale That Teases A Promising Future

Russel T. Davies’ Whoniverse-reshaping finale is a thrilling, heartwarming, chilling, and satisfying hour of telly, that never eases up.

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SPOILER’S AHEAD!

As brilliantly put by beloved Doctor Who companion Donna Noble, “That was completely nuts!” The final episode of the three 60th anniversary specials, “The Giggle” may just well be the most bonkers, yet impeccable piece of Doctor Who TV… ever. Where last weeks special “Wild Blue Yonder” saw writer Russell T. Davies deliver a masterful episode in restrained storytelling, “The Giggle” is the showrunner unleashed. Throwing epic musical numbers, eerie moments of horror, impactful social commentary, and a divisive yet satisfying final 20 minutes result in an unrelenting hour of telly, and perhaps the best episode of Doctor Who ever.

Kicking off with John Logie Baird’s invention of the television in 1925 as well as introducing audiences to “Stooky Bill” – a real puppet who could put Annabelle to shame – “The Giggle” quickly picks up where “Wild Blue Yonder” left off. In the midst of world wide carnage, the Doctor (David Tenant) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) must search for answers as to why planes are falling out of the sky, and human beings are busy beating each other up on the streets, leading the two to the celestial Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris), one of the most powerful beings in the universe.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

Russell T. Davies is never one to shy away from delivering a script oozing with his rightful fury at current social climates. Take previous episodes like “Midnight” “The Long Game” and “Turn Left” for example all offering impactful stories with themes of human nature, the power of media, and anti-immigration prejudice respectively. Here, Russell T. Davies satirically imitates anti-vaxers, anti-maskers, conspiracy theories, and government empathy brilliantly. Some of it may be a little on the nose – such as a hilarious and obvious dig at Boris Johnson – but it more or less works in favour of poignant, and well-crafted satire.

“The Giggle’s” mad cap, and unprecedented energy is only more apparent through the episodes many tonal shifts. Under the guise of another property, this constant tonal shift would have felt jarring. But in “The Giggle” the episode pivots in-and-out of horror, comedy, musical, and drama effortlessly, adding to episodes manic and unpredictable nature.

Keeping on theme with last weeks unnerving episode, “The Giggle” is surprisingly steeped in horror. Especially for those who suffer from pupaphobia, the fear of puppets. Whether its the imagery of that “gosh darn” creepy doll, Stooky Bill, or the Toymakers endless gothic labryinth, “The Giggle” is another terrifying episode of Doctor Who, proving once again that this sci-fi show isn’t for children. No scene is scarier perhaps than the haunting scene with Stooky Bill’s wife, Stooky Sue, who’s found crying in the corner of a dark room, before creeping towards Donna chanting a horrifying rhyme. But its all played for laughs when Donna nonchalantly beats the puppet senseless.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

Elsewhere, Neil Patrick Harris’ Toymaker who stole the show. His multi-faceted, and multi-accented villain proves to be the deadliest enemy the Doctor has ever faced, as well as perhaps the most entertaining. Harris’ intoxicating performance enthuses the Toymaker with fear, intelligence, and a playfulness unlike any villain we have seen before. His celestial abilities are terrifying and unparalleled, making the Master – the Doctors nemesis/best friend – look like an amateur. Through the subtle yet deeply fascinating line, “I made a jigsaw out of your history” – explaining, teasing and disregarding the recent messy Whoniverse canon with ease – the Toymaker becomes much more of a threat. Lets not forget the unexpectedly brilliant “Spice Up Your Life” musical number where the Toymaker effortlessly turns soldiers into balloons, once again proving his celestial power.

Bringing back David Tennant – the most popular actor to ever take on the role – was perhaps Davies’ wisest decision upon returning, and reviving the show. Tennant’s return doesn’t just provide a great headline for the show that would drive its viewers back after an incredibly messy past few years, but also offers a heartwarming vulnerability to a character who hasn’t stopped running, fighting, and caring for nearly two decades. The Doctor has never taken a second to grieve, or stop running. He’s lost innumerable companions, and was responsible for destroying half the universe with the Flux. A messy piece of Doctor Who canon which has now been beautifully woven into the Doctor’s character thanks to Russel T. Davies.

Davies delves into the characters vulnerability, and insecurities forcing the Doctor to question his being, and ability to save others. The line “I’m all sonic, and TARDIS, and Time lord, take that away, what am I?” is an incredibly powerful piece of character development, made all the more impactful through Tennant’s performance. The Doctor has always put himself above others, but “The Giggle”, more specifically Donna, encourages the Doctor to stop trying to sacrifice himself for others, and to instead take a second to care for himself.

With Tennant returning to the role, audiences will instantly have that connection to this version of the Doctor, making his vulnerability much more heart-wrenching, and his ending much more satisfying.

Tate was equally fantastic as she has been through all three specials. Her confident, and hilarious performance continues to prove why Donna Noble is one of the best ever Doctor Who companions, and her chemistry with Tennant is deeply infectious.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

The episode carried a lot of emotional stakes way before the title music kicked in, what with the episode forcing viewers to sit through another David Tennant regeneration. However, what was supposed to be an emotional finale, resulted in an unprecedented and incredibly exciting final 20 minutes. Davies introduced possibly the most divisive aspect of the show… well ever. We are of course talking about, Bi-generation. The idea that instead of changing faces, the Doctor instead becomes two Doctor’s. A current Doctor, and a new Doctor. This not only served as a great way to introduce Ncuti Gatwa, who instantly proved himself as an extraordinary Doctor, but also gives the 14th Doctor a satisfying arc that finally lets him rest.

Bi-generation is a fantastic concept for now, but in the future, this idea could lose all the emotional weight a regeneration used to harbour. Saying goodbye to a current incarnation of the Doctor was never easy. But, if Bi-generation is a continued element then no regeneration will be as impactful or emotional as it once was. For now, it was perfect.

All in all, “The Giggle” – and collectively all three specials – are some of the best work Doctor Who has ever put out. The final special of the 60th celebrations served as a satisfying and emotional goodbye to the modern era of Doctor Who and an exciting tease at the franchises future. It’s an undoubtedly bonkers satire, that blends horror, musical, comedy, and drama elements together to create the best and most heart-warming Doctor Who episode ever. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us Whovians.

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