All the ingredients in this are right, but somehow it didn’t quite click with me. I think it was the slightly odd atmosphere that comes as a result of the whole thing being shot in a tent in an Elstree car park. Those billowing sheets that had to act as makeshift studio walls didn’t look great, and it was understandably difficult to get the geography of the place across.
I liked the premise, but I feel they could have made more of the competing-to-be-the-most-entertaining aspect. The Doctor should have had far more opportunities to play the fool and defy the odds, as he did beautifully in the final episode. Captain Cook was a first grade shithouse, and the bits where he ruthlessly pushed others into danger were often the highlights, as were the enjoyably-irritating popcorn-munching family.
But I did also enjoy the other elements, particularly Mags. It looked like she was just a standard companion stand-in for while, so her turning out to be a big old werewolf was a nice twist, and good fun. The main clown was delightfully creepy, and brilliantly played. I could take or leave most of the other circus crew, but the script did well to include such a large guest cast and still make them all distinct and memorable.
I was amused to note that rap music has finally reached the Doctor Who production office, and while it was awfully cheesy, I enjoyed it as a nostalgic throwback to the type of godawful efforts produced by well-meaning kids’ shows of my youth. I also enjoyed the deranged bus conductor robot, and the wonderfully mean market stall woman. Both were perhaps unnecessary additions to an already packed roster, but enjoyable ones, and it helped to create a detailed and busy world.
Whizzkid was amusing, particularly as it’s Adrian Mole cosplaying as Osgood. The line about how he’d never seen the early stuff but he knew it was better than it is now was funny but particularly barbed, and the whole thing came across as a little mean-spirited overall. You got the impression that JNT would have enjoyed seeing him killed off a little too much.
Do you know what? Not for the first time, I’ve talked myself round having gone through and processed my thoughts on all the components. I can look past the odd atmosphere and remember a great sense of fun running through the story, and it’s good to see the show firing on all cylinders. When Sophie and Sylvester have half-decent material, they’re one of the all time classic pairings, and this season has confirmed that the rot has very much stopped, and that there was more life in this old dog of a show than it ended up with.
SEASON AVERAGE RATING: 7.75
- Seasons/Series watched: 25 of 35
- Stories watched: 151 of 263
- Individual episodes watched: 681 of 826
Indeed, that’s the best average season rating since Davison’s first, although when the seasons are this short, a stand-out like Remembrance will push the average up. One more season to go, and I’ll have watched every episode of Doctor Who ever. Part of me doesn’t want it to end, but now I’m beginning to really look forward to the satisfaction of reaching the finish line.